Fifteen political parties go to the poll in Osun State today to seek the votes of about 1.9 million eligible voters in deciding who the Governor would be when the first term of Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola ends on 27 November. But realistically, only two political parties – the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – are the main contenders, with perhaps the Labour Party, riding on the momentum generated by its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi also expected to have a good showing.
PDP is fielding Senator Ademola Adeleke in a repeat of the 2018 election, which pitted him against the eventual winner, Oyetola, while former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun is the flagbearer of the Labour Party. Others are: Akinade Ogunbiyi of Accord Party, Peter Awojide (African Action Congress), Kehinde Atanda (Action Democratic Party), Oluwatayo Awoyemi (Allied Peoples Movement); Adebayo Adeolu (Action Peoples Party); Adeleke Adedapo (Boot Party), Rasaq Oyelami (New Nigeria Peoples Party), Adetona Abede (National Resource Movement), Busuyi Ayowole (People’s Redemption Party), Omigbodun Oyegoke (Social Democratic Party), Ademola Bayonle (Young Progressives Party) and Olufemi Adesuyi (Zenith Labour Party).
Accusing its candidate, Ayowole of trading its party’s structure for personal monetary gains, PRP asked him to withdraw from the race, saying it would no longer participate in the election. But a furious Ayowole said the party hierarchy was blackmailing him for nothing, adding that he had been spending his own money all this while.
He stated: “I funded the party after my emergence as the governorship candidate. I paid the party N1.4 million every month for five months. They are expecting more money from me, and I am not ready to give them. That is why they are going about to blackmail me. They are tax collectors who want money all the time. I have filed my petition against them, which I will submit after Saturday’s exercise. I am fully in the race of Osun governorship poll”.
Restriction of movements across the start runs from 6 am to 4 pm to ensure adequate security for which heavy security has been deployed. The Police, for instance, has 21,000 officers on duty, while the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has over 11,000 personnel on ground. Armed military and police personnel patrolled the streets while others were deployed in strategic places.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of policing for the election, Johnson Kokumo on Friday pledged that the security agencies would ensure a peaceful election. He said cultists in particular would not be given any room to disrupt the polls.
“We’ve been able to make adequate arrangements to take care of the possible consequences of the activities of the cultists. That is effecting their arrest before the election and, of course, mopping up light weapons in circulation”, Kokumo told Channels Television. “This is intended to create a conducive atmosphere where the gubernatorial election will take place without crisis”, he said.
He said that at least 15 such cultists had been arrested as at the election eve, adding police escorts of VIPs and top politicians had complied with an order to relinquish their arms ahead of the poll while any policeman found without his name tag close to polling units would be arrested.
For this election, the Federal Road Safety Commission also 1,500 personnel, 35 vehicles, two trucks and ambulances to clear road obstructions, carry out rescue operations in case of emergencies and maintain orderliness in polling booths.
However, personnel of the State Security Network, otherwise known as Amotekun, would not be part of the electoral duties after a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo on Friday granted an order that they be excused from security work on election day. The order was sequel to a suit filed by the PDP against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security outfit seeking the exclusion of Amotekun from deployment during the election.
In granting the PDP request, Justice Ayo Emmanuel said: “The first defendant (INEC) is hereby restrained from requesting the deployment of the second defendant (Amotekun) as part of the security personnel deployable for the purpose of Osun 2022 governorship election pending the determination of the originating summons filed in the suit”.
INEC said it is ready. Its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu warned electoral officers on duty today to resist “unethical behaviour” during the election. He urged all electoral officers to uphold the INEC Code of Conduct, and display a sense of commitment and professionalism, recalling how the commission conducted and concluded the Ekiti State governorship election that was widely adjudged to be free, fair, credible and inclusive.
According to him, the feat was happily an elongation of the earlier successes recorded in Anambra State last November, Edo State last September, and Ondo State in October 2020.