With Nigeria’s poll umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, finally announcing July 16, 2022, as the day for the governorship ballot in the State of Osun, the stakes have not only been heightened, but also the players have moved alignments and allegiances to the point of no return. All over Nigeria, citizens of the state, along with political watchers, are responding to INEC’s recent timetable with fresh enthusiasm and expectation. There is a feverish reaction that suggests that they are excited about the fast-approaching day.
But nowhere else are these factors unfolding more evidently than in Osun, the main theatre of the titanic battle we expect on July 16, 2022. Here in the Omoluabi state the pundits are asserting that the coast is clear for the All Progressives Congress, APC, Administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, to sweep the poll. They believe that the die is cast, that there is no going back on an Oyetola triumph next year, if he secures the party’s ticket, (and that’s almost certain). They believe he will bag the card, since you wouldn’t expect a good football coach to drop a winning team.
What are they resting these permutations on?
First, they argue that Oyetola would be relying on what they refer to as ‘merit votes’ to beat his closest rival, even with sparse field campaigns. By ‘merit votes,’ these analysts are simply saying Oyetola’s government has so profoundly touched a lot of lives in his first term that all he needs to appropriate an encore from the people next year is to point at his achievements. He has them aplenty.
The governor has practically rewritten the socioeconomic map of Osun. The previously neglected hinterland is gradually donning an urban look as job-generating industries are being located in their communities. The roads in the rural regions have also been modernized, with more being built to free Osogbo, the capital, from being overwhelmed by an influx of those seeking opportunities in the city. Scores of rehabilitated and fully kitted Primary Health Centres, PHCs dot the landscape to make Osun one of the most medically secure among the 36 stares in Nigeria.
The Civil Service has become a good gauge of the performance of a governor. Here again, Oyetola’s feats speak for him. He has not only lifted the lid on promotion, he is also implementing the minimum wage pay to the civil servants. There is more: he has instituted a health insurance scheme that also captures those outside the government purview. Add that to the regular and full salaries the workers now receive as and when due, together with the unfailing pension dues to the state’s senior citizens.
The governor’s reforms in the education sector have also been addressed as a quantum leap that has put Osun on the world map, as it were. One of its students was adjudged recently as Nigeria’s Young Scientist.
All these have contributed to the Federal Government choice of Osun as the destination for the celebration of 2021 World Environment Day in June. It was the first time the event was marked outside Abuja, the federal capital. This is remarkable because, according to the authorities of the central government, “The State of Osun is doing well in this area already.”
Now, while all these truly make Oyetola undefeatable, the mass exodus of members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ede, the powerhouse of the party, to APC is giving fuel to the fire of support for Oyetola in 2022. The other day some 20,000 card-carrying PDP and ADP faithful in Ede South and Ede North Local Governments crossed over to APC. This is the hometown of Oyetola’s main opponent, Ademola Adeleke in 2018. They were received by Omo Oba Adegboyega Famodun, APC Chairman in Osun. Needless to say, these new APC members saw the handwriting on the wall and fled before the impending crash, come July, 16, 2022. Nobody wants to sail in a sinking ship.
So, APC is heartily looking forward to a long-awaited appointment with the electorate, confident that even with a year-plus ahead, the contest has already been decided in its favour, thanks to a performing governor, who has nothing to market but his administration’s achievements. Even members of the opposition are attesting to this and evincing readiness to campaign for him.
Oyatomi is the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy for the APC in the state of Osun