There is no doubt that tension has built up ahead of the August 9 governorship election in Osun State. The tension followed series of campaigns by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Governor Rauf Aregbesola and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Omisore, Aregbesola and Akinbade
The candidates’ various utterances at campaign rallies have confirmed the tension as their comments have begun to send jitters down the spines of the people of the state. The fear in some quarters is that some residents may decide to forfeit their rights to vote and stay indoors during the poll because of the fear of the unknown.
Obviously, the stake is higher in Osun State because leaders of the two parties are not unaware of the fact that whatever the outcome of the August 9 governorship election is will have a role to play in who wins the presidential election in 2015. Based on this realisation and the desire to be relevant in the state, leaders of the APC and the PDP appear ready to go to any length to win the governorship election.
The PDP in Osun State is buoyed by the victory of the candidate of the party in Ekiti State and the party’s leaders believe that if Mr. Ayo Fayose could defeat the incumbent governor in Ekiti State on June 21, there is nothing stopping them from repeating the same in Osun State.
With the PDP’s victory in Ekiti State, the Osun PDP believes that the party could also win back the control of the state which it lost to the APC on November 26, 2010 through a verdict of the Appeal Tribunal after almost four years of legal tussle over the outcome of the April 14, 2006 election.
While the APC appears to be desperate to retain the state, the PDP also seems to be equally ready to unseat Aregbesola and the seeming desperation by both sides is causing many people to be anxious of what might happen after the election.
Although there was no post-election crisis in Ekiti State largely because of the civil conduct and utterance of Governor Kayode Fayemi and because of the heavy presence of security personnel deployed in the state for the poll.
However, leaders of the APC and the PDP in Osun State have upped their games with various allegations and mudslinging flying on daily basis as the state prepares to decide who leads it into 2015 and beyond.
Omisore and the PDP are always quick to accuse Aregbesola of raising thugs, saying the ‘State Boys’, a group which the governor has a special likeness for, is an armed wing of the APC which would do the hatchet job for the party.
The APC is also always accused of planning to import thugs from Lagos, Oyo and militants from Rivers State to unleash terror on the PDP leaders and supporters ahead of the poll.
The Head of PDP Legal Unit in Osun State, Mr. Williams Ojo, told journalists that APC was planning to kill some PDP leaders while calling on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to investigate the claim.
Ojo had said, “This assemblage of miscreants is a creation of Aregbesola and it is their stock in trade to leave blood in their trails. Their attacks targeted at PDP members have resulted in the killing and maiming of many across the state. The numerous attacks have been reported and documented at various police stations across the state.
“It is against this backdrop that we are calling on the Inspector-General of Police to look into this issue and promptly determine the propriety of this gang unknown to the nation’s constitution.”
The Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa, also alleged in a statement issued last week that a local government chairman was arrested by the police for having in his possession, 17 AK 47 and 10 pomp action riffles and 50 cutlasses. He claimed that these weapons were being stock piled to attack notable PDP leaders.
The allegation followed the arrest of some hoodlums at Ilesa on a day Aregbesola held one of his mega rallies in the town. The hoodlums were also caught with some dangerous weapons. The police confirmed the latter but denied the former. The Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Folasade Odoro, first denied the allegation of gunrunning in a telephone interview with our correspondent
But the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Ibrahim Maishanu, later explained in a statement that the police received a petition, investigated and found that it was falsehood. Maishanu said that quantum of arms alleged to have been found on the council boss was enough to start a war. He warned politicians against raising false alarm.
False allegations and violence which characterised Nigerian politics are parts of strategies being employed by politicians in Osun State for the poll. There have been reported cases of attacks and counter-attacks on members of the APC and the PDP in towns like Iwo and Ile Ife.
Concerned about the frequent attacks involving supporters of the two parties in Ife, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, addressed a press conference where he urged the gladiators to sheathe their swords.
The Ooni, who was represented at the press conference by the Obalufe of Ife, Oba Folorunso Omisakin, read the Ooni’s message to the warmongers in the town and the entire state. The monarch’s action might have been dictated by the killing of a PDP leader, Pa Taiwo Ogundele, in Ife in March 2014 during voters’ registration and the killing of five persons inside a church just before the 2011 general election.
To ensure that politicians and their supporters do not revert to their atavistic instincts thereby truncating the relative peace in the state, the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, organised a workshop for leaders of various parties, governorship candidates and their running mates on the need to shun violence before, during and after the election.
Obi said, “Osun State, all eyes are on you to address the tense political atmosphere and eschew politics of infamy. I, therefore, urge all participants at this workshop to rededicate themselves to advancement of peaceful conduct during the coming governorship election and in subsequent elections.
“Since all political parties are signatories to the Revised Political Parties Code of Conduct which commits all political parties to peaceful conduct at all times before, during and after elections, it is the duty of politicians and political stakeholders to ensure compliance to this code.
“But we all know that more than the law, it is the personal commitment of political parties and candidates that can create the kind of peaceful atmosphere for the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent election that we all desire as a nation.”
Although political leaders present at the workshop pledged their commitment to ensure peace, the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, Senator Sunday Fajimin, blamed the APC and the PDP for the political violence in the state. He said that the two parties should be cautioned in order to have a peaceful poll. Fajimin also suggested that making elective offices unattractive would discourage those who were not ready to serve but were only interested in stealing public resources.
But as the D-Day draws closer, the APC alleged in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan that the PDP, in connivance with two ministers, planned to assassinate Aregbesola and fraudulently hijack power by manipulating the election process.
The Chairman of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Adelowo Adebiyi, who was flanked by the party’s secretary, Mr. Gboyega Famodun , the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the party, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi and a chieftain of the party in Osogbo, Alhaji Fatai Oyedele, called on the President to call the PDP and the ministers to order.
They alleged that the PDP was planning to bring in fake soldiers to unleash terror on the people and arrest APC leaders before the election.
The letter read in part, “The President should order his party, PDP, to halt any plan to violently rig the August 9 governorship election through the undemocratic process of militarising the state and terrorising its citizens with thugs dressed in military camouflage shortly before, during and after the election.
“Mr. President, we have also been reliably informed by dependable sources within the PDP that a mass arrest and possible assassination of top government officials loyal to our party, including our party elders, was being planned by the PDP supporters.
“A PDP hit list for arrest and assassination has been drawn-up. Those on the list are top government functionaries and APC elders. It perhaps may interest Mr. President that top on the PDP hit list is Rauf Aregbesola, the incumbent governor of Osun State.”
The allegation came on the same day a national leader of the APC, Gen. Muhamadu Buhari (retd) escaped a terrorist attack in Kaduna State. This development is making some of the residents of Osun State to believe that the allegation might not be spurious after all.
Although the allegation of planned assassination of Aregbesola is yet to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, the killing of a member of the APC in Ilesa, Tolu Adeosun, during the campaign of the PDP candidate in the town has triggered tension ahead of the poll. It was gathered that some APC hoodlums had on Thursday night attacked PDP members pasting Omisore’s campaign posters in the town ahead of the rally scheduled for Friday. Having suffered defeat in the first brawl, some PDP thugs were said to have invaded the area on Friday during the campaign and Adeosun, whose wife was said to have been delivered of a baby recently, was killed in the crisis.
With the attacks, allegations and counter-allegations coming from the two leading parties, tension is beginning to rise among the residents of Osun State. But what is paramount on the mind of the people is that security agents should step up their work and ensure that there is peace before, during and after the poll while transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission is very important to ensure that the will of the majority is not perverted.
Source: THE PUNCH