July 16, 2022 was a day of varied responses, a disparate reply from the electorates to the political campaigns, rallies, debates and other schemes deployed by Osun aspirants and politicians. The day was splitting from the dark and Osun electorates, rejuvenated from the night rest, tore the fading darkness of the dawn and swung to the wet paths which was absorbing the morning dew of the election day.
They swayed their feet, dispersing purposefully to the 3,763 polling units across the 30 local government areas of the state. Seun (last name withheld), an undergraduate (of a university in Osun), was among these political-active residents, showing responsiveness to the political affairs of her state. “It is my right to exercise my franchise.” She said to FirstNewsOnline. “And I was determined to vote.” Her voice was coated in a self-assured pitch that fluttered beamishly.
The strength of the noon had dwindled and the voting exercise had ended. Suspense and uncertainty hovered briskly over Seun as she thrust into the haze of the atmosphere, departing and awaiting the results of the election. “The election was free, no one was intimidated or harassed.” She declared. For Seun, her vote wasn’t just her voice, it was a weapon that was forged beyond the manipulative desires of desperate politicians. She shunned political apathy and was inclined to political matters after the death of her retired aunt. “They refused to pay her, so, during that struggle, she lost her life.”
The post-election session had begun and in barely 24 hours, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Lagos and the returning officer for the governorship election, declared Senator Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party, winner of the Osun 2022 governorship election. He defeated the incumbent Governor and thirteen other aspirants to clasp the trophy.
When one tilt the head over the shoulder to glance at the events that preceded the outcome of the election, one may pause at the gaze, keeping the stare and recapturing the intrigues that built up the election and its aftermath.
Osun 2022: A stand-alone election
In 1991, the administration of Gen.Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida held the whittling knife and successfully carved Osun state off the old Oyo state. Eight years later, Nigeria returned to democracy and uniformly, state governors are elected during the periodic general elections, scheduled every four years.
In recent times, Osun state and five other states have been excluded from this cycle, owing to the previous judgements of (court) tribunals that have nullified the legitimacy of state governors at specific times in the past.
In 2007, PDP’s Olagunsoye Oyinlola was victorious at the Osun gubernatorial election but his closest opponent: an aspirant of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the current minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, impugned the sequel of the election—unsatisfied and determined, he challenged the results and he won at the tribunal. Subsequently, he was sworn in as governor in November 2010.
The effect of the (tribunal) verdict in 2010 and later affirmed by the Supreme Court, disrupted the coherence of governorship elections in Osun and consequentially, the south-western state exercises its suffrage rights in off-season gubernatorial election.
The situation may seem advantageous, specifically, in matters related to the much-needed attention (and concentration) to repress electoral officials from infractions—nonetheless, stand-alone governorship elections may define the outcome of the succeeding general elections and it becomes an arena for the political Lords, godfathers and rapacious politicians to test their popularity, strength and power, spurring them to engage desperately, in a bid to bolster their chances ahead of the general elections.
The weaponry of vote-buying and other electoral malfeasance: the devious tools of these politicians, deployed on ignorant, weak and poor electorates are evidence of their desperation.
“The party agents came around, we saw them. They negotiated with some electorates at (my) polling unit and my friend was given N5000 to cast her lot in favour of their party.” Seun scoffed and blurted a feign smile as she recalled the electoral malpractice.
In a similar report of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a nonprofit that is made up of several civil society organizations (CSO), observed that “political party agents were present in most of the polling units” and “a minimum of four party agents and maximum of six” were buying votes for their respective political parties.
Osun 2022: The youths awakened
Nigeria’s estimated 218,601,314 million population is the largest in Africa and persons under the age of 30 accounts for 70% of the African giant’s population. Since 1999, in spite of the overwhelming numbers of youth in Nigeria, their inclusiveness in the electoral processes have been somewhat contrastive to the huge youthful percentage and Osun had previously clung to this trend until the last governorship election.
“Yes! I saw other youths and students like me, and I believe most of us are dependent on our parents.” She began. “At the polls, we stood behind our choices and I’m certain that some of us were not interested in the big names of the partisans or in their affiliations.” Her smile faded abruptly and her new countenance expressed the duo of optimism and fulfilment. “Excellence, capabilities and the agendas of the aspirants were the main criteria for the choices most of us made at the polls.”
According to Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an independent advocacy and capacity building institution, youth has the highest representation of voters in the Osun gubernatorial election, a percentage which stands at 39.7%, while the middle-aged represent 32.5%, the elderly 19.2% and the old 8.51%.
The influx of youths at the Osun election can be attributed to the increasingly growing campaigns and awareness against political apathy, the political sensitization in social medias and the university labour groups’ feud with the federal government, an agitation that has kept the public university students off academics, for over hundred days.
Osun 2022: Entertainment and politics
The Nigerian entertainment industry is a multidimensional sector that has overlapped its thrilling purposes—and long before the modern era, the boundaries between music and politics have been intertwined as a common entity. From the days of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to the era of Daddy Showkey, Femi Kuti, Eeedris Abdulareem, Asa and among others, music has continued to remain a relevant tool in the discourse of socio-political issues and in the advocacy of specific political action.
Asides opinions and criticisms, musicians in Nigeria have propagated and raised the ideologies of several Nigerian politicians—and during electioneering stages, these musicians exhilarate their fans, drifting their attention to the doorway of the political ambiance.
“Naturally, music is a unifying force and from time immemorial, politicians have used musicians to up their game. They invite popular musicians to amass voters.” Taiwo Olalusi, a music lecturer in the department of Performing Arts, University of Ilorin, told FirstNewsOnline.
David Adeleke, a Nigerian musician who is known by his stage name “Davido” and Habeeb Okikiola, popularly known as “Portable” were the musical figures who defined the confluence of Nigerian music and politics at the Osun governorship election.
“It was clear that the election was a two-horse race; keenly contested by APC and PDP. I needed to know the intentions of the two political parties, so I followed actively. Davido and Portable are trendy and they were the leading entertainers at the political square of the Osun political rallies.” Seun chuckled. “Their engagements sparked a greater interest, it was like a musical concert and one could see the youths and the young adults attracted to their favorite artists.”
Davido, also known as “Omo baba olowo” (OBO) which literally means “the son of the rich man,” the head of the 30BG (entertainment) gang and a nephew of the PDP governorship aspirant. His 24 million followers on Instagram and 11 million at Twitter imply that the Afro-beat star is renowned and influential in the entertainment industry. He was momentous and integral in the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke, a similar role he played in 2018 but his party (PDP) lost at the polls to the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola.
“It was a battle of influence. I watched the performance of Davido and how he thrilled his fans at the PDP secretariat; his native attire at a rally in Osogbo gave me a sense of the cultural values.” Seun commented in her usual interactive tone.
Habeeb Okikiola (Portable), a boisterous Nigerian performer who is also called Idamu Adugbo: “the terror of the hood” and he’s Oyetola’s artistic choice for the electioneering rallies of the Osun 2022 election. At the introductory (or sometimes at the conclusive) part of his musical pieces, he appraises himself as the “were olorin” which translates to “the insane artist.” The aftermath of the copyright saga of the ‘Zazooh’ single, surprisingly contributed to his fame, especially, in the “street circles.”
“At Igbono, his fans were happily drawn to the display of his street performance where he displayed the money given to him by the Governor.” Her calmative voice ended her smiles and her face shone a mild dismay. “Portable’s engagement was obviously a response to Davido’s affluence in the opposition camp but he was no match for that.” Said Seun.
In Osogbo, at the final (mega) rally of APC, Portable mounted an erected edifice that holds a sculptural piece of chief Obafemi Awolowo on its center—visible along a major highway in the township’s axis. His chest was bare and the strap of a sling-bag is worn over his left shoulder. He wrapped his right-hand over the APC symbol (the broom)—his shorts hung loosely between his knees and his underwear was vulgarly seeable.
Osun state is called the “land of virtue” and it is the home of the Yoruba ancestral town and origin, Ile-Ife. However, following the performances of Portable at the Osun rallies, several deleterious (social media) comments were hurled at the government’s campaign team; and Oyetola’s administration was reprehended for flouting the existing moral virtues of the state.
“Portable has his own fans and his political contractors were hoping to attract those fans to the colony of the APC but music has its limit when governance is weak.” Reflectively and snappily, the music lecturer articulated his comments and ended on a didactic pitch and pace.
Dramatic intra-party elections of the major political parties
Governor-elect Ademola Jackson Adeleke is fondly called the “Osun-West dancer,” he won the bye-election in July 2017 and filled the vacant Senatorial seat of his late brother, Isiaka Adeleke, but he lost the governorship election in 2018 and rekindled the interest again, in 2022.
Amidst the eruption of the internal feud that rocked the opposition party ahead of the election, there was a split in the structure of the People’s Democratic Party: a Sunday Bisi led PDP and a faction headed by Wale Ojo.
Primaries were conducted differently by the respective intra-groups but the party’s National Working Committee recognized the outcome of the primary election that overwhelmingly affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the nominee of the People’s Democratic Party while the nomination of Dotun Babayemi of the Wale Ojo led faction was deprecated.
Similarly, the cymbals of conflicts also clanged stridently in the ruling party, APC. The internal buzzing tussle between Rauf Aregbesola and Gboyega Oyetola was exacerbated, following the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the Presidential aspirant of APC. While the genesis of the conflict is largely unclear, the disparities led to the formation of the party’s break-away called “The Osun Progressives” (TOP), chaired by Rasaq Salinsile and Oyetola’s APC: the Ileri Oluwa bloc, is headed by Gboyega Famodun.
Prior to the primary election, during a stakeholders’ congress organized by “The Osun Progressives,” Rauf Aregbesola weighed in connection with the Afenifere group and claimed the validation of the Osun state APC. “We are the true legacy of Awolowo!” He flared. “You are not a faction, you are the real party!”
At the Congress, Aregbesola also denounced the god-fatherhood of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, execrated the governorship of Gboyega Oyetola and he boasted about the governor’s “imminent defeat at the primary election,” citing the similar loss of Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state (video).
The plans for the primary election briefly united the factions but the huge victory of Oyetola in the controversial primary election broke the alliance again, a key factor that fostered Adeleke’s victory.
After Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe had declared the winner, a Facebook post surfaced via Aregbesola’s verified handle. In the deleted post, the remarks began. “Osun le tete” which means “Osun sets the pace” and in furtherance of the post, the Interior Minister quoted Daniel 4 vs 17 “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
Several comments thronged the Minister’s post but the post went off and a disclaimer followed. The denouncement urged Nigerians to “Ignore unauthorized messages posted on Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s social media pages.”
Osun 2022 Guber: A rematch, a political clash and a shift
There were political grudges, discords and the supposed buried conflicts that were unearthed from its catacomb—and like a second clash of a sporty encounter, the Osun 2022 governorship election was a rematch of the preceding governorship poll.
On September 22, 2018, a total of 48 candidates contested the stand alone Osun 2018 gubernatorial election. Initially, PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke was triumphant, he led with total votes of 254,698, ahead of APC’s 254,345 and Social Democratic Party’s 128,048.
Adeleke’s 353-margin-victory was subjected to section 153 of the Electoral Act that calls for a rerun if the margin of victory in any (Nigerian) election is lower than the total number of votes in polling units where elections are nullified; hence, the Osun 2018 election was declared inconclusive and in 27th September, APC’s Gboyega Oyetola won at the re-run polls.
Towards the decisive moments of the 2022 governorship election, at the rallies and (in several media chats), Senator Adeleke, often referred to the (controversial) event of the 2018 election and urged his supporters (the Osun electorates) to partake heartily at the polls, to stave off the recurrence of any contentious situation.
In a post-election interview with Channels Television, Senator Adeleke acknowledged the support he received from top loyalists of Aregbesola. “I did not work with Aregbesola.” He declared. “But his associates like Kolapo Alimi: Oyetola’s lawyer—he was with them at the tribunal. He came to me and apologized.”
The Osun West dancer spoke about his kind gesture towards them and how it attracted them to his camp. “I believe Aregbesola and Oyetola fell out and when he (Kolapo Alimi) came to me, he told me he had watched me and that I was a good man.” He continued. “Aregbesola did not come to me, but other top members of APC joined the force.”