By NBF News

2011: Omisore and the battle for Osun
Monday, March 15, 2010


In the recent times and ahead of the gubernatorial primaries in Osun State, the battle ground for the governorship seat for 2011 in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is heating up.

In the party, although many aspirants have signified their intentions to occupy the number one seat, however, three of them are outstanding and are at the moment in public glare.These political gladiators include Senator Iyiola Omisore,Ife -Ijesha senatorial ; Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, former Secretary to the State Government(SSG) and Mr Peter Babalola , Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola's former Chief of Staff,both from Osun West. Fortunately, these three gentlemen have three things in common. And these are: their wealth of political experience, grassroots networks as well as financial power.

However, in spite of these shared advantages, among these majors ,the pendulum seems to be swinging relentlessly in the direction of Omisore who seems to be more visible than the rest.

A look into the  camps from which appointments of the new Secretary to the State Government and the Chief of Staff and new commissioners were made is a pointer to the of influece Omisore wields in the state. For some people, the appointments were meant to demobilize and make irrelevant the overrated political structures in the state. For others, it was a calculated attempt to ease tensions among some top politicians. According to sources in the state, those who are political strange bed fellows were appointed to replace the former  Secretary to the Government, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade and Chief of Staff,Peter Babalola.

Investigations revealed that although major political interest groups nominated their preferred candidates, however Omisore carried the day due to his pervasive political influence. More so, it is widely believed that it is payback time for the distinguished senator who threw his weight behind the present governor in those trying days.

For now, everything seems to be working in favour of Omisore. For example, a widely circulated article in one of the national dailies reported that the Iwo the elite were allegedly not in good terms with Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, the former SSG who hails from Iwoland but from Ola Oluwa Local government , a local government carved out from the old Iwo local government , for various reasons . In the main, they alleged that he sidelined Iwo in the scheme of things in the state.

Most of the projects that were allegedly given to Iwo, they claimed , were allegedly transferred to relatively obscure Ola-Oluwa local government, leaving Iwo without any projects to signal the state presence. Some of the projects include the school of Nursing, Customary Court of Appeal, a nursery school and a cassava company. To the chagrin of the Iwo elite, the television station constructed by late Chief Bola Ige but frustrated and bungled Bola Ige's inability to return to the Government House in 1983 has remained uncompleted despite the interest of the governor over the project. 'If the TV station was in Ogbaagba, do you think, Akinbade wouldn't have ensure its completion? ,a top elite in Iwo queried. Even the people of Iwo are not happy with the deplorable state of Iwo Oshogbo  Road  which has been in  a state of disrepair for many years now. These, among other infrastructural challenges have thrown Iwo into backwardness among its peers in Osun.

For Akinbade to allegedly allow Ogbaagba and personal sentiments to drive his attitudes to exclude Iwo where he was honoured by the traditional ruler Oba Asiru Tadese as Oluomo of Iwo was uncalled for and embarrassing to the top Iwo elite. These recent appointments, particularly that of the SSG who hails from Iwo township is believed to have further enlarged the coast of Omisore as it now gives him inroad and an unfettered access, not only to Iwo but to the entire state.

Recently, Omisore was unanimously confirmed by the traditional high chiefs as the PDP candidate from the list of five aspirants from the ancient town of Ife. According to a letter entitled, 'Selection of gubernatorial candidate for May 2011 transition election in Osun State' the 16 traditional chiefs stressed that their decision followed a comprehensive deliberation on the need to present a formidable candidate from Ile-Ife for the 2011 governorship race.

The letter, was signed by the 16 traditional high chiefs. In the letter addressed to the Ooni of Ife, the high chiefs stressed that 'as you assigned, sequel to much deliberation to pick one of the six Ife indigenes that could be presented to run the 2011 gubernatorial election in Osun State of Nigeria, we the 16 Ife traditional high chiefs, four Obas inclusive, have unanimously opted for Senator Iyiola Omisore.

The high chiefs, in the letter, gave the reasons for the adoption of Senator Omisore to include his 'incompatible exclusive popularity in Osun State and all over the whole six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, as well as his administrative acumen and hard earned experience. Aside this, some rumour mongers and political adversaries of Omisore were said to be the architect of the rumour spreading like a wild fire that the Senator could not be voted for. The motive was to create confusion and sagging morale among the teaming supporters of Omisore in the state , a former local government chairman in Ede declared .

Even the brains behind the other propaganda have indeed been frustrated by the Supreme Court judgment which not only nullified the lower court pronouncement but blamed the court for it as well.

Information gathered last week indicated that Iyiola Omisore has emerged the strongest and closest to the government house in 2011 with key politicians switching fast to 'The Anointed' as he is being referred to in the state.

Omisore's growing supporters seems to be nurtured by certain traits in his personality that endear him to them. Among the political class and the general public, this Ife born politician is loved for fearlessness and political sagacity. In the senate, the issue of excess crude oil confirmed this assertion about Omisore. He bluntly kicked against the move by the executives to peg the crude oil price at 53 dollars in 2008 budget as proposed by the executives insisting it must be 59 dollars;he equally moved against issue of excess crude oil accounts .But his actions were rationalized. On the oil price he noted:

'By the time they come with 53 dollars ,our idea was that it should be 59dollars because then oil price was between 90 dollars and 100 dollars and I am sure there is no way it can come below 100dollars . Even if there is any conspiracy among the G7.At the end of the day even if they produce extra barrels ,it cannot come below 70dollars.So our 59 dollars per barrel was comfortable figure for us.'' On excess crude palaver he declared interalias 'What happened was that excess crude oil account is an anomaly .Section 72 of the constitution says that all monies must be appropriated in the National Assembly.

If you don't appropriate these monies how would they three tiers share in the crude .And of course excess from the crude oil is an aberration'', Omisore insisted. When he was asked the risk of his action,Omisore he noted pointedly : 'Well , I am not here to please the executives .I am here to do my job ,to please my constituency ,to please my National Assembly colleagues ,, to please Nigerians. That is why you have checks and balances . We are to check the executives. So they be happy at all time but we have to come to an agreement ,so we don't have to quarrel'' ,he added.

He is indeed a realist . In 1999, in kind and cash, he contributed to welfare and victory of the Alliance for Democracy. However, after discovering he was within political strange bed fellows, he called it a quit in line with the reality on ground. He seems to be good students of Plato school of thought. According to Plato a wise man would recognize the world of ideas but only a fool would believe that any ideals could be realized.