By Kayode Olaitan, News Agency of Nigeria
By most accounts, elections are usually preceded by political intrigues and subterfuges which may mar the processes and conclusion of the elections if not checked on time.
Political analysts observe that unlike in the past, recent public reactions to political developments, particularly on elections, tend to reinforce the fact that Nigeria’s democracy is becoming more stable.
They point at the recent governorship election in Ekiti State, in which the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), accepted his defeat by Mr Ayodele Fayode of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in good faith.
Observers express the hope that the hitch-free and peaceful conduct of the Ekiti State governorship election will be replicated in Osun State’s governorship election come Aug. 9.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has repeatedly assured Nigerians that the Osun governorship election and the 2015 general elections would be free and fair.
This assurance notwithstanding, observers insist that the contestants in the Osun polls should adhere strictly to the rules of the game by selling their programmes to the electorate and allowing the voters to make their choice.
In the lead-up to the Osun polls, the contestants have staged several political campaigns across the state, dishing out promises; all in the need to garner the electorate’s support.
Although INEC has cleared 20 candidates of different political parties for the governorship election, observers, nonetheless, note that the election is somewhat a straight fight between APC and PDP candidates.
They argue that due to the antecedents of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola (APC) and Sen. Iyiola Omisore (PDP), the election is going to be a direct contest between the two candidates.
They could, however, not rule out the possibility that a minority party may spring a surprise by producing the next governor of Osun if it has a populist, people-oriented manifesto.
However, the PDP has, on several occasions, vowed to replicate its victory in the June 21 Ekiti governorship election in Osun on Aug. 9.
The PDP’s candidate, Omisore, has been trying to garner the goodwill of the electorate, explaining why he should become the next governor of the state.
“PDP will win Osun governorship election decisively because of the perceptible failures of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in all spheres of government endeavours.
“Till today, 87 per cent of Osun State has not witnessed any meaningful development at all.
“The noise about road constructions is only limited to only two major roads; all the township roads and other Federal Government roads are abandoned. During our campaigns, we were forced to travel on very bad roads to reach the people.
“Besides, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-government in Osun has bastardised the education sector of the state.
“In fact, a couple of months ago, we asked Aregbesola to do away with his Opon Imo (computers distributed to students under the government’s e-learning programme).
“He spent about N8.4 billion on the scheme. Opon Imo has few subjects with 87.4 per cent errors. There is no single illustrative diagram or graph in Opon Imo.
“There is no single figure in its graph mathematics; there is no diagram for science subjects in Opon Imo. The same goes for all the students in JSS 1 to JSS 3.
“So, there is a real confusion and the people of the state are fed up with it,’’ he added.
Omisore vowed to correct the anomaly if he was voted into power on Aug. 9.
“With my experience as a former deputy governor and a senator for eight years; I believe I am the most suited for the job.
“The main thrust of my administration’s policy will be on job creation, quality education, human capital development, infrastructure, health, roads, agriculture and commerce,’’ he added.
Omisore reiterated that he was on a “rescue mission’’ to bring good governance and pragmatic development to Osun and its citizens.
He said that his eight cardinal programmes were aimed at promoting education, infrastructural development, transparency and accountability in governance, grassroots development and growth of the education sector, among others.
“Our primary focus will be on improving the wellbeing and social safety of the people; wealth creation and pensionable employment; agriculture, food security and rural development; peace and security and public service administration.
“We are going to fight poverty by giving young graduates jobs; we will also create small and medium scale enterprises to empower the people,’’ he added.
In the area of education, Omisore said that if voted into power, his government would invest massively in the education sector because of his belief that any investment in the development of education was a worthwhile venture.
“We are going to restore the quality of education in Osun; the management of public schools will be ceded to their original owners, if the people so desired.
“The one-uniform policy of the government for all schools in the state will be abrogated and our women selling cloths and sewing school uniforms will be back in business,’’ he said.
Omisore urged the electorate to come out en-masse and vote for him, saying that they should all be involved in the ongoing campaign for a better society in Osun in a pragmatic way.
In a swift reaction to Omisore’s electioneering, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, the Director-General of Aregbesola Campaign Organisation, stressed that the PDP victory in Ekiti State governorship election would never be replicated in Osun.
He vowed that Aregbesola would win the governorship election by a wide margin, saying that the massive turnout of people at the governor’s campaign rallies in towns like Iwo, Ikire, Ikirun and Ibokun was a clear testimony of the people’s support for his second-term bid.
“Just as people demonstrated their support for Aregbesola in 2007, they are visibly more committed to him, following his outstanding performance in his first term tenure of office,’’ Adeyeye said at a recent forum in Osogbo.
Besides, Aregbesola solicited the people’s support for the state government’s new education policy, while inaugurating some buildings at the Baptist Elementary Primary School, Ilare, Ile-Ife, recently.
He warned the critics of his administration and its education policy to be patient, insisting that the policy would produce good results in the long run.
The governor stressed that the focus of the education policy was on promoting the wellbeing of teachers and students of the state’s public schools.
Aregbesola said that the government was planning to build 20 well-equipped high schools, 50 middle schools and 100 elementary schools.
Mr Sunday Akere, the Commissioner for Information, said that the state government had committed the larger part of its financial resources to education.
He said that the government was also providing free meals for primary school pupils in classes one to four every day.
“The government has spent N900 million on the provision of free uniform to students across the state; it also spent N1.2 billion on Opon Imo and N14.8 billion on the construction of school buildings under its `O’ School programme,’’ he said.
Drumming up support for Aregbesola in the Aug. 9 election, Akere emphasised that his administration had recruited no fewer than 10,470 teachers.
He said that the government was also paying N10, 000 monthly to elders, whose ages were above 65 years, in the state.
In his campaign, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, the governorship candidate for the Labour Party (LP), pledged to provide free health care for pregnant women in the state if voted into power.
He said that the focus of his qualitative free health programme, if he became governor, would be on pregnant women so as to reduce maternal mortality rate and ensure safe childbirths in the state.
Dr Eunice Adedayo, the leader of Women for Positive Change, pledged that women would support Akinbade in the election, adding that the manifesto of the LP was aimed at promoting the interests of the masses.
Other candidates who are contesting the governorship election on the platform of different political parties also made different promises to the electorate during their electioneering.
The candidates include Adeoye Adeyinka of Action Al¬liance (AA), Niyi Owolade of Accord Party (AP), Sunday Fajinmi of Alli¬ance for Democracy (AD), Akintunde Adetunji of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Rafiu Anifo¬wose of Citizens Popular Party (CPP).
Others are Jimoh Afo¬layan of National Con¬science Party (NCP), Segun Adegoke of New Nige-ria Peoples Party (NNPP), Gbenga Gabriel of African Democratic Congress (ADP), Agboola Obasanjo of African People’s Alliance (APA) and Oludare Akinola of Peoples Democratic Move¬ment (PDM).
Ganiyu Lawal of Progres¬sive People’s Alliance (PPA), Funsho Bunmi of United Democratic Party (UDP), Ibra¬him Adeoti of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Victor Adeniyi of United Progressive Party (UPP) and Segun Akinwusi of the Social Dem¬ocratic Party (SDP) are also vying for the governorship post.
Concerned citizens, however, appeal to the electorate in Osun to look beyond the pragmatics of the candidates’ rhetoric to specific areas which spur them to make informed choices on whom to vote for on Aug. 9.
They also urge the candidate who eventually wins the election to live up to his campaign promises, particularly those that are aimed at promoting the people’s wellbeing.