The stage is set for the battle for the political soul of the Osun West Senatorial District of Osun State. The seat became vacant following the death of the occupant of the office and the pioneer Executive Governor of the state, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, popularly known as Serubawon (one who sends fears into others).
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has fixed July 8 this year for the conduct of the bye election. The ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has picked its candidate for the election. A former Senator and two- term member of the House of Representatives, Senator Hussein Mudashiru has already emerged as the candidate of the APC, while Otunba Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke, a younger brother of the late Senator Adeleke has equally emerged as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the election. PDP is the leading opposition party in the ‘State of the Living Spring’.
Senator Mudashiru and Otunba Adeleke, of course, are not the only candidates contesting in the bye-election, but the race, without any fear of contradiction, is between the duo.
Otunba Nurudeen Adeleke, while speaking last week Thursday on Abuja after being formally presented with the flag of the PDP by its National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, had categorically said that his late elder brother, Senator Adeleke made the victory of the governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola possible in the state.
The younger Adeleke, who only recently decamped from the All Progressives Congress (APC), to the PDP where he clinched the party’s ticket after two other aspirants stepped down for him, insisted that Aregbesola could not have won the Osun State governorship election when he contested if not for the massive support the late Senator Adeleke provided for him.
The Senatorial candidate however declared that the death of his elder brother would play a significant role in ensuring victory for him at the election.
He pointed out that since his emergence as the PDP Senatorial candidate, the camp of the APC candidate, Senator Hussein Mudashiru has been thrown into confusion, stressing that he would defeat his other opponents in the election hands down.
In his words, “I believe victory is ours. We are winning. Nobody can stop us in Osun State. After the July 8 election, we will surely come back to this PDP national secretariat to come and celebrate our victory.”
Ademola Adeleke noted with concern however that with the way the Osun State government is taking the bye election, “It is like am contesting against the state government.”
Continuing, he said, “The APC is not a steadfast party. They lie too much. Am not new in Osun politics, I have worked closely with my late brother who was the grand master of Osun State politics. The death of Senator Adeleke will surely play a great part in the election and ensure my victory.”
He however appealed to the PDP National Chairman to try as much as possible to be available at the grand finale of his campaign, to which the chairman accepted.
Earlier, the PDP National Chairman, Senator Sheriff explained the process leading to the emergence of the candidate, stressing that two others voluntarily withdrew for him.
He stated that the presentation of the flag to Otunba Adeleke was a confirmation that the PDP is solidly behind him.
But the supporters of Hussein Mudashiru are quick to remind the younger Adeleke that his brother (Late Isiaka Adelek) as a serving Senator of under the fast PDP, was defeated by Hon. Hussein of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) by scoring 121, 971 while Adeleke scored 77, 090 in 2011.
They pointed out that it took the magnanimity of Hussein who has respect for party decision to yield the position in 2015 to him, not because the late former governor was popular.
According to the supporters of Mudashiru, “The ACN/APC would have won elections without Adeleke. The gesture to let him fly the APC Osun West Senatorial District flag was an honor that should not be mistaken for popularity.”
With the way things are now, the question remains: Who wins the election? Can the political influence and the death of Isiaka Adeleke ensure victory for his brother? Can the issue of sympathy vote come into place here? Can Senator Mudashiru, who, no doubt, enjoys the support of the state government and that of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, defeat the younger Adeleke at the election? These are questions that would be answered by the people of Osun West Senatorial District on July 8 this year.