- PUNCH LINE
By Seyi Gesinde
THE governorship aspiration of Senator Iyiola Omisore, candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the September 22 election, appears to be receiving a boost, as the political momentum in Osun State seems to be gathering in his favour. The development, many political watchers, especially the Osun people, said had created a clear chance for the Ife-born politician to have an easy sail and emerge the governor of the state.
On Saturday, August 25, when Omisore and the SDP leadership formally launched out to sell his governorship agenda to the people, it began with a senatorial rally at Ilesa, the hometown of incumbent Governor Raul Aregbesola, connecting both the Ilesa East and Ilesa West Local Government Areas, ostensibly to test his popularity. Prior to this move, the thinking in political circles had been that Aregbesola, a two-term governor of the All Progressives Congress (APC), would enjoy the home support, and the people might not necessarily embrace the Omisore agenda.
However, the turnout at the rally didn’t support that speculation, as a large member of people, even defying the rain, gathered for four hours on the premises of the Ilesa Palace, awaiting the arrival of Omisore, and seeing his convoy arriving, they went into a wild jubilation, with a red carpet treatment given to him and his entourage. The elated Ilesa people ushered them into the palace of the Owa Obokun Adimula and Paramount Ruler of Ijesaland, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II, who blessed his aspiration to become Osun State governor.
While speaking at the palace, Omisore, who enjoyed the ambience of excitement surrounding Oba Aromolaran, told the monarch that the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola had failed the people of the state, especially the Ilesa people, noting that the governor did nothing to up the standard of living for people in the state, even in Ilesa, his hometown. He also reminded his audience that it was only the projects he facilitated to Ilesa, as a senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, but which had been abandoned for eight years by the Aregbesola administration, that he came back to meet.
“I had thought he (Aregbesola) would have done well in Ilesa because he is from this town. But there is nothing to show for it. It was all the projects I did in Ijesaland when I was in the Senate as the Appropriation Committee chairman, that I came back to meet, and they have even been abandoned for eight years now. Aregbesola has done nothing in Ilesa after those projects.” Rather, Omisore at the palace, addressing the media, hinted that Aregbesola’s administration had allegedly perfected plan to further plunder the state into 15 years of indebtedness after his tenure would have expired.”
In his response, Oba Aromolaran, said; “I have listened with a rapt attention to your inspiring speech at this occasion, and I have to wish you success,” adding that, “as you might be aware, prominent and respectable traditional rulers are fathers to all members of political parties in the country. Our own role is to pray to God to guide all the aspirants and select those who will move our country forward and benefit the masses. “ He admonished politicians to always fulfill their campaign promises.
Oba Aromolaran lauded Omisore’s effort to be the state governor, while he submitted with a specific prayer request, saying: “When God will choose, He won’t forget Senator Iyiola Omisore. This is my prayer, and may He allow the prayer to come to past.” It was in the strength of this royal petition to God, that Omisore and his crew left the Oba’s palace for the campaign ground, where he addressed the Ilesa people. It was a big gathering of people who came from Ilesa towns and villages such as, Ayeso, Araromi, Okesa, Egbeide, Ibala, Idasa, Ijoka, Isida, Ilerin and Iyemogun, from the East, and those from Ilesa West comprising of people from Ereja, Ikoti/Araromi, Ilaje, Isida/Adeti, Isokun, Itakogun, Lower Egbedi, Omofe/Idasa, Upper Igbogi and Lower Igbogi and Oja Oba. They all embraced the Omisore agenda.
At the second senatorial rally in Iwo, the reception was similar to the former. At the palace of the Oluwo of Iwo land, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, Omisore and other party leaders received a rousing welcome. The atmosphere became livelier when a national leader of the party, Ambassador Yemi Farounbi, presented Omisore to the people as a builder, who was prepared to rebuild Osun, and the crowd unanimously hailed Omisore as an “awaiting governor.” The people were at home with Omisore and Farounbi’s claim when introducing him on the podium as “a lover of workers and people in the state, was not disputed. In fact, they joined him in lauding Omisore’s achievements, “as the most experienced of all the candidates seeking to govern Osun State, having formerly served as a deputy governor in the state, and a two-time senator,” with Farounbi submitting that, “if elected the governor, Omisore will restore the lost glory of Osun State.”
What became evident after the rally was that the people of Iwo, under Iwo Local Government Area, who are spread across different towns and villages such as Agberire, Olubusan, Olupo Jolu, Omoba, Omosan-Igbo, Osa Ogunala, Osunjobi, Papa, Sade, Sekona, Tantan, Yakoyo, Adana, Adekolu, Awuje, Bara, Dauda, Denu, and others embraced the Omisore agenda. A part of the side attractions, which made the rally an interesting and a yielding one, was the adoption of Omisore by the Nigeria Youths Democratic Movement (NYDM) as its candidate for the September 22 governorship election, with a promise to deliver Iwo votes to SDP as against what happened in the 2014 governorship election.
At Odo-Otin, the third and the last senatorial district in Osun State, where SDP held its campaign rally, the people of Asi, Asaba, Oyan, Ekosin, Iyeku, Faji, Opete, Igbaye, Ijabe, Ila, Odo, Inisa, Obe, Agbeye, Okua and Ekusa, were on hand to receive Omisore with a promise to reciprocate the same courtesy he had shown to them by visiting and vote him in as their governor on September 22. There, Omisore also ceased the opportunity to remind the people that he had since left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); that those still associating him with the party were mischief-makers, only using his name to campaign, as he noted that: “PDP in Osun State is dead. It died the day I left the party and I have nothing to do with the party again, but to gain popularity, since my name is the only name they can use to convince Osun people, some mischief-makers still associate me with the PDP, making it obvious that this election is between Omisore and others, that is why they are using my name for campaign.”
In the same vein, to solidify his plans for development of Osun State, Omisore before the formal launch of his campaign, had released his party’s manifestos, his vision for governance, which he called an agenda that situates itself at the centre of five thematic pillars. These five pillar include: “economic management and accountability; professionalism and performance; equity in access to services; local content and innovation; and security.” To him, the specific interventions in each pillar seek to address the deficiencies in governance and gaps in implementation over the past eight years, adding that “careful consideration has been given to the central contribution of sound economic management and economic policies on good governance.” As explained, the pillar one “is centered on the need to motivate the civil service, who have had salaries arbitrarily reduced and not paid,” with a belief that “a motivated, trained and professional workforce is key for attainment of the goals of economic growth and social inclusion” in pillar two.
The third pillar for governance, Omisore said “dedicates attention to access to services and presents intervention in key growth facilitators such as, infrastructure and agriculture,” as well as “to enablers of social inclusion in health, education, youth and gender equity,” while the SDP’s fourth pillar for governance is expected to direct attention to local content and innovation and focus on public policy making provisions for local capacity, first in all procurement and services, while at the same time investing in the much needed capacity for competition at the local level.” It also centres on contemporary development on technology. In its diverse and innovative application, technology impacts on all sectors to improve productivity, effectiveness and reach, while the fifth pillar, he said would focus on security.
To Omisore, “if governance had been handled by experienced hands, the state would not be thrown into a state of indebtedness that would make it a debtor state fifteen years after the government would have handed over power, while he also regretted that the situation had adversely affected workers and retirees in the state to the extent they could no longer be paid their salaries and pension arrears.” He was of the view that “the allocation is enough to pay salaries and pension arrears,” which he said he would promptly pay on assumption of office as the governor of the state within the first 100 days. “Osun workers know that I have done it before. Salaries and areas are mandatory payments, including pensions and gratuities. But what is lacking in governance, discipline and prudence will be instituted as I assume office,” Omisore said. Then presenting a youthful deputy governorship candidate, 36-year-old Yemi Lawal, Omisore said, his drive to carry the youths along and provide them with pensionable and gainful employment, had been taken care of.
That the people had embraced the Omisore agenda, with how responsive they were all through the tour round the three senatorial districts in Osun State seem not in doubt, but to further check this claim, the indication further emerged in a one-on-one survey carried out by Sunday Tribune, where people on the streets were engaged in political talks during the tour to feel the pulse of the people concerning the governorship election in the state. The first responder, a private business man, Mr Tunde Awosika, said Omisore, is the the most favoured of all those aspiring to govern the state. As a business man, his reason, being that “the current government has injured the economic power of Osun people. Unlike before, there is no money to do business simply because of wrong appropriation of the meager resources of the state. Osun is basically a civil service state, and the biggest business patrons are the civil servants, but since they are being owed salaries for months, they have little or nothing to exchange goods with.”
Another contributor, an artisan, Bolaji Isola, said his reason for supporting Omisore was because he had done it before as a former deputy governor in the state; also as a senator, he said people benefited from his large heart. According to Isola, “the previous administration too had been tested, we have seen its strength, it seems not better than what we have at hand. So, the way I see it, Omisore seems a good option to explore. He was a deputy governor of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) with Chief Bisi Akande as the governor. That was the best government Osun people experienced in this present republic. He even seems to be a more experienced politician than this present set we are seeing. So, if given a chance, I see him performing as a governor.”
Madam Atinuke Babalola, a management consultant, also hyping on the people’s social welfare, said the economic well being of Osun people had been tampered with. “The cost of living is so high since there is no free flow of cash, due to non payment of salaries, and there is also no financial empowerment for petty traders. But the way I see Omisore going about his campaign, he seems a ready made alternative for the rescue of Osun State people and other residents alike from the damage the current ruling party has done to the personal economy of the people, Babalola said, contending that, “even, their social well being of the people have been tampered with. When the personal economy is bad, every other thing pertaining to personal welfare is affected. Most parents can no longer send their children to school. To feed themselves and their children is even difficult.”
In his own contribution, Mr Kunle Adebayo, a Civil Defence officer-turned a taxi driver, who lamented his loss of job, lack of gainful employment in the state plus the fact that workers in the state were not being paid their salaries, said, he gave his support to Omisore for his love for people’s empowerment. He though said he had no personal relationship with Omisore, he could solidify his claim with the fact that he knew at least 200 people Omisore helped in gaining employment into the Civil Defence as a Senator. Hence, for Adebayo, that was enough to bring him on board, saying, “You can easily forget someone who gave you money, but the one who has sorted you out for life is someone who offers you a gainful employment. Omisore should be applauded for this, not to mention several projects he facilitated to the state as a senator. All these we are aware of, and such a man should be given an opportunity to serve and do more for the people as a governor in the state.”