Saturday 2 July 2022

Osun poll: Defections, defeat and the dance to come....Kunle Oyatomi

One of the interesting twists in Nigeria’s politics is its supple capacity not only to brew surprises, but also to churn out anticlimaxes. So, while this sphere of our national life has the promise of amazements, it can also confound by refusing to live up to expectations. Either way, a surprise is always unfolded at the end of the day. Some cynics won’t call it a surprise; they would describe it as anticlimax because of its failure to meet their goal. After all, what’s an anticlimax? It is ‘’a dull ending where a climax (peak) was expected’’, according to the English dictionary.

What has been happening in my state, the State of Osun, in the past few days which will influence the governorship poll in a few days, bears me out. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says it recognizes the place of numbers in electoral politics and therefore it would release its numerical superiority to trounce the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, at the forthcoming ballot. Now that’s the promise.

But the hope of the people to witness such display of huge numbers on the side of PDP has been dashed. Some 10,000 influential leaders and members of the PDP have crossed over to APC. At a well-attended ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park in Osogbo, the capital, these defectors were received into the progressive fold of APC. They didn’t want to be in a sinking ship as it heads for the final shipwreck on July 16. They have seen the picture of the near future.

Honourable Wale Ojo, factional Chairman of PDP, Albert Adeogun, a governorship candidate in 2018 and federal legislator, Ayodele Asalu, Soji Ibikunle, and Lanre Arogundade, all led the decamping politicians into their new party. They were received by the National Secretary of APC, Otunba Iyiola Omisore. He assured them they could aspire to the sky in their new abode. They would not be discriminated against given APC’s well-known open-door inclinations.

Governor Gboyega Oyetola, as the leader of APC in Osun was on ground to welcome the new members. He warmly told them: ‘’I congratulate our friends and brothers who have made a critical decision for their political careers and fortunes. You have come at the right time and you have nothing to fear. You are already members, there will be no discrimination whatsoever. Senator Omisore is a testimony that our party values people of substance and gives a fair chance to all.’’

Offered the opportunity to respond to the cordial embrace they got, the defectors promised to work assiduously for the re-election of Oyetola, the APC candidate on July 16. Although different persons spoke, they were in agreement about the scorecard of Governor Oyetola: the governor has performed wonderfully and deserves a second term; the PDP is a serial-loser group with nothing tangible or concrete to give to the people of Osun.

Elsewhere in the state, the story of desertions continued without abating. This time around, the scene shifted to Iragbiji, the hometown of Governor Oyetola under Boripe Local Government Area. More than 500 supporters of the opposition PDP moved to APC. At a huge rally, Oyetola commended the new members of the governing party pfor their wise move. He assured them that if reelected, his second coming ‘’ would be more rewarding and resourceful, as the first term was a foundation for a brighter future.’’ Responding, the fresh entrants into the APC household having been swayed by the ‘’convincing manner Oyetola has been managing the affairs of the state,’’ they could not but follow it up with a move into his party. They then promised to ‘’support Oyetola with their votes in the July 16 governorship election.’’

Now we come back to my postulation in my title as well as in my opening. There was a build-up promised by the PDP suggesting that it would overrun the APC on July 16 in view of its boast of overwhelming statistics. But its number is mortally being depleted. They are not draining elsewhere, but into APC. What it is losing, APC is gaining and rapidly converting into its electoral armoury for use on ballot day. So the people of Osun, after being presented with the prospects of a battle-ready PDP poised for a keen contest with APC, are going to settle for effete opposition, full of boasting without action. That’s the anticlimax I referred to. These desertions will, unarguably, lead to the PDP’s defeat. Oyetola’s performance has always given APC electoral upper hand, no doubt about that. But this gale of desertions seals his triumph to the point of a landslide victory.

Finally, my thesis: the desertions from PDP are leading the party to irrecoverable defeat which would set the stage for APC’s victory dance on July 16.

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