Who succeeds Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State when he leaves office in May 2011? This is the million – dollar question on the lips of the people of the State of the Living Spring ahead of the next general elections. The election will produce a successor to the governor who will be completing his constitutionally guaranteed two terms of office in May 2011. There are two major parties in the state: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition Action Congress (AC).
The battle for the Oke Fia Government House, Osogbo will be between these two parties. The battle promises to be a replica of the 2007 version which saw Oyinlola confronting AC’s Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, former Commissioner for Works in Lagos State . Oyinlola ran away with victory in the election and would by May 29, 2011 complete the maximum two terms allowed in the constitution. Before the elections proper, the PDP and AC as well as the other lesser known parties must nominate their candidates.
This presupposes that the parties will organize primaries to elect their candidates. In the AC, no notable member has, at least for now, shown interest in picking the party’s ticket. This may be adduced to the fact that Aregbesola, the party’s flag bearer in the 2007 election, is still in court, contesting Oyinlola’s victory. Even then, political analysts think no member of the AC in the state has the clout of Aregbesola as to want to vie for the party’s ticket with him as long as he is still interested. If this calculation is correct, then the AC gubernatorial candidate in the 2007 polls may automatically pick the party’s ticket come 2011. This is not the situation in the state PDP where an array of aspirants has emerged, jostling for the party’s gubernatorial ticket. Those in the race for the PDP ticket include former top government functionaries, serving and erstwhile lawmakers, captains of industry and business executives. Amid the jostling however came, like a thunderbolt, the report, recently, that Senator Iyiola Omisore may have been endorsed by the rank and file of the party to fly the party’s flag during the elections. Expectedly, the report elicited negative response from some interested aspirants in the state and their sympathizers.
Yet, despite this negative response, political pundits are unanimous in their verdict that if there is any aspirant in the ruling party with the clout to face the vibrancy of the opposition and deliver the state in 2011, that person is no other than Senator Omisore.
No doubt, Omisore has paid his dues both in Osun and national politics. This is after he paid similar dues in the private sector where he not only made name for himself but also acquired considerable wealth. His political antecedents speak volumes of his competence to take Osun to the next level after eight years of transformational strides of the Oyinlola administration. His grassroots appeal, which traverses the length and breadth of Osun State nay Nigeria has been one of his greatest strengths in politics. Analysts say he understands the people and their needs, and has at various points in the course of his sojourn in business and career in politics taken time out to address their needs. If that is the case, then the people must understand him. It is no surprise therefore that in every election that he has participated in, in the state since 1999, the people have always been generous to him with their votes, believing that he is the one most suited to use his political acumen to meet their aspirations. And the people have never been disappointed. Omisore is a man of vision. He sees politics as a means to an end, that is, to use it to serve the people selflessly. He is not one that seeks power for the sake of it so that when he grabs it, he does not know what to do with it. He has shown over time that he wants to lead his people as governor and has left nobody in doubt that he is well prepared for the job. That appears to be his primary reason for his being in politics.
Any position that providence may have put him in since 1999 when the current political dispensation came on stream is by the way. Even before 1999, any political neophyte in Osun State knew how prepared Omisore was for the office of governor. He already had his structure on ground like a man who had anticipated that full blown politics will come that year after several years of military rule. Consequently, Omisore was not only a front runner in the run up to the 1999 polls but also the man to beat. But there was a snag. Whereas his party then, Alliance for Democracy (AD), had hoped to win the gubernatorial election in the state using his structure, among others, they would want him to sacrifice his own gubernatorial ambition by conceding the ticket to another aspirant, Chief Bisi Akande. Having prepared so much for the office of governor, it was only a man of large heart that could have made such concession. But Omisore did, taking instead the position of deputy to Akande. The Akande/Omisore ticket won the Osun election. But trouble soon came following Akande’s mistrust of Omisore ahead of re-election in 2003; leading to the latter’s victimization. Then came the Bola Ige assassination saga, which Omisore’s detractors unsuccessfully tried to rope him into. Omisore weathered the storms. He went through the trials and came out vindicated. To show that the people of the state appreciate his person and contributions in the past years, he was elected a Senator notwithstanding his travail in the Bola Ige assassination trial. Now, he has been in the Senate for the past seven years, doing what he knows how to do best, that is using the art of lawmaking to serve not only the people of his district and state but also the nation. And his profile has been so high in the Senate to the extent that he has been saddled with the most important responsibility of the National Assembly- preparation of the National budget as Chairman of Appropriation Committee.
In the course of discharging its responsibility that the lapses hitherto associated with budgeting at the national level are fast disappearing. As a result of Omisore’s ingenuity, the Committee came up with the Inclusive National Budgeting Initiative, which allows the people to choose the projects that most appeal to them under the national budget rather than government officials sitting in Abuja and arbitrarily determining projects that should be located in a particular place. Under the Omisore committee’s budget inclusive initiative, prior to the preparation of the budgets, the two Committees of the National Assembly tour the various geo-political zones to feel the pulse of the people with a view to reflecting their yearnings and aspirations in the budget. In this vein, it is difficult for the Senate, nay the National Assembly, to approve in the budget that an airport be built in a rural setting whereas what the community needs is durable roads.
With the Inclusive Budget Initiative , Omisore and his colleagues have proved that the people should have a say in the projects to be sited in their domains so that projects that least meet their needs don’t come into the budget. This is partly the essence of governance. Beyond this, the Ife- born Senator has collaborated with the Oyinlola administration so that the state and his Osun South Senatorial District which he is representing in the National Assembly get their fair share from the national purse. People also attest to Omisore’s philanthropy. Courtesy of the philanthropy, several families in Osun and across the country have been empowered while many indigent children now having the opportunity of being educated. Pictures, the people say, don’t lie. The facts on ground shows that if democracy dividends could flow this much from Omisore to the people while still not directly in power as governor, then better things will come when in 2011, the people of Osun people give him the mandate to lead them.
Indeed, one can rightly say that Omisore is the best man for the Osun governorship job come next year.
Alhaji Oriowo contributes this piece from 21 College Road, Ila-Orogun, Osun-State.