WALE AKINSELURE, in this analysis, looks at the fierce battle that lies ahead in the Oyo North Senatorial race.
IN 2019, Fatai Buhari became the first Senator to win election twice in Oyo North senatorial district. As announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officer for the district then, Professor Jonathan Aileru, Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored a total of 107,703 votes to defeat his close rival, Mulikat Akande-Adeola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 89,365 votes.
When Buhari won for the first time in 2015, he said he rode on the goodwill of his party, APC and his antecedent. Then, he polled 100,456 votes to beat the Labour Party candidate, Honourable Tajudeen Were, who got 75,469 votes.
After initially being a governorship aspirant of the APC for the 2023 election, Buhari upon being implored to obtain the senatorial form, is seeking a third term as senator. He had bought into the idea sold to him by the APC that having him in the Senate a third time was an opportunity for Oyo State to have a ranking senator. This was apart from reaching an understanding with his fellow senator, Teslim Folarin, who was also bidding for APC’s governorship ticket. It was evident that Buhari had the backing of leadership of the party of the state, considering the drama that played out regarding the Oyo North senatorial primary. The exercise was characterised by allegations of manipulations, disruption, arbitrary change of venue, violence, threat to life. Shina Peller was the most vocal of those who lost, alleging that the primary was manipulated and he later defected to the Accord Party where he got its senatorial ticket. Today, Peller is up against Buhari of the APC in the quest for the senate seta from the district.
Having lost the 2019 contest to Buhari, a former-leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Mulikat Akande, now on the platform of the SDP is again in the 2023 race. The other eight in the race are first-time contestants: Honourable Peller of the Accord Party; Hammed Solomon (ADC); Mrs Adesokan Taiwo (All Peoples Party); Salami Ganiyu (Labour Party); Mr Shuaib Ahmed (New Nigeria Peoples Party; Mr Babarinde Adeleke (National Rescue Movement); Mr Akinwale Solomon (Peoples Democratic Party) and Mr Agbeje Taiwo of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
Oyo North senatorial district comprises 13 local government areas. They are Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Iwajowa, Kajola, Ogbomoso North, Ogbomoso South, Olorunsogo, Orelope, Ori-ire, Saki East and Saki West. Four federal constituencies are derived from the zone namely: Olorunsogo/Oorelope/Irepo; Ogbomoso North/South/Oriire; Atisbo/Saki East/Saki West; Iseyin/Kajola/Iwajowa/Itesiwaju. In terms of zoning, three of the local government areas fall in Ogbomoso zone while 10 local government areas are part of Oke-Ogun zone. Since 1999, in terms of zoning, both Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun zones have produced senator for the district for 12 years each. Oke-Ogun zone of the senatorial district has produced Robert Koleoso, 2003-2007; Andrew Babalola, 2007-2011; Hosea Agboola, 2011-2015. Ogbomoso zone has produced Brimmo Yusuf, 1999-2003; Abdufatai Buhari, 2015-2019 and 2019-2023.
The top five local government areas of fierce battle
The candidates for the Oyo South are contending for no fewer than 833,525 votes. According to INEC figure, the number of registered voters in Oke-Ogun is more than double that of Ogbomoso zone. While Oke-Ogun zone has 587,445 registered voters, Ogbomoso zone has 246,080 voters. Across the senatorial district, the candidates will be hoping to have the bulk of votes in five local government areas which have the highest number of voters. The top LGAs are Saki West (111,395 voters), Iseyin (100,560 voters), Ogbomoso North (91,619 voters), Ogbomoso South (88,288 voters) and Oriire (66,173 voters). Candidates will be deploying all means to get majority of votes of the five local government areas alone which make up 55 percent of votes in the senatorial district.
Oke-Ogun vs Ogbomoso votes
Political analysts narrow the Oyo senatorial race to be a battle between candidates of the APC, PDP, SDP and Accord. Interestingly, only the Accord picked its candidate from Oke-Ogun zone while those of APC, PDP, SDP are from Ogbomoso. While in the last election, Fatai Buhari and Mulikat Akande had the bulk of their votes of their home base, Ogbomoso, the battle for votes even gets tighter with the entry of the candidate of PDP, Akinwale, who is another Ogbomoso man. While, it is clear that Ogbomoso will vote their own, Peller of Accord will also hope to get some Ogbomoso votes to complement that from Oke-Ogun zone. It is clear that a good showing across the 10 local government areas of Oke-Ogun will knock off a bad showing in the three local government areas of Ogbomoso. Therefore, the one who gets the bulk of Oke-Ogun votes, complemented by Ogbomoso votes, will be winner of the election. Supporters of the likes of Fatai Buhari, Mulikat Akande, Akinwale Solomon argue that the Oke-Ogunlokan narrative of Peller does not cut across Oke-Ogun zone. They noted that other local governments do vote in manner of their uniqueness and belief in candidates and may not be thrilled by the Oke-Ogun campaign. Supporters of MulikatAkande note that their principal was a victim of saboteurs, internal crisis in the PDP, her former party, but those had become a thing of the past with her new party, the SDP. They argue that Mulikat Akande is strong in Ogbomoso and even stronger in Oke-Ogun, adding that she will bring her experience in politics to bear in the forthcoming election. Supporters of the PDP candidate, Akinwale, hinge their candidate’s success in Oke-Ogun on what they described as the feats of the governor Seyi Makinde administration in the zone. According to them, the Makinde administration may have killed the Oke Ogun lokan agitations going by several infrastructural projects that have been sited in the zone. They note that Akinwale, popularly called Wolekanle, is a new breed politician, who offers a breath of fresh air. There is also the campaign that enough is enough with FataiBuhari having held public offices for over a decade hence should retire for others to come on board. There are also those who argue that his immediate constituency, Ogbomoso, has not benefited enough compared to what constituents in Oke-Ogun have got. However, supporters of Buhari argue that Oke-Ogun remain the fortress of the APC candidate, noting that his popularity is swelled by his several empowerment programmes in the zone.
Moreover, Buhari has usually not had a good showing in Ogbomoso zone with Mulikat Akande usually having a good showing in the zone than him. But, amid all, Buhari seems confident that his strides as lawmaker are enough for the electorate to be resolute in voting him for another term. On agitation for federal institution, Fatai Buhari said the bill for establishment of higher institution in Oke-Ogun is done and dusted and only awaiting the president’s approval. Supporters of Buhari argue that the incumbent senator has surpassed feats of any other senator that has represented the zone. They point to innumerable empowerment of his constituents, distribution of cars, motorcycles, sewing machines, grinding machines, deep freezers, generating sets, transformers, distribution of bursary and scholarship awards to students of higher institutions, widows, collaboration with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to train constituents, in mechanized farming and construction of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) centres across both Oke-Ogun and Ogbomoso.
The Oke Ogun lo kan narrative
In the 1990s, the clamour by Oke-Ogun zone has been to produce the governor of the state. At almost electoral cycle, some indigenes of the zone resuscitate this desire of the zone. The demand is usually wrapped around call for rotation of governorship among zones of the state. But, the rotational demand is usually subdued with the zone being running mate to Ibadan candidates or consequent upon assurances of being brought into governance. Usually, the Oke-Ogun lo kan agitation is quick to fizzle out, with the agitators queuing behind Ibadan candidates before the election. However, the Oke-Ogun lo kan argument is now being brought into the emergence of Senator representing Oyo North. Leading the push for Oke-Ogun to produce the next Senator is Honourable Saheed Alaran, Honourable Shina Peller, Honourable Adeboyin Adeola and Honourable Samson Ogunbode, under the platform of OkeOgun Indigenous Youth Solidarity Forum. Peller, who is senatorial candidate of the Accord party, is particularly spearheading the narrative among the people of his zone. The narrative, if bought into by the majority of people of Oke-Ogun zone, which has the bulk of votes of the senatorial district, will surely guarantee victory for Peller. Peller said he did not seek second term in the House of Representatives, based on consideration of the two local government areas in his federal constituency. He said Kajola and Iwajowa local government areas had never produced a representative in the House of Representatives for almost 16years. According to Peller, Oke-Ogun has been serving Ogbomoso for too long. Interestingly, candidates of some political parties also embrace the Oke-Ogun Lo kan agenda with Salami Ganiyu of LP, Shuaib Ahmed of NNPP, at a recent debate, also arguing that Oke-Ogun has been deprived of government presence compared to Ogbomoso.
But, while indigenes of Iseyin, where Peller hails from, may buy into that initiative, one wonders if residents of other towns in Oke-Ogun zone are on the same with the Peller agenda. Indeed, the battle for votes in Oke-Ogun zone, which has the bulk of 10 local government areas, will be fierce. Moreover, the incumbent Fatai Buhari has won his two elections with the bulk of his votes coming from Oke-Ogun zone which nullify votes from Ogbomoso zone.
Other factors that may play out in who wins the next Oyo North senatorial election are candidates’ one-on-one relationship/connection with the electorate, popularity of parties’ House of Representatives candidates to rub off on their senatorial candidates and vice versa, the extent of internal crisis in parties and the extent to which they are resolved and the extent to which electorate can be swayed and their votes bought. No doubt, the forthcoming Oyo North senatorial election promises to be fierce, given the pedigree of the contestants, degree of horse-trading and other dynamics that have manifested after the last general election in the country.
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