Osun guber poll: Why ‘third force’ is failing

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

As the ruling All Progressives Congress and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State have been enmeshed in intra-party crises ahead of the July 16 governorship election in the state, citizens’ expectation of a “third force party” that would take advantage of the sharp divisions in the two main political parties and produce a formidable governorship candidate appears to have been dashed.

Although no other political party has ruled Osun except PDP and APC since its creation, many residents of the state, especially those who are keenly interested in the forthcoming poll, had expected a third force party that would emerge and challenge the dominance of the main parties at a time they are intractably torn apart, about four months to the poll.

Investigations by The Point revealed that minor political parties such as Social Democratic Party, Labour Party, People Redemption Party among others had, some times, sold out their platforms for aggrieved governorship aspirants from the two main political parties to contest elections. Those of the minor parties that had strived to produce governorship candidates or other aspirants of other political offices were yet to win any major office in the state.

When Senator Iyiola Omisore contested the governorship seat in the 2018 election under SDP, political watchers had thought that the step would spring forth a new party in government judging by Omisore’s popularity then. But the attempt failed after Omisore, a former Deputy Governor in the state, in the middle of the election, asked SDP members to join forces with APC in the supplementary election. The then governorship candidate of the APC, Gboyega Oyetola, won the poll.

Ever since the coalition was made with the ruling party, SDP has never remained the same again as the party can’t even boast of a secretariat of its own in Osun. Although, it was gathered that about two commissioners, currently serving in Oyetola’s administration came from Omisore among other compensations.

Since August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun State in which Labour Party came third, the party has not shown any serious zeal to produce a winning political structure in the state. With Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, a former Secretary to the State Government as LP gubernatorial candidate at the poll, LP polled 8,898 votes to finish third, behind then Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the APC, candidate (394,684 votes), and Iyiola Omisore, of the PDP, (292,747 votes).

“About four months to the July 16 governorship election, analysts have said that it would be difficult for a third force party that would challenge APC and PDP to emerge in Osun. Some of these political pundits expressed surprise that even the minor political parties are also engrossed in intra-party squabbles despite their numerical strength when compared to their major counterparts”

While analysing what went wrong at the polls where it came a distant third, Tunde Olatunji, the then State Chairman of the party was quoted as attributing the poor showing of the party to those he claimed engaged in anti-party activities occasioned by material inducements. Members of LP were said to have been induced with rice, kerosene and money fee days to the August 9 poll.

“Just because of rice and N5, 000, some of our members here mortgaged their future,” Mr. Olatunji said. “If I may ask: Where is the rice, the kerosene or the money they collected?” He had asked rhetorically.

As it was in 2014, it has continued to be for LP and its contemporary minor parties as they hardly boast of permanent members who can stand by the party during electioneering periods.

About four months to the July 16 governorship election, analysts have said that it would be difficult for a third force party that would challenge APC and PDP to emerge in Osun. Some of these political pundits expressed surprise that even the minor political parties are also engrossed in intra-party squabbles despite their numerical strength when compared to their major counterparts.

SDP, for instance, is currently battling crisis following the outcome of its governorship primary election held on Saturday, March 12 in Osogbo. Like the Osun PDP, two candidates are laying claims to SDP ticket.

A former Chairman of Odo-Otin Local Government in the state, Mr Rasaq Adejumo, was announced as the candidate of the party by Secretary of the governorship primary committee of the SDP, Hon Femi Ogunbemiru. But the Chairman of the committee, Barr. Joseph Achilles Abu, said he did not announce anybody as winner of the primary after the exercise.

Abu in a letter he signed shortly after the primary said the party could not announce the result at the venue due to the dangerous and volatile invasion of the venue by unaccredited persons and non-members of the party.

Commenting on the outcome of the primary, a governorship aspirant of the party, Goke Omigbodun accused the APC in Osun of hijacking the exercise. Omigbodun claimed that the national secretariat of SDP had declared him the candidate of the party.
Omigbodun, erstwhile deputy chairman of the party, also accused the chairman of the SDP in the state, Mr. Sola Oladehinde of being a mole for the APC. According to Omigbodun, the primary was going on smoothly before some agent of the APC came to disrupt the process.
He said, “The primary election was going on peacefully until the APC agents led by Bade Falade tried to hijack the process, bringing in an aspirant and delegates who are members of the APC. Omisore is trying to hijack SDP for APC again and he has been ensuring that I don’t emerge the party’s candidate.”

Reacting to the allegation, the chairman of the party in the state, Oladehinde said the letter written by Abu was not from the National Secretariat of the party adding that Adejumo is the authentic candidate of SDP and that INEC recognised him.

According to Oladehinde, the Chairman of the primary election committee left the venue of the exercise with an excuse that he wants to urinate. He didn’t show his face again while other members waited and announced Adejumo as the winner.

Oladehinde said Omigbodun lost the election because his (Omigbodun) people worked against him due to his incompetence.

Meanwhile, Busuyi Ayowole has emerged the gubernatorial candidate of PRP in the state. Declaring him the winner of the primaries, Haruna Buhari, the Chairman of the Osun State PRP gubernatorial primaries who doubles as the National Treasurer of the party said Ayowole scored the highest number of votes as the sole aspirant of the party.

Although Ayowole, a relatively unknown face in the political firmament of the state, has asked the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola to start preparing his handover note, analysts said the party is not popular to win any election in the state.

Some politically active residents have called on minor political parties to band together to build a structure on which to support one of them for the governorship office in the wake of the serious polarisation of PDP and APC, rather than they throwing their hats into the ring as individual contestants for the top job in the state.

In an interview with The Point, a political analyst, Jare Adegbite said politicking is too expensive in Nigeria and that it is not always easy for a third force to emerge where there is no major financier.

He said, “Our politicking in Nigeria is way too expensive and that’s why you see that the idea of third force can’t work.

It didn’t work in the country during the 2015 general elections and for it to work in Osun where the economy is not smiling is zero probability. Aside from funding, a third force proposition needs deep grassroots mobilisation and if that would be successful, it should have started before now.

“You will be surprised that even some of the minor political parties are also in one crisis or the other. You can’t remove crisis in our nation’s politics. It appears to have come to stay. Even if some aggrieved governorship aspirants decide to use minor political platforms to contest, it will still not bear any fruit. Once money is thrown at them and their followers, they forget their ambition.”