After weeks of rancorous campaigns, the people of Osun State will today file out to elect a new governor that will succeed Rauf Aregbesola.
Forty-eight political parties are fielding candidates for the election, but it is expected to be a fierce battle involving Adegboyega Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
For most of yesterday, tension remained very high across the state, with voters bitterly divided among the three leading candidates.
Fear of violence was palpable, considering the rancorous campaigns before the poll.
The allegations by the PDP that the APC was working to rig the poll dominated discussion across the state.
However, the APC Campaign Council for the election described the motley of allegations and accusations emanating from the PDP as a manifestation of the fear of impending defeat.
The Council’s Media Committee Chairman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said with the imminence of defeat for the PDP candidate, the party and its supporters have resorted to making flimsy and unsubstantiated allegations to save face.
The police and other security agencies have assured the people of maximum security, urging them to troop out with confidence.
To ensure adequate security and safety of lives and property, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has approved the deployment of two Police Patrol Surveillance Helicopters, 30 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 10 Armoured Personnel Vehicles and 300 Police patrol vehicles.
Also, police officers and personnel of other security and safety agencies deployed for the elections had been warned to be strict, polite and civil but firm in the discharge of their duties and other responsibilities.
The police in a statement warned that infringement of the Electoral Act, including ‘vote buying and selling’ would not be tolerated.
The police also warned security personnel not to escort their principals and politicians to polling units and collation centres during the election, stressing that any errant security detail will be apprehended and dealt with accordingly.
The Commissioner of Police, Osun State Command, Mr. Olafimihan Adeoye disclosed that 10,000 officers and men would be on the ground to secure the election.
As at press time, a large number of security men were seen on the streets of Osogbo.
There was also a heavy presence of armed policemen including members of the Counter Terrorism Unit around the INEC office in Osogbo.
The Police CTU built a barricade in front of the office while members of the unit also built a shed from where they watched and controlled access to the place
The Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Operations, Mr. Habila Joshack
said that 13 Commissioners of Police would surpervise the eight area commands in the state and special operations.
Joshack said that all roads leading to the state from other states would be condoned off until after the election. According to him, the election is for Osun residents alone, hence movements from other states will not be allowed.
A total of 1,682,495 registered voters are expected to troop out to vote in the state’s 322 wards across 30 local government areas.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) spent most of yesterday distributing sensitive electoral materials to all the local government areas.
The Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, who is on ground in Osogbo vowed to conduct a transparent election, stating that 16,000 officials had been deployed in the state to achieve that objective.
Oyetola is APC chieftain, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s cousin. He also enjoys the support of outgoing Governor Aregbesola.
Already, 12 APC governors are on ground in Osogbo to mobilise support for Oyetola.
Born in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area of Osun, Oyetola resigned as the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola, to contest this election.
Adeleke, the PDP candidate is enjoying good support largely because of the love people have for his late brother, Isiaka, and by extension, his family.
The issue of zoning is a big factor in today’s election. Oyetola is from Osun Central Senatorial District. A lot of people from the West Senatorial District, which is yet to produce a governor since the fourth republic, are agitated.
Osun Central has produced two governors – Bisi Akande and Olagunsoye Oyinlola.