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Osun guber poll:Battle line drawn

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AT LONG last, the battle line is drawn for the 2018 Osun State gubernatorial election slated for Saturday, September 22. The stakes get higher every second; the odds mount along the countdown. But one question runs on all lips. Who – or rather which party – goes home with the key to Government House, Oshogbo?

For Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there is no going back. Having released names of 48 parties it had earlier cleared to contest the election, including names of candidates and their running mates, INEC has given its word that no stone will be unturned for a credible electoral process that conforms to international best practices.

Fielding questions from newsmen last weekend, Osun State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Segun Agbaje, disclosed that about 1.2 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have been collected out of the 1,668,524 registered voters, with over 500,000 PVCs waiting to be collected.

This shifts the battle line to the parties and their candidates – and how both contenders and pretenders may ultimately slug it out at the polling centres, to sieve wheat from chaffs.

Political undercurrents frittering to town indicate that All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola and his running mate, Olugboyega Alabi, hold the aces.

Not a few believe that outgoing Gov. Rauf Aregbesola will deploy the almighty “incumbency factor” to tilt the balances the party’s way. But People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flagship – mounted on Ademola Adeleke

and his running mate, Albert Adeogun – is close on APC tail with a hot chase that could turn bookmakers’ predictions on their head. Yet there are two other contestants with what may pass as outsider chances, among the motley 96, who may be ignored at anybody’s peril.

Observers tip them to turn out dark horses in the race. They are African Democratic Party (ADP) standard bearers Adeoti Adelekan and Durotoye Akinbola, as well as African Democratic Congress (ADC) flag bearers, Fatai Akinbade and Arowolo Oladele.

Another intriguing strand to the Osun guber is the PDP’s Senate President Bukola Saraki and APC’s Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State angle. With the die already cast, all eyes are on the duo as they bay for action on their parties’ mastheads, weaving plots and counter plots to outsmart each other in their game plans.

While Saraki leads PDP campaign committee, Ganduje pivots its APC equivalent to the battle line. But it remains to be seen who blinks first between the two war horses.

National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus and his APC counterpart, Adams Oshimohole, bring up the final limb of the trilogy, with each upbeat insisting that victory belongs to his party.

While Secondus said that PDP would resist vote-buying, Oshiomohole reiterated his commitment to the values of one man one vote, which he added, had given APC victory at the recent Ekiti gubernatorial election.

Yet National Chairman of ADP, Yabagi, is beating his chest with confidence that victory is for his party on Saturday. He is banking on what he called “feelers” from Osun that shows that its people are tired of APC and have found “a credible alternative in ADP.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria Police Force said that adequate personnel would be deployed to Osun to ensure round-the-clock security while polling and collation lasted.

A statement by Force Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, indicates that the Inspector-General of Police promised Nigerians, especially residents of Osun State, a trouble-free exercise, adding that hoodlums and miscreants wishing to test their might would be in soup.

According to Moshood, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) would lead the security team, to be assisted by eight Commissioners of Police (CPs) from states contiguous to Osun, explaining that the eight Police Area Commands (PACs) in Osun would be manned by a commissioner of Police, with two Police Patrol Surveillance Helicopters (PPSHs), 30 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), 10 Armoured Personnel Vehicles (APVs) and 300 Police Patrol Vehicles (PVVs) on standby.

Continuing, Moshood revealed that apart from keeping peace and other, police personnel on election duty would be on red alert for criminal elements that may indulge in vote buying and selling as well as multiple voting, stressing that vehicular movement in the state would be restricted from tomorrow midnight till outcome of the election is announced.

He advised commuters and other users of Lagos-Ore-Benin Highway and Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin Highway, to try alternative routes, except those on essential duties or proven emergency cases.

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FORMER Commissioners in Enugu State, under the auspices of Forum of Enugu State Former Commissioner (FEFCOM), has unanimously endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for a second term in office. Members of the forum, who conveyed the message to Gov. Ugwuanyi when they paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House, Enugu, stated that the decision was in appreciation of his administration’s giant development strides, peace and security initiatives, and all-inclusive policy. They said they were highly impressed that Gov. Ugwuanyi had kept faith with his promise of seamless transition by continuing with most of the developmental policies of his predecessor, especially the Visit Every Community (VEC) Initiative, which he has expanded by creating a full directorate with one of them as the head. The group, which has the immediate past Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Okey Ani and his Rural Development counterpart, Dr. Eric Oluedo, as conveners, added that the governor has been ensuring prompt payment of workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions resulting in the payment of one extra full month salary to every Civil/Public Servant in Enugu State to celebrate the 2017 Christmas”. They disclosed that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has completed the Enugu State Diagnostic Centre and has also commenced the construction of 200-bed Igboano Specialist Hospital, Enugu, noting that the initiation of the International Medical City, Agu-Ekwegbe, is very impressive. The former cabinet members also applauded the governor for constructing five ultra-modern fire service stations across the three senatorial districts of the state after 56 years, as well as the unprecedented employment of over 4000 primary and secondary school teachers. On politics, the ex-Commissioners said: “Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has through his political sagacity brought stability in the polity of Enugu State and has gone ahead to reach out to other political parties other than his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in his firm belief that governance is about the people and not based only on political leanings”. According to them, “the grant of N10 million to each of the 450 autonomous communities in Enugu State for the execution of projects that are dear to the hearts of their people and the immediate release of the sum of N5million as part of the grant, is in consonance with Governor Ugwuanyi’s development thrust”. It will be recalled that other groups like the Ebeano family, the political platform of former Enugu State governor, Dr. Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, the Association of Executive Assistants in all the wards in the state, Tricycle operators, Association of Enugu State Pensioners, Ogbete Traders Association, Enugu Market Women Association and Enugu State Science Teachers Association had endorsed the governor for a second term in office.

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