By Wale Adedayo
I was on a field assignment in Ekiti State sometimes in 2012, when word came from unexpected quarters that Osun State be included, but in a separate report. The assignment ‘forced’ me to spend an extra three days in the State of Living Spring with a surprise find in Esa Oke, home town of slain former Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige.
Until that period, I had naively believed Ige’s name would sway voters to ANY political party where his allies go to. At least, that is what those of us based outside Osun State believed, or still believe. My surprise came in the form of a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Wole Oke, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is loved beyond measure by the people of Esa Oke. And it showed in their election results regularly.
But Esa Oke is not my primary concern today. Justice, or a perception of it, for Ige is. What’s the take of Osun State residents concerning the cold-blooded murder of Afenifere’s Deputy Leader in the comfort of his Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State home? If the conventional justice system cannot guarantee justice for Ige, who do the people of Osun State hold responsible for his murder? How would such persons be treated?
Oke proved cynics wrong about Ige’s murder and elections in Osun State during the last National Assembly election. The man came close to winning his seat back in the House of Representative despite running on PDP’s ticket in Ige’s area, as the predominant political messages were always that it was the ruling party that orchestrated the murder of the Deputy Leader of the Yorubas. Oke lost the election by a margin described as the least among other PDP contestants who lost to Action Congress of Nigeria candidates. He won decisively in Esa Oke.
Which brings one to Osun State as a whole in terms of who gets the PDP gubernatorial ticket. The Osun State gubernatorial contest is becoming clearer. The Presidency might give the ticket to Senator Iyiola Omisore, who currently controls the party structure in the state. The only albatross on Omisore’s neck, which many had believed would force The Presidency to distance itself from him remains perceptions – despite his acquittal – of involvement in Ige’s murder.
While Oke is nowhere near allegations of being involved in Ige’s murder, his party, the PDP is. Many believe Ige’s resolve to return hom towards the 2003 elections to reposition the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) for victory marked him as a target for assassination so that the PDP could have an easy win in that year’s general election. Till date, apart from Omisore, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is often accused of masterminding the assassination through protégés from Abuja as he was in office at the time.
The Presidency’s choice of ministerial nominee from Osun State is a veritable sign that it is not bothered about the allegations against Omisore. The former Deputy Governor’s paddy man, Abduljelili Oyewale Adesiyan, is one of the ministerial nominees recently unveiled by President Goodluck Jonathan. For the records, Adesiyan, like Omisore, was one of the accused person arrested and charged for the murder of Ige.
Speculations persist Adesiyan was nominated by Omisore himself, with his name sent to the president. It is thus assumed that the PDP at the national level is set for its 2003 repeat performance by giving Omisore its ticket despite the odium around his person concerning Ige. Not a bad idea. Omisore has a very deep pocket. With a minister from his side to be sworn in soon, it should be a naira rain throughout Osun State.
But, and that is a big BUT (apologies to Pastor Ade Okonrende), it is likely this will be the last time issues surrounding Ige’s murder are used as election matters. If Omisore wins this year’s gubernatorial election, it means the people of the state do not believe he has anything to do with Ige’s assassination. But if he loses, Jonathan should prepare for a bigger loss come next year’s presidential election in that state. A loss by Omisore will translate into a bigger one for the PDP in any other election.