Inside Story of How Atiku, Okowa, Obaseki’s Intervention Ensured Victory for Adeleke

Inside Story of How Atiku, Okowa, Obaseki’s Intervention Ensured Victory for Adeleke

By Deji Elumoye

highlights the role of Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar; Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Duoye Diri (Bayelsa); Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and the immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in the planning and monitoring of the decisive moments that ensured a successful governorship campaign for the PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, in the just concluded Osun State governorship poll

Only a few persons closely involved with the strategic planning that eventually saw the emergence last Sunday of Senator Ademola Nurudeen Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor-elect of Osun State are familiar with the involvement of the immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki in the victorious story. It may be safe to say that his role as Chairman of the party’s National Reconciliation and Strategic Committee (NRSC) positioned him to have the ears and heart of many stalwarts of the PDP in every part of the country, having travelled to all nooks and crannies in the bid to mend fences and ensure that the party enters into any political contest against its arch rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as an unbreakable and united force.

Adeleke was already riding on a strong wave of sympathy and popularity garnered from his previous outing in the Osun gubernatorial election in 2018, in which, it was widely believed that he was robbed of victory, following a re-run, after the initial ballot was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The 2022 Osun governorship election, therefore, was another huge opportunity to show that Adeleke’s assumed victory in 2018 was not a fluke.

To be sure, the Adelekes from Ede town are a household name in the politics of Osun State. The patriarch of the family, the late Senator Ayoola Adeleke, the Asiwaju of Edeland, established this political dynasty when he became a Senator in the Second Republic. This legacy was continued by the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, better known as Serubawon (One who conjures fear). He passed on in 2017 as a serving Senator. Prior to that, he was the first civilian governor of Osun State. Before his death, he was poised to return to Government House, Osogbo as governor, for another tenure. His younger brother, Ademola rode on that sentiment to replace him in the Senate. Barely one year after, he contested the 2018 governorship election in Osun, but lost in the re-run poll by just 200 votes!

Having come so close, the last time, the

Adelekes were ready to block every loophole. 

One of the critical factors was getting the cooperation of experienced eminent members of the PDP who are conversant with exerting political influence. The party had lost in a similar contest in Ekiti State the previous month, therefore, scoring the top mark in Osun, became an all-important goal for the leadership of the PDP, in order to restore confidence to all its flag-bearers in the 2023 national elections, particularly to put its presidential ambition on course. 

The topmost hierarchy of the PDP, therefore decided to place the task of delivering Osun in the hands of some of its most experienced strategists, who constituted the National Campaign Council. As it often happens with assignments like these, a few of them committed themselves beyond the call of duty, throwing in, in the last few days leading to the Osun gubernatorial election, all the time and resources necessary to prosecute a successful campaign.

In this regard, special mention must be made of the selfless disposition of Saraki, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, and his Edo state counterpart, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.

Because of their critical roles, immediately he was pronounced winner last Sunday morning, Adeleke prostrated before his elder brother, Deji. He went on to give a bear hug to each of Saraki, Diri and Obaseki for their kind, much-needed, strategic and effective last-minute interventions that ensured the Osun gubernatorial crown will be placed on his head in the next dispensation.

Diri was the chairman of the National Campaign Council for the 2022 Osun gubernatorial election. Beyond politics, Obaseki had shared some business relationship with the PDP candidate’s elder brother, Deji Adeleke, going back to their days in the financial sector in Lagos.

Therefore, he had more persuading reasons to bring forward his experience in similar elections in 2020 when he was seeking re-election and forces of the APC rose against him. Whatever Obaseki did then to come out tops was needed to help Adeleke curtail the strength of the APC.

In his decision to support the Adelekes, Saraki had other compelling reasons. First, Osun State is a neighbouring state to his own Kwara State and he needs to ensure Osun State will not be used to sabotage his party, the PDP, in Kwara State in next year’s election.

Second, as the chairman of the PDP National Reconciliation and Strategic Committee (NRSC), Saraki handled the resolution of the crisis in the party in the state and is very well aware of the issues, personalities, and need for unity in Osun PDP if the party was to make any good impact in the governorship polls. It thus became a challenge for him to help the Adelekes in making last-minute rallying of all forces and persons behind the candidate in order to defeat the APC, which had become fractured as supporters of the immediate past governor of the state and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola could not be persuaded to support the re-election bid of incumbent governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.

The Sarakis and the Adelekes share an admirable political achievement. The Saraki and Adeleke families remain the only two nuclear families to have produced three members of the Nigerian Senate respectively. His late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki was a colleague of the patriarch of the Adelekes in the Second Republic Senate. Again, the former Senate President and the late eldest brother of the Adelekes, Isiaka Adeleke, were colleagues in the 7th and 8th Senate. When Ademola, the Osun State governor-elect replaced his late brother in the 8th Senate, he was a loyal supporter of Saraki who was then Senate President. Also, Deji Adeleke, the surviving eldest of the Adeleke brothers is a good friend of Saraki. For all these reasons, Saraki decided to throw in all the support for the Adelekes.

Being a neighbouring state, it was easy for Saraki and his team to move from his home in Ilorin, Kwara State where he had been since the eve of the last Eid-El- Kabir festival into Ede, the Adelekes home town on Wednesday morning (July 13, 2022). On arrival, he went into a meeting with all the PDP polling agents. The venue of the training handled by the former Senate President was the Adeleke University, Ede. It was a very important knowledge sharing session. The agents where lectured on how to carry out their assignments on polling day. He explained in unambiguous terms their roles to the success of the party on Election Day. Many of these agents saw it as a big privilege to interact with Saraki at such close quarters and it brought home to them the seriousness of the assignment at hand.

From his insider knowledge of aggrieved parties in Osun PDP, Saraki had identified ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola as one who needed to be appeased at all costs. Therefore, he joined PDP governors at Oyinlola’s Osogbo GRA residence to plead his indulgence to support Adeleke.

The meeting was very successful. Oyinlola was fully persuaded and the gap between him and the Adelekes was closed.

It is pertinent to reference Saraki’s role as chairman of the PDP NRSC, because it made it easy for him to revisit all the issues his committee had dealt with and ensured that those already covered did not resurge while the pending ones were quickly attended to. Many of the stakeholders could easily identify with and listen to his pleas with them. These engagements helped the party to put a strong and united front across in the last 48 hours before the commencement of voting. By Thursday morning, Saraki and his team were in Osogbo to coordinate the PDP mega rally. He spent the whole of Thursday ensuring that the party had a successful rally aimed at sending a strong signal to the ruling APC that the PDP was set to take over in Osun State.

Much of his third day in Osun was devoted to another series of meetings with aggrieved party stakeholders from each of the three senatorial districts. The first set was the people from Osun East. This particular one took up most of the day. At the end of the day, the issues appeared resolved and the party seemed ready for a good outing on Saturday.

 On Friday night, Saraki moved into the party situation room located inside the residence of late Senator isiaka Adeleke to ascertain the level of preparedness and to test run some of the facilities to be sure they were in perfect condition. He was joined by Governors Diri and Obaseki.

Saraki was already in the situation room very early on election day to start coordination. He was also joined by Governors Diri and Obaseki to supervise the state of the play. As blow-by-blow reports from party agents, field officers, and observers across the state were being received by them, the first hint of victory for Adeleke came when the result showed that the incumbent governor had lost the Government House, Osogbo Polling Unit.

Diri, Obaseki and Saraki and their teams did not sleep until the results were announced in the early hours of Sunday morning. Finally, the ghost of the painful 2018 loss which haunted the Adelekes was buried with a convincing majority of over 28,000 votes against Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.

 Courtesy: This Day 

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