Fresh Idea. New Dawn. Experience Counts. These are the sweet words that have formed the campaign slogans of the three leading candidates for the Oyo central Senatorial district poll. Many believe that campaign in Oyo central has become one of the hottest, toughest, and probably the most-stiffest in the state — judo-flipping others in the process. Given how formidable each candidate is in terms of popularity, acceptability, and financial war chest, one is sure to believe in that assumption.
districts, for instance, campaigns have been largely built around sentiments and entitlements. And in others, it has been about godfatherism and big names. But findings have also revealed that neither sentiment, entitlement nor godfatherism and big name will help any of the candidate win at the poll. Each candidate it is believe is working tirelessly to outsmart, outspend and outwit the other. Observers believe that no other senatorial district contest in the state has witnessed a such high level of political permutation, calculation, scheming, and subterfuges.
One of the most exciting features of Oyo central senatorial district election is the ability of each candidate to deploy words that reflect their good intention and preparedness for the job ahead. In fact, one might assume that each slogan presents a far deeper and greater reflection of the candidates’ minds, mindsets, and states of mind. As a matter of fact, each of the contestants must be acutely aware of the profound implications hidden in those words. But sweet words alone cannot win the election. Winning an election is a combination of many factors of which slogan is just a tiny part. Of course, Oyo’s central senatorial contest appears exceptionally interesting and outrightly unpredictable.
In Oyo town, which is home to all the leading contenders, the campaign has been nerve-wracking, divisive, and disruptive. In fact, it has become the survival of the fittest, smartest and richest. It is in Oyo that you will see the game of politics and poli-tricking in full throttle. No candidate is leaving a stone unturned, they are all demonstrating their competence, capacity, and capability. In any way, they are all busy persuading, and convincing the electorates to hire them with their votes. As the election draws closer, all the candidates only have less than a month to leave their fates into the hands of the electorates – and probably the judiciary – more reason campaign is taking intensive and aggressive dimensions.
Fresh air, fresh ideas is the campaign slogan of Engineer Faozey Oladotun Nurudeen. At 39, Engineer Faozey is probably the youngest candidate to ever throw his hat into the ring of the Senatorial contest. Although in 2003, Senator Teslim Folarin became one of the youngest senators in Nigeria, he was 39 at that time. As the candidate of the Accord party, Engineer Faozey is making his first electoral and political inroad with his fresh air, fresh ideas sloganeering. He has presented himself as different from the rest. His campaign slogan is a reflection of his complete departure from the old order – stamp out old ideas, wipe out old air, and vote in a breath of fresh initiatives. He believes the era of business-as-usual politics is about to come to a screeching halt. He says that he is the man to bring fresh ideas and breathe fresh air into the leadership and legislative business of the district. FON as he’s fondly called is one of the youngest Nigerians contesting for the senate – another plus for the Not-young-to-rule law.
His Accord party has been at the vanguard of presenting young, impossibly energetic people into different elective positions. Their Presidential and gubernatorial candidates are under 60 years of age. Engineer Faozey has worked at the intersection of IT, and software development among others. But his party’s visibility and relative acceptability might be his nemesis. Clearly, he has asserted himself as one of the candidates to beat in this election. He has indeed positioned himself as a force to reckon with in this breakneck race.
Whereas in Oyo north senatorial district which was the focus of this column last week, and Oyo south, which is going to take the center stage next week, none is as breathtaking and pulse-pounding as that of the central. For obvious reasons, Oyo central senatorial is home to history. It’s the first district to produce a three-term senator in the state. In addition, it is also the first district to produce the first female Senator in the history of the state. Both Senator Teslim Folarin and Senator Monsurat Sunmonu are history makers but the next Senator might also add a new twist to the history that has been made already. While Chief Lukman Oyebisi Ilaka has competed and contested in three previous elections (2011, 2015, and 2019), the remaining two Dr. Yunus Akintunde and Engineer Faozey Nurudeen are just testing the waters for the first time.
Chief Ilaka is a serial senatorial hopeful. Three months before the 2011 general elections, the tax lawyer joined the senatorial race of the district. He was defeated by Senator Ayo Adeseun of the Action Congress of Nigeria. In 2015, he was also roundly beaten by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu of the All-Progressives Congress. And by 2019, he was flogged again by Senator Teslim Folarin, also of the APC. Many believe the former Chief of Staff to Governor Seyi Makinde might get sympathy votes from the electorates this time around. For some, the story of Senator Ilaka is akin to that of President Buhari who had to suffer three excruciating electoral defeats, before he finally wins at the last attempt. But on the other hand, there people who believe that Chief Ilaka’s appointment as the Chief of staff and his eventual sacking exposed the kind of leadership, he’s going to provide should people give him their mandates. They based their assumption on what they termed the Chief approach to issues.
Others are also pointing to the internal wrangling rocking PDP and the position of Governor Makinde in the whole scenario. Speculations are rife as to Governor Makinde’s choice of Presidential candidate, a move many believe will deal a huge and devastating blow to the ambition of national assembly candidates of the party. Recalled the last time PDP Presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came to Oyo for the campaign, Governor Makinde was conspicuously missing. Although some of his honchos were present, that absence only goes so far as to expose the deeper layer of crisis in the party. Most electorates have informed the conflicts within the fold of PDP are likely going to fester to the first election, and as such, they are making decisions that will reflect their best intentions.
As the first Nigerian to bag a doctorate in energy and environment, Dr. Yunus Akintunde is contesting this election as one of the top dogs in the race. Having gained consequential and considerable experience as a former commissioner under Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s administration, many believe his achievements have given him an edge. Although, the defection that rocked his party after the primary election is still seen as a challenge that may affect the chances of the energy experts. In addition, the cost of living in the country, considered to be the handiwork of the ruling APC might also rob him of the massive votes that most observers are envisaging for him.
But Dr. Akintunde has also made visible gestures to the people. Allowing them to have a taste of what his time as the Senator would mean once elected. The media representation and portrayal of the three have also been massive and relentless.
One bitter truth: none of the candidates is going to have a smooth ride to the poll. This reality alone makes the whole exercise worthy of watching. And whoever emerges at the poll must have put in more than extra work. Until then, electorates are still divided on what to choose: fresh ideas, a new dawn, and experience count!
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via @TheGMAKing on Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org and 09065176850