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OYO101: Incumbency Factor, Stripped, At Last! | Muftau Gbadegesin

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The man came in as a sort of financial wizard: frugal, prudent, and sound. In the whole of the federation, he was a loner, snaking through the turbulence of debilitating debt with deft, ease and poise. He would later emerge and lead the ninth most populous state in the country through one of its most glorious days, setting the ground for fiscal discipline. He would be praised for his grand vision, an uncanny ability to pull the state from the cusp of financial insolvency to one of relative peace.

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Where others faltered, he would stand with a cheerful smile, arresting even his most brutal traducers with a disarming and seducing calmness. Where other states accumulate debt, he would be one of the first to dump financial junks. In money matters, he would stand gingerly in sharp contrast to his colleague brothers in the country, walking his state through the tightrope of difficulties and defeat. His good work was dumped into the dustbin.

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Oddly, the defeat of Governor Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola jolted many as a rude, devastating shock; especially those advocates of ‘one good term deserves another’, or still, those who believe in the enormous power of an incumbent governor. Though he won his first term through one of the most unconventional ways, the-remote-control-kind-of-a-way, Governor Oyetola came as a kind of exceedingly matured helmsman in his teeth-gritting, nerve-wracking, and pulse-pounding job, facing his predecessor in mortal political combat with impossible stamina, downright candor. His policy overhaul matched his people’s plea, but would later go on to stake his political life with an unbridled passion for his people. The result was the shattering of the oft-touted incumbency factor and the hiring of fifty hefty lawyers for an all-time legal tug-of-war.

Until 1991, the area known today as the state of Osun cohabits under the same roof as Oyo. The two, both ancestral and historical were together for roughly fifteen years, sharing more than geography, and history but also politics. When Osun was created on August 27, 1991, its first governor was from Ede: Isiaka Adeleke. Today, after almost thirty-one years, the state is back where it started from: defeating another ISIAKA, to restore Ede’s pride, this time it was the turn of the chivalrous Senator, Ademola Adeleke, the affable, excellent, and happy-go-lucky dancer who’s now a toast among fun-seekers, party goers and faji-lovers.

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While Osun and Oyo shared different moments of inseparable, mutual affinity, the two states have never been blessed with Governors whose perspectives on critical matters such as LAUTECH joint ownership bordered on providing lasting solutions to the school’s lingering problems. Between 1999 and 2019, the two states were practically and tragically on each other’s throats, twisting and turning narratives to suit their various constituencies. The result was a bleeding institution whose fate was stuck in the balance and its existence threatened by inflated, over-bloated egos. Even where all hands appear on the same political deck, previous administrations in the two states abysmally failed to pull the magic wand and return the school on the path of academic normalcy, and stability – Makinde, and Oyetola did just that.

LAUTECH became the first point of contact for Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun. The two, quiet, reserved, and unassuming knew the danger of delay. Together, they both went into a round of rapid-fire talks, the outcome of which could be termed the deal of the decade: the sole ownership of the institution by the Oyo state. In terms of similarity, both Governors seem quite close despite being politically afar, than their counterparts across the country: they are skilled, expert negotiators. In effect, the two shared more than introverted ideals: they both are relatively open, reclusive, and charming. Though different in financial approach, the two leaders have continued to surpass their predecessors in relatively different areas, with Osun ranking among states with the Human Development Index (HDI) and Ibadan, Oyo state capital becoming one of the most promising places to do business – Africa. Contrary to what their honchos might want to discard with a wave of hands, the two Governors also take pride in their consistent ability to settle workers’ bills as at went due.

That the incumbency factor is shrinking, and plummeting at a record time shows another intriguing and interesting part of Nigeria politics. Oyetola’s fresh defeat is a reminder of that unimpeachable, undeniable reality. Defeating an incumbent is becoming more of an exercise in political and psychological tweaking, twisting, and tinkering. As Osun’s example has shown, the opposition needs not to be on the same page to flush out the ruling party: Prince Dotun Babayemi is still in the court while Senator Ademola Adeleke is rehearsing for the inauguration. In essence, once you can persuade people into seeing you as the light and your opponent as the evil, regardless of your warped manifesto, you can still win an election: all it takes is to latch into people’s discontent, displeasure, and dissatisfaction to win over their hearts. Humbling as to say disorienting, politics is one unpredictable adventure that can tear down a behemoth of over-confidence, overbearing people into ridiculous shreds.

By the time the dust finally settles, supporters of Governor Oyetola would look back at the political danger of underestimating the opponents: they are polarized, fractured, and disunited yet came out victorious. And in essence, would admit to how their cockiness robbed them during the hotly contested poll. In other words, they would look back and marvel at what happen in other states, especially in neighboring Oyo where Governor Makinde faces incalculable stiff opponents in the next election.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s Opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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