Adeleke: Music stops abruptly for ‘Dancing governor’?
On July 17, 2022 Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ademola Adeleke, the winner of the Osun State governorship election held on Saturday, July 16.
Adeleke endeared himself to Nigerians on social media during the campaigns through his dancing skills which he deployed to good effect to woo voters and win supporters to himself.
At the end of the voting, the Returning Officer for the election and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, announced that Adeleke got a total of 403,371 votes beating the then incumbent governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 375,027 votes in a keenly contested race.
On November 27, 2022, Adeleke was sworn in as the sixth governor of Osun State. It was one momentous event he used to maximum effect to, once again, exhibit his dexterity on the dance floor.
For the 61 days his electoral victory lasted, before the tribunal annulled it and declared Oyetola the winner on Friday, Adeleke was a delight to watch for the feel-good disposition he brought to governance.
Build-up to the Osun State election
Adeleke had been ‘dancing’ long before he was declared the winner of the governorship poll in July. On March 8, 2022, he was declared winner of the Osun PDP governorship primary election held at the Osogbo City Stadium under the supervision of Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
However, there was rancour in the camp of the Osun PDP as Prince Dotun Babayemi emerged winner of a parallel exercise held at the Children and Women Development Centre also in the state capital, which was conducted under the Wale Ojo-led faction of the state PDP.
Consequently, Babayemi headed for the Federal High Court in Osogbo seeking to be declared the valid governorship candidate of the PDP, but the court affirmed Adeleke as the validly elected governorship candidate.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Babayemi filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Akure, challenging the judgment of the lower court and seeking to be declared the PDP governorship candidate.
Rattled by the development, Adeleke’s camp moved to pacify Babayemi’s faction as there were concerns that ‘external forces’ could exploit the case to truncate the party’s victory at the polls.
Expressing confidence that Babayemi would yield to sound reasoning, a party chieftain in the state and Director of Media, Oladele Oluwabamiji, said efforts were ongoing to pacify the factional governorship candidate.
After the storm faded, Adeleke remained the validly recognised winner of the Osun State PDP primary election. He would face Adegboyega Oyetola, the then incumbent governor of Osun State, for a second time, having lost the 2018 election to his APC rival
Osun governorship election campaigns
Oyetola easily picked the APC ticket to run for a second-term for the governorship seat. But the then-sitting governor had a torn in his flesh, in the person of his predecessor, the Minister of Interior and his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Oyetola, who was the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola for eight years, parted ways with the Interior Affairs minister and his loyalists, who alleged that the former abandoned his predecessor’s programmes.
In order to ensure victory on July 16, the APC moved to inaugurate an 86-man campaign council led by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Meanwhile in the PDP camp, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, led chieftains of the party to Osun State to campaign for Adeleke’s victory ahead of the governorship poll.
INEC declares Adeleke winner
Indeed, Adeleke won the July 16 election and was declared winner by INEC having defeated his old foe with 28,344 more votes with a total of 403,371 votes while his APC rival garnered 375,027.
Consequently, he was sworn in on November 27, 2022 as the sixth governor of Osun State.
Breaking his silence, Oyetola described his defeat by Adeleke as a “temporary setback,” and continued to say time and time again that he would return as governor of Osun State.
In his first official acts as governor, Adeleke announced changes on a broad range of policies and issues.
He abolished the “State of Osun” appellation, which was promulgated by Aregbesola, froze all state accounts, reversed all appointments made by Oyetola, from July 17, and promised to “correct past injustices, corrupt acts, and bad policies” of the immediate past administration.
Dissatisfied with the election result, barely a month after Adeleke was declared winner and governor-elect, Oyetola marched to the Election Petitions Tribunal in Osogbo, seeking to nullify the win, saying that the election was fraught with certain “irregularities.”
The tribunal panel was led by Justice Tetsea Kume and in its maiden sitting, granted the motion ex parte filed for an order for the inspection of documents in the custody of INEC, being the first respondent in the suit.
Oyetola, through his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in November tendered exhibits that included election results from Ede North, Ede South, and Osogbo local government areas.
Two days later, counsel for the petitioner, Dr. Saka Layoonu, SAN, tendered before the panel, a Certified True Copy of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System report of the election, and election results from three more local government areas in the state.
On January 13, parties before the Justice Kume-led three-man panel adopted their final written addresses.
After an exchange of arguments and counterarguments, the tribunal selected January 27, 2023 for delivery of judgement.
Adeleke’s victory nullified
The tribunal led by Justice Kume on January 27 passed judgment on Oyetola’s petition against the victory of Adeleke in the July 16 poll.
Kume said that INEC did not comply substantially with the constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act.
He subsequently deducted the over-voting observed from the votes scored by the candidates and declared that Oyetola won the election, having polled 314, 921, while Adeleke’s score came down to 290, 266.
Consequently Adeleke’s victory was nullified having lost 113,105 votes with his old foe, Oyetola, declared winner of the election.
Although the dancing governor rejected the judgement of the tribunal and vowed to appeal the judgment at the appeal court, for now, until there is a counter judgment from a higher court, he has lost the Osun governorship seat and the beat could go on without him.