By Eric Elezuo
All is well that ends well happens to be the saying on the lips of every All Progressives Congress (APC) member in Osun State and the federation as a whole as Alhaji Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola beat all odds to return as the Governor, putting to rest a long drawn battle for the soul of Osun State.
After a spirited electoral effort characterized by accusations and counter accusations, Oyetola, who has hitherto remained an unknown name in the Nigerian political landscape, suddenly emerged the newest political muscle in the politics of Osun State, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the South West, and to a considerable extent, the country. He was the Chief of Staff to the former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola before destiny, providence and luck smiled on him, trans-mutating him to the state chief executive status.
Before now, Oyetola has operated behind the scene, never stood for any election but performed his duties with all diligence prompting the commendation and recommendation of his boss, who rewarded him with the opportunity to stand for the gubernatorial election both at the primaries level, and consequently on the state level where he eventually emerged winner.
The victory of Oyetola with 255, 505 votes over his closest challenger with 255, 023 did not come cheap, having had to ward off a strong challenge led by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke. He was deemed to have lost as he trailed by about 400 votes after the main day election on Saturday, September 22, 2018. He was however, rescued by supplementary election held five days later which made him coast home to victory.
As a result, the 64 year old public servant superimposed over the Osun State Aregbesola left behind.
However, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Ademola Adeleke, rejected the election and its results as a charade and a coup against Osun residents, and swore to go the whole length to retrieve his mandate in court. Based on the controversy surrounding the eventual overcome of the elections, stakeholders in the political and legal platforms believed he stood a chance, though the last time the Supreme Court overturned governorship elections result was in 2010, incidentally in favour of a former Osun State governor, Aregbesola. Though Adeleke started on a good note, rattling his rival by winning at the Tribunal, however, judgments from the Appeal Court, and finally at the Supreme Court gave victory to the APC candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
Formerly a kingmaker, now a king himself, Oyetola, who reportedly is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s cousin, has a vast experience as a long time accounting and brokerage executive in the private sector.
Smarting from an election which many believed was manipulated to his credit, though independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police denied complicity, and the courts have now validated, Oyetola, who had been managing to stand tall and surmount the yearning challenges that come with being the chief executive officer of a state, especially a controversial state of Osun calibre, which allegedly is known for tilting towards Islamic tendencies and inclinations. Today, the frustrations of expectation have come to an end, and now, the governor can concentrate to give the people of Osun State the best of governance.
Not only that, staring him straight in the face is the debt profile of the state which runs into hundreds of millions of naira; a situation that prompted either none payment of staff salaries or deduction in percentage of payments. How he reconcile the payment of staff which his processor is known to have mishandled, will either endear him to the hearts of many or turn him to an overnight villain. It has not been forgotten though that he is a part of the immediate past administration, as well as part of their mess up or glory depending on the side of the divide one is, or rather the way one looks at it.
As nothing is a distraction for Oyetola now, he will need to turn around the state’s IGR in an environment populated by civil servants with little or no production capacity, and is still in the business of paying accumulated debts.
It was reported that at some point in 2016, the state earned nothing in federal allocation as creditors were paid from source to offset due loans. As at May 2018, the state’s debt profile was over N170 billion. But the opposition has put the debt to over N200 billion with a timeline of 20 years to pay off. That’s the herculean task Oyetola is face with.
The Governor was born on April 25, 1956, in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area, and attended Ifeoluwa Grammar School in Osogbo, where he finished in 1972.
In 1978, he graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in insurance. He obtained a master’s degree in business administration in 1990 from the same institution. His national youth service was in Potiskum between 1978 and 1979. Apart from degrees from the University of Lagos, he is also an Associate of the Chartered Institute, London and Nigeria, and a Member, Nigerian Institute of Management.
He started his professional career with Leadway Assurance Company Limited as an Area Manager in 1980, and spent seven years with the outfit before joining Crusader Insurance Company Limited in 1987 as an Underwriting Executive. He left Crusader in 1990, and joined Corporate Alliance Insurance as Controller Technical. At a stage, he set up his own firm, Silvertrust Insurance Brokers, and has been on the board of many firms ever since
Oyetola was the Executive Vice Chairman of Paragon Group of Companies with interest in Oil and Gas, Real Estate, Stock Broking and many more until his appointment as the Chief of Staff to the Governor of the State of Osun in 2011. He is married with children.
Close to one year may have been used in litigation matters, but the technocrat governor still have a lot of time to redeem himself, his party and his former boss, and give the people of Osun reasons to retain him for another term come 2022.
It is now completely irrelevant whether the elections and the results were manipulated as the Supreme Court; the highest court in the land, has spoken. Oyetola must now squarely face the business of all inclusive governance.