As campaigns commence in a few days time, it is going to be a tight race in Oyo Central Senatorial District where no fewer than 11 politicians battle to represent the zone.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), according to the timetable for the 2023 elections, fixed Wednesday, September 28, 2022, as the date for the commencement of the presidential and National Assembly election campaign.
Oyo central senatorial district, which cuts across three major cities and towns in the State, is made up of eleven local government areas spread across Ibadan (5) Oyo (4) and Ogbomoso (2).
The local government areas are Atiba, AFIJIO, Oyo East, Oyo West, Akinyele, Egbeda, Lagelu, Oluyole, Ona Ara, Surulere and Ogo Oluwa.
Available information obtained in Ibadan from INEC revealed that the total number of registered voters in Oyo Central district stands at 903,341.
The total number of polling units stands at 1,981, while the total number of wards (registration areas) stands at 118.
It was gathered that four people, among whom is a female, have represented the district since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
Those who have represented the district included the current Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Lekan Balogun from Ibadan (1999-2003), Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin from Ibadan (2003-2011), Senator Hamzat Ademola Adeseun from Ogbomoso (2011-2015) Senator Monsurat Jumoke Sunmonu, the only female senator who is from Oyo (2015-2019) and the current occupant, Teslim Folarin who had earlier served between 2003 and 2011.
The 11 candidates jostling for the seat are Faozy Oladotun Nurudeen (38, Accord), Olusegun Ibikunle (47, Action Alliance) Segun Jenyo (59, Action Democratic Congress), Yunusa Abiodun Akintunde (60, All Progressives Congress), Akinkunmi Saheed Azeez (40, All Progressives Grand Alliance) and Abidemi Damola Akintola (40, All Peoples Party).
Others are: Lamidi Basiru Apapa (72, Labour Party), Nurudeen Ojedokun Temileyi (35, New Nigeria Peoples Party), Ojo Samuel Opeyemi (46, NRM), Luqman Oyebisi Ilaka (60, Peoples Democratic Party) and Gbolagade Adediran (58, PRP).
Investigation by DAILY POST, however, revealed that only three out of the 11 candidates are the real contenders.
Political watchers are of the opinion that the remaining eight (8) are in the race to create awareness for subsequent elections.
The three major gladiators are the candidates of the PDP, APC and Accord.
This is because of the popularity and the spread of these three political parties across the 33 local government areas in the State.
Coincidentally, the three leading political gladiators who had secured the tickets of the political parties are from Oyo town.
There are four local government areas in Oyo geo-political zone. The four local government areas are: AFIJIO, Atiba, Oyo East and Oyo West.
The three candidates who have been locked in the race are Akintunde of APC, Ilaka of PDP and Nurudeen of Accord.
According to analysts, they would share the votes in their hometown but would solely depend on the votes from Ibadan and Ogbomoso.
Based on the available information, any of these candidates who is able to get a bulk of votes from Ibadan, the State capital, will have his way because of the fact that they would share the votes from the four local government areas in their place of birth.
Ilaka, a former chief of staff to governor Seyi Makinde is from Oyo East Local Government Area. He was born at Ilaka compound, Apinni, in Oyo.
Ilaka had earlier contested the senatorial seat in 2011, 2015 and 2019. He was the candidate of Accord in 2011 and 2015 before he moved to the PDP to secure its ticket in 2019.
He is banking on the popularity of the State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde to win the election.
Akintunde was born on March 6, 1962 in Onikanko Compound, Pakoyi, in the present Oyo West Local Government Area.
Akintunde, who served as Commissioner for Works during the first term of the immediate past governor of the State, late Abiola Ajimobi, was the pioneer Amir (President) of Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Lagos State University, Ojo.
He was later appointed by Ajimobi as Executive Assistant.
Akintunde will bank on the popularity of his party, APC and his antecedent to convince the electorate.
Nurudeen, the candidate of Accord is from Onilada, Pakoyi/Idode, Oyo West Local Government Area.
The University of Ilorin alumnus is the youngest among the candidates.
Analysts are of the opinion that Nurudeen, being the youngest among the three major candidates, would bank on the youths and is expected to ride on the back of the Accord gubernatorial candidate, Adebayo Adelabu to win the election.