The recent death of former governor of Osun state, and the two time senator representing Osun West, Isiaka Adeleke, is raising eyebrows in Osun politics. Adeleke’s death is synonymous to the death of potential gubernatorial candidates who died before or during elections (like Abubakar Audu of Kogi state). Many think Adeleke’s death was a political assassination, and a plot of get him out of the way before next year elections in the state.
Deaths or perhaps political assassination is not new in Nigerian politics. It literally became more infamous following the return of democracy in 1999. Since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, the country has witnessed a number of gruesome deaths of politicians who were potential gubernatorial candidates for their states.
Some of these politicians had declared their candidacy but were assassinated during election build up except Audu Abubakar who saw the beginning of the elections but didn’t live to see it to the end.
Here is the list of six politicians or potential governorship candidates who died before votes were cast as compiled by Pulse Nigeria.
1.Isiaka Adeleke: Until his death, Adeleke was a senator representing Osun West. He was reported to have died of cardiac arrest at Bikets Hospital in Osogbo while in some quarters , it is believed he was murdered because he was eyeing the state’s governorship seat. It was later revealed that the doctor at the hospital, Alfred Aderibigbe injected the state’s first civilian governor with overdose of painkillers, which led to his death on Sunday, April 23, 2017.
2 Dele Arojo . In 2003 when Nigeria’s democracy was still at its infancy, Chief Dele Arojo became one of the victims of political assassinations in the country.
After Alliance for Democracy (AD) swept the whole of the South West in the 1999 general elections, there was a paradigm shift in 2003 as PDP gained more grounds in the Southwest due to the poor performances of the governors elected on the platform of AD.
Dele Arojo was one of the strongest PDP members to fly the party’s flag at the polls. He came from Yewa Awori- a region that has been yearning to produce a governorship candidate since the state was created. With the publicity surrounding Arojo, it looked as though he would be the next governor of the state after Olusegun Osoba in 2003.
Unfortunately, Arojo did not live to see 2003. He was murdered by an unknown assailant on November 25, 2002 in Lagos.
3 Dipo Dina: Another victim of political assassination in Ogun state was Otunba Dipo Dina, an administrator, philantropist and a community leader from Ijebu Ode whose dream of becoming a governor was shattered by bullets in front of David Oyedepo’s Church, aka Winners Chapel in Otta, Ogun state.
Dina was the flag bearer of the opposition party, AC, in 2007 when Gbenga Daniel’s PDP government was in control of the state. Dina lost the election to Gbenga Daniel who was going for second term in office.
But having gained more political acceptance occasioned by Daniel’s politics of fanfare, Dina endeared himself to the people of the three regions of the state- Egba, Yewa-Awori and Ijebu. With the people’s support, Dina was almost coasting his way to Government House, Oke mosan come 2011.
Sadly, Dina was killed in similar circumstances with Dele Arojo. He was gruesomely killed on a Monday night on the road to the actualization of his dream- by suspected assailants in Otta.
4 Dr. Ayo Daramola: In the 2007 election build up, Dr. Daramola was one of the potential (if not the best) candidates to become the governor of Ekiti state. He was a consultant to the World Bank country office on Social Protection and HIV/AIDS
Daramola was a Peoples’ Democratic Party member due to represent the party in the 2007 gubernatorial election in Ekiti state. Alas, on August 14, 2006, Daramola, who was then the Chairman of Ekiti State Poverty Reduction Agency (EKPRA) was eliminated in cold blood in his house in Ijan Ekiti.
His death heightened the level of political assassination in South West politics as it came three weeks after the death of Funsho Williams in Lagos state.
5 Funsho Williams : The murder of Engineer Funsho Williams is one incident Lagos would never forget in a hurry. The murder of the fine gentleman exemplifies the degree of malice with which politics was practised in Nigeria those days.
In the heat of the preparations for the 2007 election, Funsho’s popularity had grown like wildfire all over the state. He was, according to political pundits, the “next governor” of the state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Lagos was thinking she would have a governor from the opposition party since 1967 when it was created. Not just a governor but the one people believed would be exceptional in delivering the dividends of Democracy.
Unfortunately, on July 27, 2006, his house in Ikoyi was invaded by unknown assailants and Engineer Funsho Williams was taken out of the picture of 2007 gubernatorial election in Lagos. Autopsy later revealed he was strangled to death.
6 Abubakar Audu: Kogi state was bracing up for her first civilian governor at the helm of affairs again when the unexpected happened.
Alhaji Abubakar Audu was the All Progressives Congress flag bearer in the 2015 governorship election in the state. Unlike others, Audu lived to see the beginning of the election. He even went to the polling booth to vote.
Shortly after voting, he returned home and was said to have been advised to take a rest. Audu took the rest and that was the end of it all. Foul play was suspected as some said he died after complaining of stomach ache, while others said he died after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive. Whatever the case, his death was believed to be borne out of natural as opposed to political machinations.
With reference to a publication on Pulse Nigeria