APC Defeat was a Plebiscite against Aregbesola, Say Party Chieftains

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Gboyega Akinsanmi

Chieftains of All Progressives Congress (APC) wednesday gave different reasons why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated the ruling party in the by-election held in Osun West senatorial district on July 8, noting that the defeat was a plebiscite and not a by-election.

The chieftains, who are currently holding strategic political offices at the state and national levels, blamed the state Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, for the loss of the senatorial contest, which they said was avoidable if he had duly consulted stakeholders before taking some decisions.

They spoke in confidence with THISDAY yesterday, lamenting that the ruling party might be defeated in the 2018 gubernatorial election if the governor “fails to unite the party leaders across the state and if he continues some of his policies that stakeholders considers “obnoxious.”

After Senator Isiaka Adeleke passed away on April 24, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the by-election in which the younger brother of the late senator, Mr. Ademola Adeleke, emerged victorious last Saturday, polling about 61 per cent of the votes.

In the fiercely contested senatorial by-election, the PDP candidate clearly won with 97,480 votes to defeat the APC candidate, Senator Mudashiru Hussein, who only polled 66,116 votes to emerge second.

Disturbed by what he described as an avoidable defeat, one of the party chieftains admitted that the ruling party lost the by-election to the PDP totally, citing various issues bordering on Aregbesola’s interpersonal relationship; his policy initiatives and intra-party rift, among others.

He pointed out the concern of the people about the state debt burden, disclosing that no person “knows the state’s debt profile except Aregbesola the governor himself. Aside this, he appointed civil servants to manage local governments for years. He also funded the Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate in Ondo State.”

For these reasons, the chieftain revealed that a good number of party leaders, loyalists and members at the grassroots worked against the APC in protest against Aregbesola’s approach to governance.

He said the party leaders were not happy that the governor waited for two and half years before he finally formed his cabinet, which he said, formed the core reason the APC lost the senatorial by-election and the earlier bye-election in Ile-Ife, Osun State in April 2016.

He also cited the new education policy that the Aregbesola administration “has been promoting against the will of critical stakeholders. Names of schools have been changed arbitrarily. Uniforms of schools have been changed without due consultation. Schools have been merged against popular will.

“All these policies have caused disaffection among critical stakeholders in the education sectors. For instance, Ilesha Grammar School has been changed to Ilesha High School. The old students are not happy at it. The owners of missionary schools are equally unhappy with him.”

The APC members also said the APC lost the contest due to what he described as Aregbesola’s poor culture of consultation, noting that the governor rarely consulted with the party leaders, federal lawmakers and past governors, who had been feeling disenchanted at his approach to governance.

The party chieftain noted that the governor seldom consult a former Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, before taking decision, noting that he never considered it appropriate “to carry federal lawmakers, party chieftains and community leaders along before taking important decisions.”

In all local government areas in the state, another party leader said the party executives were factionalised, accusing the governor of propping up his surrogates “to fuel crisis within the party. There is no local government in the state where the APC is not facing internal crisis.

“Some of us kept quiet. But electorate did not quiet. Election is an examination. What happened in Osun last Saturday was a plebiscite. A lot of our people worked for the PDP. Oyinlola has not left the APC. But his supporters worked against the APC. People are not happy.”

He pointed out the role Aregbesola played in the 2016 governorship election in Ondo State, alleging that he sponsored the AD candidate, Mr. Olusola Oke, against the candidate of the APC, which he said, was a grave case of anti-party activity.

After the Ondo State election, the party leader said Aregbesola appointed the Director-General of the Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Mr. Bola Ilori, into the State Executive Council, which the party faithful and supporters found intolerable and unacceptable.