There’s a brewing feud between Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola that could get bad if conscious efforts are not made to arrest the tide. Yinka Kolawole writes
Crisis might have engulfed the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State following a recent disagreement between supporters of Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the state and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola. The aides spoke bitterly at each other, an evidence of uncontrolled anger and frustration that are fast brewing between the two camps.
Although the gladiators had hitherto managed the situation very well as products of the same political family of a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. While Oyetola is a blood relation of Tinubu, Aregbesola remains Tinubu’s strongest political associate and loyalist.
However, the recent outpour of anger by a member of Oyetola’s cabinet, who is also his special adviser on Education, Mr. Jamiu Olawumi on his Facebook account and the subsequent reply by Bola Ilori, who is serving in Aregbesola’s office in Abuja as Minister of Interior, blew open the hidden animosity.
Although when contacted, Ilori insisted there was no problem, saying ‘life goes on’, Aregbesola’s supporters, however, were allegedly not allowed any chance by Oyetola’s government. The situation was said to have led to deep animosity, while those that gave their support to Oyetola prior to the 2018 governorship election are alleged to be at the centre of government.
For instance, THISDAY gathered that the alleged refusal by Governor Oyetola to back the ministerial nomination of Aregbesola was one of the reasons for the disaffection among supporters of the two in the state.
Oyetola was alleged to have nominated Senator Iyiola Omisore as a minister from the state, because he and some of his party men in Social Democratic Party (SDP) under the platform Omisore contested the governorship seat with Oyetola, had helped the governor to win the September 27, 2018 rerun, which eventually led to Oyetola’s election as governor.
Another leg to their rift was the move by the both parties to control the ruling party, the APC in the state. Aregbesola has had a solid grip on the state structure of the party due to his role in the election particularly, the selection process of members into the various political offices, including members of the state House of Assembly and the leadership at all levels in the state.
But when Oyetola assumed office, he tried to take over control and in the process, succeeded in wooing over the Chairman of the party, Gboyega Famodun, who had quickly shifted his loyalty to the governor.
Curiously, Famodun’s tenure had lapsed since October 2018 but that congress to have fresh executives elected could not hold, because Oyetola did not seem to enjoy majority support of the party structure, appointees and elected officers of the party.
But while Aregbesola and his team wanted the party chairmanship to go to Osun West Senatorial District since Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye is from Osun East Senatorial District and Governor Oyetola hails from Osun Central Senatorial District, Oyetola still insisted on retaining Famodun from same district with him.
There is yet another factor fuelling their crisis and it was the inability of new and old members, who dumped the party during the political struggle before the 2018 governorship election in the state to join the party following its polarisation.
Former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti and his followers’ moves to come back into the party had not received positive nods. The former SSG contested the 2018 governorship election on the platform of African Democratic Party (ADP) in the state.
Adeoti and the likes of Sunday Akere, a former Commissioner under Aregbesola, are in a dilemma as to which camp to join.
Speaking at his turbanning as the Amirul Wazirul-Mumin of Osun State league of Imams and Alfas recently, Aregbesola had observed that the clear absence of Oyetola would generate unhealthy suspicions. But the governor has since defended his absence at the event, saying he had earlier informed the minister about his pending trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for lesser hajj exercise.
Again, Oyetola through his deputy, Gboyega Benedict Alabi, had at Iwude Day Celebration in Ilesa, dismissed the rumour of a rift between them, saying it was a figment of the imaginations of the detractors. The deputy governor noted that the Oyetola administration was building on Aregbesola’s achievements.
While asking the people to ignore such rumours, even as he described it as a move against the progress of the state, he added: “It’s only the agents of distractions and the antagonists of peace that will carry unreasonable rumours to disintegrate the current administration and its predecessor. We’re consolidating on what the previous administration has done and Ogbeni Aregbesola is our leader. We are following his good Steps.”
Famodun too, on his part, expressed worries that members of the party were using the social media platform to throw tantrums against themselves and warned that the party leadership will not hesitate to apply appropriate constitutional sanctions against any member that failed to maintain peace within the party.
In a statement by his media consultant, Kola Olabisi, the party chairman said it was appalling, strange and unethical that some party leaders and members would decide to engage in the lowering of the prestige of the party through their unguarded utterances particularly, online, which had been doing unimaginable damage to the fortune of the party.
“It was a pity that some of the leaders and members of the party are bereft of when to talk and when not to talk, forgetting that meanings could be read to whatever they say as the response of their principals.”
But some elders had prevailed on the pioneer National Chairman of APC and former governor of the state, Chief Adebisi Akande, to intervene and reconcile the two camps in the interest of growth and development of the party.
A former presidential candidate of National Action Council, Dr. Olapade Agoro, has appealed to the two leaders to bury their differences in the interest of the state, stressing that the duo are doing wonderful jobs for the people of the state and wondered why they should engage in any rift. He said the rifts between them would not do any good to the government, members of the party and the entire people of the state, considering the sacrifices they had put in place to move the state forward.
“There is no need for the two leaders to engage in any fight except if they have skeletons in their cupboards,” he said, adding that there was the need for them to promote harmonious relationship in order to facilitate developments in all spheres of the state.
It is okay that the process of reconciling the two leaders is believed to have begun, the truth, however is that if the simmering crisis isn’t arrested now at the stage it is, the duo of Aregbesola and Oyetola would probably get physical in public.