Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
As crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Osun State might not have festered till date if fairness, unity and collective purpose wasn’t jettisoned by the administration Governor Gboyega Oyetola. And the degenerating crisis is giving many chieftains of the party sleepless nights.
THISDAY investigations have revealed that due to controversies surrounding the emergence and eventual assumption of office of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, efforts were not spared to unite members of the APC political family in the state, However, rather than the Governor and his loyalists strengthening and rejuvenating the party for the consolidation of progressive legacies in the state, it began an unprecedented politics of segregation and exclusivity against members of the party that brought him to power in 2018.
A source, who is chieftain of the party and is close to the two camps told THISDAY that party members who wanted to ensure that the crisis did not degenerate, at its earlier stage, formed The Osun Progressives (TOP), a caucus of the party in a bid to right the wrongs of the factional party chairman, Gboyega Famodun .
Also another top party chieftain in the state who also prayed not to be mentioned because of the height of the crisis said Governor Oyetola’s strong position not to associate with anyone who believed in his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola’s administration was the first in the series of strokes he used to further divide the party.
He said: “Since the creation of Osun in August 27, 1991, Osun has been democratically governed with Osun West Senatorial District taking the first shot but ruling for just less than 24 months; Osun East Senatorial District ruling for eight years; Osun Central Senatorial District where Governor Oyetola hails from would have ruled for 15 and half years by the end of his tenure. With three Governors: Chief Bisi Akande, four years; Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, seven and half years; and Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola who would have spent four years at the end of his first term by 2022 being from the same Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin Federal Constituency as Oyinlola.”
According to the chieftain, in 2018, the agitation for the Osun West Senatorial District to produce the next governor was fierce and huge. It was so fierce that all party leaders, starting from the elders, Agba Osun caucus of APC, majority of the State Executive Council, and virtually all organs of the party were hell bent on “West Lokan Agenda.
“In spite of this clamour, the then Chief of Staff, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, was produced as the APC candidate for the state gubernatorial election,” he recalled.
The party leader noted that “decision alone fragmented the party such that a section of the party decamped to the ADP, costing APC at least 49,000 votes in the 2018 election.
“Eventually, the election was declared Inconclusive and a Rerun was ordered, with Alhaji Oyetola eventually winning with a slim margin.”
Although, many factors were responsible for the declaration of the election being Inconclusive, among which was the decamping of aggrieved section of APC members to the ADP – costing APC over 49,000 votes, the unpopularity of the APC candidate as well as the general clamour for OSUN WEST DISTRICT to field the next Governor were the driving factors for APC’s unusually slim victory in the 2018 guber elections,” he said.
Speaking further, and digging deeper into the unpopularity of the candidate, another source said: “If we compare the results of Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola in his home local governments and that of his closest rival, the PDP candidate in his home local governments, we will discover the huge difference of 21,525 votes in favour of the PDP candidate. This is significant, considering the fact that, PDP could only lead APC after the first ballot by only 353 votes.”
He emphasised that “Instead of considering the above factors as the main factors responsible for the declaration of the election Inconclusive, Governor Oyetola, from the inception of his administration embarked on a campaign of calumny and politics of division within the party. Under the Oyetola administration, whoever is perceived to be associated with or harbour any interest in the legacy of immediate past administration or commitment to his predecessor is alienated from the party and government regardless of their contribution to the success of the party.”
Another albatross, the APC chieftain remarked hanging on the neck of Oyetola and his IleriOluwa camp, was the reversal of the major policies of the Aregbesola administration spitefully.
He noted that since the start of his administration, the Governor had publicly shown his disdain for the Minister which Ogbeni was aware of but kept mum in the spirit of party cohesion and political maturity.
He said: “For instance , when the Muslim Community in Osun was planning to honour Ogbeni with the title of WAZIRI’L MUMINEEN of the State of Osun, the Governor and his team bluntly showed disdain for the event. Despite the fact that Governor Oyetola was the one that picked the date for the programme, he directed that major functionaries of his government should not attend the programme, while also travelling out of the country himself. The only Local Government Chairman who took active role in the programme, Hon Akeem Olaoye, then Chairman of Osogbo South LCDA was suspended from office for six months. Till today, the unbridled castigation of APC Party stalwarts by members of Oyetola’s administration is the order the day.”
He said: “While all these were going on, some concerned members of the party approached the Governor to have a rethink about his actions and inactions against APC stalwarts including the former Governor, but the Governor did not yield.”
The APC leader noted: “The issues were brought to the attention of Baba Bisi Akande, the former Governor of Osun, for resolutions, though this effort did not produce a decisive resolution. Thereafter, in December 2020, Asiwaju intervened at a meeting held at the Ila Orangun residence of Baba Bisi Akande, with Baba Akande, Governor Oyetola and Ogbeni in attendance where resolutions were agreed. However, the resolutions taken at that meeting were jettisoned and the leaders have not since then raised a finger.”
“When there was no solution in sight, genuine party leaders who love the party and majority of people who suffered before we could restore the progressive party back to power in Osun 12 years ago, came together to form The Osun Progressives (TOP), in order to reorganize the party for future elections.
He said when TOP was formed, the government started castigating leaders of the group and its members.
“Though this attack has continued unabated, however on a daily basis, members of TOP have kept increase. Immediately the timetable for ward congress was released by the National Secretariat of the APC, the leadership of TOP announced to the whole world that they were ready for the Congress but the Governor’s group, said they were not ready for a Congress rather they settled for Consensus. While TOP went for real Congress, the Governor’s group went for a dubious ‘Consensus.’
He noted that the Governor used his position as a member of the Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC with the support of Senator Iyiola Omisore, to influence the Chairman of the Osun Convention Planning Committee, Hon. Elegbeleye to declare the governor’s group consensus list as duly elected ward Executives; TOP then petitioned the National Secretariat in the form of an Appeal and eventually the Appeal Committee came, they were equally compromised by the Governor, using his influence as a member of CECPC. But one significant thing about the Appeal was during its sitting, known thugs from the Governor’s group came to disrupt the proceedings.
He also recalled how seven leaders of TOP were arraigned before the Magistrate Court instead of arresting and prosecuting thugs. The case was eventually dismissed.
He said as the crisis continued, especially in relation to the party Congress, numerous party leaders have intervened without any clear resolution in sight.
According to him “On January 8, 2022, the APC National Reconciliation Committee arrives Osun, met with Governor Oyetola’s APC factions, who urged the National Reconciliation Committee to disregard the petitions forwarded to it by TOP.”
While expressing optimism for an end in sight to the crisis, the party chieftain called for a genuine, equitable and fair reconciliation.
He said: “As a united party in 2018, the current Governor barely won the election, how will the party perform with a divided house as we approach the coming gubernatorial election.”