Ejiofor Alike writes that unless Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola sit down for a reconciliatory meeting, the crisis in the All Progressives Congress will persist as the duo continue their proxy political battle
Following the failure of the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to reconcile the members of the party in Osun State, the proxy war between the immediate past governor of the state and Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregesola, and Governor Gboyega Oyetola has continued.
The minister had recently confirmed the existence of two factions of the party in the state.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Digital Nigeria Centre project facilitated by the federal government at Ijesha Muslim Grammar School, Ilesha, Osun State, the minister had also acknowledged that he is a member of The Osun Progressives (TOP), a faction within APC that has been opposing the administration of his successor, Oyetola.
Oyetola and Aregbesola had kept their disagreements out of public view, until March 2020 when the governor approved the reversal of the single school uniform, ‘reclassification’ of the public school system and the abolition of single-sex schools introduced in 2013 by Aregbesola.
Oyetola was Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff when he was the governor of the state.
Former Caretaker Secretary of the party in the state, Mr. Razaq Salinsile, heads the TOP backed by Aregbesola.
Salinsile became Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff after Oyetola had resigned to pursue his governorship aspiration, after emerging as the candidate of the APC.
Oyetola and Aregbesola were ardent supporters of the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu but the minister and the former Lagos State governor were said to have parted ways over the 2023 presidency.
Aregbesola’s open admission of the existence of factions in the party has confirmed his role in TOP.
The minister’s statement has also confirmed that last year’s intervention by Tinubu and the former Interim National Chairman of APC and former governor of the state, Chief Bisi Akande did not resolve the crisis.
“We have APC of Rauf Aregbesola, which is chaired by Hon Razaq Salinsile. Everybody is doing his or her own. Later, we will renegotiate and rearrange everything.
“The caucus that produced our faction is called, ‘The Osun Progressives (TOP)’ chaired by Elder Lowo Adebiyi. Those people who are doubting whether I am part of TOP or not should listen up, I belong to TOP wholeheartedly,” Aregbesola reportedly explained.
The minister is said to be displeased with Tinubu for allowing his political base to be demolished in Lagos.
To ensure that the APC has a united front ahead of the February 2022 governorship primary in the state, the national secretariat of the party had sent Senator Adamu-led committee to reconcile the two factions.
When the committee visited Osogbo, Adamu had told the governor that the committee would ensure fair hearing, equity and justice in carrying out its assignment in the state.
Aregbeola’s faction was said to have given Adamu’s committee some tough conditions for peace to return to the party.
One of the conditions, it was learnt, was that Oyetola should resign his position in the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the ruling party.
They argued that Oyetola should resign before the Osun APC governorship primary, since he would be contesting for the governorship ticket
Another condition was the recognition of executives elected by the TOP in its ward, local and state congresses.
Responding to the demands by Aregbesola’s faction, Adamu had stated that the committee had taken note of the demands.
“We have taken note of the comments, contributions and the interventions they made,” he added.
However, Oyetola’s faction, better known as Ileri Oluwa faction had described the demands as self-serving, and called on the committee to reject them.
With the failed reconciliation, Oyetola’s loyalists and those of Aregbesola have returned to the trenches, turning the social media and other political spaces to battle fields.
Key Oyetola’s supporters include: Senate spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, while Prince Gboyega Famodun heads the faction.
The two factions, which emerged from the parallel state congresses held in October 2021, are preparing to produce separate governorship candidates.
Immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yussuff; former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Najeem Salam; and former Secretary to the State government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, had argued that APC would not win the 2022 governorship election if Oyetola emerged as its candidate.
Yussuff has since obtained nomination form to contest the primary election slated for February and it was not clear if he would be presented as a consensus candidate by the group.
Oyetola is the only aspirant who has declared his intention to contest for the party’s primary election from his faction.
Shortly after Aregbesola had admitted the existence of the two factions, the chairman-elect of the APC faction loyal to the governor, Famoodun, had described the members loyal to the Aregbesola group as disgruntled members of the party.
Famoodun in a statement attacked Aregbesola for open declaration of support for TOP, describing the conduct of the ex-governor as below expectation.
He also told Aregbesola to perish the belief that he was the only power broker in Osun progressive politics, adding that the former governor was only living in past glory.
“The intra-APC opposition group, called TOP, which meets every Thursday in the Campaign Office of the Interior Minister in Osogbo has become a venue where barrage of insults are heaped on the person of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the state leadership of the APC and the state government by the leadership of the said TOP
“This disgruntled set of the APC members are peopled by members of the cabinet of Aregbesola during his two terms as the governor of the state who are now protesting their not being appointed by Governor Oyetola for the third term.
“Osun APC is too strong for Aregbesola to break. His recent statement in Ilesa reduces his status as a former governor and as a serving minister of a party he claimed to belong to. Aregbesola is an arrogant, selfish, self-centered, reckless, wicked and inconsiderate politician who wants the whole world to be his possession. It is not an overstatement to categorise Aregbesola as someone who prefers to rule in hell than to serve in paradise.
“Aregbesola should be told that there is no amount of intrigues by him that is capable of bungling the second term ambition of Governor Oyetola as it has divine guidance and pathfinder which makes him (the governor) unstoppable by any mortal.”
With the rigid posture adopted by Oyetola and Aregbesola’s loyalists, only a meeting of the two leaders will find lasting peace to the crisis.