Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, who is Oyetola’s predecessor, will today go to war, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) holds direct primary elections across the 322 wards in the state to pick its candidate for the governorship election holding next July.
The Osun State Governor and Aregbesola have been at loggerheads for almost three years, over the control of the state and the party.
Oyetola is seeking the party’s ticket to run for a second term while Aregbesola and his political movement, The Osun Progressives (TOP) are backing erstwhile Secretary to the Osun State Government, Moshood Adeoti to unseat Oyetola.
Many agree that Oyetola has performed creditably well since he assumed office despite the mountain of debt left behind by Aregbesola.
Aside the power of incumbency, as well as his achievements in the past three and half years in office, Oyetola enjoys the support of former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leadership of the party and the backing of the State Executive of the party, led by Adegboyega Famodun.
But Aregbesloa insists Oyetola must not get the party’s ticket to run for a second term because the governor has been disloyal to him and the party members in the state.
The Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party has sent a seven-man team led by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State to supervise today’s primary in the state. Senator Julius Ucha is the Secretary of the committee.
Other members of the committee are Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, Hon. Abdulkarim Abdulraman, Hon. Wale Raji, Mrs. Yetunde Imolehin and Mr. Ofonmbuk Okon Bassey.
There were moves by some chieftains of the party to postpone the primary in order to address the rift between Oyetola and Aregbesola, but the national body resisted the moves.
Incidentally, AbdulRazaq has been engaged in a feud with the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, just like the case between Oyetola and Aregbesola.
But AbdulRazaq promised all contestants that he would be fair to them in the conduct of the primary election.
He said he would act in strict compliance with APC’s Constitution in the conduct of the election.
The governor said he and other members of the panel on the Osun primary were looking forward to conducting a free and fair primary election in the state.
Oyetola has persistently resisted Aregbesola’s moves to operate as the Godfather of Osun State politics and dictate to him as the governor, on the day to day running of the state. This has resulted in numerous violent clashes among supporters of the two camps.
The Special Adviser to Oyetola on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, explains further: “Oyetola did not fight Aregbesola. He (Aregbesola) declared that Oyetola’s tenure was his third term and he wanted to be in charge. He also promised those close to him that 80 per cent of them would return as cabinet members, which did not happen. The ex-governor thought the eight-year tenure was for eternity. It has ended but he could not believe that reality. The root cause of the issue is what I just said.”
The Chairman, Elders’ Caucus of the Osun State APC, Sola Akinwumi described the “street shows” by Aregbesola as a display of thuggery and hooliganism.
Akinwumi adds: “As a matter of fact, the erstwhile governor belittles himself and I am very sure he didn’t know the implications of what he did. He acted so low and naively as if he was the sitting governor.
“Was he telling us that there are two governors in the State? Has he forgotten that he is no longer a Governor? We have known his intention and we leave everyone to his or her conscience.”
Meanwhile, members of the APC in Osun State have been urged to remain focused and resolute in their resolve to re-elect Oyetola at the party’s primary election coming up today, as they have demonstrated during the strategic tour conducted round the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Prince Oluwole Oyebamiji gave the charge in a press statement, describing the atmosphere of tension recently created in the State as a mere distraction.
The SSG affirmed in the statement that Osun “is the most peaceful state and will remain so during and after the primary election.”
He then urged every member of the public to embrace peace and go about their lawful duties without any fear.
The statement further revealed that the Oyetola administration had touched lives and impacted the society in an unprecedented way without relegating human capital development to the background.
On the other hand, Aregbesola alleged that Oyetola had been waging a war against him since becoming the governor.
The Interior Minister reiterated this in Ikire town last Thursday while addressing a rally held to garner support for Adeoti, his anointed candidate in today’s primaries.
Speaking in Yoruba, Aregbesola said he pleaded with Oyetola for about two years not to fight him, adding that his successor rejected his advice, which made him call his supporters to salvage the party.
He said, “I begged him (Oyetola) for two years; I told him that people must not mock us; I told him that he was heading for destruction. I served this state with the whole of my heart; I also positioned Oyetola so that he could succeed me in office.
“When we came to this town (Ikire) for his campaign, we were drenched in rain from the Akire’s palace to this place. He got to the office and claimed I am his enemy; those who contested against him during our party primary he pulled closer, while he is fighting me.
“Since Oyetola assumed office, he has waged a war against me as if I once harmed him. He claimed that I did not want him to emerge as the governor; I told him that I heard him and that now that he had been governor, what else did he want?
“I begged him for two years; I sent people to help me beg him and that he should not love me, but he must not fight me; even if he wanted to fight me, he should not abuse me and destroy my legacies.
“All that I warned him not to do was what he did. He opposed what I did; all the things I did together with him for eight years, he opposed and reversed them. He thought he could destroy me through my work; nobody was pushing him, he is pushing himself. He deliberately towed that path. He waged a war against me and refused to listen to my pleas until he got rid of me.”
Meanwhile, a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Osun State has demanded the sack of Aregbesola for promoting civil unrest ahead of today’s governorship primary election.
The Spokesperson of the Coalition, Mr. Wasiu Alli, while addressing a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, said according to the 5th Schedule of the constitution, Aregbesola was expected to act only in ways that promote National Security and does not expose Nigerians anywhere to threats to their lives and property.
The Coalition added that where the contrary becomes the case, erring government officials must receive appropriate sanctions.
The coalition said Aregbesola in the past one week had engaged in a public show of rascality, encouragement of followers to behave in manners that undermine the superintendence of the present administration in the State, denigration of Elder Statesmen, among many others.
It noted that the recent utterances of Aregbesola were already heating the polity in the State to a point where residents now live in fear.
It stated: “While superintending over Security Agencies under the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has now turned security details attached to him by these Agencies (NSCDC and NPF) into tools of political warfare, clearly undermining the jurisdiction of the Nigeria Police Force in maintaining security in Osun State.
“Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, despite being responsible for coordination of public security, is, by his actions, promoting disunity and insubordination between two key security agencies that should ordinarily be cooperating. This portends grave danger for the maintenance of peace and security within Osun State and indeed, Nigeria.”
The coalition said if the federal government failed to call Aregbesola to order and charge him to focus on his official responsibilities instead of going about causing civil unrest, he would end up inflaming the otherwise peaceful Osun State.
It said, “Where he cannot be cautioned, we demand his outright sack or redeployment if he cannot act responsibly in line with the dictates of the office he presently holds. A public officer must never be seen acting contrary to the spirit and provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.”
Responding, Aregbesola said the Coalition was hurriedly put together and plotted by the leadership of the government in Osun State.
The minister, who responded in a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Sola Fasure, insisted that the state government in particular had mounted a campaign of calumny against the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) because they were providing security for some citizens in Osun while they hold meetings and ward off attacks against them.
The Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, and the Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Ashiru Olatoye Olaniyan, yesterday reiterated their support for Governor Oyetola, saying they were resolute to work for his success in the forthcoming governorship election.
The monarchs showered encomiums and prayers on the governor for his modest achievements in the last three years, just as they assured him of their royal backing before, during and after the July 16 governorship election in the State.
This is even as Oyetola rounded off his strategic engagement tour across the nine Federal Constituencies of the State in Osogbo, the State capital, on Thursday night.
Oyetola had in the last three weeks embarked on a familiarisation visit to each of the 30 local government areas, including Ife-East Area Office, to identify and solidarise with the newly-elected executives of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the State.
Receiving the Governor in his palace, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, threw his weight behind Governor Oyetola whom he described as a promise keeper.
In the same vein, Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Ashiru Olatoye Olaniyan, acknowledged the monumental achievements of the Administration of Governor Oyetola, which he described as unprecedented in the history of the State.
Oba Olaniyan, who implored the Governor to remain steadfast and not be distracted, said, “We are solidly behind you and we are ready to mobilise our subjects to re-elect you.”(THIS DAY)
•PHOTO: Gboyega Oyetola and Rauf Aregbesola