The sour relationship between Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, and his immediate predecessor and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola has deepened with the plan by the latter’s associates to deny the governor a second term ticket.
An aide of the governor blamed the situation on the plan by Aregbesola to reduce the governor to a mere puppet, saying the Minister never wanted Oyetola to succeed him as governor in the first place.
He cited an attempt to frustrate the governor during his campaign days when the former governor stalled their rallies while he travelled to Malaysia and allowed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to dominate the political field.
He noted that the refusal of Oyetola to be answerable to Aregbesola in running the state’s affairs was responsible for the feud, which their associates are using to further widen the gap between the two leaders.
The aide who does not want his name in print, noted that efforts by Chief Bisi Akande, a former governor of the state, to end the feud failed because Aregbesola wanted to have his way at all cost, saying the wise counsel of the elder statesman was jettisoned by the Minister.
He said Akande had told Aregbesola that as a former governor, he never interfered in the governance of the state while the Minister was in charge, wondering why he wanted to dictate to Oyetola how to run the government.
But another aide of the Minister who claimed that Akande was biased in his intervention, said the feud only exists amongst the associates of Oyetola and Aregbesola, stressing that the two leaders talk from time to time and exchange ideas.
He said all the governor needed to do is to rein in on his associates to stop beating drums of war, even as he said Oyetola has been caged by his associates who were trying to create empires for themselves.
However, an associate of the governor disagreed that his boss was being ill-advised by his associates, citing the alleged nomination of the former deputy governor of the state, Senator Iyiola Omisore, for ministerial appointment by the governor, which did not go down well with Aregbesola who claimed that Oyetola ought to have informed him before the nomination.
Though he said the governor never knew that Aregbesola was interested in the ministerial appointment, he quickly backed the Minister when he got to know.
According to him, Aregbesola was never happy with the reception accorded Omisore by the governor even when he knew the contribution of the senator to the victory of the governor at the poll in 2018.
He pointed out that the minister worked against the party’s candidates in Ife area in the last election so as to reduce the influence of Omisore as a leader in the party.
“He went further in opposing the governor’s bid for second term; the Minister had lined up two people to contest against Oyetola for the APC ticket. They are the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji and the Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District, Adeyemi Oriolowo, who have backed out of the plot and are supporting the governor’s second term bid,” he claimed.
Also, he said the name of the present senator representing Osun Central Senatorial District, Dr. Ajibola Basiru is also being mentioned by the Aregbesola group to help displace the governor in 2022.
The aide said last week’s advertisement by the Aregbesola group in a national newspaper is one out of many, which they have lined up to embarrass the governor but stated that Osun people are happy with Oyetola , adding that “all their activities will lead them to nowhere.”
Further investigations by SUNDAY INDEPENDENT revealed that series of meetings had been held by Aregbesola’s associates in wards, local government councils and districts on how to achieve their aims through various means using human right groups to perfect their plans to zone the next governorship ticket from Osun Central where Oyetola hails to Osun West Senatorial District, the preferred area of Aregbesola.
While Aregbesola wants the party chairmanship position to go to Osun West since the Speaker is from Osun East and Governor from Osun Central, Oyetola is insisting on retaining Prince Adegboyega Famodun from same senatorial district with him whose tenure of office as State APC chairman had lapsed since October 2018.
All efforts to have the party’s state congress and new executive installed had been practically difficult since Oyetola does not enjoy majority support of the party structure as well as appointees and elected officers on the platform of the party.
Former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Akande had made several efforts to resolve the seemingly impasse between the governor and his predecessor, but the efforts may not have made a fruitful impact as the duo’s interest is to control the soul of the party and the state ahead of 2022 governorship election in the state.
Indeed, a group, Osun Network for Equity and Social Justice allegedly traced to Aregbesola’s camp, recently came up with a newspaper advertorial appealing to Tinubu, Akande, Oyetola, Aregbesola and other stakeholders on the need for Oyetola to sacrifice his second term ambition in 2022.
They argued that there is a great responsibility on Governor Oyetola to sacrifice his second term ambition of another four years, which would have taken the numbers of years spent by Osun Central Senatorial District (the Ikirun zone of the district) to 19 and half years to Osun West Senatorial District.
They also called on the stakeholders to immediately work on how to zone the APC gubernatorial ticket in 2022 to the West Senatorial District, in the interest of the party and overall interest of the state by impressing it on Oyetola, the need to yield to this call.
Osun Central Senatorial District of the state (Ikirun Zone) has been dominating the state political scene since its creation in August 1991.
Out of the 29 years of existence, the district has ruled the state for almost 20 years, while Osun East Senatorial District comprising Ife-Ijesa has ruled for eight years and Osun West Senatorial District has ruled for just 22 months.
Before the emergence of Oyetola as Governor in 2018, there had been agitation for Osun West to be allowed to take the slot, but the candidate from the district on the platform of the PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke did not win the gubernatorial poll.
In a swift reaction, some party leaders in Osun West Senatorial District including lawmakers and others distanced themselves from the renewed agitation that Osun West should be allowed and that Oyetola should be persuaded and pressured to jettison his second term ambition.
They frowned at the advertorial in which their position was made known at a press conference held in Iwo on Friday and submitted that the position was selfish and not generally acceptable to all in the district.
The leaders said the sponsored crisis within the Osun APC family has failed and is dead on arrival and the new slogan is “Oyetola Lekansi.”
Another leader of the party who preferred anonymity, said the issue is “very cautious, and plead that the media should allow us to be for now.”
He added that Osun Network for Equity and Social Justice, is a faceless group not known to anyone in Osun State.
“Oyetola has the constitutional right to seek re-election, and it is the people of the state that will determine who will rule them,” he added.
However, the position of the party leaders from Osun West Senatorial District is not without dissenting voices as some party leaders who are allegedly loyal to Aregbesola from the district did not turn up for the conference.
Former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Nojeem Sallam, Senator Mudasiru Hussein, APC State Secretary, Rasak Salinsile who are party leaders from the district and expected to sign the rejoinder were conspicuously absent.
No reason was given for their action, but it was reliably gathered that they were not disposed to the stand of those faulting the agitation.
Another socio political group in the party, Dynamic Reformers Group headed by Durojaiye Olaleke has described sponsors of Osun Network for Equity and Social Justice as enemies within who are collaborating with enemies outside to cause friction within the party, adding it is ridiculous and unpardonable.
According to Olaleke, “I sympathise with the Osun Network for Equity and Social Justice over its unusual, strange, undemocratic and frivolous demand of asking the incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola who has only spent two years in office to step down his future political ambition.
“Such a call is frivolous and undemocratic in the sense that the Constitution of Nigeria allows two terms of four-year each for any state governor. Governor Oyetola could not be found to be breaching any known law of our country by his choice to spend two terms.
“As a result of this, the unpopular demand that seems to be orchestrated, sponsored and teleguided by the opposition within who are apparently working in connivance with those outside the party, can neither sit nor fly as such needless agitation is not backed up by any known law of our country.
“Once it’s the constitutional right of Governor Oyetola to seek re-election for another term, no Jupiter can constitute any clog to his aspiration in this regard. Asking Oyetola to step down his re-election by the opposition through an unknown human rights organisation, which name doesn’t ring a bell amounts to an attempt to ambush the governor who has been providing quality governance since the inception of his administration when all other options to stop him have failed.
“It is even pertinent for the hurriedly-put- together Osun Network for Social Justice to ask itself what Oyetola has got to gain or lose by ceding his right to recontest for the second term. Of course, it’s the people who are enjoying his qualitative government that would be needlessly made to suffer while there would be brazen denial of the constitutional right of the governor.
“Another request by the suspected partisan human rights organisation for the leaders of our party to zone the 2022 governorship slot to the Osun Senatorial District of the state and put pressure on the incumbent Governor Oyetola to jettison his second term ambition is equally undemocratic to the person of Governor Oyetola.”
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