Though they belong to the same party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) but it is an open secrete within the Oyo political setting that all is not well between the Honourable Minister of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu and the Executive Governor of Oyo state, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi. Both are not in good terms politically.
The events that played out when the former was nominated for confirmation as a minster by the presidency, where the group loyal to Gov. Ajimobi really worked against the emergence of Shittu and several other political schemes are enough reasons for one to be convinced that all is not well between the two.
There were so many petitions as well as paid adverts in some daily newspapers where the group made known their dissatisfaction over Shittu’s nomination. The matter was later to be resolved and all aggrieved parties reconciled and they all embraced Shittu as a minister of the Federal Republic.
But as the 2019 guber election in the state draws near and based on political calculations, it seems their age long feud is been renewed. Shittu we reliably gathered is running for the Number one seat in the state, come 2019. In fact, he made it known on a television interview recently that he is not leaving any stone unturned in achieving his aim, which the Ajimobi Group are not comfortable with.
It will be recalled that Shittu is one of the strong formation of the defunct CPC that formed what is today referred to as APC alongside other political parties. And that of course is one of the main points of argument of the Ajimobi Group. They believe Shittu doesn’t deserve all he has gotten from the party based on hierarchy and party structure. They have also tagged him a disloyal member of the party. They also believe Ajimobi’s views must be respected as the leader of the party in Oyo state.
While the Shittu Group have a contrary opinion on how the party’s affairs is been handled in the state, they pointed to the recent composition and inauguration of Council of Elders of the party, which according to them doesn’t conform with APC Constitution.
Olawale Sadare, the Director of Publicity and Strategy to the Minister, in a press release recently accused Ajimobi of trying to hijack the party by making the state executives irrelevant. Shittu too confirmed same during an interview that “unless the national secretariat of the party intervenes in the on-going controversy that trailed the proposed local government election, appointments of caretaker chairmen in the state, “bubble may burst”. He described the decision of Governor Ajimobi to hand-pick candidates for the local government polls as very undemocratic and an ill-wind that would blow nobody good.
He stated that, “It is a matter that we all must open our eyes to because you only need to be sleeping to allow injustice and oppression to be sustained in a sane society. Before 2019 election comes, I want to believe that the target for all of these ‘bulldozing’ will be to replicate this in the delegate election which I, assure you, will never happen. We must continue to be forward looking; we must continue to live by the ideals of the founding fathers of our party about democracy, fairness and all inclusiveness rather than just hand-picking”.
“We don’t want the APC to go the way PDP has gone. It is unfortunate I have to tell you this. The day people went to protest at the governor’s office, thugs were sent to pester people with stones and other dangerous objects. Journalists were there. Is that the kind of democracy we are practising?. Some, who were coming, were waylaid at Moniya. Even in my own Saki town yesterday, after the swearing in of new caretaker chairmen, their thugs descended on people. In fact, the wife of the APC chairman in Saki West is still at the hospital. Why? Because her husband did not support the caretaker arrangement all sent by the new chairman. This is happening in many other towns. Impunity must stop.
“Refusing to organise primary election that would usher in elected candidates for the local government election is a disservice to our party and a disservice to the constitution of the country which stipulates that there should be democratically elected leaders at the local government level. The governor who is my brother has been in the saddle for the past six years, it is unfortunate that he has not organised local government elections.” Talking about the division within the party, Shittu said, “From our investigations, SENACO(Ajimobi’s group) was formed to snub late Lamidi Adesina (Lamists). Some leaders of APC came to Ibadan to protest. These were not CPC members but these are APC members who had been in the party for a long time. You find out that most people who claim to be progressives are not following the antecedents of our great leader and mentor, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Regarding the LG polls, some APC candidates had coughed out huge sums of money to collect APC forms.” “The appointment of zonal leaders or elders’ advisory council for APC in Oyo State is unconstitutional and it is a clear attempt to make the state executive of the party irrelevant. It is so clear. There is no position of zonal leaders in our constitution. We must challenge that because it will be used for sinister motives.
In defence to all these allegations however, the APC has come out to clear the air. They urged Barr. Shittu to always seek clarification from the party leadership before going to press. In the statement, they claimed there must be some misinformation in what the minister has said. “Obviously, there are certain half-truths and outright misinformation in some statements credited to the Minister during the course of the interview. We could only urge him to explore the opportunity of his unhindered access to the governor to iron out issues of misrepresentation and wrong perception while he also needs to seek clarification from the party on any issue of concern to him before going public or to the press as the case may be.”
As it is now, some political watchers in the state are of the opinion that Barr. Shittu may find it difficult to achieve his aim of contesting the 2019 guber election under APC since Ajimobi is in control of the party structure and as one of the determinant factors to who emerges candidate of the party, being a leader.
While Shittu Group on the other hand believe the Minister has a very formidable structure with solid achievements and an impressive political C.V that work things out for him. That he only needs backing of committed and authentic party leadership to achieve his aim. They are of strong conviction that Shittu has garnered the required experience; having served as state honourable and many other of his previous political strides.
He has contested severally to rule the state. But can he scale through this time around? Is he going to remain in APC? Is there possibility of reconciliation between himself and Gov. Ajimobi? All these questions will get appropriate answers in due time as events unfold.