Going by the present situation in Oyo APC, the crisis rocking the party is far from being over. It is an open secret that the party has been divided into 2 major factions, the SENACO (Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organisation) group, on one hand, and Unity Forum on the other.
SENACO is the group, which worked for the governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, when he contested the Senate in 2003 under AD auspices and governorship election in 2007 on the platform of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). The other faction is made up of loyalists to the late former governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina. They include (six members of the House of Representatives; Sunday Adepoju, Olusunbo Olugbemi, Dapo Lam-Adesina, Olasupo Abiodun, Olugbenga Ojoawo and Taiwo Akintola, Wasiu Olatunbosun and co).
Former members of the defunct CPC led by Communication Minister, Barr. Bayo Shittu and some members who had earlier worked with Ajimobi, but fell out with him along the line (Prof. Adeola Akande and others). The two factions have since engaged in a serious battle for the soul of Oyo APC. The drama that played out during the party’s ward, local government and state congresses of the party remain a big issue up till today.
Cases of serious confrontation and physical attacks were recorded. So bad was it that the scheduled May 5 primary had to be postponed to the next day. Not to talk of the parallel congresses held at the state level. While Ajimobi’s faction held its congress inside the Lekan Salami Stadium Adamasingba Ibadan, while the other faction held its own at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (formerly Liberty Stadium) also in Ibadan. Members of the Unity Forum accused the governor’s faction contestants of not paying for the nomination forms at the ward congress as stated in the guidelines for the election.
They also accused Ajimobi’s faction of not granting them access to submit the reports and results of their parallel congress, adding that the governor’s faction did not hold any congress and where it was held, it did not comply with the guidelines of the party. They maintained that the rival faction ended up with fake forms and called on the national leadership to ensure that justice was done. As if that was not enough, the defeat suffered by the party in the recently held rerun election in Ibarapa East into the state’s House of Assembly to replace the late Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Michael Adeyemo, was not unconnected with the division within the party.
Some aggrieved members of the party were said to have worked for Accord candidate to divide votes from Lanlate where APC picked its candidate. And that was how PDP candidate from Eruwa, Debo Ogundoyin, emerged the winner at the poll. What further enraged the Unity Forum was the recognition and inauguration of Ajimobi’s faction by the national leadership of the party despite several complaints and petitions that have been lodged in the past. Chief Akin Oke has been inaugurated as APC Chairman in Oyo State and he has since inaugurated the party Exco in the state.
While the politicking and power play are ongoing within the two warring factions in Oyo APC, one big question however, is, what exactly is the genesis of this crisis? Why is the Unity Forum fighting Gov. Ajimobi? A party source who doesn’t want his name mentioned revealed that, the seed of discord, that has fully germinated in Oyo APC today, was sown shortly after Ajimobi came to power in 2011.
According to him, “many people don’t know that, what is now playing out in Oyo APC has been there all along. It was a seed of discord sown by some greedy fellows who don’t want to believe that the party’s victory in 2011 governorship election was a collective effort. The problem has been there, as it is normal for internal crisis to come up. Party leaders have, however been managing it until now when it got to the peak. No sooner Ajimobi came to power in his first term than most of those who worked for his emergence were sidelined.
The likes of the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, before his death, Chief Koleosho and the rest were relegated to the background. Not only that, how can somebody who calls himself leader of a party in the state be running party affairs as he likes with zero input from others? Whereas the party we are all promoting is an amalgama of different political parties”, he stated.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Unity Forum Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun has also clearly given his faction’s stand as far as the issue is concerned. The faction wants the governor to allow ‘Internal democracy’ to prevail. Members want the idea of unopposed contest to stop. They condemned in its totality a situation where candidates will be handpicked as it played out in the local government and council elections. In his word, “People in politics say all sorts of things, whether they are reasonable or not.
The key issue for us is whether the governor was right to have gathered the so-called elders to at Lafia Hotel and asked them to determine who would become local government chairmen and councillors. The local government election was done by elders handpicked by the governor. Is that internal democracy?
“It’s only when they can fault our arguments with facts that they can go ahead to examine our motivation. But here, the facts are clear. Did the constitution of Nigeria or that of APC say elders will determine who will be chairmen and councillors? So, why are they looking for motivation when the facts are there? Let them address those facts.”Olatunbosun said. Governor Ajimobi has, however extended fellowship hand of reconciliation to the aggrieved members of the party in the state. He has asked them to forget the past and come together to move ahead as one.
“We cannot all be perfect. There is always quarrel, even in the home, and such is amicably resolved in the interest of the family. “I call on those aggrieved to come back and let’s resolve to move the party forward. I have a large heart and I don’t think evil about anyone. This has been the secret of my successes,” he said. But if the issue is not well managed, there is a possibility of the party loosing some key members in the state as its national convention holds.
On 12th May, 2018, the UNITY Forum Group wrote a one page open letter to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC, on why they are not happy with the Oyo Governor. The letter was signed by the Secretary of the Unity Forum, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun and supported by the following politicians:
Chief Adebayo Shiittu (Hon. Minister of Communications), Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu (Representing Oyo Central in the Senate) Alhaji Isiaka Alimi (Deputy Chairman, State Executive Council of the APC, Oyo State), Alhaji Fatai lbikunle (Coordinator, Lam Adesina Political Group), Hon. Dapo Lam Adesina (Representing 9 members of The House of Representatives), Hon. Segun Olaleye (Representing 18 members of the Oyo State House of Assembly), Hon. Fatai Adetunji (Chairman, Parliamentary Caucus, ~OYHA), and Hon. Murphy Adigun Akinyele(Representing former members), OYSA, Hon. Temi Adibi (Coordinator, Former 28 Local Government Chairmen), Hon. Idris Lapade (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (lbadan 1), ChiefK.K. Obisesan, (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (lbadan 2), Hon. SaheedAdejare Yusuf (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (Oke Ogun 1), Hon. Niyi Olabiyi (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (Oke Ogun 2), Hon. Mathew Fasola (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (Ogbomosho), Hon. Samuel Olorode (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (Oyo), Hon. Yemi Akinlabi (Representing Former Local Council Chairmen (Ibarapa), Prof. Adeolu Akande, Alhaji Dr. YunusAkintunde (Representing 7 Gubernatorial Aspirants), Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi (Chairman, Oke Ogun APC Elders Caucus, Alhaji Lekan Kazeem (Member, Oke OgunAPC Elders Caucus), Alhaji (Chief) SulaimanAjibade(Member, OkeOgunAPC Elders Caucus), Dr Busari Adebisi (Chairman, IbadanAPC Elders Caucus), Chief Bolade Akinyemi (Member, IbadanAPC Elders Caucus, Alhaji (Chief), Gani Alade (Member, Ibadan APC Elders Caucus),
Chief Francis Babalola (Representing Ibarapa APC Elders Caucus), Chief Biodun Alade (Representing Ogbomosho, Zone Elders Council, Alhaji Tajudeen Romoke- Representing Oyo Zone Elders Council, Hon. Ope Salami (Representing APC Youths), Mrs, Romoke Azeez(RepresentingAPC Women Caucus).
Our attention has been drawn to the report in many online media about the purported intervention of your good self, the National Leader of our great party, the All Progressives’ Congress(APC), in the crisis trailing the ward congress of the APC in Oyo State to the effect that you threatened to leave the party if our victory at the congress is sustained by the national secretariat of the party.
We are constrained to respond to such purported intervention, allegedly being sponsored by a top officials of Oyo State government in the media, because of the threat it poses to our party. You will recall that it was owing to your intervention in 2015 when the elders of the party declined to support the second term ambition of the governor that we agreed to support the Governor for a second term. This was after assurances and personal guarantees by your good self and Chief Bisi Akande that the Governor would turn up a new leaf in the second term.
“Unfortunately, the situation has gotten (sic) from bad to worse such that if we go into a general election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) today, the party will meet its waterloo. As our leader, you will also recall that you are the one that championed the need for the party congress and convention to elect new party leaders at all levels in accordance with the constitution of theAPC at the National Caucus and the National Executive Committee of the party. We commend you for this and plead that you extend the same logic of democratic conduct to Oyo State. In the Ward Congress of May 6, 2018, Nine thousand, four hundred and seventy seven (9,477) party members who are members of the Unity Forum collectednomination forms and each form was endorsed by required numbers of party members. Yet, Governor Ajimobi is claiming he had “Affirmative Election” to the exclusion of the thousands of party members, who were involved in the nomination process. Earlier, the governor and a handful of his allies in the Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organisation (SENACO), had handpicked all the chairmanship and councillorship candidates for the local government election into the 68 local government and LCD. As in the state.
The APC cannot continue in this tradition if we are truly a progressive party and serious about winning general elections in 2019. As the leader of the party, you are well aware that SENACO constitutes less (sic) than 30 per cent of the membership of the party in the state and the future of the party lies in the hands of other legacy groups which have, anyway, been responsible for the victory of the party in past elections.
We respect you and appreciate your contributions to the growth of democracy in Nigeria. We pray that you do not allow your white garment to be soiled by the purported unsavoury venture of truncating the wishes of the majority members of APC in Oyo State. The mandates freely given to our ward executives by thousands of party members, who trooped out in the exercise is not negotiable and should be sustained by the national leadership of the APC. We pray that God will guide you right.