Right now, the major topic of discussion within and outside Osun State is the political battle between the immediate past governor of the state and now the Interior Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and a former Deputy Governor, Senator Iyiola Omisore. This is unconnected with a photograph that is currently making the rounds on social media.
In the said photo, the late Ooni of Ife Oba Okunade Sijuwade could be seen flanked by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Senator Omisore Iyiola and the former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo at the palace of the late monarch.
Though the source of the controversial photograph couldn’t be ascertained Omisore, who emerged as National Secretary at the just held APC National Convention, was quoted to have said, “where is the bastard” while captioning the photo. Saying that where was Aregbesola when he was taking Tinubu round for political consultations and all.
What many people may not know, however, is that whatever animosity or political differences between Omisore and Aregbesola are not just happening now. The supremacy battle has been there all along. As a matter of fact, Omisore’s comment on the photo, some say maybe his response to Aregbesola’s faction of Osun State APC, The Osun Progressives (TOP). TOP was seriously against the nomination of Omisore for the post of National Secretary of APC.
Saying that “If Governor Gboyega Oyetola will not mind being an associate of an alleged murderer and sponsor of many killings in the state, we at the TOP will not join him and we are telling the whole world that we are not going to join those dancing on Uncle Bola Ige’s grave with his alleged killer,” Aregbesola’s faction of the party had said in a statement, warning leadership of the party against the nomination of Omisore.
Meanwhile, another similar statement had before then credited to Aregbesola. The Interior Minister, during the revalidation of Omisore’s APC membership at Ifofin, Ward 8, Ilesa East Local Government Area last year, hitting indirectly at Omisore, said the party had admitted killers and miscreants into its fold. It is public knowledge that Senator Omisore was accused of having hand in the death of the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, late Chief Bola Ige. But he has since been discharged and acquitted by the court alongside other suspects.
It would also be recalled that Omisore, who was PDP gubernatorial candidate, was Aregbesola’s major opponent in the 2014 governorship election. When the latter was seeking reelection under APC. Loyalists of both parties clashed severally during the electioneering campaigns of the 2014 guber poll. Aregbesola eventually won but the battle line seems to have been drawn since then. So, the battle was only reignited after Omisore defection from SDP and officially joined APC. The role which he played during the guber election re-run of 2018 in the state is still very fresh.
Omisore was the joker that APC used in defeating PDP’s candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who was already leading with 254,698 votes ahead of Governor Oyetola who polled 254,345 votes. Although Omisore came a distant third with 128,049 votes in the election but became the beautiful bride to be courted by his two leading rivals after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive on the ground that the 353 votes margin between Adeleke and Oyetola was lower than the number of cancelled votes (3,498) in seven polling units. The re-run poll in the seven polling units where votes had been cancelled, however, led to a big battle between PDP and APC for the support of Omisore and his SDP. At the end of the day, Omisore threw his support behind Oyetola who eventually won Adeleke with 462 votes.
Interestingly, no sooner than Governor Oyetola came to power than he fell out with his predecessor, Aregbesola. And Omisore became a key adviser to the Governor. Also, to compensate Omisore for his efforts during the re-run election that brought him to power, Governor Oyetola nominated Omisore for ministerial appointment to fill the Osun State slot at the expense of Aregbesola. Though Aregbesola was eventually picked for the position but the development infuriated Aregbesola’s camp the more. They accused Governor Oyetola of sidelining their group, as well as reversing most of Aregbesola’s policies in order to erase his legacies.
While Aregbesola’s camp also felt Omisore is reaping where he didn’t show as a new decampee in their party, Omisore’s loyalists won’t have non of that. They readily tell whoever cares to listen that Omisore is more progressive than Aregbesola. Siting his political trajectory as a reference point. Having served in the Fourth Republic in the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which after many transformations, became the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and one of the legacy parties that merged in 2014 to form the APC.
Omisore was the deputy governor to Chief Bisi Akande in 1999 under the AD. Before he fell out with his principal and their mentor, Chief Bola Ige, who at the time was the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under President Olusegun Obasanjo. Omisore was thereafter impeached and removed as Deputy Governor. He later defected to PDP and despite being arrested as a suspect in the December 23, 2001 assassination of Bola Ige, his new party nominated him as its senatorial candidate for the Osun East Senatorial District in the 2003 general elections. But surprisingly, Omisore, who was still in detention at the time of the elections, won the election and became a senator in the Fifth National Assembly in 2003.
Another thing that has obviously angered Aregbesola’s camp is the fact that Governor Oyetola seems to have also seen Omisore as a strategic hand to be used to counter Aregbesola in his zone, Osun East senatorial district. In order to conquer the zone for his second term bid.
Apart from Governor Oyetola’s second term project, some political analysts in the state also feel this may be the perfect time for Omisore to take revenge at Aregbesola, who helped to frustrate his plans of returning to the Senate in 2011. Senator Babajide Omoworare, it would be recalled, won the election under the banner of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
With all these, it means Omisore and Aregbesola still have many political scores to settle as far as Osun politics is concerned. But the question is, can Omisore, in the coming guber race and the subsequent elections, prove his political mettle and deliver his zone for his new party irrespective of hostility that may come from Aregbesola’s camp? How will Aregbesola and his loyalists respond to this great political challenge?
The coming elections will give answers to these questions. It is, no doubt, going to be a kind of litmus test for both political titans.