For the legion of members of APC in the South-West, this is certainly not the best of times for the political dynasty of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), former Governor of Lagos State and political godfather in the southwest, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Reason: There have been major cracks in the hitherto impenetrable fortress built around the party which held the general view that it enjoys a formidable front. One of such cracks was the political onslaught unleashed on Asiwaju during the ill-fated EndSars protest which saw some of his investments fatally destroyed and a large chunk of his political will stretched to the limits. The other is the ongoing friction between two principal stakeholders of the party, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, former Osun Governor. The ephemeral feud was at the verge of throwing the Tinubu dynasty into disarray when the pioneer interim national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, and Dr. Olapade Agoro intervened to contain the impasse.
Albeit, Governor Oyetola and former Governor Rauf Aregbesola have repeatedly denied being involved in any conflict, their aides overtly were on war path on behalf of their principals and political blocs with minimal restraints. This precipitated the request for the intervention of elder statesmen in the southwest to mend the broken fences and re-unite the two political principals engaged in seeming cold war and their loyalists who dominated the battlefield.
Loyalists of the two principals engaged in acrimonious altercations in prosecuting the war on behalf of their principals. There was the insinuation that loyalists of Aregbesola were shut out of the state government under the leadership of Gov. Oyetola. It was alleged that supporters of Oyetola before the 2018 governorship election dominated the Osun government. Thus, there has been latent acrimony over the composition of the state government.
The acrimony, however, became manifest in rancorous special media alterations between the Special Adviser on Education to Governor Oyetola, Jamiu Olawumi, and Bola Ilori, an aide to the Interior Minister, Aregbesola; both warriors engaged each other on their Facebook walls. A source revealed to City People that the sudden outburst of hostility was not allowed to deepen and was nipped in the bud by political elders in the state.
But, how did this cold but dangerous friction between Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the incumbent governor begin? Political observers trace it all back to the very beginning when the jostle for the governorship ticket of the APC began. It is no secret that former governor Aregbesola had his own preferred candidate whom he wanted to succeed him. But the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had other ideas. His preferred choice was his cousin, who was also his former accountant, Gboyega Oyetola. And hard as Aregbe tried to force his anointed candidate on the party, he had to give in to the wish of his leader, Asiwaju, who understandably wields enormous influence within the party hierarchy. Those who know insist that the Jagaban Borgu knew exactly what he was doing from the very start. It was clear that he knew Aregbe would want to retain a firm grip on the political structure of the party in Osun even after he has left office and that was something Asiwaju didn’t want to see happen. He, Asiwaju, wanted to have his firm grip on the political structure in Osun and the only way to guarantee that is ensuring his own candidate, his cousin and Accountant of many years, Gboyega Oyetola, became governor. Naturally, this did not go down well with Rauf Aregesola. He had made it clear to everyone that he did not want Oyetola, who incidentally was his Chief of Staff, to succeed him. But he could not raise a single dust over the matter. He felt that, by right, he should’ve been given the privilege to pick his own successor, but he also knew he couldn’t dare bite the fingers that fed him. This man, Asiwaju, was the one who single handedly reclaimed Aregbesola’s mandate at the tribunal when INEC had first declared Iyiola Omisore of the PDP winner of the gubernatorial election. At the time, even Aregbesola had long given up hope of ever becoming Osun governor. He had to let Asiuwaju have his way, but from that moment on, the seed of discord had been sowed.
There was also the innuendo that Governor Oyetola purportedly declined to support the nomination of Aregbesola for ministerial appointment. It was alleged that Governor Oyetola had nominated Senator Iyiola Omisore as representative of Osun State for ministerial appointment. This was identified to be a source of friction between the two blocs in Osun State. However, the governor was perceived to have taken that step to compensate Omisore for mobilizing the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to support him in the September 27, 2018 governorship runoff election that upturned the APC loss to Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the initial governorship election that was declared inconclusive by the INEC.
Thirdly, both political principals were said to be engulfed in cold war over control of APC in the state. It was disclosed that Aregbesola firmly controlled the party structure while he was governor. He presided over allocation of party tickets for the various elections into the state House of Assembly, the local governments and the party leadership. He was said to have ambition to continue to control the state party from Abuja but there is resistance.
Governor Oyetola was said to have, however, lured the APC State Chairman, Gboyega Famodun, to his side.
Again, the tenure of Famodun was said to have ended in October 2018 but Governor Oyetola, inheriting the state chairman from Aregbesola, has continued to retain him and ignoring conducting state congress to elect new leaders of the party in the state.
It was gathered that the Aregbesola bloc recommended power shift of the State Chairman to Osun West Senatorial District as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye, is from Osun East Senatorial District while Governor Oyetola is from Osun Central Senatorial District. But the governor insisted on Famodun, who is also from Osun Central, to remain in office.
Subsequently, at the turban of Aregbesola as the Amirul Wazirul-Mumin of Osun State league of Imams and Alfas, the Interior Minister, was gathered to have expressed perturbation and suspicion of silent dispute over the absence of Governor Oyetola from the event. However, the governor was said to have explained that he notified Aregbesola of planned pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on lesser hajj.
Governor Oyetola, represented by the Deputy Governor, Benedict Alabi, at the Iwude Day Celebration in Ilesa, refuted reports on conflicts between him and the minister. He was of the view that the reports were figment of the imaginations of the detractors, saying that his administration is consolidating on the legacy of Aregbesola. “It’s only the agents of distractions and the antagonists of peace that will carry unreasonable rumours to disintegrate the current administration and its predecessor. We’re consolidating on what the previous administration has done and Ogbeni Aregbesola is our leader. We are following his good Steps,” he had declared.
Several months ago, Governor Oyetola and the minister, Aregbesola, at a special prayer session at the Government House in Osogbo in commemoration of Aregbesola’s 62nd birthday, insisted they maintain cordial relations and have no rift.
Governor Oyetola had declared: “People have said a lot of unprintable things about us and our relationship, but as true leaders, we don’t allow such to separate us.
“Our relationship is age-long to the extent that we have become a family; we are fond of each other and no one can intrude.
“One thing that those peddling rumours do not know is that Aregbesola will share in the praises when we succeed.” And in return, Aregbesola had also declared support for the Oyetola administration.
But all of these have since turned out to be sheer political gyration. With recent happenings in Osun, it has become crystal clear for everyone to see that all is far from being well between the two strong men of Osun politics. First, a lot of former governor Aregbesola’s policies have been reversed while others have simply been thrown out of the window, especially in the area of education. Incumbent governor Oyetola has since returned all missionary schools back to their owners, a move that has been hailed and applauded by many indigenes of Osun state. It was during Aregbesola’s tenure that the government took over the running of the schools. Not so long ago, the Osun State Government has ordered all principals and head teachers of public schools to revert to the old names of their various schools ahead of resumption from coronavirus lockdown.
This is as a result of the approval of the reversal of the single school uniform, ‘reclassification’ of the public school system, and the abolition of single-sex schools introduced in 2013 by former governor, Rauf Aregbesola. The current governor, Gboyega Oyetola, said then that the review of some policies became important following the clamour for change by educationists, school administrators, missionaries and school owners. Oyetola also reversed the school educational system to 6-3-3-4 from 4-5-3-4 which was introduced by former governor Aregbesola.
This, more than anything else, was said to have upset the former governor who saw this as a direct ridicule of his legacies in Osun State. It was, to him, a clear case of the battle line being drawn between him and Oyetola. It was a big move by Oyetola to cement his hold on the political structure in Osun and Aregbe got the message loud and clear. For this and other aforementioned reasons, it is unlikely that Aregbe will ever forgive Oyetola. For someone who was his Chief of Staff, now upturning his policies like they were utter nonsense was a punch too hard for him to take. As far as he was concerned, Oyetola had stabbed him in the back and by so doing, had drawn the battle line. And he, Aregbe appears ready for that battle, regardless of the powers of the Lion behind Oyetola.
These days, these two Osun political power houses no longer conceal the fact that all is not well between them and that they are both poised for a show down as to who would finally take hold of the political structure in Osun state. This is even more evident in the 10 years anniversary of uninterrupted democracy in Osun State. The incumbent governor had his own ceremony planned separately from that former governor Aregbesola. They both now harbor such strong resentments towards each other that they could not even tolerate each other enough to come together and plan a befitting anniversary for the state
There is rising apprehension that the friction touches on the foundation of the Tinubu dynasty. Aregbesola is the strongest loyalist Tinubu has; and is perceived as the lieutenant of Tinubu in the political dynasty in the southwest. Oyetola is known as blood relation of Tinubu. But as things stand, none of these matter anymore to Aregbesola. He is willing to fight tooth and nail and give everything he has to reclaim his hold on Osun, the state for which he fought so relentlessly against Omisore to govern and nurture to the path of economic growth. Many have also wondered why it has been increasingly difficult for Tinubu to resolve the cold war between his 2 loyalists. Many feel he could easily have called them to order. City People can reveal that it is because both are a force to reckon with in Osun State. Both Aregbe & the Governor both have strong political structures in the state. Politically, Tinubu cannot put one down, for the other. He sees both of them as relevant in the scheme of things and strategically they can be used to checkmate each other.