BY SEGUN FATUASE
The test of wits and wiles in tomorrow’s governorship primary election in Osun State will reveal the direction of things in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). It will also determine the political fate of Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola in what political observers see as a contest between loyalty and treachery. The outcome, no doubt, promises to be interesting to political watchers of South West politics, particularly keen watchers of the political power play between Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was governor of Osun State from 2010 to 2018. Sources said due to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between Asiwaju Tinubu and Aregbesola, the former governor would serve two terms and groom Tinubu’s cousin (Oyetola) to succeed him. That goes the way politicians decide fate of those who rule and the ruled in the secret, darkest hours of politics.
Aregbesola, as a two-term former governor in the state and erstwhile closest ally of APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is today spitting fire, without relent, insisting that Governor Oyetola cannot go for a second term, in defiance of Tinubu’s ‘directive’ that the incumbent should be given a second term.
The political muscle flexing in the Osun State chapter of the APC has seen Aregbesola, bona fide leader of The Osun Progressives (TOP) supporting a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Moshood Adeoti, to contest the direct primary with Oyetola of the Ileri Oluwa faction and Lasun Yusuf, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, to pick the governorship ticket of the party for the July 2022 polls.
Aregbesola, in his godfather role, believes that Tinubu who played a decisive role in denying former Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode a second term ticket, cannot in good conscience, ‘impose’ Oyetola on Osun State, under any guise. In asserting his ‘position’ therefore, Aregbesola, who is also a former commissioner for works in Lagos State, threw jabs and barbs at Tinubu and Oyetola, insisting that Osun people must wrest themselves from the gripping clutches of the ‘Lagos power brokers’.
According to Aregbesola, “We came back home to reposition our party to where it was meant to be because we followed the leading of our leader that we thought was a noble and reliable fellow. We followed him (Tinubu) dutifully with all sense of loyalty. Some people even thought that we were no longer Muslims because of how we cooperated with him. We dealt with him without treachery but we never knew he planned evil for us. We exalted him beyond his status and he turned himself to a god over us and we had sworn to ridicule anyone who compare(s) himself to God. God has no competitor; He is enough to be God’’.
The Minister of Interior was unrelenting in his tirade when he insisted that Oyetola, who became governor due to the ‘over-bearing’ influence of Tinubu, does not deserve a second term .
“When he (Tinubu) handed over the present governor to me around July of 2018, he (Tinubu) declared that he (Oyetola) will succeed me and continue my good works. That was what he told me. He knows he has not done so if he is listening now and he has failed to call my successor to order.
“Since Oyetola assumed office, he has waged war against me like I once harmed him. He claimed that I do not want him to emerge as governor and now he is the governor, what else is the problem?
“I served this state with the whole of my heart. I also served Oyetola so that he can succeed me in office.
“…… He is now in that office, he claimed I am his enemy. Those who contested against him during our party primary, he pulled them closer while he fights me.
“I sent people to help me beg him that, I am not saying he should like me but he must not fight me; even if you want to fight me, don’t abuse me and destroy my legacies.
“All that I told and warned him not to do, was what he did. He opposed what I did, all the things I did together with him for eight years, he opposed and reversed.
“He thought he can destroy me through my work, nobody was pushing him, he is pushing himself. He deliberately toes that path. He waged war against me. He refused to listen to my pleas until he got rid of me.
“When I observed that he would not listen I called people together that they should start telling people that progressives family must not be destroyed.
“We are the ones that bear the flag of this party, we fought for it since 2004. The owner cannot stand while his possession is destroyed. Those people who don’t know how we built the party, are unpredictable.
“The leaders of the party now agreed that we should go back to where we missed the road in 2018. We realised our mistake that the person we ought to put in front, we neglected him, we followed a numbskull, ingrate and a wicked soul’’, Aregbesola said.
The other side of the page, however, came with sources claiming that Aregbesola’s motives are not totally altruistic but based on what he perceived as the withering of his legacies and reversal of his programmes and projects by Oyetola as well as the abysmal loss of political relevance he (Aregbesola) suffered in both Lagos and Osun states recently. The Minister of Interior was said to have lost the political leadership in the Alimosho Federal constituency of Lagos State (his primary base) while serving in Osun State as governor. Aregbesola also became a political liability of sorts in the Bourdillon power circle in Lagos when he realised that he could no longer assert himself as the closest ally to Tinubu. He was also reported to have been miffed when some influential politicians resisted his bid to wrest the Lagos West Senatorial seat after his tenure in Osun. Sources said the politicians advised Tinubu that a former Governor from another State should not come and take such an important position to the detriment of indigenes and politicians domiciled in Lagos State.
Also Aregbesola’s attempt to play a godfather role in Osun was said to have been resisted by Governor Oyetola and other influential politicians in the state who felt he was too ‘overbearing’ and making it difficult for the incumbent governor to perform because of some contentious issues with certain projects he initiated . Aregbesola’s loss of total control of the party in Osun after leaving office as governor was also another sore point many believed created some problems between the former governor and the incumbent. It is believed in many quarters that while incumbent Governor Oyetola saw the differences between himself and the Aregbesola as policy differences, the Minister believed that Oyetola was out to rubbish his programmes and projects.
Meanwhile, mediation efforts are not foreclosed, going by feelers from the feuding factions. Former Osun Governor and ex- National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande and National Leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, reportedly waded into the matter earlier without success. Reports claimed that Chief Segun Osoba was mentioned as an arbiter though nothing concrete has been achieved on the eve of the primaries .
The primary holding in Osun State tomorrow is now the battle field to sort out political differences and know the ‘’owners of Osun APC’’. The outcome of the primary election will also indicate those who will control and influence the politics of Osun State going forward. For now, appeals are being made by concerned party faithfuls and prominent Osun indigenes and residents for the feuding factions in APC to eschew violence during the conduct of the primaries tomorrow, Saturday 19 February 2022. All eyes will be on the team led by the Kwara State governor, AbdulRhaman Adulrazak that is charged with the responsibility of conducting the election.