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Published On: Mon, Jul 17th, 2017

Osun West: Why the people revolted against APC, Aregbesola

OLUSESANLAOYE and OBINNA EZUGWU  |

Last week, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the governor of Osun State got a feel of just how bad things have gone for himself and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a state he once held sway with the crushing defeat of Senator Mudashiru Oyetunde Husein, his anointed candidate for the Osun West Senatorial by-election in the hands of the younger brother of the late Senator Ishiaka Adeleke and candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke.
Although the governor’s name was not on the ballot papers, he had thrown his weight behind Oyetunde who was more or less seen as his candidate. To that extent, the election was basically a test of his popularity, and the result will give the outgoing chief executive a reason to ponder.
Aregbesola who took office as governor in 2010 has had good and bad times, but as he prepares to leave the stage next year, he would probably be remembered as the governor who ran Osun aground and under whose watch, the state’s civil servants went through unbearable hunger as a result of non payment of salaries.
Once in the life of his administration, Aregbesola was a man of his people. He had charisma, a sense of humour and was hailed wherever he went. Things have however, gone awry, he has gone from the governor who paid his workers, put up projects, built new school blocks and dressed up in school uniforms to commission them to one who is attacked on social media by his people.
Things did not change overnight. Upon assumption of office, Aregbesola was out to impress. He embarked on a number of white elephant projects such as the N11.5billion Moshood Abiola International Airport at Ido-Osun and flyovers on roads that hardly need them.
Osun had a number of age old primary and secondary schools structures built by the missionaries and the colonial government, these structures for the most part were still strong, solid and relatively good looking; they needed renovation at best, but like one possessed by unknown spirits, Aregbesola suddenly began to pull them down to erect new ones. Teachers watched helplessly as their offices and class rooms were reduced to rubble, and trucks heaped sand and stones for new ones.
The governor in addition to running a free education programme up to senior secondary school, decided to introduce free uniforms and feed primary school students in schools. To create jobs, he introduced a para-military organisations known as “O Yes” most of whom were later sent to school as teachers. And to cap it all, he spent over N3 billion of naira to procure tablet computers known as “Opon-Imo” for all class six students in public secondary schools.
But Osun with a population of about four million people is basically a civil service state with average annual internally generated revenue of a little more than N8 billion and monthly federal allocation of just over N2 billion, did not have the capacity to finance these numerous projects. Nonetheless, determined to live above his means, Aregbesola embarked on massive borrowing and before long, plunged the state into massive debt; one whose deduction ensured that federal allocation to the state came down to between zero and a few millions.
Things gradually fell apart, a number of the projects were done halfway and the governor could no longer meet his basic obligations of paying workers in the state. Since 2015, Osun workers have been on half salary and resentment towards him has been growing. He is being accused of being dictatorial and of plotting to establish himself as the godfather of the state’s politics. The rejection of the APC candidate in the recently concluded senatorial election some say, is a testament to this growing resentment.
”It (the election) shows that the people of the state are fed up with his one man show,” said Segun Akinwusi, the state’s former head of service and governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2014 election.
“If he is wise, this is the time for him to have a rethink and get concerned about the welfare of the people and forget about appointing a surrogate to succeed him because the people of the state are now ready to oppose any imposition from whatever quarters.”
Since the emergence of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and later APC, the PDP has been playing second fiddle in Osun, and indeed the South West zone, but with this huge victory, the party is once again dreaming of staging a comeback.
“We are working hard to ensure that the 2018 governorship election in Osun is won by PDP,” Adeleke, the new senator said at a conference in his Ede home town. “My victory is a new dawn in the history of our democracy. Our democracy is growing where an incumbent will be there and opposition will defeat the incumbent.”
But observers say PDP’s victory is not just about the party’s effort or acceptability, but as a result of the collective resolve Osun people, including members of other political parties to show their discontent against a party and a government they say has impoverished them.
‘’Ademola’s election has shown Governor Aregbesola the handwriting on the wall,” the Secretary of the PDP in the State, Hon Bola Ajao noted. “It is an indication that the people of the state have spoken and a strong signal that the Governor and the APC should be prepared to pack out of Osun State.”
Even before the election, it was learnt that the governor in order to impose his will on the strong members of the party in the coming governorship election, had compiled the list of those to be expelled from the party. These people according to Business Hallmark’s investigations are those who dared him at a meeting in the government House, Osogbo recently.
It was said that they told him bluntly that he could not come to Osun to impose who would succeed him. It was said that the governor realizing that with these people still in the party, he would meet a brick wall, decided that he must get rid of them. Amongst the people, are his former Commissioner for information, Mr. Sunday Akere, and Alhaji Diekola who is one of the loyalists of the former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

There are other people too, who are prominent in the party, whom it was gathered the governor was determined to get rid of but was waiting for the outcome of the Osun West Senatorial election which he felt his candidate would win to consolidate his position. One of them, Alhaji Diekola, had before the election, accused Governor Aregbesola openly of being after his life.
‘’I believe that Ogbeni Rauf has failed to understand the politics of Osun State, despite his almost eight years with us” He said further, ”the politics of Osun is different from that of Lagos where he came from and we are going to show him that the people of Osun State are not Lagosians who can accept anything.”
He even boasted that he and others would work for Ademola Adeleke and Aregbesola would be surprised. True to his words all those who were against the governor in APC, worked for the victory of Adeleke.
It was said that, apart from the elders, all the civil servants, Local government workers and pensioners, who have been put on half salary since 2015, members of the Road Transport Workers Unions and traders, whose shops were demolished a week to the July 8 election mobilized themselves to ensure that they voted against Argbesola’s candidate.
Deji Adelek’s connection and Aregbesola’s utterances played vital roles in the victory and otherwise of the two major contestants from the two major political parties. While Aregbesola was the backer and financier of Hussein who was his commissioner, a one time senator and two times members of the House of Representatives for Oshodi/Isolo federal constituency, in Lagos, Deji Adeleke, a business mogul was the backer and financier of his younger brother, Ademola, who was persuaded to join the political train of Osun, State, after his brother’s mystery death which has not been unravel up till now.
The corona’s inquest organized by the state government and its report on the cause of his death, is still subject of controversy between the people, the Adeleke’s family and the government.
As soon as Ademola was edged out of the race in APC after he was close to getting the ticket to contest the election under the party, Deji who had been making moves even within the APC to ensure that he wins the election did not take anything for granted. He made his calculations and on the day that the APC primary was to be held and it was decided that Hussein would run, he used his connections within the state, and at the federal level to secure the ticket of the PDP for Ademola.
This made many prominent and powerful people in their various communities, moved round to work for him. What also worked in his favour was the fact that, the entire state, knew that he was the one that bailed the state government out, when the heat was on Governor Aregbesola, who was unable to pay workers’ salaries, during the period he was looking for a second term.
It was Deji and his late brother Isiaka that bankrolled the government before workers could be paid and this convinced them that since Adeleke was with Aregbesola, things would improve but after the election, it was said that the governor turned against them..

On the part of Governor Aregbesola who championed the campaign of Hussein, his derogatory and abusive language against Hussein’s opponents was their bane. It even got so bad during the campaign that people shunned them, even at Hussein’s town Ejigbo
Indeed, it would seem that there is no love lost for the governor in the state, and as he looks to anoint a successor in 2018, he would certainly have reasons to meditate.
It was gathered that prior to the election, personalities from all the political parties came together at a meeting in and decided that should they allow his candidate to win, he would pocket the state as Tinubu pocketed Lagos. Thus they decided they were said to have decided that the election would be used to inform him that he cannot impose candidates as being done in Lagos.
”Let me say this, this election has shown that no man is above God,” observed Barrister Niyi Owolade, former commissioner and one of those who challenged the governor in 2014.
“Aregbesola has been playing God in Osun State. He has been a dictator worse than a military man. He has been full of himself, thinking that he is the only wise man in Osun State forgetting that the people of Osun state are not like other places, as they always wait for the right time to deal with who offends them, especially bad leaders, like my brother, Ogbeni Aregbesola.
”I can assure you that this is what would happen in the coming governorship election, except miracle happens or acceptable candidate is presented, the APC is gone in Osun State” he concluded.
The APC is nonetheless confident. The party’s Director of Publicity and Strategy, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi said the election is only a contest between individuals and like in every contest, one person will emerge victorious.
He insisted that people should not use the loss as a yardstick to measure APC’s popularity, maintaining that the party remained the strongest in the state.

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