By Sola Fasure
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, returned to Ilesa, Osun State, on Friday February 19, 2021, to revalidate his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He came with members of his family, including his wife, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola and his sons, Abdulkabir and Rauf, Jnr.
He had left for the Lagos airport at 7am to catch a flight to Ibadan, from where he hoped to continue the journey to Ilesa by road. The flight was however delayed due to bad weather at the Ibadan end. He waited till noon when the airline regretfully announced the cancellation of the flight.
He returned to his house and made the journey to Ilesa by road, which lasted for four hours.
Though he had planned it to be a private affair, he was received by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, well-wishers and party members at Ibodi. He went straight to the venue of the exercise at his Ward 8 in Ifofin, in Ilesa East Local Government, where to his even greater surprise, a larger crowd had been waiting for him.
On sighting him, the crowd, which included drummers and residents of the streets along the route he passed through, especially Ifofin, welcomed him with jubilation and fanfare. His coming home became a carnival, to his much delight.
He was officially received by party leaders, government officials (past and present) and his former aides.
Leading them was Pa Kunle Odeyemi, the leader of the APC in Ijesaland; Elder Lowo Adebiyi who was State Chairman of the party; the Speaker of the State of Osun House of Assembly, Rt Hon Timothy Owoeye and his wife; and Hon Idowu Korede, his Commissioner for Environment when he was governor in the state.
Other party leaders and dignitaries present were Barrister Kolapo Alimi, his then Commissioner for Local Government, Hon Biyi Odunlade, his then Commissioner for Sports and Special Needs, Hon Kunle Ige, his then Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Engr Kazeem Salami, his then Commissioner for Works and Transport, Barrister Gbenga Akano, his then Special Adviser on Tax Matters, Hon Muyideen Olateju, his then Special Adviser on Science and Innovation, Hon Tunde Ajilore, his then Special Adviser on Natural and Mineral Resources, Hon Ademola Adeyinka, his then Special Adviser on Public Production and Efficiency, Honourable Wale Alabi, his then Senior Special Assistant on Regional Integration and several others.
After completing the revalidation exercise, he displayed his slip to the enthusiastic roar of the crowd present.
On being prompted, he made a short speech. He thanked those who came to receive him and those at the venue for honouring him with their presence.
On the influx of leaders and members of the opposition PDP and other political parties to the APC, he told them that it is part of the democratic process for all kinds of people, even those with questionable and unedifying past, to cross into the progressive, people-centred party. He noted however that the members have a moral duty to ensure that such elements do not occupy leadership positions and use it to subvert and derail the party. He told them of the imperative of internal democracy in the party.
Ogbeni Aregbesola reminded the people that Chief Bola Ige was their leader and stood all his life for a compassionate government, commitment to the good of the majority and ideas that would bring the good life, happiness, progress and security to the people. He urged them to be conscious of those who continue to dance on Ige’s grave and avoid anything that would dishonour the late stateman’s memory.
Ogbeni Aregbesola assured the people of working towards greater success of the party and of his commitment to progressive ideals. He reminded them that he emerged in Osun on the Oranmiyan platform 17 years ago, and with others fought the agents of darkness and regression and firmly consolidated the party in the state. This effort has produced two successive progressive administrations in the state and also won presidential and national legislative elections thrice since then, noting that it would be difficult for those who lack such pedigree to displace him in the party in the state.
In closing, he delivered the message of President Muhammadu Buhari on his resolve to tackle the problems the nation is facing, especially on security. He assured them that President Buhari and the Federal Executive Council are working hard to make these challenges a thing of the past.