The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State is becoming messier on daily basis and has caused a wide gulf between the two leaders of the party, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Alhaji Adegbyega Oyetola.
Aregbesola ruled the state for eight years, before handing over to Oyetola of the same party, in a controversial governorship election, believed to have been masterminded to robbed the incumbent Ademola Adeleke of victory in 2018, after a rerun, in some local governments in the state then.
Although Oyetola fought to also rule for another four years, he lost out in that bid, as he was not that lucky. He was defeated by the same Adeleke, who was alleged to have been robbed of victory in 2018, in a fierce election on July 16, 2022, which outcome dragged to the Supreme Court before it was finally settled in favour of PDP, Adeleke.
However, the ongoing imbroglio between Aregbesola and Oyetola began in 2020 immediately Aregbesola left the governorship for Oyetola and became the Minister of Interior in the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
As soon as Oyetola became the governor, and the leader of the party, differences emerged. Oyetola in order to have full control of the party as well as the government, dismantled the party structures put in place by Aregbesola and planted his men at helms of the affairs of the party and relegated those in Aregbesola’s camp to the background.
Oyetola did not stop at the party level, he completely sidelined all the loyalists of Aregbesola from his government, a situation, which negated the agreement reached between the duo. It was believed that Oyetola only used the structures put in place by Aregbesola and his strong loyalists, who worked for him and later dumped them.
This angered both Aregbesola and his team and all efforts made to resolve the issue by the leaders, traditionally rulers and well meaning Nigerians, within and outside the state, proved abortive.
The power tussles between the two leaders, which dragged on for the four years Oyetola spent in office took several dimensions, from character assassinations,l to physical combats and assaults, between the loyalists of the two leaders.
What initially began as a mere controversy and disagreement snowballed into what has now actually disintegrated the party.
Recent events leading to the pronouncement of those in Oyetola’s group that they have suspended Aregbesola and over 100 members loyal to him, is now causing a serious clash between the two groups.
What baffled the people of Osun State over the purported suspension was the calibers of those said to have been shown the way out of the party, as these people were known to be the strong pillars of the party, both in the state and at the national level.
These people were said to have been strongly instrumental to the building of the APC into a formidable force in Osun State.
This pronouncement has now drawn a battle line between the two groups now operating with different leaderships. From what is currently on ground, the two groups are determined to fight on till the battle gets to a final conclusion.
The belief, however, is that no one can predict the outcome of this ongoing battle, and for how long it would take, as the two groups are laying claim to be legitimate and not in any way, ready to shift grounds.
As far as Aregbesola is concerned, he is the authentic leader of the party on the account that, he midwived it and laboured for its strong existence, which made it possible for them to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had a firm grip on the state for years.
It was further argued that Oyetola is one of the Osun “abroad” that was brought to the state, due to the influence of his uncle, now President Tinubu, to serve as the Chief of staff to Aregbesola.
It was said that the leadership of Aregbesola, “is not arguable, or controverted” as the former governor, minister and as a person, who had spent his time, money and everything at his disposal, to build the strong structures of the party to a formidable force that eventually gained acceptability across the state.
This was said to have been used by Oyetola to ride to power. Oyetola was then asked to point out what are his contributions to the development of the party, when Aregbesola was working hard to set up different structures and units across the State, that helped the party to the present level.
But Oyetola on his part claimed that the structures being claimed by the Aregbesola’s group are no more relevant to the present political situation in the state, adding that his own structures are now in place and in firm grips of the party.
It was further pointed out that since Aregbesola and his team were fingered to be instrumental to the defeat of the APC in the last governorship election due to their anti-party activities, before, during and after the election, they needed to be issued a red card and shown the way out of the party outright.
The Oyetola’s group further argued that their principal, being the current serving Minister, which is the highest position in the party at the moment, there shouldn’t be any controversy,l on who leads and controls the party, because Aregbesola is not holding any strong position, either in the state or at the national level, to qualify him to be the leader of the party.
It was these arguments, that led to the expulsion of both Aregbesola and all his loyalists from the party.
Among those suspended people were former Senator Mudashiru Hussain, former Speaker, Osun House of Assembly under Aregbesola’s administration, Najeem Salaam and former Secretary to the State Government, Moshood Adeoti and Alhaji Salinsile, the leader of the Progressives TOP.
Also suspended, were the former party chairman under Aregbesola as governor, Adebiyi Adelowo, former Aregbesola’s Commissioner for Information, Lani Baderinwa, Sikiru Ayedun, Engr. Kazeem Salami, Adesiji Azeez, Barr. Gbenga Akano and Kunle Ige, etc.
Announcing their suspension in a statement issued by the party Chairman, Tajudeen Lawal and made available to newsmen by APC’s Media Director, Kola Olabisi, the suspension followed the review of petition alleging anti-party activities against the suspended members.
It reads, “Following complaints of anti-party activities, the State Executive Committee of the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) constituted a Disciplinary Committee to investigate the allegations against some of its members.
“This disciplinary measure came in response to the allegations of misconduct bordering on factionalization of the party and creating parallel party organ.
“The Disciplinary Committee undertook a thorough and impartial review of the allegations and the findings were carefully deliberated upon by the State Executive Committee.
“After a comprehensive assessment of the evidence and consideration of the committee’s recommendations, the State Executive Committee has taken the difficult yet necessary step of suspending the following members indefinitely”.
Meanwhile, arguments over the suspension of Aregbesola and his men have continued in the state.
Aregbesola had earlier defended his not participating in the last elections in Osun state and why he kept away, saying, he only did that to avoid being accused of supporting one person against the other.
He argued that Oyetola’s group had shown resentments against him and his people, saying categorically, that they are not wanted for the campaign or to take part in any form because they should expect the consequences of their actions, as they were not wanted.
He said that they formed the Progressives TOP to reposition the party but those at the other end failed to reason “with us.”
He pointed out that the Omoluabi caucus just formed by them is a movement and not a political party.
“We dissolved TOP to give room for true and genuine reconciliation but Oyetola and his men were not ready for such reconciliation”, the former minister said.
Also a former Special Assistant to Aregbesola, while in government, exclusively discussed with the Business Hallmark and gave six reasons why the party is now moving towards disintegration in Osun State,
Asiwaju has clearly demonstrated that “blood is thicker than water.l, nothing more nothing less.”
He added “Politics is all about inclusivity and should be practiced with the fear of God Almighty.”
The National Secretary of the party Basiru Ajibola, who took over from Senator Iyiola Omisore, from Osun, and who is also in the camp of Oyetola, has berated Aregbesola and team that what they did against the APC in the last governorship election in Osun state was a betrayal of the party, particularly from someone regarded as a state and national leader, who benefitted as governor and minister.
He said their suspension was justified by many reasons, which include their anti-party activities, adding that for the mere fact that some very close associates of Aregbesola have taken appointments in Governor Adeleke’s government “shows that they are no longer with us and it will be dangerous for us to still continue to keep them”, he further argued.