By Olusesan Laoye
There were strong indications that the crises rocking the administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola since he assumed office are mounting and no one is sure when he would come out of them. The governor who will be celebrating his two years in office on November 27, 2020, has a lot to contend with, if he must succeed.
In the last few months the governor has been under serious criticisms both from the opposition and some members of the public as well as fragmented members of his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) over his style of governance, which has been giving them concern. This it was argued could mar any move by Governor Oyetola to get a second term shot.
The most recent open confrontation during the end SARS protests by the youths in which there was an alleged attempt on his during a shooting at his convoy by angry mob was the second of its type within two years since he came into office..
The first one time was just few months into office when there was fracas at the freedom park Osogbo, where he went to address the people. He was stoned by the crowd. While that attack was linked to the boys loyal to his former boss and now the Interior Affairs Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who it seems he has sideline in the scheme of things despite the fact that they were the ones he used to get to power.
The end SARS protest was the cumulative anger of the people towards his perceived bad governance at both the federal and the State both controlled by the APC. Right now, the youths of the state, who claimed that they were not happy with the way he treated them during the End SARS protest have vowed to embark on a fresh protest which has made the State government issued a statement that it could not afford a fresh bloody protest like the last one which led to looting and arson.
According to the government of Osun State, which claimed that from the security reports available to it, the youths plan more and well coordinates protests more than the first one which was hijacked by hoodlums who went berserk burning houses and looting warehouses where Covid 19 palliatives were stored as well as shops of private owners.
The statement which was conveyed to the people of the State inform as a public announcement from the office of the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, indicated that those behind the plot planned to plunge the state in crises beginning from Monday 9th of November 2020. She stated that security agencies had been briefed and would be on the alert to protect the peace of the state.
She pointed out that. “The State Government of Osun is aware of the plot by some unscrupulous elements, teleguided by agents of anarchy, to spark trouble in the state by starting another round of hooliganism tomorrow, Monday, November 2, 2020.
“The government is imploring parents, guardians and well-meaning citizens of the state to caution their wards not to allow themselves to be used to satisfy the knavish tricks of these elements who are determined to trouble the state with their misguided actions.”
The commissioner said the state had been through enough crises in the past weeks and could not afford another one.
Also the last protest which degenerated to a chaotic situation was responsible to a 24 hour curfew imposed by the government which has now been partially relaxed from.4pm to 6am.
Governor Oyetola whose candidacy and election was controversial has never been out of controversy, since he assumed office. Right from day one after he took oath office he has faced one legal battle or the other. Immediately he was sworn in there was a serious legal issue concerning the way he took the oath of office with his Deputy.
The chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA Ilesa Branch, Osun State, Barrister Kanmi Ajibola had dragged the state governor and his deputy, Benedict Alabi to court for taking their oaths as governor and deputy governor of “State of Osun” and not of Osun State during their swearing-in of November 27, 2018.
Ajibola who then, filed a 28-paragraph affidavit along with his originating summons at the Osun State High Court, Ilesa on Thursday, December 27 asked the court among other things to set aside the swearing-in of the defendants as governor and deputy governor of “State of Osun” as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
It would be recalled that Justice Yinka Afolabi of the state High Court, Ilesa had declared the use of “State of Osun” as illegal and unconstitutional while delivering judgment on December 14, 2017 in a suit filed by the same activist lawyer against the enactment of a law tagged “State of Osun Land Use Tax Law.”
It was also the same judge who struck out the stay of execution application of the judgment filed by the state government on December 4, 2018 for lack of diligent prosecution.
In that suit, immediately after Oyetola was inaugurated, Ajibola, who said he filed his case in pursuant to Section 6(6) (b) and 24 of the 1999 constitution and order 3 rules 5 and 8 of the High Court of Osun state brought before the court some questions for determination.
According to him, it must be determined “by making an interpretative inference from the State (Creation and Transitional Provision) Act, Annotated Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and the oath of office of the Governor of a state contained in the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution whether what the Constitution created is the State of Osun;” and that by the community reading of the same act and the 1999 constitution with its schedules and the case of Aregbesola versus Oyinlola (2010) LPELR – 3805 (CA) whether the 1st Defendant is the “Governor of State of Osun”.
He also asked the court to determine whether the swearing-in of the defendants are lawful and constitutional and whether they can lawfully benefit to their advantage, based on their “unlawful and unconstitutional occupation” of public office as the governor and deputy governor of State of Osun respectively. This matter later resolved.
However, what may be actually threatening his administration and his second term has been the unending feud between him and his predecessor, Aregbesola. Sources hinted that the camp of Aregbesola which it alleged he has side-lined is enraged and now determined to wait for him till the period of his second term.
It was learnt that even if he eventually gets the ticket of the parry to run, they are likely to work for another candidate from another political party. Even the youths who have identified themselves as his enemies have vowed that they are done with the AP C and would prefer another party that would put up a younger candidate.
The feud between the Aregbesola and Oyetola is fueled by the day, as both camps are not hiding their feelings and not pretending anymore that they are wide apart. The bone of contention has been on many issues which border on who holds the ace in Osun as Oyetola now has the full grip of the party and the political structures of the state which has been under the control of the former governor.
Apart from the fact the incumbent governor wants to control the party structures, he also wants to be in the good books of the people of Osun State, which was the basis for reverting some of the policies of his former boss. As one of the associates of Aregbesola said, “Governor Oyetola intends to now rubbish the good work which Ogbeni has done to become very popular with the people whereas he was part of the government of Aregbesola which he is now condemning.”
To assert himself in the state Oyetola had to dismantle the political structure of Aregbesola and form his own called Ileri Oluwa. This group has since been at loggerheads with the Aregbesola vanguard and they have both been engaged in power of wit.
Although they have been trying to subdue the Aregbe vanguard, they have not been able to because the vanguard had been on ground with tentacles across the state before the election which brought their mentor to power.
Some of the things which Oyetola did and that also heightened the crisis are the reversal of policies in education, such as reclassification of public schools, abolition of single sex school, the unified uniform system. Their reversal was in tune with the agitations of stakeholders, missionaries, schools owners.
What jolted the loyalists of Aregbesola was that Oyetola blacked them out from all appointments and made them redundant. With this, the loyalists of Aregbesola have vowed that it would be fight to finish.
While reacting to the reversal of some of Aregbesola’s policies, it was argued by the state that out of 26 issues, due for review, 14 reviewed by the executive council while the remaining 12 were referred to the committee.
One other issue which was said to have put Governor Oyetola on edge concerns the indebtedness of the state during the tenure of Aregbesola which they argued has now become a burden to the present government. The debt profile of the state as at 2018 was put at N136 billion domestic while the external was estimated to be $102 million.
Osun is a state which has federal allocation of about N173 billion and internal generated revenue estimated at less than N30 billion. This is why the repayment of the loans taken by the Aregbesola’s government was said to have become a big concern for the present government of Governor Oyetola.
Meanwhile there were mixed reactions to the reversal of the Aregbesola’s policies. Those who are loyal to him viewed it as an affront to discredit him there were jubilations especially about the change in the education policy.
Former chairman of the Association of the Nigerian Council of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) Mr. Biodun Abiosun, who was one of the movers for the change said, “I think it was good that the policy of merger, common uniforms which made the schools to lose their identity was changed for the state.
With this each school would be able to identify their students unlike before, when it was difficult to know who was who among the students which made some of them get away with crimes or not disciplined for offences committed outside their schools.”
Also the state commissioner for works Mr. Oluremi Omowaoye said that the review of some of the policies of the last administration was in good faith. He argued that it should not be seen as a rejection of former governor Aregbesola’s policy but rather an improvement.
According to him, “we are Aregbesola’s legacy. Some of us were part of the decisions of Aregesola and there was no doubt he did his best for Osun state. To review a policy is normal and is to give the best and upgrade the existing one and that is why we review our laws and constitutions from time to time'”
The Deputy Governor of the State, Mr. Gboyega Benedict Alabi had said that both Aregesola and Oyetola are great leaders and that what the present government of governor Oyetola is doing should not be regarded as total reversal but to consolidate what has already been done”.
But a strong Member of Aregbesol’s group Tunde Olofin, said that they are watching the actions of governor Oyetola, as they believed that his actions now are belated and only meant to run down the government of Aregbesola, which he was a stakeholder and a strong participant.
A leader of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP Mr. Bola Ajao said the crisis between Aregbesola and Oyetola has been affecting the state because it is distracting the governor, saying that this was good advantage for the PDP to take over easily.
But the Director of Publicity and Strategy of the APC Barrister Kunle Oyatomi viewed the situation differently as he said that the good work of Governor Oyetola has started to manifest which would convince the people to give him a second term. He also debunked the rifts between Aregbesola and Oyetola.