The feud between Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, took another ugly twist at the weekend as their supporters traded blames following the conduct of last Saturday’s All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congresses in the state.
Prior to the conduct of the congress, the minister and his proxies had openly boasted to take over the party structure from the governor and deny him a second term.
According to Daily Independent findings, they had claimed that Oyetola was reversing the policies of Aregbesola and was also working to erase his legacies, despite the role the minister played in his election in 2018.
o demonstrate their readiness for political war against Oyetola, they floated a group, The Osun Progressives (TOP), and announced Aregbesola; former Osun Speaker, Najim Salam; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuff Lasun, and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and 2018 governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Moshood Adeoti, as Board of Trustees (BoT) members, with the former governor as the chairman of the BoT.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a party leader in the camp of the governor said Aregbesola has been visiting the state without recourse to the governor.
“While Aregbesola publicly announced his endorsement of TOP, Adeoti and Salam did not. But while Salam has been hobnobbing openly with TOP, Adeoti does not as he continues to shuttle between Oyetola and Aregbesola until last Saturday when he dumped TOP to openly identify with the majority in his Iwo Council, who are on the side of the governor.
“Unlike Salam and Adeoti, however, Lasun publicly dissociated himself from TOP and Aregbesola, just as he lampooned the interior minister for contemplating a political war with Oyetola, describing the former governor as one who almost ruined his (Lasun) business.
“Despite not being able to rally critical stakeholders to his side, Aregbesola carried on with his plans. On three occasions, including a week before the congress, he visited the state without recourse to the governor, with his thugs willing and ready to unleash violence on the state, but Oyetola have continued to avoid any circumstance that will give his predecessor the slightest opportunity to carry out his agenda.
“Even last Saturday, his men came prepared for violence, but Oyetola and his supporters avoided them, this, it was gathered was largely responsible for the peaceful conduct of last Saturday’s exercise without a single casualty being recorded”, the party leader said.
However, at the end of the ward congress, the ward executives, who were loyalists of the governor were elected through consensus method amid protests by the minister’s loyalists.
Speaking on the outcome of the congress, a former House of Representatives member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “In the end of the 332 wards in the state, Aregbesola’s men were only visible in five wards where they conducted a parallel congress. One of the wards is that of Salam, the former Speaker of Osun House.
“In all, the congress was orderly and peaceful. The members of the Osun State National Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Ward Congress have applauded the peaceful conduct of the exercise in the entire state.
“The delegates also extolled members of the ruling party for their high level of compliance towards ensuring smooth, free, fair, credible and acceptable congress across the 332 wards in the state.”
This is even as the APC loyalists and supporters who participated in the process across wards in the state expressed satisfaction at the adoption of consensus mode by the party leadership.
While fielding questions from journalists during the tour of the committee to Iragbiji, the governor lauded the members of the party for turning out in large numbers to elect new officers of the party at wards level.
Oyetola also extolled the peaceful conduct of the exercise across the 332 wards in the state.
However, Aregbesola’s loyalists have rejected the congress, saying they were excluded as the governor allegedly hijacked the materials. They also alleged the party refused to carry them along in the exercise.
Najeem Salam, former Osun Speaker and Aregbesola’s loyalist who was at ward 4, Ejigbo, alleged that the executives were imposed, not elected.
“We have a political crisis in the state. The national does not set up the ward congress committee. The government in power has been cajoling people, harassing party members that are not in support of what they are doing within the party.
“Unfortunately, those that came to the state for sales of form are incommunicado. We only saw it online that they came for stakeholders meetings, people like me were not involved and some other eminent personalities within the party. We are not also involved to talk to them and address the issue on consensus.
“How would you know the stakeholders? Why would people that want to go to an election against another party in 2022 be afraid of the election within the party?
“With what the present administration is doing with the issue of ward congress, it seems they are not ready for the election in 2022.”