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Osun APC: Discordant tunes in progressives’ house

Razaq Bamidele

Presently, nobody needs a soothsayer to confirm that in the house of the progressives in Osun State, under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress, APC, things are falling or have fallen apart and the centre has refused to hold (apology to the late Chinua Achebe).

The mere fact that penultimate week, the rumoured factionalisation of the party clearly became manifest when two factions held parallel congresses in Osogbo, the state capital.

The two factions believed to be loyal to the incumbent governor, Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola and the immediate past governor of the state and current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, held separate congresses to leave nobody in doubt that, there is no longer at ease the state chapter of the APC.

Right now in the state, while those loyal to the sitting governor are claiming to be authentic of the only existing APC in the state, members of another faction christened The Osun Progressives (TOP), are also claiming to be the renewed, repositioned and the re-energised authentic APC in the state of Osun presently.

What could have gone wrong within two years that the baton of leadership exchanged hands between Aregbesola and his former Chief of Staff, Oyetola, still remains a mystery, as all the dramatis personae are known to be members of the same family.

For instance, the newly elected State Chairman of the TOP APC, Hon. Rasaq Salinsile, was the immediate past state Secretary of the APC before the faction emerged. In the same manner, Hon. Adelani Bolarinwa, the former Commissioner for Information and Strategy was the Chief Press Secretary to the former governor of the state, Chief Abdul-Kareem Adebisi Akande, was elected state secretary of the faction.

In addition to the above, the first interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who governed the state between 1999 and 2003 on the ticket of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), is from the state. He hails from Ila-Oragun, an ancient city in the state. Besides, apart from the fact that Oyetola and Aregbesola are both mentees of the National Leader of the party and former Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Aregbesola was a Works Commissioner under his administration before he was sponsored to be governor in the state. And to confirm how the duo of Aregbesola and Oyetola are from the same political clan, the former made the latter his Chief of Staff as governor.

However, at the end of the parallel congresses, the Igbajo-born Hon. Adegboyega Famodun was re-elected unopposed for another four years under the umbrella of those loyal to Oyetola and they claim to be the only indivisible APC in the state while Hon. Rasaq Salinsile from Iwo, emerged as the TOP state chairman.

Why we formed TOP

Former State Commissioner of Information and Strategies, Hon. Adelani Baderinwa, who emerged the state secretary of TOP in the factional congress, spoke with our correspondent on the phone, stating the reasons and objectives of the faction.

According to him, TOP is not a faction of the APC but the authentic one that is out to save the party from further slipping into oblivion. He regretted that the party under Oyetola’s administration is derailing. He lamented that those who laboured day and night, as opposition members to build the APC into a winning party are now being sidelined and excluded in governance.

Baderinwa regretted that those opportunists, who came later in the day when the party had become the cynosure of all eyes are now monopolising the gains of the efforts of those who dared a sitting government, led by a military General.

He alleged that Oyetola is waging a war against his predecessor, Aregbesola, believing wrongly that the latter did not support his candidacy in 2018. He also alleged that the APC national leader, who wants Aregbesola out of Lagos also wants him out of Osun so he can also run Osun as a business enterprise to make a profit.

Speaking further, Baderinwa spelt out the objective of TOP to include basically to “re-birth, re-create, re-build, re-energise, re-position, re-order and make the party stronger, as a winning platform.” He insisted that the state of the party under the current administration cannot win the coming 2022 governorship election in the state.

The TOP state secretary said the 2018 governorship attested to it when the party, according to him, won in the 2014 election with over 100, 000 votes against 2018 when it narrowly scaled through. He also attributed the dismal performance of the party in 2018 to the alleged sending away of some grassroots members of the party like the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Moshood Adeoti.

Adelani, who disclosed that Adeoti alone could account for at least 50, 000 votes, was chased out of the party and thus lost about 25, 000 members to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. He accused the state government of marginalisation of those who laboured hard to put the party on a stronger footing and courting those latter rain opportunists, who came around to reap from where they never sowed.       

When asked about the consensus arrangement, Baderinwa laughed it off, wondering how anybody can be talking about consensus when there are other contestants strongly interested in elective party offices. He informed that the national body sold forms to the two factions, meaning that there is no cause for alarm.

On the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Baderinwa said it is the duty of the national body of the party to supervise the congress, adding that what the INEC needs is just mere information about the decision of the party.

Baderinwa, who ruled out forming a new party is, however, of the conviction that the leadership of the party at the national level would soon do the needful to put things in order in the party in Osun.

No faction in Osun APC -Oyatomi

Veteran journalist and legal practitioner, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, is the spokesman of the  Osun State chapter of the APC. When contacted on the phone for his comments on the subject matter, he just waved aside the so-called crisis in the party, saying there has never been factions or crisis in the party in the state.

According to him, what people described as the crisis is just a normal disagreement within the family. He exuded confidence that the disagreement would soon be over and the family members will unite again under the same roof they belong to.

Oyatomi, however, pointed out that disagreement is better resolved within the house and not from the outside.

Waxing philosophical, he said: “If you are not inside when the issue was resolved, you would not be justified to say it did not favour you. Staying outside and claiming control over 10 out of 33 local governments to him is political suicide.

“The disagreement will be resolved any day, any time from now because we are one and will still remain one big family,” Oyatomi assured. “The issue,” he added, “is neither a do nor die affair, nor a fight to finish the matter.” 

To him, the issue is not so serious as to threaten Governor Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola’s second term from 2022. He asserted that the governor has marketed himself well and he has done and still doing what the people of the state like and they are applauding him over that.

Oyatomi insisted that Oyetola’s policy of doing exactly what the people want in their various areas is working for him because he has through that touched several lives and several families.

Although the spokesman agrees that nobody can satisfy all the people, he, however, submitted that the governor is doing his best to satisfy a greater percentage of the populace to the people’s admiration.

He expressed delight that “even the opposition attests to it that the governor is touching every family across the state”, adding that the governor has renovated schools neglected for over 40 years and repaired roads across the state.

“The Olaiya Junction Flyover will soon be completed and commissioned,” Oyatomi enthused,

The veteran journalist/lawyer disclosed further that “Oyetola is also creating wealth,” reminding that, he organised a Business Summit early this year and the impact of the summit, according to him, is already being felt as people are coming home to invest in the state.

On Aregbesola, Oyatomi talked glowingly about him, describing him as a good man, who would not want crisis in a system where he laboured physically, mentally and psychologically to create.

“Aregbesola re-established progressives in the state. His footmarks are everywhere. The same thing goes for Oyetola. He has never deviated from the good foundation Aregbesola built,” Oyatomi declared with all emphasis at his disposal. 

No Parallel Congress in Osun, says S’West APC

Comrade Ayo Afolabi, the spokesman of the APC, South-west chapter, declared that there was only one congress in Osun on October 16, 2021, adding that any information contrary to this is nothing but a tissue of lies from the bottom of hell.

Speaking on the phone, Afolabi said the only congress of the party that held in Osun was the one that took place at the officially designated venue, which was the Osun State City Stadium.

He added that the APC chieftain disclosed that, that was where officials of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were present as well as the police and other personnel of all security agencies in the country were present to supervise the process and maintain law and order.

According to him, the INEC could not have split its personnel into two to supervise any fake congress within a single state, asserting that anything that happened elsewhere on that day besides the State City Stadium can never be called APC congress.

Afolabi did not, however, ignore the fact that some disgruntled elements within the ranks might have put pressure on some unsuspecting members to meet somewhere with the aim of whipping up sentiments to arouse the need for resolution of some disagreements.

The spokesman wondered whether there could be any politician of note in the other contraption called congress but admitted that though a few known faces might have been sighted there, such faces might not be relevant in the scheme of things in the party.

On that note, the South-west Chapter spokesman said the party is set to put in place a crisis resolution machinery to resolve the disagreement, saying the party’s crisis management ability is not in doubt.

Concluding with a tone of finality, Afolabi, who was the media aide of the former Governor Bisi Akande between 1999 and 2003 said the development has nothing to do with the party’s victory in 2022. He expressed the belief that the disagreement would have been resolved before then and all the members of the family reunited.

As at the time of going to press, all efforts at getting the comments of the chairmen, Prince Adegoyega Famodun (APC), and Hon. Rasaq Salinsile (APC TOP), proved abortive, as they neither picked their calls nor responded to messages sent into their phones.