BEVERLY HILLS, June 06, (THEWILL) – The strained relatioship between Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his predecessor and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, assumed another dimension recently when some loyalists of the latter formed a new group within the All Progressives Congress in the state.
The group, which tagged itself, ‘The Osun Progressives,’ is trying to position the Aregbesola camp for the APC’s forthcoming state congress and the party’s primaries for the governorship election scheduled for the third quarter of 2022.
The mobilisation for TOP across the state, it was gathered, has been tremendous as members of the group were seen in all the 30 local government areas of the state.
THEWILL learnt that the group has been working hard, on the ground and in the social media, to convince residents of the state to identify with its objectives.
The leaders of the group have accused the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee in Osun, Prince Gboyega Famodun, of running the party unilaterally.
They expressed the opinion that under Famodun’s watch, Osun APC lacked cohesion and unity, noting that the party almost lost the last governorship election in the state due to his negative attitude.
In a recent statement signed by the Chairman of the group, Adelowo Adebiyi, the stakeholders said TOP was formed to ensure that APC does not suffer a loss in the next year governorship election.
Some of the notable political leaders that formed TOP include the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Alhaji Moshood Adeoti; a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yussuf; a former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam and Comrade Gbenga Awosode.
They called on leaders of the APC, including Chief Bisi Akande, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and Igbimo Agba, to call Famodun and “others of his type” to order.
The statement reads, “Famodun’s inability to demonstrate needed capacity expected of him as the chairman of the party towards the 2018 governorship election nearly caused the party some grief.
“No dispassionate chairman would have allowed defection from his party a few weeks to a critical election as Famodun did in 2018.
“Rather than demonstrating father figure to all contending forces within the party, he chose to take sides in all matters and destroy the party’s cohesion and unity.
“As we speak today, Famodun is at war with his two predecessors, the current deputy and secretary, the minister and other notables in the party.
“Famodun cannot differentiate between monarchical inheritance and a democratic organisation where multiple interests are aggregated to ensure the good of all, which is the essence of a political party.
“The above-stated reason is responsible for the problems in the party today and therefore, we at the TOP wish to note that his kind of person is unfit to handle party management as would be expected.”
The group said they would work towards the promotion of internal democracy, effective and efficient party management, re-mobilisation, reconciliation and networking, which would aid the party’s victory in 2022.
Reacting to the development, Famodun noted that the management of the party was not vested in a pressure group, adding that if the group had any idea that could be of benefit to the party, they should channel it through appropriate authority.
He noted that the new factional group was absurd and unrecognised, saying that no one would be allowed to rebel against the party’s leadership.
“The constitution of the party doesn’t recognise any splinter group within the entity called APC in this country. The man that signed the statement is the leader of the party. There is no role for the former acting chairman in the management of the party.
“As a leader of the party, if you believe in a cause, there are organs of the party through which such grievances could be channeled. But when you go outside all those structures or you don’t believe in those structures again, then you should not consider yourself to be a member of the party anymore. You cannot rebel against a constituted authority within the party,” Famodun added.
A political observer in Osun State, Mr Aina Oluokun linked the development to Governor Oyetola’s second term. He told THEWILL that members of TOP comprised Aregbesola’s foot soldiers and leaders of the Osun APC.
Describing the group as a formidable one that should not be underrated in the politics of Osun State, Oluokun advised Oyetola’s camp to settle its dispute with Aregbesola’s group so as not to lose out at the forthcoming primaries in the state.
Speaking with THEWILL, Adebiyi said TOP was formed to ensure internal democracy in the party.
“The Group is formed to ensure equity, fairness and justice, accountability and unity within the party. Those are our vital objectives.
“We are APC, we are still in the party, but we are working towards the forthcoming congress of the party. We want to mobilise for the congress and to ensure that we have internal democracy,” he said.
On the alleged grouse with Famodun, Adebiyi said, “What grouse? He is currently the chairman of the caretaker committee. If he wanted to become the chairman of the party, let him obtain the form. Other people will contest with him. That is what I call internal democracy.
“If he is qualified to contest for the chairmanship of our party based on our constitution, can I prevent him from contesting? No. What we are saying is that we don’t want imposition.”
It would be recalled that the relationship between Oyetola and Aregbesola became frosty, following the reversal of some of the educational policies initiated by the latter during his tenure as governor. They include the single uniform and mixed schools policies, as well as the 4-5-3-4 educational system, among others .
But speaking after the reversal was announced, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ismail Omipidan, made an effort to correct the notion that it was intended to spite the Rauf Aregbesola administration. He had explained that the new policies were part of the state government’s response to the yearnings of the people.
Also, the Commissioner for Political Affairs and Inter-governmental Relations, Taiwo Akeju said the reversal of the education policies was not aimed at destroying Aregbesola’s legacies in the state.
Akeju, who described the immediate past governor and minister of interior as his leader and brother from Ijeshaland, said the policy reversal in the education sector has nothing to do with vendetta.
He said the people during a thank you tour by Oyetola in 2019 unanimously told the governor to look into the policies as they had impacted negatively on the lives of the students.
“In 2018, the policy reversal became a subject of debate in the state. Opposition parties castigated the then candidate of the All Progressives Congress and now governor, Gboyega Oyetola, because of this. In his response, he said that if it was the wish of the people to reverse it, he would do that.
“After the 2019 general elections, the governor went round the state for his thank you tour and asked the people what they desired. It is on record that over 99 per cent of the people requested a policy reversal in education.
“More so, the Department for International Development (DFID) after carrying out a survey across the state, recommended a review of the present education policies to the governor.
“After that we realised that this is a consensus of the people. The exco, in order not to take a unilateral decision, assembled credible and reliable Nigerians in the education sector to sit on a committee appointed to assess the report and give a feedback. The likes of Prof Olu Aina, General Alani Akinrinade and other credible Nigerians did the review and the exco approved it,” he said.
Akeju noted that the present administration in the state is committed to upholding, consolidating and sustaining the legacies of the immediate past administration led by Aregbesola.
“Those insinuating that there is a crisis between Aregbesola and Oyetola should desist from doing so. The two leaders talk several times a day and they both discuss how to make Osun great,” he said.