Oyetola vs Aregbesola: Brothers at war

Aregbesola, Oyetola

By Richard Elesho

They were formerly the best of associates. In fact, they were like partners in a relay race, with one handing over the baton of leadership to the other. But, with the political barometer of Osun State inching close to boiling point over next year’s Governorship election, things are no longer at ease, with the duo, who are leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the State of the Living Spring.

For a season, the major gladiators, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola who is also Minister of Interior, both pretended that all was still well between them.

To be sure, both are descendants of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu political family. In fact, Oyetola cut his political teeth as Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff, CoS, before succeeding him. Thus, they have managed to avoid direct public discussions on the simmering rift.

Their supporters who have been daggers drawn, however do not miss an opportunity to advertise the feud. In August, a free for all broke out at the APC State Secretariat in which people sustained varying degrees of injuries. While The Osun Progressives, TOP, was and still in the ring for the Minister, Ileri Oluwa was and remains the opponent fighting, the Governor’s battle.

Analysts posit that beneath the battle royale is the Governorship election scheduled for July, 16th next year. Oyetola, who has not disguised his intention to seek second term, admitted that much on Friday, 19th November, in Gbongan when his supporters trouped out to welcome him from an overseas trip.

“I remain unperturbed by all forms of machinations and distractions which might be surfacing at this critical period the election is fast approaching. This is a normal political phenomenon. I remain unshaken as ever for my faith is in God who decides all things,” Oyetola remarked.

A parting of ways did not take time to come for the Governor and his predecessor. Less than a year into his tenure, tongues started wagging that he was demarketing his former boss. His traducers accused him of sundry crimes, including not honouring a request to appoint certain persons into his administration. According to the storyline, there was a gentlemen agreement between the Governor and his predecessor on power sharing, which the former consigned to the waste basket.

Oyetola was also accused of refusing to honour some financial obligations to former political appointees. The Governor is on the cross for not paying the severance package of the group, in the face of harsh economic environment.

What seems to be the mother of all allegations is that Oyetola is systematically rubbishing some legacies and policies of Aregbesola. According to his critics, the Governor has changed some educational policies on schools classification, uniforms among others, in order to paint his former boss in bad light.
Last week, there was a report that went viral that the mega schools built by Aregbesola were decaying because Oyetola did not pay the expatriates who usually received dollars. Oyetola considered this a waste of resources.

With the load of allegations, the party went into the last congresses with a divided house. Each faction produced it’s own stewards, which further magnified the fault lines.
Kolapo Alimi a former Commissioner under Aregbesola and leader of TOP said it is clear to all that the Governor is the offender.

“Whoever is in this state and wants to say the truth would tell you that that is the fact. He had started reversing all the policies of Aregbesola, not because any court had outlawed it, but just giving flimsy excuses to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it. But, the real reason is just to rubbish Aregbesola on reclassification of schools, single uniform, parliamentary system which we adopted at the local government level in order to save cost.”

Alimi reportedly blamed the Governor for the lack of peace in the party. “Our party is fragmented along various interests and we are in a precarious situation. We have different groups; different interests and the party is fragmented and segregated along various interests. As of today in Osun, we don’t have a common front in APC. Our party has not been so fragmented in its history right from the AD days when Chief Bisi Akande was the leader of the party, we had a united party.

“But now, our party has been divided. The main reason for that happened to be the political style of our governor. Shortly after he came on board, he started alienating members of the party, most especially any perceived member loyal to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. This is quite strange because Governor Oyetola served for eight years as Chief of Staff under the regime of Aregbesola.”

Supporters of the Governor disagreed with Alimi, heaping all the blames on Aregbesola and his foot soldiers. Osun APC Caretaker Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famoodun absolved Oyetola of blame. He tagged members of TOP as dissidents who should not be accorded recognition.

Chief Press Secretary, CPS to the Governor, Mikail Omipidan said there are no factions in the party, pointing out that his boss is leader of the party in the State. “The APC Constitution is very clear on that.”

TheNEWS gathered that APC leaders at the national level have been pulling the strings to reconcile the factions. National leader of the party and benefactor of the warring Osun brothers, Asiwaju Tinubu and former National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande were said to be working on reconciling the Osun APC leaders and other stakeholders. The elder-statemen were reported to have reached out imploring those involved in the contention to sheath their swords, in the interest of the party.

How soon will peace return to the Osun State chapter of the APC?