By Yaya Ademola
By virtue of being a member of Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni led Convention/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun has some power and influence over people nominated to oversee the last July 31, 2021 Ward Congress in the state. While the Governor and his IleriOluwa caucus of APC in Osun wanted a consensus arrangement, other caucuses like The Osun Progressive (TOP) were poised for election. Osun Ward Congress Committee led by its chairman, Gbenga Egbeleye, did not bother to meet TOP leadership clamouring for election, nor did it visit major Local Government Areas to feel the pulse of the members; it only visited Ward 1, Iragbiji, hometown of the Governor; Ila, hometown of Chief Bisi Akande; Igbajo, hometown of Prince Gboyega Famodun and Ward1, Ile-Ife, hometown of Sen. Iyiola Omisore.
Hence, there were congresses everywhere with exception of Ila and Boluwaduro Local Government Areas. The IleriOluwa group boycotted the congress on the basis that it already had a list of new leadership.
Meanwhile, Gbenga Egbeleye led Committee availed nomination forms only to IleriOluwa caucus and ignored others which would be a technical knockout of other groups. Sensing this danger, TOP and other allied caucuses had to buy nomination forms individually for their own faithful, directly from the National Party Secretariat.The outcome of the exercise was very visible to the blind – parallel congress, parallel leadership list.
He who pays the piper dictates the tune. Egbeleye led Committee only reckoned with IleriOluwa leadership and that was what it handed over to the Buni led national leadership. Egbeleye Committee one-sided inclination provoked protest letters from other caucuses to the National Secretariat. Hence, the constitution of Osun Ward Congress Appeal Committee led by Ambassador Obed Wadzain by the National Secretariat.
On the 14th of August, 2021, the ghost APC State Secretarial came alive again with thousands of petitioners to meet with Ambassador Obed Appeal Committee and submit their petitions. Having addressed the petitioners and assured them of fairness and justice, the committee began to treat case by case. Meanwhile, all along, the thugs with ‘Oyetola 4+4 caps’ had laid siege to the Party State Secretariat as early as 8:00am, trying to prevent and disperse party members and petitioners, especially those with inscription of TOP on their face caps from gathering but were overwhelmed by the massive crowd. By 4:00pm, the thugs had regrouped, shooting into the air and attacking the petitioners. Though, the Appeal Committee members were rescued unhurt, many petitioners sustained injuries from attacks unleashed by the government sponsored thugs. Interestingly, police looked the other way with no single arrest made. Instead, the police have begun intimidating and indeed arrested some TOP leaders, charging them to court on trumped-up charges based on frivolous petitions by some engineered people, among who is a woman of easy virtue. The Governor interceded to stop their trial that will inevitably expose the truth anyway.
Meanwhile, Local Government Congress is slated for September 4 and the outcome of the resolution of the controversial ward congress will be the template with which it will be built. If the APC National Secretariat could not resolve the matter before then, Osun Local Government Congress may be postponed. If it is not postponed, other caucuses like TOP who felt cheated may head to court to halt the process or boycott the exercise as nothing can be built on nothing. Whichever way, it is such that apart from a fair resolution of outstanding issues by the National Secretariat, Osun APC is in self-inflicted crisis that has capacity to consume it.
I am very familiar with ‘stooping to conquer;’ grandstanding to be defeated is alien to me. Governor Oyetola is the one who is ambitious to come back as a governor for second term. Such a person should be tolerant and not be seen to be alienating and confrontational. Opposition to Oyetola’s ambition within his party is very stupendous because of his alienation and confrontational posture. This is just one leg. Another is an average voter who is not a card carrying member but studying attitude and disposition of political players in both the ruling and opposition parties to determining who he votes in general election.
Except Oyetola knows what nobody knows, vote is a function of number. How could the State Government at all, under his watch, arraign Elder Biyi Adelowo, immediate past APC State Chairman; Hon. Rasaq Salinsile, Caretaker State Secretary of the party; Hon. Biyi Odunlade, immediate past Commission for Youth, Sports and Special Needs and a Chieftain of TOP who recently after the Ward congress appeal hearing, survived an assassination attempt and his property and home vandalised; Barr. Gbenga Akano, immediate past Assistant Chief of Staff; Engr. Kazeem Salami, former Commissioner for Works and Transport; Alaba Popoola, APC member in Ilesa and Azeez Adekunle before Magistrate Olusegun Ayilara for trumped-up charges, following their leadership roles in the ward congress appeal committee with the intention to send them to correctional centre, albeit the intervention to now discontinue their trial? The National leadership of the party itself, ahead of the congresses, directed that no grievances must be taken to court but should be appealed to the National Committees; reason why TOP that had genuine case petitioned the National Committee rather than the police, on the incidence at the State Party Secretariat.
A pest digs its grave, thinking it is wreaking havoc on its host. Although, no candidate has yet emerged, July 16, 2022 electoral examination is fast approaching and any candidate that eventually emerges and chooses to relegate serious studies to the background but relies on cheating (aka ‘espo’) is bound to fail. Hard work, tolerance, cooperation and wooing opposition to ones side, having consolidated one’s house, is the potent way to electoral success. A cleaver physically challenged person does not perish in a notified war. An elderly masquerade dances gently. A word seems to be enough for the wise.