By Yaya Ademola
WHAT transpired on July 31, 2021 in Osun at APC Ward Congress is unprecedented in the history of the state. For the first time, mass majority of leaders and members of the ruling party waged a tumultuous campaign and struggle of rejection against the sitting Governor and his caucus in the party. For keen observers of events that culminated to the congress, it is not a surprise.
The first salvo was fired by the Governor and his caucus within the party. Members of the National Congress Planning Committee who brought with them nomination forms were received by the Governor and the State Party Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun, who refused to carry along other party executive like the Vice Chairman, State Secretary and others. The forms brought were not distributed to the Local Governments or Wards for intending members interested in the ward leadership. They were only distributed to individuals in the Governor’s caucus – IleriOluwa. This development forced other caucuses like The Osun Progressives (TOP) to directly pay to the National Secretariat and secure forms independently for other caucuses who were about to be short-changed. At this stage, the die was cast – other caucuses, apart from Governor’s own, were prepared for elections at the congress.
On July 31st, as early as 8am, members had trooped out en masse to vote at their various wards. Unfortunately, however, the minority IleriOluwa caucus – Governor’s group – did not prepare for election. What it wanted was “consensus” anchored around its clique, which majority of members rejected. Lacking capacity to impose its will on the majority, some IleriOluwa members and sympathisers, especially the Commissioners and Special Advisers amongst other Governor’s appointees, used Amotekun Corps and hired thugs to intimidate, harass and chase members away from voting to choose their leaders. This act of misuse of security apparatuses is one of the reasons why some people are agitating against state policing, despite the fact that we are long overdue for it. Debate on this is for another day, however. But there are 332 wards in Osun; how many wards congresses could they disrupt, especially when they are in the minority?
Apart from the Amotekun corps, some INEC officials have been alleged of refusal to accept the results of elections in some areas by deferring to the Governor’s caucus ready-made consensus list. If these allegations are investigated and affirmed to be true, it is a dangerous signal for the 2022 Governorship Elections in the state. Persuasion is the bedrock of partisan politics to garner votes and support for policy decision. In its absence, violence and anarchy will hold sway. If the state cohesive power could be deployed against the majority of members of the seemingly progressive party instead of persuasion to sway caucuses within the party over struggle for internal democracy, one can then imagine what will play out in the inter-party General Elections, as nobody/party has monopoly of violence. This charade is antithetical to the tenets of democracy and partially explains the overriding power of money and violence as against robust debates and issues-based campaign in our politics and polity.
Deceiving people is one thing; self deception is a fast path to perdition. Osun APC is suffering from epidural haemorrhage inflicted on it by IleriOluwa caucus. If it is not too late, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his IleriOluwa caucus must quickly abandon braggadocio and self-deceit, return to playing by party rules and regulations for level-contests if they believe they are popular or, if in self-doubt as they are, seek true reconciliation with all aggrieved party leaders and members. A seasoned politician must be able to hold forth his/her party first and aggressively woo other party members, even main opposition, to his/her fold. It is incongruous for a governor to alienate his party Vice Chairman, State Secretary and other leaders only to be hobnobbing with the Chairman and some lesser officers.
A tree does not make forest. It is only a cohesive party that can canvass popular votes before elections, defend its votes from being manipulated or stolen during elections and be committed to sacrifice everything to assure victory. A governor earnestly seeking a second term would not actively partake in actions and inactions that will polarise his party. It is against the rule. If the local and state congresses meet this messy situation on ground, the caucus’ 4+4=8 mantra will not only be a farce but an illusion in delusion. As Yoruba will say: You’re not wanted in town but waxing song, if the song is ready, who will chorus it for you? A word should be enough for the wise.