By Yaya Ademola
SINCE the exit of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola as the Governor of the State of Osun on 27th November, 2018, his party – All Progressives Congress (APC) – has been in limbo. At the party level on the one hand, any APC member suspected to be loyal to the former governor and incumbent Minister of Interior, is alienated and on the other hand at government level, some of the legacy policies of the erstwhile Governor were being revised and reversed by Governor Gboyega Oyetola APC-led government which campaigned to the electorate on continuity of programmes and policies of the Aregbesola administration. Again, anybody suspected to be loyal to or friendly with the former governor is alienated from appointment or any engagement. Every political appointment is populated by the IleriOluwa loyalists alone – i.e. the pro-Oyetola group. In actual fact, hatred for Rauf (once that can be assured) could earn one a juicy appointment in the Oyetola administration. It is that bad! This policy of alienation and sometimes, victimisation, seems to have the blessing of Governor Gboyega Oyetola as none of his erring aides has been admonished for implementing alienation policy. For instance, while severance pay has been paid to all former democratically-elected local government officials, those tagged as Aregbesola loyalists or TOP caucus members are not made to benefit at all by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from the one-quarter severance recently released, pending the time they are of “good behaviour”. Every effort by Reverend Adelowo Adebiyi, TOP Chairman, to draw the attention of the Governor to this development yielded no meaningful results. Furthermore, in the newly-appointed caretaker committee contraption and aberration unknown to letters and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, Governor Oyetola clinically ensured that nobody with affiliation with Ogbeni emerged. Everyone who is suspected to be affiliated with TOP is edged out of the local government caretakers. It was IleriOluwa all through! Again, TOP Coordinator in Isokan Local Government, Hon. Tunde Boladale, was invited by the State Security Service (SSS) for questioning over pettiness of an alleged abuse of Governor Oyetola in a heated debate between the Honourable and an IleriOluwa follower. These developments have polarised the party and put it in a delicate position to win in any future democratic election in the state.
For the party faithful who knew what they underwent in the hand of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between 2003, 2007 and 2010 when the party’s mandate was reclaimed, they could not afford power slipping away. They have formed a caucus within the party with the objective of rallying round the aggrieved members who may dump it for another or stay aloof and jeopardise the party’s electoral interest in future elections. Hence, the emergence of The Osun Progressives (TOP). As things stand today, it is the struggle for the soul of the party between the progressives – TOP; and the retrogressives – the IleriOluwa group. The battle line is drawn and the first theatre of war will be at the 31st July, 2021 party congress at the wards. If there is no rancour within the party, the congress outcome may be a consensus between and among the party leaders and members. Under the present scenario, swords are high up between TOP and IleriOluwa caucuses. According to TOP, it is a battle between light and darkness; it is a struggle between good and evil. July 31st ward congress will be the template upon which the dangling soul of the party will be rescued or lost.
While IleriOluwa caucus is generating names and clamouring for consensus, TOP is massively mobilising for democratic contest and election of every position in the ward exco. Every keen observer knows that all is not well with Osun APC. Its ability to manage its crisis and put its house of commotion in order on time is the only way out. The party must avoid any situation that will bring about breakdown of law and order in the July 31st Ward Congress and follow laid-down rules and protocols of COVID-19. As Plato said, “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.” The truth of the matter is that there is no neutrality anymore; it is either the party goes the way of TOP or IleriOluwa after which reconciliation may take place.