By Ismaeel Uthman
THERE seems to be no end in sight on the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State of Osun, few months to the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state.
One of the last straws that some people had believed would break the camel’s back of the crisis is the intervention of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is a political son and one of the staunch loyalists of Tinubu, while Governor Adegboyega Oyetola is his cousin.
Until events started unfolding, it was believed that both Aregbesola and Oyetola would answer Tinubu’s call anytime and the crisis would be resolved the moment he intervenes.
But the hope of getting the crisis resolved from Tinubu’s end is gradually getting dashed.
Investigations by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that the three political gladiators in the APC, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Lasun Yussuff, former Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Najeem Salaam, have resolved not to backdown on their ‘rescue mission’ for the APC.
It was gathered that Adeoti and Salaam last week turned down an invitation to Lagos by Tinubu.
The invitation which was conveyed to the two politicians by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Mexico, Hon. Adejare Bello, was aimed at talking to the APC chieftains to drop their ‘Osun West’ agenda and their governorship ambition to support the second term ambition of Oyetola, according to sources.
OSUN DEFENDER gathered that Bello called Adeoti on phone on Thursday, January 6, to fix an appointment with him to deliver Tinubu’s message.
But Adeoti, according to the impeccable sources, insisted that the message be discussed on phone and quickly turned down the invitation.
A close friend of the former SSG who was privy to the phone conversation said: “I was with Adeoti when Adejare Bello called him. He (Bello) wanted to come to visit Adeoti but Alhaji insisted that he should be briefed on phone.
“I did not know what Adejare Bello was saying at the other end but I heard Adeoti saying: ‘Tinubu said I should see him in Lagos? I cannot go and see him. Tell him I said I am not meeting him. Besides, he knows how to get across to me directly. I am not visiting him. There is nothing for us to discuss.’
“Adeoti was not ready to be persuaded. He was blunt and direct. I think because of his response, Bello felt it was not necessary to visit him again.”
When contacted, Adeoti refused to comment on the matter.
The medium gathered that Tinubu also invited Najeem Salaam who also rejected the invitation.
According to some of Salaam’s aides, the former Speaker told Bello that if Tinubu wants to see him, he should come through his leader, Aregbesola.
The aides said: “Speaker told Hon. Bello that he was not ready to meet Tinubu. He said he cannot be deceived like 2018 again. He recalled that it was the same Tinubu that persuaded him to drop his governorship ambition for Oyetola in 2018. And the same Tinubu had refused to call Oyetola to order since the crisis began.
“Speaker said if Tinubu was desirous of seeing him, he should come through his leader, Aregbesola.”
What Asiwaju Told Osun NASS Members About Aregbesola
Tinubu’s invitation to Adeoti and Salaam came few days after all the Osun APC members of the National Assembly visited the former Lagos State governor.
The Osun APC NASS members, according to one of them, visited Tinubu to persuade him to wade into the rift between Aregbesola and Oyetola.
According to the member, who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER under condition of anonymity, Tinubu told them that he was not ready to talk to Aregbesola but needed to get both Adeoti and Salaam to support Oyetola.
The source said: “We went to Asiwaju to persuade him to resolve the rift between our two leaders, Aregbesola and Oyetola. We had the believe that it is only Asiwaju that could resolve the matter. But, I am not a pessimist, the matter cannot be resolved again. It is bigger than we thought.
“Asiwaju said a lot of things that cannot be said outside. We were all surprised because we did not expect such from him. He said he was not willing to talk to Aregbesola. That scared me because I did not know the rift has gotten to that extent.
“He is prepared for the second term ambition of Oyetola. He told us that he has the money and power to prosecute his second term. He said he needed to gain Adeoti and Salaam to Oyetola’s side. I think he wants to politically undress Aregbesola by taking influential politicians away from him.
“The fight is actually between Aregbesola and Asiwaju. With what he told us that day, the rift between the two of them is not unconnected with the 2023 presidential ambition of Asiwaju which he believes Aregbesola is also interested in.”
Political analysts had earlier observed that the relationship between Tinubu and Aregbesola is frosty.
According to the political analysts, Oyetola would not have and does not have the capacity to wage war against Aregbesola without the support of his uncle, Tinubu.
The analysts pointed out that the rift between the Governor and the Minister would have been settled had Tinubu not taken side with his cousin.
It was gathered that Asiwaju felt threatened with the warm reception being given to Aregbesola by the northerners, making him to believe that the northern politicians might use the Minister to scuttle his presidential ambition.
OSUN DEFENDER authoritatively gathered that a statement made by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai during Aregbesola’s virtual birthday programme in 2020 is part of what is working against the former governor of the state.
Speaking at a webinar in commemoration of the 63rd birthday of Aregbesola, on May 30, 2020, El-Rufai noted that Aregbesola remained his man any day but that Tinubu was not his man.
El-Rufai said, “I want to congratulate my brother, on his birthday. You know I’m your man any day. I’m not Asiwaju’s man and you are Asiwaju’s man, but I am your man any day. Asiwaju and I have differences but you and I have no differences.”
That statement, according to political analysts, was the beginning of the frosty relationship between Tinubu and Aregbesola.
Disagreement Over Reconciliation Terms
There has been disagreement over the reconciliation terms presented to the National Reconciliation Committee by Hon. Rasaq Salinsile-led APC faction.
Speaking on the visitation of the reconciliation committee of the party, the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Abiodun Agboola, said only justice and fairness can guarantee peace in the party.
Agboola, who is of the Salinsile led faction of the party, said if the reconciliation committee and the national secretariat of the party, tow the path of justice, equity and fairness, the crisis in the party will be extinguished.
Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER in a telephone interview yesterday, Agboola said: “We met the Senator Abdullahi Adamu led national reconciliation committee last Saturday and we presented our grievances and demands. We told the committee how the governor has bastardised the party through politics of bitterness, marginalisation and exclusiveness.
“On how to resolve the crisis, it is simple. The impunity of the Governor and his group, IleriOluwa should be addressed. The governor has been using his position to cause problem in the party. And since he has declared intention to contest for second term, he should resign as member of the Caretaker Committee.
“I think that is the honourable thing to do. He cannot be a judge in his own case. The national secretariat, in which Oyetola is part of, is to conduct primaries for the governorship aspirants of the party and Oyetola is also contesting. How do you guarantee fairness in that case? And we know how the governor has been using his position to negatively influence and compromise the party officers sent for assignment in Osun. We cannot allow that to happen again.
“The congress that produced our own ward, local and state party officials should be recognised because we were the only eligible people who participated in the congress. Let the IleriOluwa people, right from the former Chairman of the party, Prince Gboyega Famodun, tell us the teller with which they purchased each and individual’s form for the congress. We are the real party executives.”
Reacting to Agboola’s submission, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Affairs, Chief Sunday Akere, dismissed the two demands of the Hon. Rasaq Salinsile-led APC faction, describing it as unreasonable.
Akere, in an interview with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday said: “We believe there is end in sight on the crisis in the party. Senator Abdullahi Adamu was here to meet the TOP people, the party and the government of the state. The two sides have tabled their matter before the national reconciliation committee and we believe and hope to see an end to the crisis.
“However, I must say that the question as to if there is end in sight on the crisis should be thrown to the TOP people. This is because their demands before the reconciliation panel is unreasonable.
“The reconciliation panel was not here to review the congresses we had done in the state. It was here just to listen to grievances of the party members and see to amicable settlement. For TOP people to ask for recognition of their own ward, local government and state congresses is out of place and laughable.
“Secondly, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola was nominated to be member of the APC Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Committee by the national leadership of the party and he is representing the South-West, not just Osun State. Asking him to resign from that position as demanded by TOP people is illogical.
“The national reconciliation committee was here to settle our differences and not to look at the party congresses or the Governor’s membership of the Caretaker Committee. TOP people are trying to shift the goalpost in the middle of the game.
“We are for peace. Every APC member in the state should be concerned on how the progressive government will continue in the State of Osun. The party belongs to every one of us.”