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{OBSERVATION} Osun APC: Getting Political Sense

By Yaya Ademola ON 15th October, 2010, the Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, headed by Justice Salami with four other judges, unanimously ousted Mr. Segun Oni of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Governor of Ekiti State and replaced him with Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Almost six weeks later,…”
Yusuf
June 24, 2022 5:26 am

By Yaya Ademola

ON 15th October, 2010, the Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, headed by Justice Salami with four other judges, unanimously ousted Mr. Segun Oni of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Governor of Ekiti State and replaced him with Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Almost six weeks later, 26th November, 2010, an Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, headed by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi with four other judges, unanimously sacked Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the PDP in Osun and replaced him with Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The similarity between the two landmark judgements was the reclaim of stolen 14th of April, 2007 gubernatorial mandates. Hence, since 2014, Ekiti and Osun governorship elections have always come one month apart and are the two standing elections before general elections. However, since 2014, results of election in Ekiti State, which comes before the Osun, do not necessarily determine Osun outcome. Preparedness of the party and its cohesiveness, its candidate grassroots popularity and support base are real determinant factors.

In 2014, for instance, PDP under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan was in power at the centre and desperately needed to win Ekiti and Osun governorship elections as forerunners to 2015 general elections. Every unethical thing with the use of federal might was done to have Ekiti State for Ayo Fayose. Having succeeded in Ekiti, the Federal Government was more voracious to overrun Osun. A week to the election, hundreds of thousands of plain clothe security men with facemasks were everywhere in Osun, intimidating the citizens. Before the 2014 re-election, Governor Aregbesola and his party were one and intact with no faction. In fact, Aregbesola had already won major PDP opposition leaders to his fold – Late Isiaka Adeleke, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who Aregbesola succeeded, Peter Power to Peter Action, etc were some of the people already won to APC. And based on his social protection programmes which had direct positive impact on communities and grassroots people, Aregbesola massive support at all levels was crystal clear. Again, Ogbeni leadership quality emboldened the people not to be intimidated but to all go out to vote. In addition, he directly instructed his men on the field to practically make rigging impossible and make people’s votes count. In his words, Ogbeni said, “I am not afraid of losing genuinely but I don’t want to lose to rigging. Make sure rigging is made almost impossible.” At the end of the election, Ogbeni of APC defeated Iyiola Omisore of the PDP by 394,684 to 292,747. With the over hundred thousand votes defeat, Omisore and his party did not bother to contest it in court.

This is 2022, almost eight years later. APC has won in Ekiti and Osun election is exactly three weeks away. Right from the inception as the Governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola had begun unprovoked aggressive attacks against his predecessor’s person and his legacy projects and alienation of any party member who is suspected to be Aregbesola’s associate, loyalist, supporter or sympathisers. In furtherance of this, Oyetola administration ostracised Aregbesola people from every party and government position, treating them like lepers and main oppositions. This eventually gave birth to factions within the party – Oyetola/Famodun and Aregbesola/Salinsile.  While Oyetola/Famodunis hell-bent on manipulation and imposition of candidates on the party through any fraudulent means, Aregbesola/Salinsile is poised for democratic internal democracy that is inclusive and representative. The contest between the two factions was demonstrated on July 31, 2021 Ward Congress and 19th February, 2022 primary to elect gubernatorial candidate for July 16 governorship election. In those two charades, Oyetola/Famodun led APC did not partake in any election but imposition of its candidates on the party. On 19th February, 2022 primary, the party membership register with which the primary was based was domiciled with Oyetola/Famodun APC based on last party registration and revalidation exercise which it refused to avail other contestants or displayed at all the Ward Collation Centres before the primary. In all ward coalition centres, there was no INEC presence, no accreditation of voters or result sheet to enter the figures while most people were disenfranchised for being associated with Aregbesola as their names were deleted from the register. Again, the serving Chairmen and Councillors of Local Government Caretaker Committee appointed by Governor Oyetola were the presiding officers used for the conduct of the primary as against traditional ad hoc Youth Corps and teachers.

Having won the primary despite the glaring inadequacies here and there, instead of closing ranks and assuage those aggrieved by bringing everybody to the house, Governor Oyetola again chose to look away and further went for the heads of his perceived enemies in the party. Just like 19th February 2022 charade tagged primary, exact scenario played out in the May 26, 27 and 29 primaries for the aspirants contesting State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate respectively. As I write, Osun APC is yet to announce winners of State House of Assembly primaries which never took place but the pattern is clear – write out preferred names of “loyalists” and submit to the national secretariat and INEC as the APC candidates. Oyetola/Famodun leadership must be living in self-delusion that holding the list of those it imposed on the party members till after July 16 election will be a face-saving triumph. No, it won’t! People are no fools. Right from the 19th February charade, some APC members have been constantly defecting to PDP. This latest House of Assembly kangaroo with which form was bought at N2million, refusal to conduct primaries and imposition of candidates on the people, especially without refund of their money cannot boost party fortunes. This latest action has forced a lot of APC members, again, especially those aspirants who felt cheated with the kangaroo primaries, to seek other political parties to contest the State Assembly election. These Protestants, with their supporters in droves, will definitely vote for their new parties on July 16. This is a political haemorrhage for APC. Despite that, some hardcore progressives who find it difficult to be comfortable anywhere else passively remain in APC, it has lost and continued to lose so many grassroots mobilisers and canvassers to feeling of disdain from the party leadership as some are being treated like common criminals for no justifiable reason.

Oyetola should learn from Asiwaju. Despite bickering, hue and cry against some perceived “ingrates” and “disloyal allies” before the 8th June, 2022 APC presidential primary, immediately he won and became the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju immediately visited all his co-contestants and closed ranks with them that his winning is a collective project. In bourgeois politics, a smart leader will do almost everything to win every member of his/her party people to his/her side and try to genuinely recruit from the opposition if opportunity presents itself rather than alienation and persecution of grassroots party members on an alleged loyalty to a perceived enemy within who is a potential ally.  Three weeks is a very long time in political calculation and permutation.  In the July 16 governorship election, no political party will have monopoly of votes buying, use of thugs and other anti-democratic tendencies. What will matter most is party structures, dedication of members at grassroots, and the implacable logic of the non-aligned majority of the electorates who had witnessed the negativities of the disruptive proceedings for over three years.

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