Politics is not a game of emotion or relation. It is purely a game of selected interests. People come together to form a party or group because of interest or gain. Truly, there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics. Sometimes interest can be temporal too. When this happens, it sets even the ‘best of friends’ in politics against each other.
Things have really gone sour between Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Despite visible actions and verbal exchange of followers including damning allegations which are gradually eating up the spinal cord of the All Progressives Congress in Osun state, creating possibility of an impending secession of a group called ‘The Osun Progressives’ from the ruling party, both politicians (Oyetola and Aregbesola) have not publicly acknowledged that there is a misunderstanding between the duo.
Inarguably, there is a ‘serious crisis’ between Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The crisis only escalated in early 2020 but findings revealed that it started when Gboyega Oyetola who was appointed as the chief of staff to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in 2011 began his political sojourn into Bola-Ige House, Abeere-Osogbo in 2017.
How it started
In December 2017, Aregbesola placed an embargo on political activities and asked all his cabinet members not to distract him with politics because he wants to face governance squarely and completes ongoing projects. He further directed that politicking could commence around late March or early April in 2018.
A check revealed that only aspirants who were serving in his cabinet followed the directive while other aspirants like Ikire born politician, Benedict Alabi now Deputy Governor of the state, Osogbo-born politician Kunle Adegoke Rasheed (K-RAD), Ilobu-born politician, Lasun Yusuf who was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives ignored the directive and declared their ambitions.
Aregbesola’s top aides and the then Speaker of House of Assembly, Najeem Salam who were known aspirants in the state did not ignore the directive but they secretly mapped out their plans and there was a major political alignment within the cabinet as commissioners and top advisers took side of interested aspirants.
The entire cabinet anxiously waited for the body language of Rauf Aregbesola but the wait was in vain. It was obvious that Aregbesola never wanted any person in his cabinet to be his successor. He wanted a new face and rumour has it that he had promised Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo who is now Osun West senator the gubernatorial ticket, a reliable source told WITHIN NIGERIA.
Months after, Aregbesola lifted the political embargo and the battle for guber ticket of the ruling party, APC commenced. The battle started with political rallies with different demands from different quarters which completely changed the political narrative of the state.
Some APC members flagged ‘Osun West Lokan’ agenda and organised a well-attended rally to drive home their point which is, majority of party members prefer any aspirant from the ‘Osun West Senatorial District’ to become the gubernatorial candidate of the party. In response to this political move, supporters and followers of aspirants who are not from ‘Osun West Senatorial District’ flagged ‘Best Lokan’ Agenda and also organised a well-attended rally to prove their stand in the party.
How ‘Gboyega Oyetola’ got the ticket
Recall that Rauf Aregbesola who won his re-election victoriously in 2014 appointed his cabinet in 2017. It took Aregbesola two years to compile list of commissioners and special advisers to serve in his second tenure. Besides paucity of funds, power play was one of the reasons why the list came out late. Wale Bolunduro, an Ere-Ijesa born politician who was the commissioner for finance in Aregbesola’s first tenure was one of the casualties of the power play. He was not returned.
Alhaji Munirudeen Bola Oyebamiji replaced Wale Bolunduro as the commissioner for finance. Findings revealed that Governor Gboyega Oyetola who was the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola influenced the replacement of Wale Bolunduro, citing poor financial advices which plunged Osun into debts as basis for his replacement. Bola Oyebamiji is also the current commissioner for finance and a member of the kitchen cabinet in the state.
Bola Oyebamiji was one of the first five people who founded ‘Ilerioluwa’, a political support group for Gboyega Oyetola before he picked up the guber form too. Infact, the first meeting of key players of Ilerioluwa group happened in Oyebamiji’s residence but Aregbesola later used Oyebamiji to cause confusion in Ilerioluwa’s camp when he asked him to buy the gubernatorial form too, a reliable source told WITHIN NIGERIA.
‘The first executive governor of the state, Late Isiaka Adeleke who is a native of Ede, a town under Osun West spent barely a year in office. Bisi Akande who a native of Ila-Orangun, a town under Osun Central spent four years in office. Olagunsoye Oyinlola who is a native of Okuku, a town under Osun Central spent seven and half years in office. Rauf Aregbesola who is a native of Ilesa, a town under Osun East spent eight years in office’.
Some APC members who are lieutenants of Aregbesola including aides continued their agitations that the next governor of the state must come from Osun West. But Gboyega Oyetola has the support of APC leaders in Lagos (second political home of Aregbesola) including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the ruling party. A check by WITHIN NIGERIA confirmed that Gboyega Oyetola was truly the desired and anointed candidate of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
A top chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) who prefers anonymity told WITHIN NIGERIA that Aregbesola travelled to Bourdillion, the Lagos home of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to meet the APC national leader and opposed Oyetola’s candidacy on the basis of ‘unpopularity’.
‘Leaders of labour movements and concerned citizens of the state forwarded a letter to Bola Tinubu, asking him to appeal to Oyetola and support his candidacy. Tinubu later called on Aregbesola to go and make Oyetola popular since Aregbesola too was not popular at the first instance. Aregbesola never wanted Oyetola. They forced him’, he added.
Some aspirants like Benedict Alabi who is now the deputy governor of the state stepped down for Oyetola while the likes of Lasun Yusuf, Najeem Salam, Moshood Adeoti engaged him at the direct primary of the party which was laced with a lot of controversies but Gboyega Oyetola eventually won. Out of all aspirants who contested with Oyetola at the party primary, only Moshood Adeoti, Iwo-born politician dumped the party and joined the Action Democratic Party (ADP) with his thousands of followers across the state. He later became the guber candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Aspirants like Lasun Yusuf expressed his grievances and vowed never to leave the party but sources said he was silent throughout the general poll.
Aregbesola’s attitude to 2018 Osun gubernatorial election
There are speculations among APC members who are loyalists of Governor Gboyega Oyetola that Aregbesola’s attitude towards 2018 gubernational election in the state was bad. They alleged that the minister of interior who was the governor of the state, Aregbesola did not want to win the election because his preferred candidate was not allowed to fly the party’s ticket.
An insider while addressing the speculations told WITHIN NIGERIA that Rauf Aregbesola issued a directive that there should be no rally until he came back to the country and the PDP candidate has already started campaigning from one town to another. I see such move as a deliberate attempt to frustrate victory.
While decrying the non-chalant attitude of Aregbesola towards the election, the insider also disclosed that Aregbesola deliberately delayed logistics fund on election day. Most party members got funds around 12pm on election day and efforts put in place to win 2014 were not done towards 2018.
‘Infact, Ajimobi and Ganduje had to take charge of the election from Aregbesola because they seem not to appreciate or like the way he’s running it’. The re-run election worsened the situation. He was angry about the coalition and never wanted Senator Iyiola Omisore in APC. He disliked the treating of Omisore as the power saver of the APC in the rerun, the insider added.
When contacted, a former aide of Rauf Aregbesola dismissed the claims and described them as false and untrue. They just want to ridicule his efforts towards the election. He was pragmatic and desperate for winning which was visible in his actions and attitude.
‘Aregbesola led Oyetola and others from town to town, appealing to people to vote for APC. Claims of such nature should be dismissed’, he added.
Iyiola Omisore’s coalition with All Progressives Congress
The coalition between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Omisore’s caucus of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) aggravated the crisis. The caucus did not only benefit via appointments such as heads of ministry of youths and sport, political affairs, home affairs and others but they were also in charge of the party and their leader, Iyiola Omisore becomes one of the decision makers of the party. The recent caretakers appointment and party’s convention show that he truly has great influence in this administration. Findings revealed that Aregbesola and his lieutenants are not happy about this development.
Recall that barely a week after Senator Iyiola Omisore announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rauf Aregbesola now Minister of Interior stormed his party’s ward in Ilesa, describing such move as a ridicule and mockery of Bola Ige’s death and grave. Aregbesola reportedly said killers and any person can become a member of APC because it is a political party but they would never handover the affairs of the party to them. As at the time of reportage, Omisore’s loyalist, Tajudeen Lawal is the secretary-elect of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state as recognised by the national body.
The crisis of appointments
Findings revealed that ‘appointment’ is one of the major causes of political crisis between the followers of the duo. Majority of Aregbesola’s direct lieutenants expected that they would be returned to office. A check into Oyetola’s cabinet revealed that some former aides of Aregbesola who only served as commissioners once were returned while others were asked to return home.
Aides like Remi Omowaiye, Rafiu Isamotu, Idiat Babalola (Resigned), Bola Oyebamiji, Lekan Badmus, Charles Akinola now Chief of Staff and others were returned to office while the likes of Sikiru Ayedun, Kolapo Alimi and others who had served twice were not returned to office.
Speaking on the matter, an undisclosed source told WITHIN NIGERIA that the duo of Aregbesola and Oyetola introduced 40 by 60 percentage in sharing the appointments with a condition that any commissioner who had served twice in Aregbesola’s cabinet will not be enlisted in the nominees’ list.
The source said: “Aregbesola had already promised to return all commissioners into their respective offices which does not tally with the agreement he had with Oyetola. He was the nominees’ list before it was made public and did not query nor counter it. So it is difficult to understand why some persons are aggrieved over appointments when there was an agreement between Aregbesola and Oyetola”.
According to the source, Aregbesola asked Oyetola to retain Iwo-born politician, Hon. Rasak Sanisile as Chief of Staff and enlist the former speaker of Osun state house of assembly, Rt. Hon. Najeem Salam as Secretary to the State Government.
A check by WITHIN NIGERIA confirmed that Hon. Rasak Sanisile was appointed as Chief of Staff by Aregbesola after Gboyega Oyetola resigned from office to contest for gubernatorial election. Hon. Rasak Sanisile is now the factional chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State and a leader of Osun Progressives better known as TOP.
‘Oyetola kicked against retaining Sanisile as his chief of staff because he doubted his prowess and capacity to hold the office. He also argued that both Sanisile and Najeem Salam are Muslims and they come from the same senatorial district. Aregbesola was very angry about the decision’, the source added.
Findings by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that Gboyega Oyetola accepted Rt. Hon. Najeem Salam as the Secretary to the State Government but he was still occupying his seat as the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
According to an insider, Rt. Hon. Najeem Salam reportedly brought the current SSG, Prince Wole Oyebamiji to hold forth for him and willingly rejected it later after he had received a federal appointment.
A check by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that Najeem Salam was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 23, 2019 as the Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited. This appointment came barely 6 months after he completed his tenure as the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly. WITHIN NIGERIA can not ascertain if he willingly rejected the appointment considering the 6 months gap.
Why first timer commissioner, Adelani Baderinwa did not make nominees’ list?
When asked why Adelani Baderinwa who served once as commissioner for information was not returned, a top official disclosed that Baderinwa acted as a supervisory head for the ministry of information for some months and he was the only one who acted in such capacity as a first timer that was not returned.
“Adelani Baderinwa attitude to work was not encouraging. He was only available in office when needed or called by the governor. There was a time he released a statement on LAUTECH issue which appeared confrontational and the governor disliked such move. I believe these reasons should be part of why he was not returned to office, the official added.
A check by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that Adelani Baderinwa truly headed the ministry of information till the appointment of commissioners and special advisers. When contacted for possible reaction among other issues, Adelani Baderinwa granted an interview with WITHIN NIGERIA but did not conclude it on the basis on being ‘uncomfortable’ and accused this reporter of being ‘biased’. He requested that the details of the interview should be dismissed. As a reputable media firm, we honored the request and the details of the interview remain in our archive.
Encounters of Rauf Aregbesola and Gboyega Oyetola
The turbaning ceremony of Rauf Aregbesola as the Waziri Mumini of Osun State which happened on December 20, 2019 was the first event that publicly exposed the discrepancy between Aregbesola and Oyetola. Eventhough Governor Oyetola argued that he travelled to Saudi Arabia for Umurah but there was state government presence in the event. The governor was not represented and majority of state officials did not attend the event. The statement ‘Eyin Nu Olohun Nu’ credited to Rauf Aregbesola originated from the event.
Governor Gboyega Oyetola on 3rd of March 2020 approved the reversal of the single school uniform, reclassification of the public school system and the abolition of single-sex schools introduced in 2013 by his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola.
‘These are direct legacies of eight years of Aregbesola’s tenure and billions of taxpayers fund were spent to make all possible. I really do not understand why a successor would claim to respect his predecessor yet would be reversing all policies they both worked on while in office’, a rather sad aide of Aregbesola said.
Although Oyetola attributed the reversal to clamour for the policy reviews by educationists, school administrators, missionaries and school owners but some loyalists of Aregbesola see the reversal as a clear attempt to ridicule and rubbish the efforts of his predecessor.
Citizens of Osun state on Wednesday, 10th of November, 2021 woke up to read an unconfirmed WhatsApp broadcast which went viral that the state government is planning to demolish mega school which were built during Aregbesola’s tenure to avert possible disasters.
Dismissing the viral WhatsApp Broadcast, Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji dismissed claims that the administration of Adegboyega Oyetola is out to witch-hunt its predecessor with the decision to carry out integrity tests on the state-owned model schools, said safety of students, teachers and all workers in the affected schools is the reason for the exercise.
Oyebamiji added that the Deputy Governor, Benedict Alabi-led committee in its report emphasized the need for urgent rehabilitation of some of the schools and that six (6) Mega Schools out of the eleven (11) clearly had no structural defects but other wide range of defects which further corroborated the consultant’s earlier position.
Reacting to the claims of the state government, former commissioner for chieftaincy and local government, Kolapo Alimi fired back at the Oyetola-led administration, saying that the Ola-Iya flyover which is under construction has also failed brain test if mega schools built during Aregbesola’s tenure have failed structural-integrity test.
Agitations of the Osun Progressives (TOP)
The Osun Progressives started as a reformation group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) before it becomes a factional Osun APC under the chairmanship of Rasak Sanisile.
Speaking on the formation of the Osun Progressives, one of the leaders of the group who preferred anonymity disclosed that the group under the direction of Elder Adebiyi Adelowo was firstly designed to meet leaders of the party, embarked on unity and rescue mission and reawakened party activities at the secretariat of the party.
The group leader said: The mission of the group was misinterpreted. They saw the group as an opposition of a government it helped install. The loyalists of the governor did not help the matter at all. They worsened the situation by their utterances and name-calling of party leaders in the group.
‘Most utterances credited to leaders of the group were firstly directed to the party until we started noticing direct attack and mockery of legacies of former governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola and we needed to act in defence of him, he added.
Some aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state who are not members of the Osun Progressives (TOP) told WITHIN NIGERIA disclosed that some persons who are key players in Oyetola’s cabinet are responsible for the crisis rocking the party.
“Party candidates like Francis Famurewa, Folorunsho Bamisayemi and others who performed woefully at their respective polls and concluded that Rauf Aregbesola was the cause of their loss. They alleged Aregbesola boys worked against them. For 2 years, they have been spreading it across the length and breadth of the state but they never provided any evidence to support their claims. So these people work hand in hand with the cabinet members to frustrate the efforts and ridicule the legacies of Rauf Aregbesola in the state”, an aggrieved loyalist of Aregbesola said.
‘Prince Famodun who is the current chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the major cause of the crisis within the party. They claimed that Prince Famodun has overstayed his welcome as the chairman of the party, citing that he shares the same senatorial district with the governor of the state. They accused the governor of the state of backing Prince Famodun and insisted that he must leave the position of the chairman for peace to reign’, another loyalist added.
Responding to the comments of Aregbesola’s loyalist, a top official in Osun state government described them as unfair and false.
He said Oyetola did not abandon road projects such as Bisi Akande trumpet and others Aregbesola did not complete.
This administration only adjusted some policies mostly in education that are in serious disagreement between the people and government. It was necessary for us to review these policies and make needed adjustments, he added.
As at the time of reportage, there is a faction in APC called the Osun Progressives who are loyal to the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola and all moves to reconcile leaders and member of this faction ahead of the coming gubernatorial election have not yielded positive result.
Osun gubernatorial election is barely a year. If there is no genuine reconciliation, ‘street fight’ or ‘public engagement’ is inevitable.