Kolapo Alimi, a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Osun State, is the legal adviser to The Osun Progressives (TOP) explains the root of the raging crisis between the camp of the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor and Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola in the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). OLUWOLE IGE brings some excerpts:
As a stakeholder of APC in Osun State, what is the current state of the party in the state?
To be candid, the current situation of our party, as of today, is a little bit precarious. I used the word precarious consciously because the way the party is being run, most especially by the incumbent governor is not ideal. We have different groups, different interests and the party is fragmented, segregated along various interests. As at today in Osun, we don’t have common front in the APC. From the Alliance for Democracy (AD) days when Chief Bisi Akande was the leader of the party, our party has not been so fragmented in its history as it is now. The party, then, was a united party. The situation was like that till the time of the Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) when Aregbesola was the leader of the party and governor of the state. We, then, had a united party. That was why it was easy for us to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014 and up till 2018, despite the campaign of calumny here and there. But now, our party has been divided.
The main reason for that is the political style of our incumbent governor. Shortly after he came on board, he started alienating members of the party, most especially any perceived member loyal to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. This is quite strange because Governor Oyetola served for eight years as Chief of Staff under the regime of Aregbesola. His ideas defied all logic. It would have been a different ball game had it been that he had come from outside. We would have said perhaps he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Aregbesola. But, this is a man that served for eight years as Chief of Staff during the regime of Aregbesola. He started rubbishing all the legacies of Aregbesola. When you see him, he talks calmly, and it would take a great psychologist to detect what is in his mind. He pretended for almost eight years under Aregbesola and he had deep-seated animosity against the man. With apology, many people in politics determine their loyalty by what they are going to eat. That is why you see some people following him. Otherwise, any right-thinking man with conscience, would know that what the governor is doing is very bad. Not all of us are without conscience. Some of us know that with the way the man (Oyetola) is going, he is going to destroy this party. That is why we formed TOP. Whoever is in this state and wants to tell the truth would say that is the fact. He started reversing all the policies of Aregbesola by giving flimsy excuses. It is just to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it.
The real reason was to rubbish Aregbesola. These policies include the reclassification of schools, single uniform and recently the parliamentary system which we adopted for the administration of local government in order to save cost so that we don’t spend all the money on political appointees and civil servants. He abrogated the parliamentary system of government even though no court has outlawed it. The consequence of what Oyetola is doing now is to technically kill the local government. This is because you can’t have 69 local governments and then want to use the presidential system to run it. Most of the people eulogising the governor never supported us in the first instance. Governor Oyetola is hell bent in destroying our party. But some people, who are eulogising him never supported us in the first instance. We are trying as much as possible to rescue the party from his grip. That is exactly what we are doing. But, as at today, the party is fragmented because of his political style.
With the present situation, do you think the APC stands the better chance of having an impressive outing in the 2022 governorship election?
Why not! I have spoken through various means that when you look at the drafters of our party constitution, they say after four years, somebody could seek re-election. They did not say it is automatic. If it is automatic, there will be no need for us to spend huge amount of money on election again and also there would be no need for the party to conduct primaries. If your party is satisfied, present him and if people want him, they will say yes. That means you have to assess him. But, whenever you tell some people that, they would say you hate the governor. They would say he is entitled to eight years. No, that is not our law. If you don’t personalise it, if we allow due process to be followed, if our party presents him (Oyetola), if the people want us and our party allows level playing ground and we don’t present him and another person, we stand a better chance to win the election. But, this is somebody who started dividing the party the very first year he got to the office. If you give him the second chance, eventually whether you like it or not and he manage to win the ticket, our party will eventually lose. It is like a time bomb. Why not rescue the party now! I don’t believe our party would lose if we present another person.
The belief in certain quarters is that some of you in TOP are against Oyetola because you were not appointed into his cabinet.
It is not true. Due to the fact that they know that what they have done is very bad, they have to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it. Is it cabinet appointment that is making him (Oyetola) rubbish everything relating to Aregbesola? Is Aregbesola not a minister today? Ask him when he was requested to nominate people for ministerial appointment, did he nominate Aregbesola? It was President Muhammadu Buhari that nominated Aregbesola. He nominated three persons and Aregbesola’s name was not there. How many people are you, as the governor, going to appoint that thousands of people will now be angry? Let us assume that is the reason, it now depends on the management of your affairs. Was Aregbesola appointing everybody when he was there as governor? He didn’t. In fact, during Aregbesola’s first tenure, 14 of us were commissioners and 12 special advisers. Now you appointed about 40 persons and you are still having problems. Were it to be the issue of appointment, it would have been isolated. People are not fools. Will you be fighting because of appointment and they will support you? No.
But the governor keeps saying there is no rift between him and Aregbesola.
I am a Muslim and I call a spade a spade. Ask anybody in Osun if that statement is true. I don’t know how people would have faith and would be telling blatant lie. If he doesn’t have issues with Aregbesola, how many times have you seen him with Aregbesola or in Aregbesola’s office? How many times have you seen Aregbesola in the Osun State Government House? Anytime Aregbesola wants to come to this place (state), they would want to create one problem or the other. He is taking the government under which he served for eight years as an opposition government. The opposition could not have done worse. Governor SeyiMakinde is not doing half of what Oyetola is doing to Aregbesola to late Governor AbiolaAjimobi even after his death. Makinde is a PDP governor. How many times have you seen him rubbishing Ajimobi? If he says some people are fighting him because of appointment and some people believe him, let them believe him. I challenge him to mention any lawyer in his cabinet now that worked for him.
If he says this man (Alimi) had served for eight years under Aregbesola and he wants to give fresh people appointments and that is why I am fighting him, am I that important? If I have the capacity to mobilise these thousands of people, I will go for the governorship position. I am just an individual. No government has the capacity to appoint everybody.
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