Mr Ismail Omipidan, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Gboyega Oyetola, in an interview with OLUWOLE IGE, talks about position of members of The Osun Progressives (TOP), regarding his principal.
There appears a division among APC members in Osun, particularly there a caucus, The Osun Progressives (TOP) that alleged Governor Oyetola of alienating members of the party.
Let me clarify that I don’t speak for the party, I speak for Mr Governor. Mr Governor by the constitution of the APC is very clear that he is the leader of the party in his state. To that extent, you cannot necessarily divorce the governor from the party and because the allegation is directed at my principal, I think I am more than competent to respond on his behalf. First, let me say clearly that as far as the APC is concerned, there is no division. Mr Governor does not recognise any faction within the party and he does not give preferential treatment to any group or individual within the party. There has always been this allegation that some people are members of IleriOluwa and some people belong to TOP. If you look at the history of the party in the state, TOP just came into being recently about four months ago. But, IleriOluwa was a platform upon which the governor pursued his governorship ambition in 2018. Usually when the election is over, the campaign structure stands dissolved. But, because IleriOluwa is a platform that if in the future Mr Governor want to run for any office he can use it. That does not mean that the platform is different from the APC. Since the government have been formed, technically speaking you cannot say there is a group called IleriOluwa because we don’t recognise groupings in the party. What we have is APC and that is how the governor has been dealing with every member of the party. It is not correct for anybody to say the governor has been alienating any member of the party including those of our brothers and sisters who wants to regard to themselves as being members of TOP.
One of the complaints of TOP is that the governor has somehow rubbished some legacies of his predecessor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola by reversing his policies on reclassification of schools and single uniform, whereas, the governor was Chief of Staff to the governor while they implemented these policies. What is your reaction to this allegation?
As an individual and as a leader you must be willing at any point in time to look inward and take another look at whatever decision you may have taken and be sure that the decision is in the best interest of the people, especially those you are holding power in trust on their behalf. The issue of policy reversal, most especially in the education sector, we must look at the historical background of that policy. When decisions are taken and policies are formulated, there is what we know as unintended consequences, which as at the time you are taking the decision, you may not have taken those consequences into consideration. I want to believe very strongly that as at the time the decision on single uniform and reclassification of schools was taken, nobody thought about those unintended consequences. But, in the last two years that Mr Governor has been in the saddle, I am aware that he has had cause to even reverse himself on certain issues. Because when you take a decision as a leader and you are confronted with a superior argument, a good leader should do a rethink and take another look at that decision. Governor Oyetola believe very strongly that the superior arguments are in the interest of the people and so he should be able to tow that line. You know that the people wanted the issue of single uniform and other extant educational policies to be reviewed. That was what led to the constitution of panel led by Professor Olu Aina. Other members of the panel included General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Ibidapo Obe, Professor Pius Obayan, a foremost educationist, among others. In their recommendations, they looked at the issue 6-3-3-4. The panel recommended that we should revert to the 6-3-3-4 system. The early childhood education, which also denied us of support from UNICEF was also addressed. Osun, because our peculiarities, we don’t have money and we need these supports from donor agencies. Because we scrapped early childhood education, we lost the support from UNICEF. The panel also recommended that unless we issue letter of attestation to our students, who finished secondary school, they may have issues with their WAEC certificates. This is due to reclassification. We had male students attending schools purely meant for female students. Governor Oyetola did not rubbish the legacies of his predecessor. If indeed, he want to rubbish any of his legacies, we probably would have abandoned road infrastructure that we inherited. If you drive through Gbongan to this place, you will see what I am talking about. You knew the state of the road in 2018 when the governor took over and it current state now. If we wanted to rubbish Aregbesola, we would have abandoned the road. I am not sure my principal had done anything to validate the allegation of rubbishing his predecessor’s legacies. It is just a mere allegation from persons who are interested in creating crisis where none exists.
Another issue raised by TOP members is that the governor is so desperate to hijack the structure of the party and they made reference to the last ward and local government congresses, where they alleged that the governor bought all the forms for his preferred candidates.
When the party is preparing for an election, the party can collect money for forms from those who are interested in contesting. In order to make the process seamless and go and pay on their behalf. It was the party chairman that did the payment and not the governor. If you know Mr Governor very well, does come across as somebody who is desperate for anything. You know most times, people judge somebody by their own standard. The picture they are trying to paint of my principal is not correct and I believe those who have encountered him would know clearly that those making the allegation are just trying to smear the name of a good man, and you know it will not stick.
Is there any plan by the governor to dialogue or jaw-jaw with the members of TOP so that contending issues can be resolved?
From time, Mr Governor had made it clear that he is is ready to dialogue. Immediately after the ward congress, he set up a reconciliatory committee and he appealed to all those who are aggrieved to sheath their swords and seek for the best way of resolving the matter. In most of my outings, I have always said that in real war, they still come back to dialogue. Why go into the war when you know you will still come to the table to dialogue. Mr Governor has continued to demonstrate that fatherly love to all members of the party. For instance, after the ward congress, some of our members led some hoodlums to the party secretariat. Mr Governor was not in town and because those who led the hoodlums could be identified, some party members wrote a petition to the Police. It resulted in those people arraigned in court, but the day the governor returned to the state, he summoned the party leaders and he was briefed. And then he said as members of the same family even if we have issues, it can be resolved. Mr Governor immediately directed the party chairman to discontinue with the case. Only a peace loving person would take such a step. If he didn’t want peace, he would probably have instigated the party chairman to go ahead with the case. If indeed Mr Governor is interested in applying some authorities, it doesn’t cost him anything to ensure that those people stay in correctional facility in Ilesa. But, he didn’t do that.
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