By Charles Okoh
The Minister of Interior and erstwhile governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, is on the loose and prancing around like a fascist leader. He has also been conducting himself like loose cannon without bounds in a manner that suggests that he would rather have Osun burn than allow the incumbent, Gboyega Oyetola, have a second term.
The face-off between the minister and Governor Oyetola is as old as the reign of the incumbent governor. The trend usually is that governors after serving out their tenures would still want to be seen and regarded as the leader of the party in the state. This is even worse when on leaving office they are appointed as ministers. We have seen these scenarios play out in several states across the nation. This battle of supremacy, in some cases, has come at a great cost to the people of the state.
Sadly, it appears that this has become very pronounced in the present dispensation. Serving ministers or political office holders prefer to lose their states, so long as their desire to sack the incumbent governor is achieved. We all saw what happened in Edo, which eventually cost the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) the state when a former governor of the state and then chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, went on a rampage and swore to unseat the incumbent, a former protégé of his, Godwin Obaseki. At the end it was Oshiomhole and the party that lost out as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was gifted Edo on a platter.
In Kwara, the Minister of Information, Culture and Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is in a fight to the finish with the incumbent governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, for the soul of the party in the state. This fight is something that is completely avoidable given that they both belong to the same party and how the party has not been able to resolve this now with the gubernatorial election taking place early 2023, speaks a lot about the lack of cohesion within the ruling party.
The 2022 Osun State gubernatorial election will take place on July 16, 2022, and the run-up to the election and its party primary that was held last Saturday gives one real reason for concern.
The Osun crisis is a little complicated. The governor (Oyetola) is a nephew of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Aregbesola, a minister and protégé of Asiwaju, having served under him as a commissioner in Lagos, is poised to risk his long-standing relationship with the Jagaban just to unseat his nephew. If feelers emanating from the state are anything to go by then it’s only a matter of time before the state goes up in flames and the party loses the state. This, again, is another calamitous situation that is completely avoidable in a party where discipline and party supremacy and authority reign supreme.
Already, the dimension of the crisis is widening further with the thinking in some quarters that the plan by the House of Representatives to investigate accusations of unwholesome practices and worrisome state of affairs in the Correctional Services in spite of huge budgetary allocation to the agency, is targeted at Aregbesola, given his reported dispute with the Asiwaju.
The leadership of a political party should be a preponderant authority that has major influence over matters that affect the party and its members. However, in the APC, the sad reality is that it appears everybody is an authority of sorts and nobody can be reprimanded or called to order or even differences amicably resolved within the party.
Last week Wednesday, supporters of Aregbesola launched a protest march that not only threatened the peace of the city but also served as an inkling of what to expect in the election in June.
The protesters marched to the headquarters, Oke-Oniti area, Osogbo, bearing placards.
The faction, led by Rasaq Salinsile, staged a protest to the state Police Command Headquarters, demanding the redeployment of the Commissioner, Olawale Olokode.
The placards, with inscriptions, read: “IGP: Call Osun Police to order”, “Tell us who attacked Oranmiyan House”, “Egalitarian society is our demand”, “CP Olokode, stop playing Gboyega Oyetola’s scripts” among others.
Salinsile, on behalf of others, submitted a letter to the police which was received by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation, Mr Valentine Ikanayo.
Yemisi Opalola, the state police spokesperson said; “Yesterday’s action was likely to cause a breach of the public peace. About 5:30pm, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, was moving in a convoy of personnel of NSCDC, correctional service, immigration, as well as some unidentified armed people, suspected to be political thugs, on Orisumbare/MDS Road, Osogbo.”
He said 13 empty shells of G-3, assault, and AK-47 rifles were recovered on the road after the minister’s departure. No casualty was recorded. The situation is under close monitoring.”
Meanwhile, the South-West coordinator of NANS, Mr Adegboye Olatunji, in a statement, condemned the incident, describing it as “the most primitive display of power” by Aregbesola.
The statement reads: “This wanton and brazen show of force is a lucid display of the political rot, abuse of power, misuse of office and superabundant arrogation of power that is endemic in our political landscape.
“It also goes to show the acute unprofessionalism of some officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“While we call for proper investigation of the highly condemnable occurrence, the National Headquarters of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps must sanction all its officers involved in the shootout.
“Needless to remind them that the commonwealth of the good people of Nigeria invested in the agency is not to cause unrest, fear or terror among the citizenry but to promote security and safety in the country.”
Although no life was lost in the incident, the worst could have happened and we will be distracted by the setting up of a committee by the federal government or the party and the promise to look into the immediate and the remote cause of the crisis and that will be the end of the story. Only the poor get killed in these cross-fires and political skirmishes.
For all it is worth, that a beneficiary chooses to be ungrateful is not enough reason to visit mayhem on the state by the benefactor. Ingratitude and betrayal are common and are ingrained in the average politician. Is it impossible to nip this in the bud now and save the state from the imminent calamity that may befall it?
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. Aregbesola must be called to order. As governor in Osun, he ruled like a totalitarian leader and would not have taken one-tenth of the things he is putting the state through right now.
Thank God that the governorship primary held last Saturday went peacefully. That is the spirit of politics. That is why it is a game. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. And like former President Goodluck Jonathan would put it, no politician’s ambition is worth the life of any Nigerian.