Members of the Osun State All Progressives Congress loyal to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, have said the state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola’s fight with them cost him his re-election.
Those who spoke with our correspondents included the Leader of TOP, Lowo Adebiyi; the Chairman of the Aregbesola’s faction of the APC, Mr Rasaq Salinsile and the factional Publicity Secretary, Abiodun Agboola,
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on Sunday declared Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party the winner of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
The Returning Officer for the election and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said Adeleke got a total of 403,371 votes to beat the incumbent governor who polled 375,027 votes in the keenly contested race.
Before his electoral loss, Oyetola, had in 2018 defeated Adeleke after a run-off, with the support of his predecessor, Aregbesola and former Lagos state governor and now, APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Shortly after winning the election, Oyetola, who was the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola for eight years, parted ways with the interior affairs minister and his loyalists, who alleged that the governor abandoned his predecessor’s programmes.
A former Osun State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs during Aregbesola’s administration, Kolapo Alimi, had in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on July 2 predicted that Oyetola would not win re-election for betraying Aregbesola’s trust, an allegation the governor denied.
Shedding light on the challenges which robbed the party of victory, the Chairman of the APC faction in Osun state, Salinsile, said it was obvious that the lack of unity in the party allegedly caused by “Oyetola’s politics of segregation” cost the APC victory at the poll.
Salinsile said he had seen the electoral defeat ahead of time and ran to party leaders, including the ex-national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, for help.
According to him, the APC presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, once sent an emissary to address their grievances but the person never returned to collect the complaint list.
He further said Oyetola should not have played politics of segregation or blacklisted anyone linked to Aregbesola.
The factional chairman stated, “But it is an obvious fact that Governor Isiaka Oyetola came to destroy our party. We all worked as a united family to install him as governor in spite of all odds. But the moment he got there, he started politics of segregation and divide and rule tactics which he thought he could use to whip everybody back in line; particularly, he was against anything Aregbesola.
“How on earth can you be a Chief of Staff to a sitting governor for good eight years and pretended to him to be what you were not. I have never met that kind of person in my life and I am not a young man.
“He was not yet sworn in when he started the segregation, politics of hatred. Anybody that have anything to do with the immediate past governor of the state, Aregbesola; automatically, you become one of the members in his black book.”
Speaking on how Oyetola allegedly mismanaged the party, Salinsile said, “How can the leader of a house behave that way and you think that house will be peaceful? We said it severally without mincing words so that those who have ears will hear. We went to our leaders starting with Baba Akande to the national chairman of the APC. Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) sent one Alhaji Masari from Katsina state to us; he was the place holder for the APC presidential candidate.
“He said our resolutions should be written down that he would come back the following day to collect it, saying Asiwaju gave him that assignment. Up till today, we have not seen him. He never came back. Three times, Oyetola sent words to me saying if he calls me will I pick his call? If he invites me, will I honour the invitation? And I said he was still my governor and that I owe him a lot of respect.
“Every time, he will always disappoint. He later said the matter was beyond his power. In whose power was it then? That means there is somebody somewhere remote-controlling him. This result was expected.”
On the way out, Salinsile said the party has been demolished, adding that the members would have to return to the drawing board.
“We now have to go to the drawing board and look for where we have erred and make amends. It was a very clear issue. It was Oyetola administration that brought calamity to our party. The remaining leaders must act now,” he admonished.
The factional Publicity Secretary of the APC in Osun State, Abiodun Agboola, also attributed the APC loss in the governorship poll to the internal wrangling within the party.
He said, “The election has come and gone and winner has emerged. I believe the people have spoken and from the result our party lost. No organisation can go into an election with division without suffering a humiliating defeat the progressives suffered in Osun on Saturday.
“Part of our problem is the internal wrangling and we clamoured that the party should intervene to resolve the crisis before the election. What led to the internal wrangling is exclusion and when you exclude some people from participating, that is the kind of result you will get.
“I hope the party will learn from this and set things straight because we are still going for the presidential election in 2023 and that is some few months away.”
The TOP Chairman, Adebiyi, said the party had learnt its lessons and would return to the drawing board to restrategise for the 2023 elections.
Adebiyi stated, “But you are aware that we have an unsettled internal crisis. Secondly, the mobilisation was not enough.
“There are a lot of issues that the state government is battling with -civil servants’ issues, the issue of backlog of allowances and things like that; even the economic situation of our country, the unemployment rate – All of these affected our party, but the main thrust is that we are not united as a party.
“What happened is very unfortunate, but this affords us a lesson to learn. We are now going to the drawing board and then restrategise for 2023. We believe that before the 2023 elections, we would have had a strong and united APC in Osun State.”
Adebiyi debunked insinuations that the caucus loyal to Aregbesola did not vote for the APC, insisting that TOP mobilised members for the election.
“We issued a release before the election that all members should vote for APC and they complied. All of us in TOP worked for the APC, but unfortunately, victory was not on our side,” he explained.
He assured that ToP members would not defect from the party, saying the loss of the governorship poll was a challenge which the party would collectively overcome.
The TOP boss said, “We are going to overcome this challenge. Nobody is thinking of defecting; defection is not the next thing to do now. Our own is to sit down together, restrategise and chart the way forward. We have important elections ahead in 2023, we will work on how to win the elections.”
In his assessment, the Director-General of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Sanwo-Olu Projects, Mr Emmanuel Amuwo, in a telephone ,” The Osun State election showed that the citizens are no longer concerned about the political party, but the individual. My take is this: Adeleke does not have anything good to offer Osun.”
In his reaction, Oyetola said the party leadership would respond to the result of the poll after studying it.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Ismail Omipidan, said this in a statement obtained in Osogbo on Sunday.
When contacted, Media Adviser to the Osun APC Chairman loyal to the governor, Kola Olabisi, said the party was still reviewing the situation and would take a position on the outcome of the poll.
Olabisi said, “Anything built on fraud cannot stand. The top echelon of the party will issue a statement on the matter at the appropriate time.
“We are still looking at the situation and our position will be made known at the appropriate time.”
Commissioner flays faction
Reacting to Salinsile’s claim, Special Adviser to Osun Governor on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, accused members of Aregbesola’s group of working against the APC at the governorship poll.
He however said Oyetola and his men were not bothered, adding that they would be interested in how voting out APC government would get Aregbesola’s men patronage in the PDP.
“Now that they all voted the PDP, we shall see the unity they will bring into PDP. Because you have crises in your party, that doesn’t mean you should go all out to work for opposition.
“They have installed the PDP now, let is now see how that will assist them in uniting the APC in Osun. The constitution of the APC is clear. The governor is the leader of the party but Mr. Aregbesola as former governor did not want to allow his successor to control the party.”
But the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, said he was unaware of the outcome of the Osun election.
When asked to comment on the poll outcome, Adamu, who appeared on Arise TV programme on Sunday, said, “With due respect, my dear brother, I am just really hearing this from you. I have not formally heard the announcement from INEC, which is the independent commission responsible for election in Nigeria. I have not heard from them yet. Once I hear formally from INEC, I can be in a position to answer this particular question.”
Meanwhile, prominent Nigerians on Sunday congratulated the Osun state governor-elect following his victory in Saturday’s governorship election.
Among the personalities were the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); former vice-president and presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
Buhari in his congratulatory statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari congratulates Adeleke on Osun election victory’, said the will of the people had prevailed in Osun State. Adesina said, “With the election over, the President expresses the conviction that the people of Osun have expressed their will through the ballot, and the will of the people must always matter and be respected in a democracy.”
The PDP Governors Forum has extended its congratulatory message to Adeleke.The PDP-GF in a statement by its Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said Adeleke’s victory was a reflection of the wish of the electorate in Osun State.
Ayu in his reaction described the defeat of the PDP 12 years ago as a judicial coup, noting that four years ago, the PDP won the governorship, “but Adeleke was robbed of victory in broad daylight.”
A former chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, Dino Melaye described Adeleke’s victory as “a good omen for the PDP come 2023.”
The governor-elect, while speaking on his victory, promised to ensure good governance for the people of the state.
The PDP vice-presidential candidate in a tweet congratulated the party, the people of Osun and the winner of the governorship election.
Okowa tweeted, “I congratulate the people of Osun State and my brother, Senator Ademola Adeleke, the @OfficialPDPNig candidate for a decisive victory at yesterday’s polls.”
Makinde in his congratulatory message said that the power of the people had triumphedMakinde in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, hailed the voters across the 30 council areas of Osun state for standing by the PDP and staying resolute to ensure that their votes counted.
Saraki in a statement on his social media handles said Adeleke, had by the victory, reclaimed the stolen mandate of the PDP.
He emphasized that after the inexplicable loss in 2018, Adeleke demonstrated leadership by working to build a stronger coalition across the state and the nation to ensure that the PDP remained the most popular party in the state and emerged victorious four years later.
Also speaking on the PDP victory, Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Duoye Diri said the party’s victory was a test election ahead of 2023 poll.
Timi of Ede, Oba Adesola Lawal, said the community would continue to pray for Adeleke’s success and commended the electorate for supporting one of his subjects to emerge governor.
Meanwhile, the operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on election monitoring duties had arrested three persons suspected of buying votes during the Osun state election.
The Spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, said that the suspects were arrested at the Ife North, Egbedore and Obokun local government areas.
Our correspondents observed that unlike the June 18 governorship poll in Ekiti, the police and INEC made attempts to prevent vote buying as voting points were isolated from where party agents could monitor candidates voters voted for after paying them.
Some voters, who confided in The PUNCH, said although they collected money, they voted for candidates of their choice.
In its post-election assessment, the Centre for Democracy and Development said the poll witnessed impressive voter enthusiasm despite apprehension about the possibility of violent disruption.
The Director, CDD West Africa, Idayat Hassan, in a statement on Sunday, expressed the hope that the improvements recorded in the recent elections would be replicated in the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
Elder statesman, Prof Wole Soyinka, said the poll won by Adeleke, indicated that the slain Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige’s voice resounded from the grave.
The Nobel laureate spoke in a statement on Sunday titled, “Osun State elections: Ige’s voice.”
Ige, also an ex-governor of old Oyo State, was assassinated by suspected gunmen at his Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, home on December 23, 2001.
Soyinka said, “The voice of Ajibola Ige, slain Minister of Justice, resounds from beyond the grave. Those who conspired to catapult his destroyers to unmerited national prominence, to insult the memories of the living, and jettison basic ethical constraints, have been justly served. It is a lesson that speaks to other zones of rightful public expectations, equity, and just entitlements. One despairs but continues to hope that there are still receptive minds in which such lessons will germinate.
“If we may adapt a wise saying from the ancients: the beast of burden, nicknamed Equity, ambles its mined course to destination but, sooner or later, that donkey arrives.”
The playwright in April 2022, protested against the emergence of a former deputy governor of Osun State, Chief Iyiola Omisore, as APC’s national secretary at the party’s 2022 national convention held between March 26 and 27, where 77 national officers emerged.