The political temperature in Osun State is twitching sequel to the recent defection of Senator Iyiola Omisore to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC)
Fresh political calculations and scheming have begun as major political gladiators are intensifying moves to achieve different interests in the next governorship election in the state as well as national politics at large.
Omisore was a stalwart of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) where he aspired to be governor of the state in 1999, but failed to get the party’s ticket.
Chief Bisi Akande won the party’s governorship ticket with Omisore becoming his running mate. Consequently, AD won the election and after their swearing in, Akande and Omisore had a frosty relationship leading to an attempt to impeach Akande. The impeachment plot against the governor failed and later, Omisore left AD for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
There were several intrigues and controversies that time and the political environment was tensed.
One of the controversies was the assassination of a key AD chieftain, the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Chief Bola Ige on December 23, 2001.
Omisore was arrested over Ige’s murder and remanded. In the 2003 governorship election, Akande re-contested but he lost to the PDP candidate, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Many people believed that Omisore’s influence assisted PDP to defeat AD in the election.
Omisore won the Osun East senatorial election while in prison on the platform of the PDP. When he came out from prison, his political structure was still intact and his influence got a boost as a serving a senator.
Omisore served two terms from 2003 to 2011 and schemed to return for a third term, after securing the PDP’s ticket, a move that ended in a deadlock.
It was at the time that Rauf Aregbesola won his election case at the appellate court which removed Oyinlola as governor in November 2010, and declared Aregbesola as the validly elected governor in the 2007 governorship election in the state.
Aregbesola became very popular and his party, the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) fielded Senator Babajide Omoworare against Omisore of PDP. At that time, Omisore’s political influence had dwindled.
In the April 2011 election for the Osun East Senatorial seat, Omoworare polled 119,852 votes to defeat Omisore who got 51,315 votes.
While Aregbesola continued to mock Omisore for poor outing in the 2011 senatorial election, the trend changed in the August 10, 2014 governorship race when Omisore gave Aregbesola a big fight.
Omisore could not get PDP ticket in the 2018 governorship election in the state. He contested on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) while PDP fielded Senator Ademola Adeleke.
The incumbent governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola ran on the platform of the APC. The result of the election between Oyetola and Adeleke was close while Omisore fell in third position.
Omisore’s third position with 128,049 could not give him any hope in the rerun and it was clear that the fight was a straight one between Oyetola and Adeleke.
However, out of the four poling units where the rerun would take place, two were Omisore’s strongholds.
It was said that both PDP and APC ran to him to seek his support. Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki was said to have led the PDP team to Omisore while the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi allegedly led the APC team to Omisore.
At that time, Aregbesola was not seen to be “romancing” Omisore. He seemed not comfortable seeking Omisore’s help for his party to win the election but he kept sealed lips while Fayemi continued the discussion with Omisore on behalf of the APC.
The APC National Leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who relocated to Osun for the election allegedly approved Omisore’s demands in his bid to ensure that APC won the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) eventually declared Oyetola as the winner of the election with 255,505 votes against Adeleke’s 255,023 votes after the rerun.
Oyetola appointed some of Omisore’s supporters as commissioners in his administration. Omisore became very close to Oyetola and his supporters were hobnobbing with APC members.
Meanwhile, Aregbesola’s supporters were not given a chance in Oyetola’s government. When he was eventually appointed as Minister of Interior by President Muhammadu Buhari, Aregbesola’s supporters were described as “Abuja people” while Oyetola’s supporters were seen as the “Osun people.” So, there were clear indications that Aregbesola and Oyetola were not in good terms.
Pundits say the recent defection of Omisore to APC has exposed Aregbesola’s alleged inability to cope with Omisore as a fellow party man. Omisore in his Ife hometown registered as a member of APC and displayed his membership card without saying a word.
The chairman of the party in the state, Prince Gboyega Famodun however, expressed delight over the defection of Senator Omisore to APC.
The APC Chairman said, “We are glad to witness the registration of Senator Iyiola Omisore into APC. On behalf of the leadership of the party, I want to thank you, Senator Omisore, such that what you are doing today will be of immense benefit to APC, Ile-Ife and Osun state. This will be the beginning of new era in the state.”
Oyetola’s supporters and some top APC chieftains in the state also said the defection of Omisore was a good thing for APC in the state.
But when Aregbesola visited the state, he stormed the Ifofin Ward 8, in Ilesa East LGA to revalidate his membership of APC. It was a show of political sagacity apparently intended to alert Oyetola that he is still popular in Osun and in control of the party’s structure.
There was a large crowd of APC members and supporters including some members of the state executive of the party and some members of the State House of Assembly who ushered Aregbesola in for his revalidation exercise.
Speaking after the revalidation of his membership of the APC, Aregbesola said “a murderer has joined APC”, and insisted that late Ige was very important to Ijesaland and that Ijesa people cannot accept “his killer.”
He told APC members that they had a moral duty to ensure that such elements do not occupy leadership positions and use it to subvert and derail the party. He told the crowd of the imperative of internal democracy in the party.
The minister reminded the people that Chief Bola Ige was their leader and stood all his life for a compassionate government, commitment to the good of the majority and ideas that would bring the good life, happiness, progress and security to the people.
The former governor also urged party supporters to be conscious of those who continued to “dance” on Ige’s grave and avoid anything that would dishonour the late stateman’s memory.
Since then, Aregbesola’s statement has became the talk of the town and social media war began among Osun APC members.
The APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Comrade Wole Adunola said the defection of Omisore would add value to the party and that Aregbesola was entitled to his own opinion.
“As a party, we shall continue to attract valuable politicians into our folds. Politics is a game of number and that is the basic strategy of politics globally. We want to assure our members and leaders that our party is big enough to accommodate every interest.
“Every sane individual is important in politics irrespective of class, religion and other social discrimination. While the Interior Minister is entitled to his opinion, I am however sad that within the same family, our members resulted into calling names and threw caution into the wind without considering the consequence of such action, they have all forgotten that whatever perceived differences today shall be resolved without any of the followers on the seat,” he said.
All attempts to get Omisore’s reaction did not succeed as his aides declined to speak on the matter.
Reacting on behalf of Omisore’s political camp, one of his close political associates, and former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Abdul Jelili Oyewale Adesiyan said Omisore and his supporters have with their decision to join the APC signified their intention to revamp Nigeria and continue on the path to restoring her glory. He cautioned the Minister to stop disparaging Omisore.
Adesiyan said, “responding to the tasteless video made on the occasion of Rauf Aregbesola’s party registration in Ilesha was born out of the necessity to ask him to abandon the familiar line that has so far led nowhere.”
“If Rauf Aregbesola was to suffer a quarter of the travails that have so far marked Iyiola Omisore’s political journey, I say with a strong conviction that he would either have committed suicide or be condemned to political oblivion. It is within this context that he is oblivious of the qualities that define Iyiola Omisore and such like he.”
Aregbesola’s Media Adviser, Mr Sola Fasure said the minister wanted to go to the center for the revalidation quietly and that the huge crowd was spontaneous. He said Aregbesola was working towards greater success of the party and that he remained committed to its progressive ideals.