The crisis rocking the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to abate as the camp of former Governors Rauf Aregbesola and Adegboyega Oyetola are still torn apart as their followers continue to work at cross purposes.
The poor performance of the party in the last general elections in the state was attributed to the crisis as many believed that Aregbesola and his supporters worked against the interest of the party.
In fact, the victory of the incumbent governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 16, 2022 governorship election was hinged on the support of Aregbesola’s camp, known as The Osun Progressives (TOP).
This was evident in the appointments of two members of TOP, Kolapo Alimi and Biyi Odunlade, as commissioners by Adeleke.
Several other TOP members were also appointed as advisers and special assistants, while many of them got contracts and other benefits from the Adeleke administration.
The appointments of TOP members by Adeleke did not go down well with many “typical” members of the PDP.
The Oyetola camp suffered a serious loss from the crisis to the extent that only one member of the House of Assembly won his election, while two APC senators and six House of Representatives members lost their seats.
In the presidential election, Bola Tinubu of the APC lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in the state.
In all the elections, Aregbesola, who was then the Minister of Interior, did not campaign or vote for his party as he stayed away from Osun State. But all hope was not lost for Oyetola’s camp given the electoral success of the party in the presidential election.
While Oyetola got appointment as a minister, one of the arrowheads of his camp, the senator that represented Osun Central in the 9th Assembly, Dr Basiru Ajibola, became the national secretary of the party, replacing Senator Iyiola Omisore, who is also from Osun State and belongs to Oyetola’s camp.
How things fell apart
Upon his return after completing his assignment in the government of former President Muhammadu Buhari, Aregbesola and his supporters had been politically displaced to the extent that many ascribed them to PDP more than the APC, while the state chapter of the party seemed not to recognise them as APC members.
Things became more complicated when the state chapter of the party on August 30, expelled 84 who were Aregbesola’s loyalists.
Prominent on the list of those expelled is Mr Rasaq Salinsile, the chairman of TOP; Mr Biyi Odunlade, the newly appointed Commissioner for Political Affairs, and Temilade Olokungboye, who was also appointed as Special Adviser, Children Affairs, by Adeleke.
A glance through the list also revealed that many of the expelled members drawn across all local government areas in the state were those who took up appointments as local government caretaker committee members under the Adeleke administration.
A statement announcing the suspension of the affected members signed by the state APC Chairman, Tajudeen Lawal, reads in part: “Following complaints of anti-party activities, the State Executive Committee of the Osun State chapter of the APC constituted a disciplinary committee to investigate the allegations against some members.
“This measure came in response to the allegations of misconduct and actions that embarrassed and brought the party to disrepute.
“The disciplinary committee undertook a thorough and impartial review of the allegations and the findings were carefully deliberated upon by the State Executive Committee.
“After a comprehensive assessment of the evidence and consideration of the committee’s recommendations, the State Executive Committee has taken the difficult yet necessary step of expelling the affected members.”
However, whereas those expelled faulted their expulsion from the party, Aregbesola insisted that he was still a member of APC and promised to reposition the party to wrest power from Adeleke in the next governorship election in the state.
He also defended his decision to shun the last elections in the state and attributed his absence to the politics of bitterness and boastful exclusion within the APC in the state at the time.
The former governor maintained that efforts made by several politicians not to allow the crisis within the Osun APC degenerate yielded no results from the handlers of the party, stating that there was even a video that trended when they said anyone who was not invited to their campaign but came around would bear the consequences of whatever happened to them.
He noted that the formation of TOP was to mend fences and strengthen the party, but which was misconstrued by those who felt threatened by his involvement and other committed members in the internal politics of the party.
He said, “There is nothing like exclusivity when it comes to politics or elections. All interests matter and are important. When I wanted to run for a second term as governor in 2014, I ensured that even the bigwigs of the opposition party joined us. I rallied everybody because we knew how important it was to have a strong and formidable party going into the elections. That was why we were able to achieve success.
“But in a situation when some individuals decide to exclude some people, ostracise them and want to even throw them out of the party, that is what you would get.
“I have no power or control over the decision of where anyone wishes to vote or support in a political contest. Politicians or party men and women constitute only 10 per cent of the electorate. The success of any election rests on the level of how people are able to embrace others irrespective of their convictions.
“People tend to forget so quickly that their politics of hate and exclusion started in October, 2020, when some of our people wanted to celebrate the 10 years of progressive administration in Osun. That was when they started their campaign of calumny against us, saying our presence in the state for that event would cause chaos.
“That narrative was everywhere in the media. They were always jittery of our presence in the state, and we were shocked to witness in the same party we strived and laboured to build.
“They never wanted us, and our existence gave them constant headaches.
“In order not to create confusion as to who I was supporting or supported in the governorship election, I had to stay away. It was the same set of people who did not want us to be in the party that later attributed their loss to us. Isn’t that funny?
“You said we were inconsequential and still said we were the reason why you lost. Is that not double speaking?”
‘Why I launched Omoluabi Caucus’
Aregbesola stressed that the recently launched Omoluabi Caucus was not a faction of the party but a movement of like minds to further strengthen its fortunes ahead of the 2026 governorship election in the state.
He explained that since all efforts to achieve reconciliation with the dissolution of TOP in December, 2022, were futile, leading to the loss of the party in all elections in the state in 2023, he and his allies decided to relaunch themselves to fully work for the unity and success of the APC.
He explained that, “When we dissolved TOP in December last year, we were expecting genuine and true reconciliation that would allow our party to succeed in the general elections. That was what we were expecting, but they did not reason with us.
“After the elections, we felt the need not to abandon the party we rebuilt from scratch in 2004. We know this is our party. We are sure of where we started and what we continue to represent.
“From what we know, the people love us and our party, with what we represent in terms of good governance and responsible leadership. That is why they have always identified with us.
“That is what we are doing with the Omoluabi Caucus. We hope our colleagues in the party will reason with us this time around so we can forge ahead.”
However, the state chairman of APC, Tajudeen Lawal, described Aregbesola’s defence as baseless and highly deficient.
Lawal queried if it was proper for Aregbesola, the greatest beneficiary of the party at the time as a minister, for whatever reason to refuse to campaign and vote for the party during the last elections.
He faulted the creation of the Omoluabi Caucus by Aregbesola to replace his defunct TOP.
He said, “There is free entry and free exit in any political party. It is either you are with us or you are against us. Whoever is willing to be a member of the APC must be ready to abide by its rules and regulations. It is morally wrong for any person or a group of people to be pretending to be in our party and at the same time working against the interest of the party.
“Is Adelowo, the chairman of the indecorous Omoluabi APC Caucus not aware that a sizeable number of the Aregbesola loyalists in his dissolved TOP have taken employment under the government of Adeleke whom they worked assiduously for his success during the governorship and other elections to the detriment of the APC candidates?
“It is pretty impossible for a servant to serve two masters. The characteristic hallmarks of a virtuous person (Omoluabi) anywhere under the sun are honesty, candidness, bluntness and forthrightness, among other ethos.”
Also, the new APC National Secretary, Basiru Ajibola, sees the action of TOP members as a betrayal and believes that they will not escape natural justice for betraying the party they benefited from.
Basiru said, “Those that had benefited from the party and still betrayed us, we have handed over their matter to God. If you know you are tired of the party, leave, but don’t stay and still work against it. Those that betrayed us are now disappointed.”