How Aregbesola’s return unsettled Oyetola, renewed battle for Osun APC soul
The recent return of the immediate past Minister of Interior and former governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to Osogbo has aggravated internal crisis ravaging All Progressives Congress (APC), as he is showing readiness to lead the party ahead of the 2026 governorship election in the state.
This is coming as the immediate past governor of the state, Gboyega Oyetola, who has been enmeshed in serious feud with Aregbesola, has vowed never to allow Aregbesola and other APC chieftains, who were alleged to have contributed to his loss at the July 16, 2022 governorship election, gain relevance in the party.
Aregbesola maintains a handful of party members, who broke away from the mainstream party in Oyetola’s control. These loyalists of Aregbesola have been yearning for their leader to return to the state and assume the leadership of the party. Consequently, they have been making a case for restructuring of the entire structure of Osun APC to accommodate them for possible takeover.
Aregbesola, upon his arrival to the state, has also called for the restructuring of the State Working Committee (SWC) to accommodate various interests. In fact, the former Minister did not hide his readiness for this mission, as he declared that he would be touring all villages and towns in Osun alongside his top loyalists to garner support for the party and shore up membership for real politicking.
Before Aregbesola’s arrival, Oyetola’s camp had canvased repositioning of the party. In fact, during the inauguration of the 11 man-committee to reposition the party by Oyetola in Osogbo, the immediate past Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Timothy Owoeye, asked the committee to do a thorough job and ensure that all those who acted as saboteurs against the party during the last poll were punished.
Some other chieftains of the party, who spoke during the well-attended inauguration, advocated suspension of those they believed frustrated the chances of Oyetola and other APC public office seekers who lost elections to candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Oyetola’s supporters are waiting for the recommendations of the repositioning committee, Aregbesola’s camp are already strategising on how to woo more members to its side to take control of the party. No doubt, both ex-governors have their supporters as the stage is set for what many key political observers describe as the final showdown for the soul of Osun APC.
With this fresh struggle for control of the APC, watchers of political events in the state have said that the feud between Oyetola and Aregbesola may not end soon. More so, as President Bola Tinubu, was said not to be picking calls of some critical stakeholders working to reconcile the “war lords”.
Some key stakeholders within Oyetola’s wing also doubted the willingness of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who, they said, Aregbesola had once called unprintable names in public and derided to intervene in the crisis, saying the past minister did not apologise properly.
Indeed, some party chieftains who are loyal to Oyetola’s camp are already rooting for Aregbesola’s banishment from the party, despite his plea for remission.
Before Aregbesola’s homecoming, loyalists of Oyetola had held him at the jugular and declared him persona non-grata in the state. But they couldn’t stop him from returning to his state of origin as he was ushered into the state in grand style by his supporters.
Addressing his supporters at Freedom Park arena in Osogbo, Aregbesola begged for forgiveness from those he might have offended, saying he would not beg anyone again. The former governor said his advice to his successor (Oyetola) was misinterpreted and caused disagreement in the party.
Aregbesola acknowledged the sacrifices some aggrieved APC members made for the successes his administration recorded when he was the governor of the state. He, however, sought forgiveness from anyone who felt aggrieved and also paid tribute to President Tinubu, for allowing him to serve as a commissioner in Lagos State before helping him to emerge as governor in Osun State.
Aregbesola, who spoke in Yoruba said: “I am here today for reconciliation. Some of the things I did that made you love me—I’m not the only person who did those things. The people who turned themselves into enemies today took part in it with me.
“Even though in the last four years, the devil wanted to use some of our people, after the Supreme Court judgment in 2020, we were together in this place (Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo), where we called on our people to be united.
“I said on that day I had done my own and handed over to the person I wanted, but I warned that it was then left for the person I handed over to be a good person and that I would be the king’s father. That was what they misinterpreted. I didn’t ask them for anything, and with all I did then, they didn’t want to be with us, but if there is any other sin I don’t know about, I seek forgiveness.”
Speaking on the return of Aregbesola and his call for restructuring of the party, spokesperson to Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan said: “While in Abuja, he never participated in any election here in Osun. He never showed any iota of concern for Osun as a minister during the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic. It is on record that as a member of the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, Aregbesola behaved as though Osun needed no support from the Federal Government to the extent that after Osun successfully contained the famous Ejigbo 127 Ivory Coast returnees, he almost forced another set on the state.
“If the so-called ‘welcome home’ gathering is to re-launch himself back to political reckoning, I think Aregbesola and those behind it have missed the point again.
“But if it is to continue his political war against the party and persons that brought him to political reckoning, it is a good start. Unfortunately, he and those behind it may not go far either, unless the Osun State PDP government is willing and ready to fund the political war. Historically speaking, since 1999, those that are today waging war on the progressives in Osun have never spent their personal money to advance any political cause. They have always relied on Tinubu’s financial war chest and government money. Once these two sources of funding are blocked, give them six months from now, the market will cease to exist and the traders will go their separate ways.”
Speaking in the same vein, the immediate past spokesperson of the Nigerian Senate, Ajibola Basiru, questioned the membership of Aregbesola in Osun APC, and said the former Minister is no longer recognised as a political leader in the major opposition party. He said Aregbesola failed to work for the party during the last elections, as he was not around to vote. The former lawmaker said, “Aregbesola was my leader.”
Basiru said he had, before the 2022 governorship election in the state where Oyetola lost, warned Aregbesola against factionalisation of the party and that Aregbesola should not take steps that may lead to “mutual destruction.”
The former lawmaker said he had in a letter to Aregbesola titled: “Position paper on the state of the party in Osun,” dated March 8, 2021, warned the former minister against factionailising the party, saying, “I was shocked that some of our people are planning on defecting to PDP, and in fact, are already holding meetings with them.
“There is absolutely no reason to have a parallel structure since, to the best of my knowledge, we clearly have no candidate to field for 2022. I believe that without an open declaration of open contestation and the attendant possible acrimony some of our people who are committed to work in their areas will emerge in their respective wards and local governments.
“Unnecessary public utterances (either in conventional or social media) should be absolutely avoided even in the face of provocation and unwarranted attack. Such attacks are not effective against a settled popularity and calculated distraction. I think we should approach the political processes and developments tactfully and not to take drastic steps that may irreversibly lead to possible mutual destruction,” Basiru in the letter had said.
Basiru noted that there is no reconciliation in the party, rather, Osun APC would reposition. Apart from Basiru, some leaders of the party are already mounting pressure on the repositioning committee headed by the former Minister of Health and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI) Prof. Isaac Adewole to sack Aregbesola to avoid polarisation of the party.
The Guardian gathered that Oyetola’s camp is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that Aregbesola does not take control of the party. Although Oyetola is yet to react to Aregbesola’s apology, his allies have dismissed the former Minister’s plea for mercy.
The Elders’ Forum of the party known as ‘Igbimo Agba’ has called on Aregbesola to re-tender his apology to the leadership of the party for his actions.
The chairman of the group, Sola Akinwumi, in a press release signed by him, stated that the decision was arrived at after a wide consultation with the body’s members, where they resolved that the former Minister’s apology was not genuine.
“The APC Osun State chapter remains intact while the leadership is exploring all avenues towards ensuring a united and focused party.
“It has come to the knowledge of this body some comments made by the Former Governor/Minister of Interior H/E. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola during his recent event in Osun State and wish to inform the public that our Party’s door is opened to any Party member who is ready to apologise genuinely to the party for his/her misdeeds.
“Finally, this body deeply appreciates all committed and loyal members for their unwavering and firm support for the party despite all odds,” the statement read.
Aregbesola had declared that he would not apologise to anyone again, adding that he returned to Osun for full politics and restructuring of the party.
While speaking at a reception luncheon organised in his honour by his supporters in the state, he charged members of the major opposition party to brace up for real politicking, apparently ahead of the 2026 governorship election in the state, and directed all his supporters to reawaken themselves for “real business of politics.”
Aregbesola noted that having successfully completed his duty as a Minister, he now has abundant time to face politics in the state, adding that the nooks and crannies of the state would be visited for mobilisation.
While addressing guests at the event, which included traditional rulers, market women’, politicians, captains of industries and other stakeholders in the state, the former Minister said, “Politics has started in full force. We will be visiting communities and towns in this state. Politics is our business. It’s time.
“There is now time for real politics. I now have full time for politics. There is no place we won’t touch. Let’s brace up,” he said.
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