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Oyo APC Crisis worsens as Shittu rages, trades tantrums

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head South West Bureau) and Sunday Agboluaje (Ibadan)
16 December 2018   |   4:27 am
The outburst of the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu that he would not work for the success of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election in Oyo State ...

Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communication

• He Must Be Hallucinating, Please Wake Him From Slumber – Party

The outburst of the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu that he would not work for the success of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election in Oyo State has exposed the level of disenchantment and the extent some chieftains would go to fight for their personal interests.

Some party leaders have expressed disappointment that a serving Minister could ever consider not to work for the overall interest of his party, while some of his loyalists believe he was right to react in that manner considering how was “disgraced out of the governorship primary that produced the candidate of the party,” Chief Bayo Adelabu.

Shittu had flooded the state with campaign billboards and posters before the primaries but was screened out for not presenting his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate. He has since approached the court to challenge that decision.

But Shittu’s travails in the APC did not start with his ambition to govern the state. At the formation of the party in 2014, which brought him from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to join elements in the then ACN, Shittu has been in contest over control of party machinery with Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

While the political rivalry was still hot, Shittu was made Minister, with the support of Ajimobi and APC leaders in the state. Even as a Minister he was not properly integrated into the inner caucus of the party, the reason many still see him as an outcast in the APC.

Critics have blamed his travails on what they perceive as arrogance, self-centeredness and the positions he had taken on some critical issues in the state. Thus, he was unable to penetrate the inner workings of the party in the state.For many months he was in “war of words” with Ajimobi, who specifically assured all that Shittu did not stand any chance to succeed him. Shittu countered that he would succeed Ajimobi without his support.

For Shittu, the manner he was screened out of the governorship race was the handiwork of Ajimobi to pave way for his anointed candidate and he is ready to fight the battle to a logical conclusion.However, the embattled Minister was not the only stakeholder that was aggrieved. A good chunk of its membership known as Unity Forum had also left to populate the African Democratic Congress (ADC). Senator Femi Lanlehin emerged as the governorship candidate of that party. Though, former governor of the state, High Chief Rasheed Ladoja, was the one who gave verve to the rise of ADC in Oyo State, he too had left to join the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) on the excuse that he was not consulted before the deputy governorship candidate of the party was chosen.

Shittu has left nobody in doubt that he was not happy with the APC, and has pledged to work for re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. Indeed, he rented a magnificent edifice at Mokola Area of Ibadan and declared it as the South West Headquarters of Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo Support group, but the office was vacated after he lost out in the primaries. His Spokesperson, Tajudeen Kareem told The Guardian that he was not vacating the office but he wanted to change the furniture to a befitting set. But the management of the property hinted The Guardian that the Minister did not renew the rent after the one year he paid for elapsed and he vacated the office. ‘To Let’ is already placed in the frontage of the edifice the Minister had planned to use for the coordination of Southwest support for Buhari.

To resolve the crisis, the Minister had proposed to the national leadership of the party to reconsider their decision and give him the governorship ticket and he would reciprocate their gesture by making Adelabu his running mate.

But a party source described his proposal as “unrealistic” and advised the Minister to wake up from his slumber. The source said: “He is not just being unrealistic but laughable. We can’t imagine how he thinks or what has come out of him. He must be hallucinating and please wake him up from his slumber.”

However, the leadership of the party was not under the illusion that all its chieftains were happy with the manner the primaries were conducted in some state, the reason why a Reconciliation Committee was set up for each geopolitical zone to pacify all aggrieved members and make them work for the success of the party in the 2019 general election.

If the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima-led committee in charge of the Southwest had thought Shittu, would honour their invitation because the man is a self-confessed Buharist, they got a shocker with his declaration to work against success of Adedibu.

The visibly angry Minister said: “I will be a bastard to be defrauded in a party primary election and behave as if I am a slave. They asked us to pay N22m (for nomination form) and didn’t advertise any condition other than what was provided in the constitution.

“After we have been screened and certified, the chairman of our party unilaterally and in violation of the Constitution got me out of the way so that they could impose a newcomer on the party, somebody who was barely two months in the APC. You cannot expect me at my level to support such candidate. I believe I gave enough warning. Before you talk of reconciliation, you must talk of restitution.”

“As for me, I don’t recognise the candidate of APC. I am in court and I believe I will triumph over those who were less than intelligent to foist a stranger on our party in Oyo State. Of course they had the opportunity and they missed it and the party will certainly pay for it.”

Shittu who said he was ready to fight the “injustice” to the end said he was not bothered by any sanction from the party. He said, “I have passed that stage where any party will be threatening me. The loss is not mine but that of the people of Oyo State who deserve the best in governance. We are not going to beg them, they can go to blazes. If justice is not done, there will not be peace. If people will not talk about restitution, we will not talk about reconciliation. Somebody felt he had money from shadowy source and you sold the ticket to him,”

Reacting to the threat by the Minister to work against the party, the Director of Media and Publicity Secretary of the APC in Oyo State Dr. Abdulazeez Olatunde said the party was not bothered with his “ranting” describing him as a political Lilliputian in Oyo State.

He said the party constituted committee for each zone and he did not honour their invitation, meaning that he doesn’t have any complaint. The party will deal with his threat accordingly.“We do not even know his ward in Saki. He contested many times, what were the results? His appointment as a Minister was a surprise. He can’t be in APC and be working against the party. When the time comes, the party will know how to deal with the issue.

“I want to believe that he is saying that for a cosmetic purpose.  If he engages in anti-party activities, he is a lawyer and he knows the implication of his action. If you work against the interest of your party, the party has the machinery to deal with that.

“ Shittu is a creation of the media, he has not got any political influence. We don’t know his ward in Saki. As a Minister, we expect someone who is as lucky as that to build on that position.  But unfortunately, he is not doing that.”

In the thoughts of the Welfare Officer of the APC in Oyo State, Hon.Taiwo Ige, Shittu has immensely benefited from the party without an input.  He is not the owner of the party and cannot impose himself on members. “We don’t know much about him, he has not been participating in party activities despite being a Minister and in government. We will be very happy if he quits. He has always been very controversial in a negative way. “The noise he made was to attract attention and sympathy. His exit from the party will be a welcome development and good riddance.”

To the Majority Leader of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Kehinde Subair, the utterances and disposition of the Minister show that he does not know what is doing.He said, “Somebody working for APC government at the federal level cannot be saying such, he has to leave the position he is holding before he can do that.  Party supremacy must be observed. The office is holding is under the APC

“ Also, if the Minister is aggrieved he should go to court. His comments fall short of expectations and we thought he should know better.”But one of the staunch supporters of the Minister, Mr. Muyiwa Bashiru said Shittu was right in his reaction to the manner he was treated by the party.

Bashiru said: “His position is the best, the party has made a mockery of him. You cannot build something on nothing. We would not allow that to happen. He spoke the mind of majority of APC members in Oyo State and we have started working against the party in the governorship election.

“We shall work for Buhari. The national leader of the party should address why many people are leaving the APC in Oyo State. The Unity Forum has a large chunk of members; they have left because of the way Ajimobi and Oshiomhole are carrying on with the party. They should never think that Adelabu will become the governor because nobody will vote for him.”

But Tajudeen Kareem warned that the Minister should not be quoted out of context. He said: “He didn’t say he would work against the party. He only said that he would not campaign for Adelabu. And he said this because the matter is still in court.”

Responding to Shittu’s critics that the party would not miss him if he leaves Kareem said: “Anybody who knows his antecedent will not say that. This is the man that started politics under the tutelage of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige in 1978. A two-time Commissioner, somebody that has served in the Board of many parastatals and a well-known politician. I am not saying he does not have his own idiosyncrasies, but he is an experienced politician with grassroots supports.”