Why Osun APC factions difficult to reconcile, Salinsile
Factional chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State, Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile in this interview with TIMOTHY AGBOR in Osogbo, spoke on why reconciliation of factions has been difficult, seven months to the governorship election and disclosed that genuine members of APC will not allow the party to lose the election to the opposition.
With the declaration of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola two weeks ago, it is now official that the APC is divided in Osun State. What is the implication of this crisis to your party, less than seven months to governorship election?
A serious political party will first talk about putting its house in order before talking about elections, whether that election is four years away or four months away.
The Minister of Interior did not say anything new when he just acknowledged me as the chairman of his own faction of APC in Osun unless you want the former governor to indulge in self-delusion and Aregbesola that I know is not one given to deceiving himself. Where there are problems, he admits there are problems so solutions can be provided and then there is progress.
Even the blind knows that all is not well with APC in Osun excepts perhaps Governor Gboyega Oyetola who keeps living in denial of what is obvious to all and those cronies who have caged him and made it impossible for him to remember how tortuous his election in 2018 was as a result of people’s total rejection of his candidature at the time.
So, if the election is six months away and the man who wants to seek re-election believes that digging deeper the trenches of division and sending thugs after aggrieved members is the way to go, do you want the Minister, a former governor who had set the process in motion for rapid development of the state to be deceiving himself that all is well with the party? No! All is not well with APC in Osun State.
But what exactly is the grouse of your faction? Is it just about Aregbesola, who served his eight years not having the control of the party and the governor?
Inequality is the root cause of every instability. You cannot have the kind of lopsidedness in a party as you now have in Osun APC and you assume all will be well. Even if it is not written in any Constitution, it is generally agreed that for the sake of fairness and equity, there are some positions that are distributed across the state especially on the basis of senatorial district just as you have it on the basis of geo-political zones at the national level.
For instance, it is agreed that the governor and the Chairman of the party cannot come from the same district. It was on that basis that the party members, including people from his own town, who were mindful of the injustice it would amount to, rejected Oyetola vehemently and the future dislocations it could cause for the party and the state. He was rejected mostly because he comes from Osun Central where Chief Bisi Akande and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola had a combined tenure of about 11 years. So, if Aregbesola who was completing his 8 years from Osun East was leaving, it was logical for the people of Osun West to produce Aregbesola’s successor. But if those ambition and desire and expectations were killed by the powers that be for your candidature to sail through, is it fair again for you to assume power and still use that power to now run down and oppress those who dropped their own desires and aspirations for your own to fly? After your emergence, people still felt okay; let the party restructure itself to have its chairman from Osun West since the governor has come from Osun Central. You refused. You now have a situation where both the governor and Chairman of the party are form the same Senatorial district, same federal constituency and the same State Constituency.
And people are saying no! In the interest of fairness, equity and sense of belonging, you cannot have both. And from that point, you have tried to kill the party. The former chairman, to whom I served as secretary, Gboyega Famodun, reduced the party to his personal property and we were no longer holding meetings.
The morale of the party leaders went down and that continued till we had congresses last year where I emerged the chairman. But in their own parallel congress, they have kept him as the chairman. But for the struggles and determination of committed members, Osun people would by now have forgotten APC.
What is the place of the Minister of Interior in all of these?
The biggest mistake some people who fail to seek information about this whole Osun APC crisis make is that they reduce it all to the former governor. That is a grave error. Get this right! The issue in Osun APC is not all about Aregbesola. And Aregbesola himself does not claim these are all about him. This is about the ordinary members of the party, who go to the polling units at every election to vote and defend their votes. The party is about its people, its members, not about their leaders. Even if you now want to publicly apologise to Aregbesola about your wrong doings in the last three years and more, you must have what you will tell the party loyalists in their millions who already feel that your style of governance and party administrations are completely alien to the values that APC stands for? You don’t get the mandate of the people and the first thing you do is to alienate those party faithful and then also embark on moves that are inimical to the progress that the party had already recorded.
Oyetola was picked in 2018 much to the displeasure and distaste of majority of party members. If you say he was forced on the party, you are right and you can as well go find out those behind that forced candidature.
Our party suffered a huge haemorrhage as party chieftains left in droves over their dead bodies would an Oyetola be the candidate of the party.
But then, many of us pleaded with the people to obey the choice of the party and with that we went into the election. And you know how torturous that was. And months after becoming the governor, your first project is to begin to identify those you feel you must reduce to nothing in the party. And these are all those who fought tooth and nail to ensure that your rejected candidature did not bring the party to shame at the end of it all.
At the rate your party is going, are you not afraid you might just be playing into the hands of the opposition?
The whole struggle in APC today is to avert what you have just stated; not playing into the hands of the opposition. Sadly, the more you drum it into the ears of those who should listen and take actions, the more they dig deeper into the trenches. You cannot be a governor seeking re-election and you go about arresting your party members across the state and getting the police to lock them up. Our people have even lost count of arrests and detentions now in the last three months. I myself have been arraigned in court on trumped up charges. And I was the secretary of the party until our congress where I emerged as the chairman.
This week, you have seen APC members who have been illegally arrested in Ikirun and sent to prison. Is that governor not working for the opposition? We were in Ikirun for the Federal Constituency meeting of the party. They sent thugs after us. But our people resisted them after a while and unfortunately for them, as they were escaping, one of them was caught. He was handed over to the security agencies.
A few angry youths in the area had dealt him some blows because they saw how elderly women and men, many of them in their seventies and eighties, were beaten by these hoodlums.
Midnight of Tuesday, they started moving from one house of the APC leaders to the other to arrest them. And ironically, they arrested those who led the resistance against the thugs. What is Oyetola promoting? Lawlessness of course! They went on a kangaroo arraignment on Wednesday and before you could say Jack, the five of them arrested had been sent to Ilesa Prison. The party is divided and the governor knows he does not have the party members and the people of Osun behind him. I think that is why each time our faction of the party meets, you send thugs after us.
Some weeks ago, our members were meeting in Ife, thugs went there to attack them. Some weeks ago, the party wanted to organise a walk for fitness, you called the police to prevent that from happening.
Where do all these lead your party?
That would not be the first time. It happens every day. We were in Osogbo at the campaign office sometimes last year when they sent thugs to come and shoot into the crowd. The video is everywhere on Social media. It was in the daylight. They attacked our people in Ile-Ife and till date, no one has been brought to book. The APC is a party that peaches order and law. During the tenure of Aregbesola, the peace in the state was acknowledged across Nigeria and not only in Osun as the most peaceful state. Even area boys and their accomplices knew that the government of the day was not to be joked with. If you lived on thuggery, you must relocate from Osun. But today, Oyetola is making it look like APC celebrates thuggery. No, those are not the values of APC. Thugs attacked us, and the people resisted them. Now, you have left those thugs to be roaming the streets and you arrested law abiding party members. What does that tell you? And as for your question where that leads the party, you too can answer.
Why does the crises defy solutions despite efforts of the reconciliation committee of the National office of your party?
It is not the crisis that defies reconciliation, it is those who assume that they have the instrument of coercion and think that is enough to force party members to embrace all their shenanigans who are making reconciliation impossible. You cannot arrogate all powers to yourself and leave members of the party who worked tirelessly for the party out there and think there will be reconciliation. You cannot promote injustice and think you will enjoy the support of members. The national reconciliation committee brought all political office holders into the Government House as if the reconciliation was a wedding reception or a party for political office holders. Is the next election about the people or about the few political office holders that you arranged to sit down before the reconciliation committee? Are you telling yourself the truth about the state of the party? And many of the political appointees, your State Executive Council members, what are they saying behind you that they are afraid to say before you. Once serving Commissioners feel aggrieved within the government but are afraid to talk about the difficulties they are having with the assignments and their people back in their constituencies, know that the governor has a huge problem. Do you think you can entrust the next election into the hands of such executive members? People who themselves feel that you run a government where less than 8 of your commissioners feel they are part of the government in the real sense of the word.
What is the way out?
The case of APC in Osun is like that of the story of two women disputing over who is the true mother of a child. The king suggested that the child be cut into two so each woman goes away with half. The true mother said they should give the disputed child to the interloper. She preferred the child lives to be of age rather than be killed. Of course, the interloping mother agreed to cut the child, since there is no motherly feelings and bond.
The essence of my illustration is that the true owners of APC, who knows how we struggled to take over Osun 11 years ago after many years of pre-election and post-election struggles, will not want APC to loose control of the state. But to those who see the party and the governor as mere platforms for personal aggrandisement, of course, all is game. They don’t care. Some of them are already saying the governor has a profile of being a governor already and saying that at almost 70, what else does he want.
If the opposition defeats the party, the government of the opposition will welcome them. It is that bad! The only way out is for the national headquarters to listen to the voice of the members of this party in their millions and not just the deception being packaged for them by the few who are holding positions.