Osun state primary elections: Aregbesola and Oyetola:- Usual grumbles from perceived losers
The Osun State governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress has come and gone, but not without the usual grumbles from perceived losers
The gladiators were threatening fire and brimstone just days before the last Saturday’s Osun All Progressives Congress governorship primary. Many indigenes living outside the state had called their kith and kin to stay indoors and avoid being caught in an envisaged web of violence. Osun political issues dominated national discuss for days in anticipation of a big upset.
But an hour after the congress kicked off across the state, all danger signs vanished, leaving one of the two groups locked in supremacy battle in severe lamentation, sighting irregularities in the exercise. However, there were signs that the incumbent governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, was coasting home to a landslide victory in the APC governorship primary against Moshood Adeoti, known to be the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola’s candidate, and Lasun Yusuf. The race was not as keenly contested as expected.
Maybe if the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, had not openly declared support for the man that served his administration as Secretary when he held sway as the governor of Osun State, Moshood Adeoti, against Oyetola, who was seeking the APC governorship ticket, the outcome could have been different. Aregbesola, a tested politician of no mean repute, has not only carved a niche for himself in the political history of Osun, being the only man till date, that would serve two terms as governor and successfully superintend the election of a successor. After the Ijebu-Jesa declaration where Aregbesola not only endorsed Adeoti as the man to replace Oyetola on the ballot bearing APC ticket in the July governorship poll, but also threw jabs at his political godfathers, ex-Lagos governor, Senator Bola Tinubu and ex-Osun governor, Bisi Akande, the stake could not have been higher.
Closely following the declaration of support for Adeoti was the controversial incident of shooting by some security men in the convoy of the minister in Old Garage area of Osogbo that raised some dust which remained unsettled after many days. In the two rallies held by Aregbesola’s group in Iwo and Ikire to mobilise votes for Adeoti ahead of the governorship primary, the ex-governor gave reasons why Oyetola should not be the candidate bearing the APC flag in the governorship poll.
Strong words coming from Aregbesola, coupled with the intimidating crowd that attended the two major rallies his group held ahead of the primary election, would send no little jitters down the spine of even the bravest supporter of Oyetola as the day for the primary election drew near. But from Oyetola’s end, strong words from his predecessor pointing at the exit door for him in the gubernatorial contest was met with almost dead silence, save for replies cum clarification occasionally offered by his Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere. Many APC members in attendance had concluded that both former SSG, Adeoti, and the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf, would not attend the stakeholders meeting called by the Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq-led governorship primary committee on the eve of the exercise. The stakeholders meeting attended by many bigwigs, including Governor Oyetola, had barely commenced after a few minutes delay before the Secretary of the committee, Senator Julius Ucha, craved indulgence to delay take-off of the meeting for the two other aspirants to join, when Yusuf entered in company of few aides.
The atmosphere at the meeting held within the premises of the APC state secretariat amidst tight security, however, became more charged, when Adeoti, who came in few minutes after Yusuf, in company of Rasaq Salinsile, the chairman of the faction in Osun APC supported by Aregbesola, the chairman of The Osun Progressives, Lowo Adebiyi, joined the meeting.
Addressing the aspirants and their supporters, Governor Abdulrasaq, having observed how tense the atmosphere was, described the contest as a family affair and urged members of the party to come out in large numbers to vote for their preferred aspirant.
He said, “We have communicated necessary information to all the aspirants and that was done through SMS, WhatsApp and other means, and all the aspirants have shown willingness to come. They were informed to come with 10 supporters and their agents in the 332 wards. We came here in peace. Our party is a peaceful party and we are going to do everything to ensure that peace is maintained throughout the entire process. Fairness, equity, justice, credibility and peace are our watchwords.
“I want you all to come out peacefully and in large numbers to vote for your preferred aspirant. What we are looking for is peace and I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned to ensure a peaceful, free and fair exercise. To us as a committee, peace, love, unity and oneness are our watchwords. Let’s be our brother’s keepers. What we should be celebrating are peace, love and oneness and as we are moving into the field, we should go in peace. We are here to do justice to all aspirants.”
Speaking, Adeoti lamented the unavailability of the party’s membership register that would be used for the exercise, just as Adebiyi, the chairman of TOP, also said state political appointees should not be engaged as local government returning officers.