A group within the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) has informed the national leadership of the party that Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, governor of the state, is ruining the party’s fortunes in the eyes of members and generality of the people. The group, which claims to be made up of opinion leaders of the party and calls itself the Concerned Group of APC, leveled the charge against the governor in a letter addressed to the APC National Chairman, Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun. Dated 15 February and signed 12 of its members, the letter, exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, said the fortunes of the APC in the state have been dipping since 2014 when it was formed.
“It is sad to note that our party has witnessed serial losses in many of the elections conducted in the state since 2014. We, therefore, reviewed the situation and wish to passionately bring our review to the notice of the National Secretariat of our party, the Presidency being the overall leadership institution of our party, and the just constituted national Reconcilia tory/Mediatory Committee of APC.
“This is with a view to charging all these agencies to take urgent steps to avert further decimation and loss of our party, most especially as the state is preparing for another governorship election in September 2018,” said the group.
Tracing the history of the APC, the opinion leaders said the party has progressive roots represented by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the South-West. Whether in AD and ACN, the leaders added, progressive candidates always won elections. But since 2014, when the APC was born, it has consistently lost elections in Osun State.
The losing trend, according to them began with the loss of House of Representatives seats in Obokun/Oriade and Ife Federal Constituencies in 2015. Next up was that of a bye-election into the House of Assembly for Ife Central Constituency in 2016. This was followed by the loss of the senatorial election in Osun State West Senatorial District in 2017,
The opinion leaders blamed the losses on Mr. Aregbesola’s decimation of the party structure in the state.This, they explained, to the form of replacing the structures recognized by the party constitution with groups loyal to the governor, which usurped the functions of the party structure, including the State Executive Council.
“Among these groups are Oranmiyan, Osun Positive Force (QPF), De’ Rauf, The Legacy, Victory Group and Aregbesola Vanguard Group. All these groups are linked to the governor, as they are headed and often issued instructions through his government officials and friends such as Dr, Bashiru Ajibola, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney- —General of Osun State,” lamented the leaders.
They claimed that the groups are more powerful than the party and on many occasions, party decisions such as the nomination of candidates for appointment into 2017 local government caretaker committees and nomination to contest in 2018 council elections were done by Dr. Ajibola.
“In these appointments and elections, the only members of those groups scaled through. In some cases where those candidates not affiliated with the groups were not accepted, they were forced on the people,” said the leaders.
They stated that over-dependence on such groups has weakened the party at all levels and divided the party in many local government areas in the state.
“The state party Chairman remains helpless as he cannot establish party supremacy against government’s hijack of the party. Rather than restoring the dignity of the party and practicing all-inclusive party management, the Chairman sheepishly lines up with the government of Mr.Aregbesola, who has replaced constitutional party structure with the groups,” said the leaders.
The effect of this, they added, included the serial losses of the party since 2015 as well as the loss of confidence in the party’s state Executive Council. The Executive Council is also divided into two groups, featuring pliable Executive Council members, have been subsumed by the interest groups.
The leaders also alleged imposition of candidates by Mr. Aregbesola and his supporters, a state of affairs that has provoked hatred towards the imposed. Most appointments such as commissioners and Special Advisers were allocated to Lagos-based politicians. It was an expression of hatred against the imposition that actually led to the serial losses of our party in the previous elections. Both the imposition and the disaffection were clearly expressed in the last senatorial bye-election, which our party lost to Mr. Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party against the imposed former senator, Mr Hussain Mudashiru, who represented our party in that election,” said the leaders.
The pattern, they equally stated, was repeated in the 2018 council elections, where those who triumphed at the primaries were not allowed to stand for elections.As such, rivers of bad blood were created between those affected and the governor. Mr. Aregbesola and his cronies have cold-shouldered local party leaders such as Messrs. Lasun Yussuff, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives; Moshood Adeoti and Fatai Diekola.
The disaffected APC leaders noted that Mr. Aregbesola has been working against the interest of the party at the national level.
“The last Ondo State gubernatorial election clearly showed that Mr. Aregbesola worked against the national interest of our party. Aregbesola’s hatred for the national interest of our party was clearly demonstrated when one of his strongest commissioners, Mr. Bola Ilori, acted as the Director-General for Mr. Olusola Okeke, a candidate of the AD in that election.
“Though the APC candidate won the election, the fracture, which Mr. Aregbesola caused for our party in that election is yet to be healed. In his disdainful manner, our party in Osun state was further insulted when Mr. Aregbesola still appointed Mr. Bola Ilori as a Commissioner for Regional Integration,” said the leaders.
Mr. Ilori, they alleged, is an AD chieftain of in Ondo State and a commissioner in Osun State. This action legitimizes anti-party behavior,” They stated in the letter.
As a result, APC members saw nothing wrong in voting against their party’s candidate in the last senatorial that was poll in the state against the candidate imposed by the governor because he had set an example in the Ondo State gubernatorial election.
Mr. Aregbesola’s opaque politics, the leaders stated, has created an intemperate climate of opinion around him among the people of the state. “The critical mass is particularly dissociated from the government of Mr. Aregbesola. This critical mass includes the National Union of Local Government Employees, Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Association of Pensioners, National Union of Teachers and the Nigerian Medical Association among others.
“They have had worst treatment between 2013 and 2018 when they do not receive regular salaries and emoluments.. Traditional council of Obas and community chiefs in Osun state are also unfriendly with Mr. Aregbesola,” said the leaders. They claimed that the council accused Mr. Aregbesola of not taking care of the monarchs’ welfare. Among those angry with the governor, they said, are Timi of Ede, Ooni of Ife, Ogiyan of Edinboro and Apetu of Ipetumodu.
Similarly angry with Mr. Aregbesola, alleged the leaders, are the religious groups, who consider him two-faced.
Despite the tough climate, the members said Mr. Aregbesola’s misconduct has not affected the reputation of the party in the state. This, they attributed to the absence of credible opposition to the APC in the state as yet.
“The public concern is simply no images of Mr. Aregbesola should be sighted in the governance of Osun State in 2018,” they said.
The leaders called on the national leadership to ensure free and fair primaries in the choice of candidate for 2018 governorship election. They also maintained that congresses are yet to be held. The group also demanded that the results of the must be valued the results of the elections must be rejected.