An uneasy calm has settled over Osun State as the All Progressives Congress holds its governorship primary on Saturday (today).
The tension is a result of a fierce battle for the sole ticket of the party between the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola and a former Secretary to the State Government, Moshood Adeoti.
Adeoti, a former state chairman of the party, is the anointed candidate of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Ironically, Oyetola was the chief of staff to Aregbesola when the latter served as governor of the state for eight years.
However, the relationship between the governor and the minister has deteriorated to the extent that they now belong to different camps of the party in the state.
Aregbesola has vowed that the incumbent would not be allowed to serve another term.
Also in the race is a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf.
On Friday, a convoy of about 30 trucks of combined security team comprising soldiers, police, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps and operatives of the Department of State Services moved around major areas in Osogbo, the state capital in a show of force.
Tension has been on the rise since the beginning of the week when Aregbesola at the APC stakeholders meeting held at Ijebu-Jesha, declared Adeoti as his aspirant for the governorship position and asked members of the party to support him.
Also on the same day, the convoy of the minister was involved in a shooting while passing through Old Garage end of Osogbo.
The incident led to accusations and counter-accusations between Aregbesola’s men and Osun State Government. Also, the issue led to an exchange of words between the police and the NSCDC, as both agencies gave different accounts of what happened during the incident.
While the NSCDC, Osun Command, said operatives of the agencies in the convoy of the minister shot into the air when his convoy came under attack, the police in a statement by the Osun command’s spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, insisted that security men attached to the minister shot without provocation.
The shooting incident also led to a protest by members of the National Association of Osun State Students at the NSCDC command headquarters, as the students accused the operatives of being used as political tools by the former governor.
Supporters of Aregbesola, led by the factional APC chairman, Rasaq Salinsile, had also protested at the police headquarters in the state demanding the removal of the commissioner of police, Wale Olokode.
During the tour to local government areas recently concluded by Oyetola, he called for support of members of the party. Analysts say the warm reception he got in most places visited could be suggestive of a favourable outing.
However, the large attendance at rallies held by Aregbesola in Iwo and Ikire might be an indication that the contest may be tougher than expected.
The camps of Oyetola and Aregbesola have also engaged in a hot exchange of words over the crises in the party.
Speaking in Ikire during the last rally held by Aregbesola’s faction, the former governor accused Oyetola of waging war against him since he was elected governor.
He had said, “I begged him (Oyetola) for two years. I told him that people must not mock us. I told him that he was heading towards destruction. I served this state with the whole of my heart. I also positioned Oyetola so that he could succeed me in office.
“When we came to this town (Ikire) for his campaign, we were drenched in rain from Akire’s palace to this place. He got to the office and claimed I am his enemy. Those who contested against him during our party primary he pulled them closer, while he fights me.
“Since Oyetola assumed office, he has been waging war against me as if I once harmed him. He claimed that I did not want him to emerge as governor. I told him that I heard him and that now he has been governor, what else does he want?
“I begged him for two years. I told him that people must not mock us. I told him that he is heading towards destruction. I begged him for two years. I sent people to help me beg him that he should not love me but he must not fight me, even if he wanted to fight me, he should not abuse me or destroy my legacies.
“All that I warned him not to do were what he did. He opposed what I did, all the things I did together with him for eight years, he opposed and reversed them. He thought he can destroy me through my work; nobody was pushing him, he is the one pushing himself.
“When I observed that he would not listen, I called people together that they should start telling people that progressives family must not be destroyed.
“When Adeoti was angry with us, he did not abuse us. When we refused to do his will, he protested but he never cursed us. We have realised our mistake. That is why we gave him the ticket of our caucus.”
Oyetola didn’t fight Aregbesola – Gov’s aide
But responding, Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, said Aregbesola only expressed personal opinion, insisting that Oyetola did not fight his predecessor.
He said, “Our former principal only expressed a personal opinion which no one was privy to. Oyetola did not fight him. He declared that Oyetola’s tenure was his third term and he wanted to be in charge.
“He also promised those close to him that 80 per cent of them would return as cabinet members which did not happen. The former governor thought his eight years tenure was going to be like an eternity. Now, it has ended but he could not believe that reality. The root cause of the issue (disagreement) is what I just said.”
Amotekun raids hotel harbouring suspected hoodlums
Meanwhile, men of Osun Amotekun Corps on Friday raided some hotels and brothels in some major towns in the state suspected to be harbouring hoodlums where some arrests were made.
A security source, who preferred anonymity, said the raid would continue till Saturday morning (today) to ensure criminals did not have a hiding place ahead of the primary.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, the Field Commander of Osun Amotekun Corps, Amitolu Shittu, confirmed the raid but did not disclose the number of arrests made.
He said, “We had intelligence reports that hoodlums were hiding in some hotels, brothels and we have carried out some raids already. The raiding occurred in some major towns in the state.
“The raid will continue till Saturday morning. We don’t want any criminal to use any part of the state as a hiding place.”
Our correspondent, who went around the state on Friday evening, observed a large presence of police operatives.
In Iwo, buses conveying a large number of policemen were sighted around Olomowewe Local Council Development Area, Ori Eru and Odoori areas all within Iwo metropolis. The same large number of policemen was noticed at Ede, Osogbo, Ipetu Modu, Ikirun, Otan Ayegbanju, Iresi, Ibokun and others.
In Osogbo, there was a large presence of security men at the state secretariat of the party along Osogbo/Gbongan road.
On the eve of the primary election, Ilesa was generally calm with no unusual presence of security men.
Osun monarch laments as violence erupts at APC sensitisation programme
Also, Olowu of Kuta, Oba Adekunle Makama, on Friday alleged stockpiling of arms and ammunition by some people working for politicians across the state.
The monarch’s position was sequel to violent attack by some people on members of APC during a party sensitisation meeting in Kuta on Thursday.
Olowu in a statement he signed, expressed concern over activities of non-state actors who he alleged had infiltrated the state in order to perpetuate violence.
The statement read in part, “The member representing Ayedire Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives and party executives in the local government were having a sensitisation programme when some hoodlums, wielding weapons started shooting sporadically into the defenceless people without any provocation.
“What happened in Kuta yesterday (Thursday) was shocking to everyone. It was the height of irresponsibility. We have never witnessed such brigandage in our area.”
The monarch then admonished politicians and their supporters to eschew violence and called on law enforcement agencies to make more effort and ensure there was no breakdown of law and order as the upcoming election draws nearer.
We’re monitoring border communities, have enough men for poll Police
Osun State Police Command on Friday said it had received more men for deployment during today’s primary.
Its spokesperson, Opalola, during an interview with our correspondent, said attention was also being paid to border communities to ensure that hoodlums were not allowed into the state.
Opalola, however, warned against acts that could jeopardise peace during the exercise, saying policemen that would be on duty across the state had been duly briefed on the expectations from them.
She said, “We are fully prepared for tomorrow exercise. They (police authorities) have sent more hands from neighbouring states. I can’t tell you the actual number of those deployed.
“By God’s grace, we have mounted checks across all boundary communities in the state. They are well fortified. All boundaries are well taken care of, more men have been deployed. No cause for concern. We are fully ready.”
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Similarly, the state command of the NSCDC Corps said its commandant, Emmanuel Ocheja, had given a directive to its men and officers to embark on covert operations following allegations that some people had stockpiled NSCDC uniforms and those of the Nigeria Correctional Service with the intent of distributing them to political thugs for use during the congress.
A statement by the spokesperson for the command, Olabisi Atanda, however, gave the assurance that machinery had been set in motion to clamp down on any impostor or group of impostors that would be daring enough to wear the uniform or any accoutrements of the NSCDC to cause mayhem in the state.
The statement read in part, “We shall provide adequate security and maintain peace in the state at all times. The corps is a neutral and non-partisan organisation whose good name, image and principles were built by dint of hard work, patriotism, excellence in service delivery and huge sacrifice to the nation. We will therefore not allow anyone under any guise to destroy the integrity or progress of the corps but we shall continue to work assiduously to defend our mandate as enshrined in the Act.
“Intelligence and Investigation Department has been mobilised to embark on a covert operation, surveillance investigation, and most importantly, to fish out and prosecute hoodlums who are hell-bent in causing chaos in order to serve as a deterrent to other criminally-minded individuals in the state.”
38 buses conveying thugs already in Osogbo, primary won’t be free –Aregbesola group
Meanwhile, Salinsile, the chairman of the APC faction supported by Aregbesola, has alleged intimidation of members of the group ahead of the primary.
Salinsile, who spoke at a press conference held at Oranmiyan House, Osogbo, alleged that a member of the group, Rasidi Opatola, from Modakeke, had been arrested by the police.
He also said a former Assistant Chief of Staff during the Aregbesola administration, Jimoh Akano, was invited by the police.
He said, “38 buses filled with suspected hoodlums and led by security agents had entered Osogbo. We call on the security agencies to be alive to their responsibility and ensure the safety of lives and property.
“The thugs were conveyed into the state in 38 vehicles at the early hour of today, Friday.
“The vehicles were escorted by a police van into the state through Abere. The governor and his faction, Ileri Oluwa, plan to unleash an attack on members of the party who are loyalists of the Aregbesola in tomorrow’s primary.”
Also speaking, the candidate of the group, Moshood Adeoti, alleged that the poll might not be free because of Oyetola’s membership of the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC.
He said Oyetola’s membership of the caretaker committee was in violation of the provision of Article 31(iii) of the APC constitution (2014) as amended.
Adeoti also queried the changing of the date for the primary from March 5 to February 19.
Despite the perceived anomalies, Adeoti said his supporters would not boycott the exercise.
He also alleged the refusal of the party to release the register of party members that would be used for the primary saying, “If there is no deliberate attempt to manipulate the primary process, it is important to make the membership register available, display it for claims and objections before using it for tomorrow’s primary election or any time it will come up.”
Adeoti said, “We have it on good authority that the NCECPC was influenced by Oyetola to reverse the date to have the primary before the National Convention coming up on February 26, 2022.
“It is believed that Oyetola is afraid of contesting a free and fair primary election to be conducted by an objective committee after the convention.
“In the spirit of fair play, objectivity and natural justice, Governor Oyetola is not supposed to remain in the membership of the NCECPC. What we are witnessing is a case of a thief adjudicating his own case. He can never convict himself.
“My supporters and I are going to participate in the primary election tomorrow. We are not going to boycott. I want to urge all APC members to go to their collation centres in their various wards to vote for me.
“I called on the security agencies in the state to provide adequate security for our people. As said earlier, the governor’s camp is planning violence, but we are resolute and believe that the security agents will act responsibly.”
Don’t be intimidated, we’re fully on ground, Oyetola tells supporters
Meanwhile, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, and the Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Ashiru Olatoye Olaniyan, have reiterated their support for Oyetola.
They said they were resolute to work for his success in the forthcoming governorship election.
The monarchs assured him of their royal backing before, during and after the July 16 governorship election in the State.
This is even as the governor rounded off his strategic engagement tour across the nine Federal Constituencies of the State in Osogbo, the State capital, on Thursday night.
Governor Oyetola had in the last three weeks embarked on a familiarisation visit to each of the 30 Local Government Areas, to identify and solidarise with the newly-elected executives of the APC, in the state.
Receiving the governor in his palace, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, threw his weight behind Oyetola who he described as a promise keeper.
Ataoja said, “You are doing well for all the four towns in Osogbo Traditional Council. I have been sent to commend you for all you have been doing to transform Osun State and give it a new development facelift.
“You have been doing well. You were part of the previous administration where Osogbo was progressing. Our thought was that it would end there when the former administration came to an end.
“But when you came on board, the progress was marvellous. For whatever reason, we will not leave you; we shall continue to be with you.
“We know you are not a noisemaker but a great doer, a performer and a reformer whose passion for the people’s welfare is second to none. You have indeed written your name in the sand of time and your imprints will continue to live forever after your eight years in office.
“One doesn’t need to be told about your monumental achievements across sectors because they are clear enough for the blind to see and audible enough for the deaf to hear.
“Waiting for you till this time since morning is an attestation to the fact that you are a good man. If you are not doing well for us, we won’t wait for you for this long. We have resolved to continue to vote for you. We shall continue to support you. You are doing well.
“You are a promise keeper. I can’t explain how much you have been good to us but I know that God in His infinite mercy will not forsake you but strengthen you and imbue you with more knowledge and wisdom to continue to paddle the ship of our State to the promised land.
“So no matter what the people say, you are the best choice for us at the moment. I am not afraid of anyone except God. You have been answerable to our requests. I am assuring you not to panic.
“Though I don’t have a command over the electorate, I am confident in God that they will support you and vote for you in the next governorship election and you will be returned elected by God’s grace.”
In the same vein, Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Ashiru Olatoye Olaniyan, acknowledged the achievements of the administration of Oyetola, which he described as unprecedented in the history of the State.
Oba Olaniyan who implored the governor to remain steadfast and not be distracted, said, “We are solidly behind you and we are ready to mobilise our subjects to re-elect you.
“I greet you and welcome you warmly into Olobu’s palace. You have never disappointed me and the entire traditional rulers in the state. Coming to my palace is just a necessity to fulfil all righteousness.
“We are aware of the happenings around, particularly within the political class but we are firm and resolute in God because we know that your ambition is God’s promise.
“I urge you to continue the good works you have been doing. All that has been happening is just for you to know God the more. He knows us beyond our imagination. You will continue to rise. You will get there. You will win by the grace of God.
“God will fight for you, your prayers will be answered. You have been doing great for the state. God will reward your good works. You have been so good to me. Please put your mind at rest,” Olobu added.
While addressing the people at the various places visited, Oyetola expressed gratitude to the monarchs and party leaders and members for always being there for him and his government. He promised not to let them down.
“What I have seen here is a sign that we have people, not crowd. It is a sign that by the grace of God we have won. I have visited 30 Local Government Areas and Area Offices, and I did this to let you know how important you are to us.
“We know you are for us. If I may ask, where have those that are contesting gone to? Our visits across the state are signs of seriousness and avowed commitment to ensuring that we consolidate on the good works that God has been helping us to do.
“So, I want you to put your mind at rest. Don’t allow anything or anyone to intimidate you. We are fully on the ground and we shall do everything within the ambit of the law to protect the state and ensure unending peace before, during and after the polls.
“Please, go out in large numbers on Saturday with your membership slips to vote for us, and I assure you that we will not disappoint you”, Oyetola added.
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