In the last one and half years, the Lagos-Osun axis of the Southwest political firmament has been abuzz with riveting tales of a raging cold war between the Interior Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who is immediate past governor of Osun State, and his successor, Governor Gboyega Oyetola.
Inexorably, the supposed tiff has also had its umbilical cord tied to what is perceived as a strained relationship between Yoruba’s political dynamo and National Leader of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Aregbesola.
In the permutation, it is viewed that since Oyetola is Tinubu’s nephew, he would be naturally primed to play the attacking dog’s role, against Aregbesola.
Nonetheless the veracity or otherwise of claims of seething cold war between Tinubu and Aregbesola, top sources in the Lagos chapter of the APC still disclosed that there is now, no love lost between the two politicians.
Yet a third force among the sources, averred that the bottom-line in the clash of the duo was “Aregbesola’s sudden decision to jump out of the bandwagon of Tinubu’s presidential campaigners”.
Tinubu, sources also claimed, in turn took his pound of flesh by knocking off the names of most of Aregbesola’s chairmanship and councillorship candidates in the recently conducted Lagos local government elections.
Besides, it was also gathered that the clash of the two political titans has streamed to Osun, their home-state, and where Aregbesola was governor for eight years.
Governor Oyetola, observers contend, has begun deconstructing Aregbesola, by weeding out most of the latter’s supposed administrative legacies.
One of them, a source remarked, was the governor’s recent cancellation of Aregbesola’s edict mandating pupils in all public schools to wear the same uniform.
Besides, Aregbesola’s policy of mingling sexes in otherwise single-sex schools was also thrown overboard by his successor.
In November last year, Aregbesola had nearly come to clashing with Oyetola when both of them planned separate programmes for the 10 years unbroken record of APC reign in Osun State.
But Aregbesola was eventually persuaded, by the police and some traditional rulers to shelve the programme.
Back in Lagos where Tinubu holds sway, Aregbesola’s advancing influence has particularly begun to dwindle, as Tinubu’s overwhelming structure has effectively checkmated the minister, investigations further revealed.
Sources hinted further that Aregbesola’s Alimosho G-18, which had in recent years been anointed by Tinubu to take charge of nominations of the chairmen, councillors, and Assembly members both at the state and federal levels, was effectively sidelined in the last local government election.
” A simple way Jagaban (Tinubu) used to disarm Aregbesola was to direct that all sitting local government chairmen should do a second term.
“Alarmed, Aregbesola began to plead with Tinubu, as he had many candidates that he intended to bring in as council chairmen,” a source close to the two politicians, and who craved anonymity, disclosed to First News.
Tinubu, the source said, eventually conceded barely 10 percent of slots to Aregbesola, to choose his preferred candidates.
However, it was gathered that what became a sore point in Tinubu’s meagerly allocation to Aregbesola was the dropping of Dr. Oladipo Okeyomi -Aregbesola’s chairmanship candidate for Ojokoro Local Council Development Area.
Okeyomi, who is a security consultant to Aregbesola’s Interior Ministry, had contested the chairmanship seat for a record four times to no avail.
Already, Aregbesola has reportedly reached out to Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, in what is widely believed to be an agenda for paradigm shift in Southwest politics.
In the same vein, he is said to have reached out to the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, with a view to making the latter defect to the APC, and thus strengthen his (Aregebsola’s) camp.
While the perceived clash between Aregbesola and his supposed godson, Oyetola, might have been discussed in hush tones in the past, it became embarrassingly resonant during the last Ward Congresses of the APC in the state.
There were skirmishes between a group loyal to Aregbesola known as “On Top” and another committed to Governor Oyetola.
Both groups were fighting for the soul of the party as the Aregbesola side alleged imposition of candidates by the governor, an allegation which the governor’s aides made spirited efforts to deny.
But from Lagos, Okeyomi has put a lie to claims that Tinubu and Aregbesola have fallen apart.
Okeyomi, who is the leader of a Lagos-based group, Change Agent Foundation International (CAFI), said Aregbesola held Tinubu in high esteem and would not tinker with the idea of wresting power from him or undermining his influence in Southwest politics.
Okeyomi, who lost the APC chairmanship ticket of the Ojokoro Local Council Development Area to the incumbent, Mr Idowu Tijani, in the build-up to the last Lagos local government election, said the event should not be blamed on Tinubu, “as God’s time is the best.”
‘I particularly disagree with media reports that Asiwaju Tinubu and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola are at loggerheads.
“This is far from being so because as Progressives, we are working together to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
“It is not also true that Tinubu denied me the Ojokoro ticket and if indeed he was giving out tickets and he did not give me, he can as well give me tomorrow,” he defended.
Okeyomi noted that both politicians were
important to him in that, while he coordinates the Tinubu 2023 (T23)-a group fronting for Tinubu’s presidential ambition, he is equally a security consultant to the Interior Ministry, headed by Aregbesola.
“So you can see now that I am an insider and should know if there was ever any rift between these two great men; but I can confirm to you, there has never been any,” he claimed.
On former Osun Governor Aregbesola’s touted rift with his successor, Governor Oyetola, Okeyomi also said, “Currently, we are all working to realise a second term mandate for Governor Oyetola”.
“So, can someone who is working for you to get another term in office be against you?” He asked rhetorically.
Speaking in tandem with Okeyomi, Governor Oyetola has also dismissed insinuations of possible disagreements between him and his predecessor, Aregbesola.
He made the clarification when he appeared at NAN Forum, a special interview programme of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, last week.
The governor described Aregbesola as “a brother and well-wisher”.
Oyetola, who said that possible disagreements could not be totally ruled out in politics and governance, however, insisted that there was nothing personal between the two of them.
He, however, said that possible areas of disagreement could have been in respect of disparities and changes in some policies and programmes his government, inherited from the Aregbesola administration.
“Let me say this, Ogbeni and I are brothers; yes, we can have little disagreements, these are not unexpected.
“You mentioned the issue of tinkering with some policies of education, which in any case was desirable by the people.
” Some could misinterpret this to mean something else. We did it in good faith and in line with the demand of the people and we followed due process to do that.
“Like I mentioned, policies are supposed to be reviewed from time to time.
” I have had cause to reverse myself even as a governor.
” That’s part of life. That thing was unduly exaggerated by some people, giving different meanings to it.
” That doesn’t change the fact that we are brothers. I hate people saying we are quarrelling. There’s no basis for it. We are not quarrelling at all.
‘’I don’t know why people are always asking me if he’s going to support my second term election. Well… I have said that he is my brother and I believe he will want to ensure my success.
” Without quantifying it, I put in my best for the eight years of his success.
” That is the much that I can say.
“I don’t want to go into specifics; all I know is that, yes some people are aggrieved for different reasons and it is natural.
” You do appointments and some people believe they should be part of it, but they are not; they become aggrieved. But that doesn’t mean that what you have done is wrong.
“Naturally, we could have a few disagreements even in politics. Fixing of conflicts is part of politics; we can find a way of conflict resolution and move on,” the governor opened up
Though he said there was no rancour between the two of them, he still said, “We have actually set up a committee on reconciliation; to see people who are genuinely aggrieved and to be brought back to the same single family that we used to be.
” I believe with time, we should be able to achieve that.”