From all indications, the crisis rocking the opposition APC in Oyo state is far from over with the discordant tunes from party stakeholders. BAYO AGBOOLA writes that all is not well.
Close to two years after losing out as the ruling party in Oyo state, the prolong crisis that resulted in the defeat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the governorship and the State House of Assembly elections is still far from being over as the warring factions in the state are not ready to shift ground and work together.
Late Senator Abiola Ajimobi had raised a reconciliation committee headed by another former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, to resolve the difference in the party which to some of the aggrieved members of the party was initially caused by the late governor’s alleged dictatorial style during the preparations for the 2018 local government polls in the state.
The birth of the reconciliation committee and words of assurance from the chairman of the committee raised hope that the party would bounce back and possibly regain its lost glory come 2023.
Going by the signals emerging from APC factions in the state in the recent times, the reconciliation drive has gone to the great beyond with the demise of Senator Ajimobi with the conflicting tunes from the emerging stakeholders in the party.
Although Alao-Akala while featuring on a radio programme recently said all aggrieved members are now ready to work together, yet facts still remain that as at present, APC in the state is sharply divided into three major factions, namely the Lamist faction comprising followers of late Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, the Senaco faction made up of followers of late Senator Ajimobi and the third faction being the PDP in the APC camp in the state. The True progressives comprising the first two above and the PDP in APC are in prolonged silent power tussle over who controls the party as the death of Senator Ajimobi exposed the party to fresh leadership tussle.
To the Lamist and the Senaco faction, it would be absurd to have any of the PDP in APC as a new leader under after the death of Senator Ajimobi as doing so could amount to handing over Oyo APC to a ‘non progressive’ which would be counter- productive for the progressives in the APC .The silent power tussle between the progressives and PDP in Oyo APC has since after the death of Senator Ajimobi been manifesting in several forms in and across the state.
Alao-Akala at the radio programme said in the process of the reconciliation, he has met with all the blocs mostly the aggrieved, saying they are ready to return to the party.
“My discussion with the former governor Abiola Ajimobi was much, but on our party, we agreed that since he have been given appointment in Abuja, I should wait behind to reconcile aggrieved members of our party in the state. Some people were aggrieved after the last general elections. Ajimobi knew I was experienced and I could bring them together with my experience. I have spoken with all the blocs in the APC and they are ready to return to the party. I begged some of them. I made sacrifices to some. We are all stakeholders in our party since it is not a company belonging to someone; so we should work in unity.”
Amidst the claims by Alao-Akala that all the aggrieved former APC members are ready to come back to the party, a close look at political activities shows that the factional issues are still at play.
For example, on Friday, September 28, the youth and sports development minister, Mr Sunday Akin Dare together with some APC leaders from across the state held a stakeholders meeting in Ibadan. The minister while speaking minced no words in advocating for the immediate repositioning of APC in the state if the party is to be relevant and make victory. The stakeholders meeting was attended by former deputy govenor, Otunba Moses Alake-Adeyemo, House of Representatives members, Hons Shina Peller, Hon Musiliu Akinremi, Hon Akeem Adeyemi, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), former speakers: Rt Hon Asimiyu Alarape, Rt Hon Olagunju Ojo, among others, stressed that APC in the state more than ever need unity than personal ambition to move the party forward and prepare it for better challenges particularly in 2023.
According to Dare, with the unfolding events in the state APC, the priority of stakeholders in and across the state should be how to reposition the party for victory. He warned that any idea that some informal and nebulous sub-faction should rule must be discarded, as such a situation which may want to exalt some small groups over the larger ones would not augur well for the party, saying it is against the democratic spirit of the party, hence APC in Oyo must embrace a new, more inclusive and collegial mentality while the fragmentation of the party and unfair treatment of members associated with a rival faction must stop.
He emphasised that it is glaring that only a strong unified party would win elections and that the idea of handing the party over to a few individuals to the detriment of others would spell doom as the factional elements might win the battle for supremacy in the party but may well lose the greater war which is the general elections.
The stakeholders at the meeting commended the minister for his initiative of convening the meeting and resolved that party members should henceforth desist from deploying inflammatory words against fellow party members in the name of factional wranglings. They urged the minister to continue with the mediation efforts he has initiated with a view to uniting all factions and camps in the state APC.
The meeting also urged the elected office holders from the state to support the minister in sustaining the reconciliatory efforts.
Barely 24 hours after the stakeholders meeting, the Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala- led reconciliation committee put up another meeting of what it called ‘Aggrieved APC Members and Stakeholders’ at his Bodija residence in Ibadan to possibly douse the tension within the party.
At that meeting, he tasked all APC members to put behind them their grievances and unite towards building a formidable party, saying, “We all offended ourselves and we should all imbibe the spirit of forgiveness. This is why we have invited all aggrieved members.What we are doing is to bring everybody together to discuss a way forward for the party. I am very sure that with the commitment of all to a united party, the success of APC is guaranteed in future outings.”
Otunba Alao-Akala assured all the APC and stakeholders at the meeting of the committee’s readiness to amicably address all issues raised by aggrieved members in the overall interest of the party. He therefore urged members to contribute towards building the party before pursuing personal aspirations with other APC stakeholders in the state. At the meeting were Senator Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central), Rep Segun Odebunmi (APC- Surulere/Ogo-Oluwa), Chief Adebayo Adelabu, Chief Joseph Tegbe and Chief Niyi Akintola, (SAN) , Prof Taoheed Adedoja, Dr Olusola Ayandele, Dr Azeez Adeduntan, Chief Adegboyega Adegoke, Chief Lowo Obisesan, Mr Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, Sen. Brimoh Yusuff and Dr Adepeju Esan. They all expressed their minds on the way forward for the party.
However, hours after the Bodija meeting, criticism started trailing the meeting with a chieftain of the party in the state, Asiwaju Rotimi Ajanaku, speaking through his media aide, Adebowale Adeoye, saying he was surprised that a meeting could be held that Saturday without extending an invitation to all aggrieved members, thereby sidelining the genuine aggrieved members and stakeholders. Ajanaku minced no words in tagging the Otunba Alao- Akala reconciliation meeting as nothing but a one-sided affair thereby making it a fruitless attempt at bringing back true reconciliation in the party.
Blueprint investigation shows that with the absence of key stakeholders at the meeting, the crisis rocking the party is far from being over. With the situation in Oyo APC, political pundits in the state are of the view that the party’s chase for peace and oneness may all be a day dream considering the fact that the warring factions seems hell bent at uphelding their stand not minding that 2023 is much more around the corner for the party to again test its popularity with other registered political parties in the state particularly the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).