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Osun: How Aregbesola-Oyetola faceoff robbed APC of victory

Osun Decides: Despite boycott, Aregbesola delivers polling unit for APC

The political faceoff between Rauf Aregbesola, a former governor of Osun State, and Gboyega Oyetola, current governor, may be responsible for the defeat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the off-season gubernatorial election in the state Saturday, July 16, 2022.

Following the impasse Aregbesola has continued to stay away from the APC activities in the state.

Aregbesola, who is the current minister of Interior, had supported Moshood Adeoti, a former secretary to the state government, against Oyetola, who was also his chief of staff when he served as governor of the state for eight years.

The frosty relationship has since affected the good rapport that Aregbesola had with Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC.

During the primary election, Aregbesola was said to have boycotted the exercise.
He was also absent at the mega rally for the re-election of Oyetola, held in Osogbo on Tuesday.

The scenario repeated itself Saturday, when the minister decided to stay away without participating in the real election.

Osun APC became divided along power blocs as a result of the face off. There were reports of attack of supporters of some chieftains. The attrition war also led to the arrest of many youths suspected to have been sponsored by some politicians to settle some political scores.

When contacted on phone on why the minister was not present in the state to participate in the voting process, Sola Fasure, his media aide, said, “Oga didn’t come home for the election.”
Fasure, however, refused to speak on why his boss refused to come home for the governorship election and ensure the re-election of his former Chief of Staff.

Read also: Osun: Aregbesola boycotts election as state elects governor

Observers strongly believe that had the APC house had been intact, the PDP would not have carried the day.

A political analyst, who spoke to BusinessDay on condition of anonymity, said that Aregbesola’s absence in the state’s party activities was detrimental to the APC.

“I must tell you that Rauf Aregbesola meant a lot to many people in Osun. To govern a state like Osun twice is not something anyone can trivialise. He made a serious mark there. So when the crisis arose, a lot of people moved to other parties while some decided to be indifferent. They withheld their support and that largely contributed to the defeat handed to the APC in the election,” the analyst said.

Asked why the solid support from the likes of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the party, could not help Governor Oyetola, the analyst said: “Don’t forget that Tinubu has never governed the state; he is only playing a ‘big brother’ role; also given his strained relationship with Aregbesola, his rating in Osun seems to be dropping or to have dropped considerably. Had they gone into the election together like they did in 2018, the story would have been different.”

Raphael Oke, a Political Scientist, said he was convinced that Aregbesola’s absence affected the PDP. He also said that what happened in Osun was a bad omen for the APC as they go into the Presidential election in 2023.

According to Oke, “Governor Oyetola is not a politician in the real sense of the word. It was Aregbe that made him to win in 2018. What it means is that Aregbe has pulled the rug under Oyetola. Even Tinubu could not help him. By the way, the result is a reflection of the level of political awareness in the polity. 2023 general election will spring too many surprises for the APC. That’s the indication, and that’s how I see it.”

An observer, who claimed to be very close to the corridors of power in Osogbo, said he was shocked that there could be such level of disagreement between Aregbesola and Oyetola.

“It is unimaginable that less than four years after Aregbesola traversed the length and breadth of the state, campaigning for Otetola, both of them would be so torn apart; this shows the nature of politicians in Nigeria. I think we are in for more surprises in 2023.”

Before the election, some analysts had thought that the APC was better positioned to win considering the internal crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that initially affected its mega rally arrangement.

Some observers have also blamed the failure of the APC at the federal level as being partly responsible for the defeat the party suffered in the Saturday election.