The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) risks losing one of its key strongholds in the South West to the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Osun State which is seen as a political fortress of the APC might be lost due to the protracted war of attrition between two major groups contending for the soul of party.
At the centre of the major crisis rocking the party is the incumbent state governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola and his immediate predecessor in office, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.
While governor Oyetola is the leader of a group, Ileri Oluwa Movement, Aregbesola who is the current Minister of the Interior leads The Osun Progressives (TOP).
The electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had last year fixed governorship poll for July 16 this year but all indications points to a party in disarray few months to the poll.
Currently, the two factions have their structures well erected in the wards, local governments and the state with each laying claims to legitimacy and supremacy of the party.
Efforts by the National Headquarters of the party to douse raging tension within the party has not yielded any fruit as one of the factions is said to be not too well disposed to resolving the logjam.
The efforts of the Abdullahi Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee of the party who made stopover in Osogbo, the state capital to bring the warring factions together also came to naught.
While the Aregbesola group expressed readiness for peace, the Ileri Oluwa group on the other hand gave a cold shoulder to the committee.
The leadership of TOP in a well thought out document articulated its position as regards the crisis to the committee.
On the other hand, rather than welcoming the Abdullahi committee members, the Ileri Oluwa group congregated at the Government House in Osogbo to hurl abuses on leaders of the other side.
Most members of the APC within and outside the state have begun to express worries as regards what the development portends for the fortune of the party in July election.
Another worrisome development is the lacklustre performance of governor Oyetola administration in the last three years in the state.
It’s on record that all the progressive steps taken by the administration of Aregbesola was abandoned leaving the state without a clear direction.
“All well-meaning members of our party should be worried that few months to the forthcoming governorship election, we are still divided while the opposition is very much united, especially with governor Oyetola as candidate,” Babatunde Aluko, a member of the APC in Osogbo said.
Another member, Isiaka Oyewole took his worries a notch further when he stated that “We won the last election by mere 353 votes when we were united. What will happen now when we are divided?”
A top chieftain of the party who pleaded not to be mentioned urged the feuding members to consider the interest of the APC by closing ranks. “I am using this opportunity to tell our members to consider the overall interest of the party to come together. Apart from the need to come together, there are serious yet salient issues staring us in the face with the electorate that we need to address and we don’t seem to have time anymore,” the chieftain said. He also urged the governor to demonstrate some leadership quality by reaching out to the leadership of the other faction, adding that “Oyetola stands to lose more than Aregbesola if this was to continue.
“I keep wondering how he (the governor) tends to go it all alone without members of the other side. Everyone, let alone Aregbesola, is very important in the party.”
Abdulmalik Suleiman, firstname.lastname@example.org