Aregbesola VS Oyetola: Watching Osun Closely, By Olawale Olaleye

Politics, the cliché says, is dirty. Yes, but it is to the extent of the mindset of the players. When you see some of the political actors play rather filthy and ignoble politics, it is not because the rules encourage the indecency that often typifies the process and in some cases result, but a reflection of the characters of the individual players and their general demeanour to life.

My interest in Osun politics picked up again, lately, when I started noticing there was a seeming gulf between a former governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his benefactor and leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. That’s one development I never imagined could happen. If there was any one politician that would gleefully take a bullet for Asiwaju, Aregbesola wouldn’t bat an eyelid before venturing.

But how things degenerated between them to the extent that Asiwaju even encouraged, through his “siddon look” posturing, Aregbesola’s enemies within to strip him of his influence and powers in Lagos and Osun, for me, speaks more to the leadership of Asiwaju himself, whom many of his disciples had described as a leader with “one ear”. What that means is that he always takes the words of whoever gets to him first and would hardly cross-check whatever information thrown at him about others before acting.

But Asiwaju is not the focus here. My central figure of this discussion is the incumbent Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. He was Chief of Staff to Ogbeni and today, he is also Aregbesola’s nightmare in a state the now Minister of Interior ruled for eight years. Honestly, life sometimes truly happens! By upbringing, training, worldview, and personal disposition, I don’t like such people. How could you work with a man that closely and after succeeding him, become the “death” chasing him about? Babatunde Fashola is truly an Omoluabi!

I’m not a fan of Aregbesola and that’s public knowledge. He knows this too. Indeed, I believe Aregbesola actually exploited his closeness to Asiwaju to play some people against the leader, when the going was enviable, but that still didn’t take away or play down his genuine love for the self-styled APC leader. And this, definitely, is not karma at play. How Oyetola thinks it’s going to be easy for him to obliterate Aregbesola’s records and influence as well as run him out of town is an interesting ambition to ponder. Here’s a man, who can’t even do a pig fight, for starters. That’s a sure bet.

Oyetola’s current attitude is why I was opposed to former governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s style of politics and also why I’m unable to stand people like Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano State, Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and many of their ilk. Their politics is despicable, yet, reflects who they truly are: innately bitter and an unbankable lot. They’re the dirty ones, not politics.

Perhaps, Oyetola has forgotten that his victory was no less a “Let My People Go” collective effort, and that nothing looks very good for him, coming back, much as his tough victory was a clear referendum on Aregbesola’s reign. I’m not even sure Asiwaju has the strength and grace to go around for him the way he did the last time, especially, that he too is busy with a “lifelong ambition”? It’s going to be a tough call, and that’s being conservative with this thought process.

However, with Aregbesola coming out to openly damn everything, declare there’s a faction in Osun APC and himself the leader, while obviously, the other is led by the governor, APC might just cancel itself out in this year’s governorship election in Osun and whichever way anyone looks at it, Asiwaju is to blame, largely. He mismanaged relationship and failed to deliver leadership, where necessary. He can still salvage the situation, I reckon.

Although the general impression is that Oyetola is fighting Asiwaju’s battle against Ogbeni, that’s only a smokescreen. Methinks. He too appears to have an axe to grind with Aregbesola despite working with him very closely. And that “beef” didn’t just start. He must have been some sort of enemy within, if not a snitch, unknown to Aregbesola.

Well, if you are not watching Osun and its unfurling politics ahead of the governorship poll later in the year, I am and closely too. Curiously, no one is willing to speak about how and why Asiwaju and Aregbesola have parted ways with such bitterness, even when they have both continued to pretend that all is well, just to maintain some unsightly optics in public.

I’d spoken to a groundswell of insiders, and they all have different versions of what they believed went wrong, thus becoming what the Yoruba call, “Oro okere” – the third party narrative – which is never accurate. If it has not been exaggerated, it must have been taken away from, significantly. But, there is a common denominator to all and it is the admission that there’s a feud between them. Yet, the implications might be devastating for Oyetola’s reelection and could also blight Asiwaju’s lifelong ambition, ultimately.

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