There are strong indications that all may not be well within the family of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the South West region of Nigeria.
The region, which played crucial roles in the success of APC at the general election in 2015 and emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the President of Nigeria after the turbulence poll, may find it difficult to unite and forge a common goal in a polarise political terrain of Nigeria.
A crucial stakeholders’ meeting was recently convened in Ibadan, Oyo State, to discuss issues of interest to the zone and agreed on the way forward, concerning the fate of the party in the zone. The meeting was hosted by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, at the exco chamber of the Governor’s Office, in Ibadan.
The who is who in the party in the South West were present at the meeting. Former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and the Vice Chairman (South West ), Chief Pius Akinyelure, Deputy National Chairman (South West) Engr. Segun Oni and the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were at the parley.
Attendance also included former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, who addressed the press after the meeting, former Governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo, ex-governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the State of Osun, serving APC governors in the South West, Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (Osun).
Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, who was a Governor-elect at the time of the meeting, was not present (He was not invited , the reason best known to the conveners of the meeting).
The roll call also included the Ministers produced by the party in the zone. Babatunde Raji Fashola (Works, Power and Housing), Mrs. Kemi Adeosun (Finance), Kayode Fayemi (Mines and Steel Development), Lai Mohammed (Information), Prof Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health , Mr. Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications and Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Cladius Omoleye Daramola.
Though the meeting was said to be a family affair, sources told Integrityreporters that the parley, which started on a family note, was said to have been rowdy later. One of our sources disclosed that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State, was part of the first session of the meeting, which lasted between three to four hours, but was absence in the second session; a strong signal that the meeting did not produce expected results.
It was also gathered reliably that the meeting was used by some people who were not feeling comfortable with attitude of some leaders of the party, to voice out their resentments.
It was learnt that Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola confronted Governor Ibikunle Amosun of his too close to the power that be at the national level, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, to the detriment of the National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu. Aregbesola, a staunch ally of Tinubu, was said to have not minced his words telling Amosun, one of the close confidants of Buhari since the days of ANPP, that he had abandoned Tinubu. This accusation, it was gathered, turned to a serious argument at the meeting.
Watchers of political scene in Lagos, a state which the progressives have been holding grips on since 1999, found it hard to believe that the Centre of Excellence could be experiencing cold war between the incumbent governor, Ambode and his immediate predecessor, Fashola.
The thinking of ordinary Nigerians on the streets was that the cold war was just a rumour until Governor Ambode publicly accused the Federal Ministry of Works, one of the three Ministries which Fashola oversee, of denying Lagos the chances of benefiting from the Federal Government of some certain rights.
Many Nigerians would think that Fashola, who is from Lagos State, supposed to have taken any request from Lagos Government as a matter of priority even to the extent of jettison protocol at times to attend to the need of Lagos State because they are from the same party. But the reverse is the case going by the accusations of Ambode while speaking during an inspection of some projects across the state recently.
To the amazement of Nigerians, Ambode did not mince words when he raised the alarm of sabotage that Federal Ministry of Works was frustrating efforts of his government to develop Lagos State. The governor alleged that Fashola’s Ministry was blocking Lagos’ effort to repair Oshodi-Airport Road. He said Presidential lodge, Marina, which would play a crucial role in the celebration of Lagos @50, had not been handed over to the state government despite President Buhari’s approval to this effect.
He said the state government was being tossed about by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Department of State Security, DSS even after Buhari had approved its handover to Lagos.
In a swift reply, Fashola explained that Lagos government’s request to take over the Oshodi-airport road, as well as three other federal roads in the state, was still being discussed at the Federal Executive Council level.
On the Presidential Lodge, the lawyer turned politician has this to say: “The Presidential Lodge is a high security location and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works.”
He, however, questioned his successor’s motive for the allegations. He concluded that “those who are familiar with the workings of government will attest to the fact that it is an intricate sequence of processes, consultation and collaboration. Equating processes to a lack of co-operation is therefore akin to creating a storm in a tea cup.”
This was an interesting and unfolding drama orchestrated by a sitting governor of a state with his predecessor who is members of the same party.
Our source equally informed that former Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi also expressed his displeasure to the attitude of some leaders in the South West which did not go down well with those leaders. It was gathered that Fayemi was thoroughly tongue-lashed especially towards his contribution to the success of Akeredolu’s election which eventually produced him as the winner of November 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State against the wishes of some Leaders.
Later after the first round of meeting in Ibadan, Fayemi was heard singing in Yoruba that, “ko ma le se ki ja ma wa o” meaning ‘there is no how we can be together without dispute’.
This indicates that definitely, there is rumble in South West APC.
Futhermore,wrangling within APC could be traced back to 2011 when a meeting of the then leadership of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was convened at the residence of the late Chief Lam Adesina in Ibadan. At that meeting was the fate of Ibikunle Amosun was sealed to become the Governorship candidate ofOgun State. At the meeting, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was said to have favoured Amosun, while Aremo Osoba was against this because he thought that loyalty of Amosun could not be guaranteed, which events happening of late have proved Osoba right.
Sources told Integrityreporters that Amosun became so arrogant that he now sees himself as the leader of APC in the Southwest especially that he is close to President Buhari as far back in their days at ANPP at the federal level. This is what pitched him against Governor Aregbesola who viewed Amosun’s arrogance as a disappointment and betrayal of trust to Tinubu.
It was also at the meeting at Adesina’s residence in Ibadan in 2011 that Tinubu made it known that Fashola would return for second term as the Governor in Lagos. Tinubu told the gathering that he preferred second term for his successor in Lagos for the sake of continuity and consolidation of achievements.
Our sources also talked about the situation in Ekiti State when Tinubu preferred Opeyemi Bamidele to become the Governor in 2011, but was prevailed upon by a socio-cultural group called E-11 whose members were in support of Fayemi for the governorship position. Tinubu had no choice than to do the wish of E-11. Fayemi later became so arrogant that he decided to bite the fingers that fed him. He was saying that as a member of NADECO and his contribution to the group during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha, he was entitled to reap from the fruits of his labour. But a certain group within APC stood up to question and challenge the claims of Fayemi, demanding to know what he contributed to the success of NADECO other than sitting down at the controversial Kudirat Abiola Radio Station then.
The success of Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu during Ondo State Governorship election has also come to the head of Fayemi. It was alleged that National Assembly through the money sent by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was put under the control of Fayemi to ensure that Akeredolu won the election. Governor Ajimobi was said to have also contributed some money for the election due to his long time relationship with Akeredolu. After Akeredolu won the election, Fayemi saw the success as his game plan and equally a good template to be used for the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State to his favour. He saw Ondo as a test run of his ability to return to power.
The questions on the lips of watchers of the political drama which is unfolding in Ekiti and indeed the Southwest are, will Tinubu support Fayemi against Opeyemi Bamidele in the next election and what will be the nature of the alignment in the light of the forgoing since Governor Ayodele Fayose has turned around to be singing praises of Tinubu that nobody should rubbish him?
Former Governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo is equally said to be harbouring a grudge against Tinubu. Integrityreporters gathered that Adebayo thought he was supposed to be picked as the running mate of Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2015 general election. He believed that he was the most experienced politician in the southwest among the preferred candidates for the post as a former governor, but Tinubu picked Prof Yemi Osinbajo instead. This, our source said had not gone down well with Adebayo who said that Tinubu’s camp denied him the golden opportunity of rising high in his political career.