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Long-time grudges persist despite APC Southwest leaders’ photo ops

All is not well with the All Progressives Congress(APC) in the South-west due to grudges among prominent leaders of the party in the zone.

Despite the public show of conviviality at their meeting on Friday in Lagos, animosity among the leaders remains obvious to close observers. Three out of the four presidential aspirants at the meeting are at war with each other for different reasons. Seven men from the region are bidding for the APC ticket.

Present at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu; former interim national chairman of the APC, Bisi Akande; former governor of Ogun, Segun Osoba; Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi; and APC national secretary, Iyiola Omisore.

Also at the meeting were Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; as well as governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun.

How Tinubu, Aregbesola, Oyetola fell out

The relationship between Messrs Tinubu and Aregbesola began to crack in 2010 after the latter was sworn in as the governor of Osun State, following over three years of a legal challenge of the declaration of Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the 2007 governorship election.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC National chieftain.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC National chieftain.

The seed of discord was planted when Mr Tinubu allegedly ‘imposed’ Mr Oyetola on Mr Aregbesola as his chief of staff. The new governor subsequently appointed a deputy and two assistants to share the responsibilities of the chief of staff. But Mr Oyetola endured in the office and went on to succeed his boss as governor.

Their relationship quickly broke down after the transition. The former governor accused his successor of destroying his legacy in the state while his supporters felt alienated by the government.

During the celebration of the 10th anniversary of APC rule in the state and the second anniversary of Mr Oyetola’s administration, tension was palpable between the supporters of the governor and of his predecessor.

However, the crisis blew open over Mr Oyetola’s reelection ambition when Mr Aregbesola and his supporters opposed the governor’s bid.

At a meeting with his supporters just before the party’s governorship primary, Mr Aregbesola poured invectives on Mr Tinubu, describing his former boss in Lagos as an enemy of Osun people. Both have not reconciled, despite the efforts of prominent Yoruba traditional rulers to bring them back together.

Rauf Aregbesola, Nigerian Minister of Interior.

Tinubu, Osinbajo combat

For eight years Mr Osinbajo worked as commissioner of justice and attorney-general of Lagos while Mr Tinubu was governor. Both men were so close that it is believed Mr Tinubu nominated Mr Osinbajo as vice president to Muhammadu Buhari after the ex-Lagos governor was told he could not occupy the position to avoid a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Mr Tinubu, who bears the unofficial title of the national leader of the APC, and Mr Osinbajo, who as vice president is the highest public office holder from the zone, were brought into conflict by their presidential ambitions. Shortly after Mr Osinbajo declared his intention to run for the office, a reporter asked Mr Tinubu, who had declared three months earlier, to respond to the news “of his son’s declaration.” The former Lagos governor replied curtly: “I have no son old enough to make such declaration.”

Their supporters have since taken the cue and locked themselves in vicious combat of name-calling on social media.

Akande, Omisore dispute

Former Osun State Governor, Mr Akande (1999-2003) and Mr Omisore have not seen eye to eye since the events that led to the impeachment of Mr Omisore as the former’s deputy. The former governor said their differences were ‘ideological,’ arising from Mr Omisore’s alleged lust for public funds.

Mr Omisore was first deputy governor of Osun State under the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Mr Omisore was first deputy governor of Osun State under the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

“Our sense of responsibility towards financing was not in the same direction: he was a spend-free person, I was being careful with the public money and I could not have approved all vouchers. I could not approve all requests and that was not going well with him,” Mr Akande said in an interview.

However, the dispute turned to bitter enmity after the yet unresolved assassination of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige in December 2000. Many linked the assassination to the political crisis in Osun at the time. Mr Omisore was arraigned with other suspects in the murder but all of them were discharged and acquitted by the courts.

Thus when Mr Omisore, who until 2018 had kept a separate lane from Mr Akande and his political associates, emerged as the national scribe of the APC in March, Mr Akande accused Governor Oyetola of betrayal for brokering the deal.

Mr Aregbesola has also refused to associate with Mr Omisore over that history, even after the latter helped the APC in the supplementary election that put Mr Oyetola in office as governor. Mr Omisore has remained close to Mr Oyetola and both have joined hands in fighting off the challenge of Mr Aregbesola to the governor’s re-nomination for the off-season election coming up in July.

Drama at Lagos meeting

Arriving at the Lagos meeting, Mr Aregbesola refused to take his seat beside Mr Omisore. He said he did not want to be associated with his party’s national scribe, a source at the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES.

Meeting of APC south-west presidential aspirants in Lagos
Meeting of APC south-west presidential aspirants in Lagos

But at the end of the meeting, Mr Akande told journalists that the meeting was part of the efforts of party leaders in the zone to put up a common front at the APC presidential primary scheduled to hold between May 30 and June 1.

Daniel, Amosun and Abiodun: Three friends made and separated by power

Gbenga Daniel became Ogun governor in 2003 on the platform of the PDP, defeating Mr Osoba who was seeking a second term. Mr Amosun supported Mr Daniel in the PDP and he too was elected the senator of Ogun central district.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that both had an agreement to switch offices at the expiration of the first term of the governor but the agreement was breached and both became sworn enemies.

The duo maintained a toxic relationship as their supporters clashed across Ogun State. In 2007, Mr Amosun left the PDP and ran for governor on the ticket of the defunct ANPP but lost after a long legal battle.

Mr Amosun, however, won the governorship seat on the second attempt in 2011, succeeding Mr Daniel and ruling for eight years. During his tenure, his predecessor was prosecuted for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Mr Daniel believed that his old friend masterminded his ordeal with the anti-graft agency.

In 2019, Mr Daniel repaid Mr Amosun by supporting Dapo Abiodun to defeat Mr Amosun’s anointed candidate at the governorship election.

Ironically, despite his support, Mr Daniel does not have the backing of Mr Abiodun for his own senatorial ambition, opening up another channel of animosity.

Amosun, Osinbajo in three years dispute

At the expiration of Mr Amosun’s second term in office, he anointed Adekunle Akinlade as his successor. But that plan was believed to have been thwarted by the vice president, Mr Osinbajo, who backed his kinsman, Dapo Abiodun, for the office. Mr Amosun claimed he visited Abuja 28 times to appeal to the Adams Oshiomole-led national working committee of the party but he did not have his way. In frustration, Mr Akinlade moved to the Allied Peoples Movement to run in the election but was defeated by Mr Abiodun.

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My vision is driven by the conviction that Governments primarily have responsibilities to perform and must be held to account on improved conditions that meet basic standards of living; employment generation and livelihoods sustainability; whilst balancing socio-cultural peculiarities of the various constituencies in the new world order.

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