Hurdles Before Osoba’s Men In Ogun APC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Hurdles Before Osoba’s Men In Ogun APC

Posted: Apr 10, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos

The return of former governor of Ogun state, Akinrogun Olusegun Osoba to his original party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party he worked assiduously to form alongside other progressive-minded politicians, is already causing ripples in Ogun state as the party leadership in the state is doing all within its means to frustrate the return of Social Democratic Party (SDP) members into its fold, Independent has learnt.

It will be recalled that a large chunk of APC members in Ogun defected along with Osoba to the SDP owing to what is generally believed to be his fall-out out with Ibikunle Amosun, the Ogun State Governor, before the 2015 general elections. Among those who left the party with Osoba include the former deputy governor of Ogun State, Segun Adesegun; three senators and six members of the House of Representatives, including Osoba’s son, Olumide.

According to Independent reporter who visited Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital and spoke with some major stakeholders, following Osoba’s return to the APC, the leadership of the SDP in Ogun had instructed all its members to renounce their membership of the party, go back to their respective wards and register as members of the APC. This move is however being frustrated by the APC leadership in the state, which is now under the control of the Amosun camp.

However, it was learnt that the APC leadership of the state has agreed that Osoba and his team who announced their defection to SDP in Ogun should also come and announce their return to APC in Ogun if they want to be admitted into the party.

According to a reliable source, the fear of the Amosun’s camp is that if admitted into the APC, the Osoba group may hijack the party structure and use it to its advantage especially during the 2019 governorship election in the state.

“Of course, majority of the SDP members in Ogun today are all from Osoba’s group and that was why immediately Osoba accepted the plea of the leaders and rejoined the APC, the SDP members were given instructions to go to their wards and join the APC as ordinary members, pending when the congress will hold.

“If the congress is conducted, then new excos can be elected through primary and any of the SDP returnees can be part of the exco if elected. But for now, they are floor members of the party. That was the directive given by the SDP Chairman in Ogun state, Papa Olu Agemo”.

“ But the issue now is, Amosun’s group which has hijacked the APC structure following Osoba’s departure is making it difficult for these SDP members to be readmitted. PDP members are defecting to APC in Ogun today without any inhibition”.

“Even in Kogi state, Senator Smart Adeyemi just defected to APC and nobody did anything to block his move. So, why is the case of Ogun different? These are members whom you met in APC, but left the party angrily owing to injustice and now that they intend to come back, you are moving against them. Why the Amosun camp is jittery is unknown since it presently controls all the party structure in the state”.

Confirming that the Osoba group will face a herculean task returning to the APC, A top party member in the state, who spoke with on condition of anonymity, said it was laughable to read about Osoba’s alleged return to the APC, when a single member of the party from the state was not present at such a party.
He said the idea of determining the fate of a people at the local level by those at the top would not work in this case because as far as the Ogun state APC is concerned, Osoba openly denounced and renounced the party in Abeokuta, the state capital with his supporters and that the only sensible thing to do in a case of returning to the fold is to follow the same process.
“And then, you have such a meeting in Lagos, at his residence and people tagged it as returning to the APC. He probably reunited with his friend, which is understandable. But he did not return to the APC because no executive member of the party was present, much less the governor of Ogun State and you called that as returning to the APC? Impossible,” the source said.

Facts Behind Osoba’s Return

Also, speaking on the real reasons behind Amosun’s return to the APC, another party chieftain who has been following the development blamed Governor Amosun for the genesis of the crisis in the state. According to him, trouble first reared its ugly head following attempts by the governor to hijack the structure of the APC in the state following its formation.

“If you look at the circumstances that led to Osoba’s defection to the SDP basically, it is from three dimensions. It began at the National, Regional and Ogun state. At the national level, Osoba was a prominent person from Ogun during the merger. As a matter of fact, he was the Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee. But beyond that, as a former governor, it is an indisputable fact that he is the leader in Ogun state.

“Trouble began during the primary in Ogun state shortly after the formation of the APC. The primary was to elect the first exco of the party. The members were asked to go and pay at the bank to collect forms. But it was learnt that the governor allegedly paid for everybody while the instruction and requirement from the party leadership is that individuals who want to contest should pay by themselves into the party’s account. The general feeling is that the governor is trying to curry the favour of the excos and bring them to his side”.

“That was the contention of the Osoba group then. The issue was taken to the national level. The leadership of the party at the national level then set up a committee led by former Vice-president, Atiku Abubakar on a fact-finding mission to Ogun state. The committee came and had meeting with the parties concerned. They then promised to brief the national leadership of the party and get back to Osoba and the group on their decision. Everyone wants to know if the governor was right or wrong by paying for the forms of the contestants. They also wanted to know if it is the Osoba group that is making a mountain out of a molehill. But unfortunately, till date, they didn’t get back to Osoba”.

“That was the major reason coupled with some local factors that got Osoba angry and made him defect to the SDP. I believed he shouldn’t have left but he was enraged as to how a party he laboured so hard for to form will treat him so shabbily”.

On whether Osoba actually begged the APC leadership to be readmitted into its fold, our source said it is the leadership of the party led by Tinubu that realised its mistake and decided to appeal to Osoba to return to the house he helped build.

“So, I think the national and regional leaders have realised their mistakes and they came to beg Osoba and not the other way round as being speculated by those who did not know what actually happened. I just laughed when some people say ‘ Osoba joined APC because he is broke and needs rehabilitation’. How can you describe a man who three days ago launched a book with N500,000 as broke?
“The leaders actually came to beg Osoba, pleading with him to forgive them for wrong they committed against him”.

APC Chieftain Blames Osoba

However, Dare Kasali, a chieftain of the APC in Ogun claimed Osoba overestimated his importance in Ogun. According to him, the crisis wouldn’t have degenerated to where it is today if the former governor had listened to entreaties by the governor and some party leaders who begged him to forgive whoever wronged him and join hands in moving the APC in the state forward.
“Nobody is happy with what is going on but I lay the blame on Chief Osoba. Attempts were made to resolve the crisis and the governor has apologised but Chief Osoba closed the door against reconciliation in the following words at his residence in Ibara, Abeokuta in May 2014, when he said : “Where we are now, no room for harmonisation or reconciliation, not even 70/30; 80/20; 95/5”.
“I vowed to them that I will not forgive or reconcile with anybody. As I stand before you today, I swear before God and Jesus Christ, my Lord, I promised you all that the issue of forgiveness is no more. They said they have set up elders’ committee, don’t mind them, I don’t know who is older than me politically among them. None of them is closer to Awolowo than I was. I wined and dined with him. They are coming very soon, when they come, they would not meet me. Leave them, we are moving to the Promised Land and over there, there are many offices and positions available”.
Osoba’s Rift With Tinubu

Independent also gathered that Osoba was not only enraged with Governor Amosun and the national leadership of the party, he was also angry about the manner he was treated by his bosom friend, Asiwaju Tinubu. According to our source, when the APC was formed, some national leaders of the party, because of their selfish interests agreed that the structure of the party should be under the control of the state governors. The idea was sold to Tinubu and he accepted it. The structure of Ogun was then given to Governor Amosun but Tinubu never gave that of Lagos State to Governor Fashola.

“The national leadership wants the party in each state to be under the control of the incumbent governors. Asiwaju Tinubu was the arrowhead behind this arrangement. That was why Osoba was angry with Tinubu. Osoba felt betrayed as to why Tinubu, whom he trusted so much could do such a thing”.

“He was especially angry because Tinubu did not allow that to happen in Lagos. If he is sincere about the arrangement, at least he should have allowed Babatunde Fashola who was then the governor of Lagos to be in control of the party structure, but he (Tinubu) took control of the party structure and even determined who will succeed Fashola as governor. Even in Kwara, they didn’t give the structure to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed; they rather gave the structure to Dr Bukola Saraki, who is now the Senate president”.

“ But much to their chagrin, the whole thing backfired. Amosun has clearly shown that he is not on the same page with Tinubu and other leaders of the APC in the South west. Also, look at what Saraki did to them at the national level. I think Osoba was vindicated at the end of the day. That was why Asiwaju Tinubu went to Osoba’s house. If actually, it was Osoba that was desperate to join the APC, he will be the one going cap in hand to Tinubu and other leaders, not the leaders coming to his house. You can’t come to my house and I will be begging you to accept me back into a party I contributed in no small measure to its formation” our source said.