OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
The peace in the Pacesetter State is being ruptured by the discord for the soul of the APC between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and his political rivals led by the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu
Discordant tunes from the camps of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, loyalists of the former governor of the state, late Lamidi Adesina and the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu over the control of the All Progressives Congress in the state depict that the peace the state has been enjoying since the present administration came on board may soon be ruptured.
The factions within the party are three. Though the two of them, Shittu’s camp and Lam Adesina’s group popularly called Lamists have different political agenda, they have, however, joined hands to fight the camp of Governor Ajimobi as their common enemy.
The Lamists see Governor Ajimobi as a ‘supplanter’ who came from the All Nigeria Peoples Party to reap the harvests of their years of labour in the former Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. They had a form of security until Alhaji Lamidi Adesina died. Following his demise, Ajimobi became the undisputed leader of the party.
Senator Femi Lanlehin who could have stepped into the shoes of the former governor as the leader of the group had to leave the party for Accord when he could no longer bear what he described as “highhandedness” of the governor. It is no surprise that since Lam Adesina died, his political children have been lamenting as orphans.
Shittu, on his part, had for a long time seen himself as a rival of the governor even though from the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC tendency.
He has since their forced marriage in the APC endured the governor.
It was as such not surprising when hell was let loose last Saturday when the Pacesetter state once, again, witnessed another political turmoil as supporters of one of the factions threw caution to the wind.
When the dust settled, it left tales of pains and injuries. Two members of the committee set up to supervise the ward congress had their share as they sustained injuries. Also, the deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly was not spared.
Expectedly, there were accusations and counter accusations from both factions.
Mr. Bolaji Tunji, the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy who spoke on behalf of the governor, said, “The claim that some loyalists of the governor brought thugs to the APC secretariat was an attempt to stand facts on their head. The APC members that gathered at the secretariat on Saturday were very clear in their understanding that it was the aggrieved group and political charlatans that brought hoodlums to the venue to disrupt the stakeholders’ meeting.
The Minister, Shittu in his reply, said, “I have been in active politics since 1979, and there is no record of violence against me. I am a notable lawyer and a man of peace.
“I don’t fight battles with cudgels, guns or other dangerous weapons but with my brain. Why would I involve in such when I am aspiring to govern the state?
“It is highly impossible for members of the Unity Forum who suffered brutal attacks on Saturday and are still suffering from the trauma to do such,” he said.
When the committee was able to bring the factions together, the ward Congress had to be shifted to Sunday due to an explanation by the state Chairman of APC, Chief Akin Oke who said if the Congress went as planned, members of the party in Oke Ogun area would be disenfranchised.
The following day was even more tense than the first day. As a result of many pressures on the chairman of the APC Congress Committee, Alhaji Musa Halilu-Ahmed kept mute on the results of the ward Congress and hurriedly left for Abuja.
As feuding parties await the result of the ward congress, there has been serious anxiety over the implications for Saturday’s local government congress.
Last Wednesday, the Oyo State government alleged that it uncovered a sinister plot by what it described as “the self-styled Unity Forum, a dissident group within the All Progressives Congress (APC), to burn down the state secretariat of the party in their desperate bid to scuttle Saturday’s local government election and party congresses.
The Executive Assistant, Political to the Governor, Dr. Morounkola Thomas in a statement said that the group included some members of the House of Representatives, a minister, as well as former and serving political office holders
As a decoy, the state government said that the same set of people have been going around and granting press interviews claiming that the state Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, was after their lives.
The statement said that the group has been meeting in the homes of two of their members in Bodija and Samonda areas of Ibadan, with a view to causing chaos and panic among the good people of Oyo State.
But Shittu dismissed the claim with kid gloves saying that there was no plan to burn the party secretariat.
“I have no money to sponsor violence. I am not a criminal; I am civil. This cheap blackmail will not stop me from succeeding Ajimobi as the Oyo State governor.
“The governor is scare of me succeeding him because he is going to jail if I should become the governor,” the minister said and challenged the governor to open debate.
The Pacesetter state appears to be in coma politically. The implications of the crises are numerous.
As political observers put it, if the intra party crisis is not resolved, it could pave the way for a new party to win the 2019 election.
The state which is regarded as political headquarters of the Southwest, as for now, is sitting on a time bomb. Its problems are hydra-headed. It appears the national cake available can no longer satisfy its hungry children. Apart from LAMISTS who are daily complaining of marginalisation, the group of Former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Teslim Folarin, Taofeek Arapaja and many more are not yet taken care of.
If the Saturday local government election does not take care of the interests of the aggrieved members, there is every tendency that the party would soon explode.
It will also take its toll on the party’s fortunes in other forthcoming elections in the state.