From OLUSEYE OJO, Ibadan
The crack in the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West, which became noticeable during the 2016 governorship poll in Ondo State, appears far from over.
Although, a meeting was convened last Thursday, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, to resolve the impasse, party stakeholders are already grumbling over the membership of the reconciliation committee.
Once the Ondo state election was over, things further fell apart in the party, and it became clear that unless pragmatic steps were taken to resolve the leadership crisis, the party could play into the hands of its political enemies, ahead of 2019.
It was widely speculated that there was a cold war between the National leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on one hand as well as Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Fayemi; and Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, on the other hand.
Many believed that Fayemi, Fashola, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and a host of other ‘Tinubu made’ politicians had dumped him to embrace Abuja. But the speculation over the feud had been dismissed on many occasions as untrue, by all the parties.
But in spite of their denials, it was clear to any discerning Nigerian that there was indeed crack on the wall of the APC in the South-West. The crack was said to have become a source of great concern to former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who is also a former governor of the State of Osun, as such he wanted the crisis resolved.
The search for solution to the crisis prompted Akande to convene a meeting of stakeholders in the South-West APC. Those that were invited to the meeting included serving and former governors, ministers, and National Assembly members from the South West extraction of the party discussed collective interest of the South West.
At the meeting, which was not attended by the Ondo State governor-elect, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, because he was said not to have been invited, discussion was said to have kicked off on a chummy note. Asiwaju Tinubu was said to have given a remark at the meeting. But the serenity of the meeting, sources said, was ruptured later. Governor Amosun, said to be the arrowhead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s interest in the South-West, and Aregbesola, who is a loyalist of Tinubu, were said to have had some hot exchanges at the meeting.
Trouble was said to have started at the meeting, when Fayemi and Governor Amosun raised allegations that some persons, who are close to Tinubu have tagged them the “Akintola of the Yoruba race,” an allegation that led to a shouting match between Aregbesola and Amosun.
After so much peace talks without any concrete headway, a committee of four was set up, to reconcile the aggrieved parties. The committee , comprises former Ekiti state governor, Niyi Adebayo, former governor of the State of Osun, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Ogun State governor, Aremo Segun Osoba and Tinubu.
But even after that, Saturday Sun further learnt that there were grumblings over the membership of the reconciliation committee, with those opposed to it, saying Tinubu, should not have been part of the reconciliation committee, since he was central to all the problems facing the party, in the region.
This is even as some of the stakeholders present at the meeting, also expressed worry that the Information minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is from the North- Central and representing the zone on the cabinet, was invited to the meeting.
Saturday Sun further learnt that, the same group, also queried why Osoba, who is yet to be a card carrying member of the APC, was not only one of the prominent figures at the meeting, but was also made a member of the reconciliation committee.
The meeting was however reportedly said to have brokered peace between Tinubu and Fashola, on one hand, and between Tinubu and Fayemi, on another hand.
Saturday Sun also gathered that the meeting was also convened to enable APC in the zone, form a formidable front ahead of 2019 general elections, so as to enable it get what rightly belongs to it at the centre.
The attendees, shortly after the meeting took group photographs at the Executive Chambers of the Governor’s Office, as they chanted and chorused: ‘Afenifere, ire owo, ire omo, ire alaafia.’
Before the resolutions at the meeting were presented to newsmen, Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti State, burst into a song: ‘Ko le se se ki ija ma wa. Ti ija ba wa, a ma pari e ni.’ (Misunderstanding is unavoidable. If there is misunderstanding, we should resolve it). As he sang, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was sighted telling him to stop.
The meeting was said to have also x-rayed the APC-led Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari. It however, failed to make its position on that public.
Briefing newsmen, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Osoba, said: “It’s a meeting of elders and stakeholders of South West APC. We are happy that all that were invited came, except the Deputy Speaker (House of Representatives, Mr. Suleiman Lasun), who is out of the country.
“We met principally to discuss the issues in all ramifications, affecting the South- West and we have come out with a resolution to show that in the South-West of APC, there is unity of purpose. The leadership is one. We are all together on all issues and we have resolved on all the issues concerning the governance of this country and what should be the role and influence that we should exercise as a group for the interest of this country and the progress of this country.
“We have examined the government that we were all involved in bringing about, and we have reviewed all the issues. All those that will be taken to Abuja will be taken to Abuja by those concerned. We have related with our legislative arm, the National Assembly members, leaders at the party level and all these issues were taken exhaustively.
“We have related with all our governors and I can assure you that from now onward, there will be total harmony and consultation among our governors for the development of South- West of Nigeria. The South -West is the leader of the progressives and we are determined to re-assert our interest in the progressive politics of this country for the betterment of Nigeria.”
No question was entertained by Osoba after the briefing, and none of the APC stakeholders at the meeting fielded any question from journalists.
It was said that the first time the trio of Tinubu, Fashola and Fayemi would sit together at a meeting since Fashola and Fayemi became ministers, was at the stakeholders’ meeting held on Thursday.
The meeting resolved that divisions within the party in the South-West would take the zone to nowhere, as it might make leaders with their strong political structures in the zone to move to another political party, which might spell doom for APC in the zone.
Among the dignitaries who attended the meeting are: National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the host governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, his counterparts from the State of Osun, Ogun and Lagos.
Others are: Chief Bisi Akande, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, National Legal Adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Raji Fashola,SAN, two former governors of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo, and Segun Oni; former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Also in attendance were: Senate Chief Whip, Prof Sola Adeyeye, Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu; Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Prof Claudius Daramola.