There is an alleged plan to scuttle the current power shift arrangement in operation since 1999 in Osun State. This is causing an uneasy calm as politicians on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), hold nocturnal consultations in their bid to succeed Governor Rauf Aregbesola in 2018.
Suspicion is ripe within the party over speculations that the rotational formula on ground is under serious threat. As it stands today, two senatorial districts have had their feel at the Government House, Abere.
The first democratically elected governor in this dispensation, Chief Bisi Akande of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), hails from Ila Oragun in the Central axis between 1999 and 2003. He was succeeded by Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Oyinlola is from Okuku, also within the Central Senatorial District. He was in the Government House between 2003 and 2010. Aregbesola hails from Ilesha in the East Senatorial District.
With the foregoing, the belief is that, all things being equal, Aregbesola’s successor is expected to come from the Western axis. But the fear now is that, with the rumoured governorship ambitions of some party members from the two zones, Central and Eastern, the unwritten zoning arrangement is under serious threat. This is so because of the caliber of the said aspirants from those two zones.
The only time the Western zone produced the governor was in the 90s during the botched Third Republic under President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as President. The then governor from the West, Isiska Adeleke, who was the first civilian governor, spent only 22 months before the republic was terminated by General Sani Abacha.
Another threat to the zoning formula, according to investigation is the plans from some quarters to claim that every senatorial district is divided into two zones. Going by this permutation, it means that Aregbesola can be succeeded by another person from the East since the axis consists of Ife and Ijesha.
With Aregesola of Ijesha extraction, it is reasoned that an aspirant can also join the 2018 gubernatorial race from Ife zone of the Eastern axis.
It is the fear of losing the slot in 2018 that the leadership of the party from West Senatorial District put heads together to speak with one voice. It is to forestall a situation whereby the slot would elude the axis as a result of avoidable in-house bickering.
It is against this backdrop that APC elders from the West hold monthly meetings with a view to harmonizing their position on the crucial matter. The last meeting was held in Iwo on Sunday, October 30.
Deliberations in the meeting, according to sources centered on how to ensure that the zoning arrangement, now in favour of the West is enforced and not tampered with. The meeting was imperative going by the growing number of the governorship aspirants springing up from the zone, the result of which can cause intra zonal district crisis of an unimaginable proportion that can jeopardize the chance of the axis to produce the next governor.
The all-inclusive meeting of the aspirants at Iwo was to strategize on how to handle the sensitive matter to avoid losing the slot to other zones. An elder of the party in the zone who would not want his name mentioned said:
“The meeting is called actually to sieve the boys from the men. Within ourselves, we know who are serious and those who are mere pretenders. The race is for the real men who are already tested and trusted.”
At the last count, no fewer than seven aspirants, including a woman, have signified their intentions to succeed Aregbesola on the APC ticket from the Western zone. Notable among them are Adeleke (Ede), former House of Assembly Speaker, Professor Majeed Alabi (Ejigbo), the sitting Speaker, Najim Salam (Ejigbo) and House of Representatives member, Gafar Amere (Iwo).
Others are Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti (Iwo), party secretary, Gafar Salensile (Iwo) and daughter of a Lagos based elder statesman, S.O.B. Babalola, Idiat Babalola (Ede). She is rumoured to be actually eyeing the deputy governorship slot to pair with the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola, Gboyega Oyetola (Iragbiji).
Unconfirmed reports have it that Oyetola is also nursing ambition to succeed his boss from the Central zone. Other rumoured aspirants from other zones are; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf (Ilobu), former Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr. Bashiru Ajibola (Osogbo) and former Senator Felix Ogunwale (Iragbiji).
But party spokesman, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said APC has no programme for 2018 for now, stating that the party’s preoccupation is how to get more democracy dividends to the good people of the state. He said any declaration of intention for 2018 now is highly informal, reminding them that the present government has more than two years to spend.
However, Oyatomi saw nothing wrong in any politician wanting to vie for any position. He said there is still about a year or more for governorship election to hold in Osun State, saying against that background, APC has no programme for that now.
Aregbesola’s spokesman, Alhaji Semiu Okanlawon, said his principal is not given to unnecessary detractions.