What does Aregbesola want from Oyetola? By Ismail Omipidan

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By Ismail Omipidan

I am compelled to ask this question because of what I knew before I came in contact with my Principal, Adegboyega Oyetola in July, 2019, and even afterwards.

I am aware that Oyetola reluctantly accepted to serve as the Chief of Staff to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. I am equally aware that he served him diligently and was brutally loyal to him. Not many people would accept the change of role and never laced it with some form of arrogance.

Aregbesola himself admitted publicly that when people say they struggled to plant the seed of the progressives in Osun, there were those that were the real face of the struggle. The unsung heroes who funded the struggle. He acknowledged the financier role played by Oyetola. Imagining now having such a person say “yes, sir,” to you. Anyone who knows Aregbesola very well would agree that only a very gentle and civil man like Oyetola could have tolerated him as a boss.

I recall my first deep conversation with my Principal over an issue in his office. It lasted for over 30 minutes. I can’t remember everyone present on that occasion. But I will never forget the face of a former lawmaker and former commissioner. Once the conversation was over, with my principal conceding to my position, the lawmaker followed me downstairs where he acknowledged my submissions, which he termed brilliant. He followed it up with these words: “You are lucky. You argued with your boss, and in the end, he conceeded. You can’t try that with Aregbesola. Even those of us who were lawmakers in his time, we couldn’t try it with him.” And I responded: “that’s why God did not bring me in his time. I certainly would have left the job. I can’t work with someone if I cannot state my position on issues.” For me, that gave me an idea the kind of leadership Aregbesola provided his cabinet.

In spite of all that Aregbesola did to Oyetola, in June last year when I decided to take on the man, my principal was angry with me and instructed me to stop. That was why I could not proceed. But Aregbesola appeared bent on destroying Oyetola’s reputation. He forgot that whoever God has made, no man can curse, apology to 2Face Idibia.

JUNE 2023, I penned an opinion piece with the title : “Powers Behind the Throne: Era of ‘Go and See Rauf’ Appears Gone!”. In that piece, I predicted a rough political journey for the former Osun governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, unless he retraced his step.

In the article, I stated that around President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in those days, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the immediate past Interior Minister, was the de facto Power Behind the Throne. You would hardly get anything without his input and final stamp. Once you encountered President Tinubu, the next thing was ‘go and see Rauf’.

I added that as Governor of Osun State, unless certain Lagos matters got to Osogbo, they were never resolved. Tickets into certain offices in Lagos were sanctioned from Osogbo, with the express approval of ‘Rauf’.

With Tinubu, Rauf’s words were law. Fall out with Rauf, then you were out of favour with Tinubu.

But somehow, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola mismanaged the relationship, abused the trust and even attempted to play God.

I counselled that Baba Kabiru should be deliberate about reconciling with his leader and benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other political associates who he might have offended in the course of trying to flex muscles and assert his dominance.

Curiously, rather than retracing his steps, showing remorse and finding a way to be reintegrated into the fold for possible political rehabilitation, Aregbesola carried on with air of arrogance. Even when it became obvious that he had lost the steam, he was egged on by some charlatans, professing to him that he remained their symbol and torchbearer. His refusal to reconcile with key figures reflects a misguided sense of entitlement and arrogance.

It will be recalled that following his appointment as minister under the Buhari-led administration, Aregbesola was treated to a celebratory banquet by the APC Government in Osun, led by his successor, Adegboyega Oyetola. But when he returned after his ministerial stewardship, he was welcomed not by the Osun State APC, but by some obscure politicians, who had encouraged him to impair the relationship with the man whom God Almighty used to bring him out of Alimosho squalor. Aregbesola was welcomed by spent forces and yesterday’s men.

While in Abuja, Aregbesola never participated in any election here in Osun. He never showed any iota of concern for Osun as a minister during the raving COVID-19 pandemic. It is on record that as a member of the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, Aregbesola behaved as though Osun needed no support from the FG to the extent that after Osun successfully contained the famous Ejigbo 127 Ivory Coast returnees, he almost forced another set on Osun.

I stated clearly last year that if the so-called ‘welcome home’ gathering was to relaunch him back to political reckoning, then, Aregbesola and those behind it had missed the point.

And as I predicted, the Ijesa-born politician is now struggling for attention and relevance in a state he governed for eight years. Sadly, he believes his woes are compounded by Oyetola, a man that does not have his time. Do a content analysis of Osun Defender, a paper promoted by Aregbesola, you would think it was established to bring down Oyetola at all cost.

Sadly, the paper had died even while Aregbesola was governor. It was revived by Oyetola. The Osun State Government was owing the paper over 20 million naira for supplies and advert placements. As Governor, Aregbesola could not pay the debt. Osun Defender workers were owed salary. In fact, they had started embarrassing Aregbesola publicly with placards over their unpaid salaries. It was this same Oyetola that saved the day. They paid the outstanding salary arrears. That was how Osun Defender bounced back to life.

I pity Aregbesola. A once-upon-a-time flamboyant politician has now become unanimated and less attractive. No serious politician wants to identify with him. Yet with feeling of self-importance, he continues to wage war against the structure which brought him into limelights. But let me say for the umpteenth time that if Aregbesola continues his political war against the party and persons that brought him to political reckoning, he may not survive it. But if the Osun State PDP government is willing and ready to fund the political war, then, he may go far.

May I remind my readers that historically, since 1999, those that are today waging war on the progressives in Osun have never spent their personal money to advance any political cause. They have always relied on the Tinubu’s political family financial war chest and government’s money. Once these two sources of funding are blocked, give them some months from now, the market will cease to exist and the traders will go their separate ways.

But one thing Aregbesola must know is that an average Osun APC faithful only appears to be waiting for the appropriate time to square up with him. When the time comes, the former governor may not be able to withstand the onslaught. I rest my case for now.

Omipidan, a journalist and Public Affairs analyst writes from Ile Olorisa Compound, Eyindi, Ila Orangun.

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