A week after the South-west leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, ostensibly to review the state of the party in the zone, some of the sordid details of the reportedly heated meeting, which forced the idea of collegiate leadership have begun to emerge, especially the alleged dirty in-fighting that took place amongst some of the gladiators.
This is, however, coming at a time the South-south caucus of the APC has also slated a similar meeting tomorrow evening, at the residence of one of its leaders in Abuja, the nation’s capital, also to review the standing of the party within the collective and shape up ahead of future challenges.
But the Ibadan meeting of the South-west APC, THISDAY gathered, almost went out of control when some of the leaders started to accuse one another of betrayal and disloyalty to the leadership in the zone.
The meeting, it was learnt, had started with opening remarks from the host governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, followed by a former chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who admonished the gathering before a former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, further laid the foundation for discussions at the meeting.
Although the leadership of the party had also brought to the meeting, some development professors to address the gathering on development concepts and see what to take away from it to their respective postings, some of the participants had quickly pointed out that the meeting was not called for lectures on development concepts but to resolve the animosity that exists within the caucus in the zone.
Whilst the meeting had allowed all present to speak their mind about whatever ill-feelings they had, the dirty fights did not however start till the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, and the former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, reportedly openly attacked his Ogun State counterpart, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is the immediate past governor of Ekiti State.
According to sources, Aregbesola was said to have screamed at the top of his voice, accusing both Amosun and Fayemi of betrayal to the South-west leadership, insinuating also that they were the very reason the party in the zone is in the state it is.
He was said to have made specific reference to the post-Ondo governorship election meeting held some weeks ago in Abeokuta, Ogun State, saying Amosun set them up by revealing details of the meeting verbatim, apparently referring to THISDAY’s exclusive report on how the meeting went awry, especially the altercation between both of them.
It was at that point that Fayemi, who allegedly did most of the talking was said to have stood up to state his case in a manner that laid the tone for further discussion.
Starting with the allegation of betrayal and disloyalty, specifically against Tinubu, Fayemi was said to have told the gathering that comparing him to the late Chief Ladoke Akintola of the old western region had gone on for too long and that it was a story sold by Aregbesola and his likes to make him and the others look bad.
He was said to have asked the meeting to determine between the two of them, the person that suits the Akintola description – either him that stood by the party and did that which the party wanted or Aregbesola who revolted against the party and even posted one of his most trusted aides, Mr. Bola Ilori, to campaign for a candidate of a different party.
He was said to have told Tinubu that he was fond of believing every tale brought to him by Aregbesola, without as much as checking with others, adding that except he starts treating all of his mentees equally, he would continue to have the kind of problem he is having with a majority of them in the party.
He was said to have further asked Tinubu if he had ever called him to speak about where his interest was and he worked against it (referring to the Ondo crisis), a question to which Tinubu was said to have quickly dismissed, saying also that as a democrat he (Tinubu) had no interest in anyone but was only forced to speak up when Dr. Tunji Abayomi accused him of bias.
On this note, Fayemi therefore affirmed his position on the Ondo election, saying since there was no direct order from the top, apart from the manipulations by Aregbesola and his cohorts, he had a right as an individual to support whoever he wanted the same way Aregbesola opted for a non-APC candidate in an APC battle.
According to another source present at the meeting, Fayemi also made specific mention of an interview believed to have been orchestrated by enemies within to make him look bad by claiming he disparaged the leadership of Tinubu in the zone.
Before denying having anything to do with the interview which went viral on the social media, Tinubu was said to have quickly intercepted, saying he saw the rebuttal by Fayemi and that he believed his own side of the story. But Fayemi complained that such a move showed the degree of desperation by some elements within to demonise some of them believed to be rebellious to the leadership of Tinubu in the zone.
Amosun, who allegedly had his own altercation with Aregbesola was however said to have added that it was bad enough that the fake Fayemi interview went viral on the social media, that some of such falsehood gained prominence on the front page of a national daily believed to be owned by their leader spoke volume of the bad blood within.
He was said to have also told the gathering to ask if there was anything Tinubu had asked of him and he did not do, yet he gets most of the attacks and criticism from a newspaper believed to be Tinubu’s and by extension, theirs as a political family. He said he nursed no guilt because his conscience was clear and therefore left everything to God if he ever did anything deliberately to undermine Tinubu.
A few other persons, like another former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, also spoke their mind in the bid to clear all grudges. It was Adebayo, according to sources that plainly situated the collegiate leadership idea before it was accepted by the whole meeting, which sanctioned that each leader should hold their local authority in the politics of their state.
When it was certain that all present had spoken their mind on their grievances, Akande then asked Tinubu to do a general response to all that was said by everyone since they were largely about him, with a view to putting the animosity behind them at once.
Thus, in his response, Tinubu was said to have dismissed allegations of bias amongst his mentees and also refuted the allegation that Aregbesola was snitching on the others, saying he had tried as much as possible to be fair to everyone to the best of his ability and that he had nothing against anyone.
He allegedly tried to justify this by recalling that he recently spoke to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, from overseas, where he was vacating and had jocularly told him that “You are working hard there and I am enjoying here.” The same way he allegedly reached out to Fayemi days back to help attend to some foreign nationals, who needed help.
To that end, he reportedly appealed to everyone to let go of the bickering, adding that the future of the party in the zone was the most important thing to its leadership.
It was against this backdrop that a reconciliation committee comprising Akande, Osoba, Adebayo and Tinubu was set up to look into all the issues raised and resolve them once and for all.
Soon after the committee was set up, Ajimobi was said to have quickly given an idea on how to start, saying there would not be genuine reconciliation without first reconciling for instance, Fashola and his successor, Akinwunmi Ambode; Fayemi and Aregbesola; Amosun and Aregbesola; as well as himself and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu.
On that note, the Ibadan meeting ended, with the younger elements, having their way with the pushed collegiate agenda and the older folks agreeing to their terms in the interest of peace and the development of the region.
However, with the South-west taking a successful crucial caucus initiative, the South-south wing of the party has also followed suit with a meeting slated for tomorrow in Abuja.
Holding at the residence of one of the leaders and minister, the meeting is expected to have in attendance, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki; his predecessor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; Senator Magnus Abe; Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Peterside Dakuku; former NDDC MD, Mr. Timi Alaibe; new Chairman of the NDDC, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba; the new NDDC DG, Mr. Nsima Ekere, other ministers and political appointees from the zone and members of the National Assembly.
The South-south meeting, an inside source said, is designed to review the position of the zone within the federation as currently constituted, its relevance within the party, how to move the zone forward within the power equation and ultimately, how to take over the zone during the next round of elections.
Although an invitation was said to have been extended to the Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, his attendance is however dicey as he is said to have consistently told those who cared to listen that he is not a member of the APC.
THISDAY source said he had though promised to attend however late since he had other engagements, he did not hide the fact that he is not an APC member, as such, his attendance is one of mixed feelings. The source said one of the leaders of the party, who asked that the invitation be extended to him likes him a lot and believes he must be accorded all respect in the zone, hence the invitation to attend.
Sources hinted that the zonal caucus meetings of the party might have become imperative and a regular feature in the light of the unfolding developments in party, where each zone and their leaders must hold down their area for the party in preparation for the battle ahead of 2019.