The crack in the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria in Oyo State appears to be widening by the day and may impede the proposed merger of the opposition parties, especially in the state, writes Tunde Sanni
That all is no longer well with the Oyo State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is not news. Effort to paper it down has also failed to yield result. Besides, the death of the party’s leader, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, has also not helped matters. Instead, the development has continued to exacerbate the crisis with new dimensions daily creeping in.
On many occasions, chairman of the party, Chief Akin Oke, on whose head the crisis has festered, has superintended numerous reconciliatory meetings and all proved abortive. With the new dimension, the crisis has resonated in all the local governments and in all the three senatorial districts with each caretaker council chairmen, making effort to water down the tone so as not to put the council bosses in trouble before the governor.
From its sobriquet, the governor’s camp, Senaco (Senator Ajimobi campaign organisation) coined from his days in the All Nigeria’s Peoples’ Party (ANPP) in the 2007 general election, has a new tag: the Integrity Parliament (IP). There had been rivalry among members of the group and their counterparts in the defunct Action Congress (AC), the mainstream of the party, hitherto headed by Adesina.
The crisis, in the days of Adesina, was that the IP group had continued to profit mainly from the political patronage of the administration at the expense of other groups. There was also the grievance of the relegation of the deputy governor of the state, Moses Alake Adeyemo, to the background while his duties have been literally taken over by the wife of the governor, Florence. Sources in the party hinted CODEWIT that the issue had been trashed several times with the Adeyemo camp insisting that the ticket was a joint one between Ajimobi and Adeyemo and not Ajimobi and Florence.
They pointed to several state functions where the pictures of the wife of the governor which ought not to have any bearing with the programme always comes before that of the deputy governor. The alleged hijack of the roles and functions of the deputy governor became an issue when efforts to make the governor address the lopsidedness in political appointments in the state became fruitless.
In one of its posts on the facebook, the Lamist revealed the graphic details of the camp most favoured in political patronage in the state and added that the governor picked his kitchen cabinet by himself without the party’s input.
Thus, the claim of cohesion by the ruling party was troubled shortly after the funeral rites of Adesina, when the Integrity Parliament disparaged the party leadership in a public statement, demanding the dissolution of the executives from the ward to the state levels.
But the permanent exit of Adesina was believed to have emboldened the governor’s camp to stake its authority and hold, apparently as a first step to wresting the control of the party from the remnants of Adesina’s group with the demand by leaders of the Integrity Parliament for the sack of the Oke executive committee. It generated uproar from which the state is yet to recover.
The leaders were Dr. Busari Adebisi, Chairman, State Universal Education Board; Chief Lasisi Ayankojo, Chairman, Local Government Service Commission; Chief Bisi Akande; Chief Kunle Sanda and Alhaja Ramota Balogun.
Expectedly, the group’s affront drew the ire of the party establishment and no sooner had this happened, than the chairman of the party in the three local councils of the state met and condemned it. They immediately recommended the removal of the ring leaders from the positions they enjoyed in government.
The party chairmen described them as “agents of disunity” and asked Ajimobi to sack and replace them with younger blood for being too old and unable to add value to government business. The party chairmen in the five Local Government Areas making up Ogbomoso zone, where the state party chairmen, hails from followed this up by passing a vote of confidence on the party boss.
Since then, the battle for the soul of the party is either fought through advertorials in some newspapers or on the facebook where several groups under different guises had sprung up to take sides in the battle.
Again, there is the ACN Reformation group; the Save Oyo ACN group and the Save Oyo group, all aimed at defending their positions and pointing out the misdeeds of the other group to the public. The publications and the facebook altercations had in the best, restored the eminence of the party chairman as he is now one of the frequently seen faces at state functions.
Interestingly, the call for the sack of the state executive committee of the party which formed one of the planks of crisis in the party took a new turn when the governor, perhaps, realising his mistakes has drawn the party chiefs nearer him, especially the party chairman who now enjoys a rosy relationship with him.
But recent development in the party has indicated that the party is yet to achieve total reconciliation in the state as some party chieftains claimed that they had adopted former Secretary to the State Government, Michael Koleosho, as the new ACN leader in the state. The adoption was however a negation of an earlier adoption of Ajimobi on December 2012, by some party leaders drawn from 11 local councils in Ibadanland following the death of Adesina, both as leader and standard-bearer in the 2015 gubernatorial poll.
The governor’s endorsement for another term without going through the ‘due process’ angered the party elders which included some members of the National Assembly in the state who argued that the action was undemocratic as it could have a bandwagon effect on the party in 2015.
This, however, brought about the reconciliatory meeting which held at the instance of the governor to bring aggrieved party chieftains back to the fold and forge a way forward ahead of the 2015 polls. It was while the reconciliatory moves were ongoing that some party leaders met and made Koleosho, Adesina’s successor.
Those who met were Alhaji Isamotu Ashiru (a.k.a Baba Leader), Dr. Adeniyi Adelakun, Elder Kolawole Adeosun, Tunji Adeoye, Pa Olayinka Adeleke, as well as the immediate past Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr. Kazeem Adedeji.
The party chieftains, in a communique issued at the end of the meeting, expressed concern over the development within the party and warned that the negative consequences of the happenings in the party portended great danger ahead of the forthcoming polls. The forum also condemned the adoption of the governor and any public office holder for second term, describing such calls as distractive, premature and unnecessary.
They stressed the need to return the party to the path trod of true progressives like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who put the people’s welfare at the epicentre of governance. They condemned the alleged dissolution of party executives in some of the local councils by the governor and accused some party leaders of using divide and rule tactics, which they said, had polarised members and caused distrust.
The crisis, CODEWIT checks revealed had been taken to the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, who in turn, directed the governor to pander to the wishes of the elders, especially on the tinkering of the state executive council and give honour and recognition to the office of the deputy governor by ensuring due process in the management of the party affairs.
The last may not have been heard of the crisis in the party especially as the race for 2015 polls gathers momentum. The combatants seem ready and the battle field has been prepared. The referees are the voters who would decide the fate of the party.
But the fear being expressed is that the crisis in ACN which might be carried over to the merger party could rub off on the prospective party and consequently affect the chances of the APC in the 2015 polls. The opposition political parties are also waiting in the wings to profit from the impending implosion in the ruling party.
Surely, for ACN in Oyo, this is not the best of time. The crisis, rather than abate, is festering and with knocks from the opposition parties in the state and the olive brnach being extended to some powerful opinion leaders which aided the party’s victory in the 2011 polls, it is doubtful if the party would post the same victory in the 2015 polls.