By Abiodun KOMOLAFE
In the last three years, the alleged hostilities between Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Rauf Aregbesola, his predecessor in office, stayed only in the realm of speculations. But, in a week or two ago, the cat was eventually let out of the bag when the Minister of the Federal Republic openly confessed that there ‘are now two factions in the State Chapter’ of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Thenceforth, the battle line seemed to have been drawn. But, while the shadow boxing lasted, it is on record that Oyetola has remained focused, unmoved by the display of inanities by the invented opposition, or faction from within. Despite the riotous storm, the governor has kept the compass of governance on course; and this is commendable. Of course, it takes maturity, and great managerial skills to accomplish this feat; which is an essential attribute to look for in leadership!
In other climes, untoward attitudes like the one on hand are enough to shred a government into tatters, especially, when such avoidable feuds are coming from the same political family and political party. That Oyetola is not losing his central balance but remains focused in the discharge of the business of governance as constitutionally demanded of him is therefore noteworthy. We need not forget that, up till now, the governor has not even volunteered a statement, officially. In the public perception, he has also avoided public confrontation with his former boss, who contributed his own quota to the development of the State under the same umbrella. As far as he is concerned, he has a state to govern; and he is doing just that, with dignified deportment. Had he gone on air to make broadcasts or embarked on some campaigns of calumny against perceived or real enemies, the story would have been different, possibly.
A political party is an institution – a public entity – with institutionalised rules of conduct and social engagement. It’s not just a political gathering. Suffice it to say therefore that a viable party is one that has a grip on its affairs. This also speaks to why people join political parties. A basic function of a political party is the recruitment of members. Besides, one of the foundational philosophical ethics of a party is that no true member will dare attempt stuffs that have the capacity to lead to its ruination. To put it bluntly, people join a political party because of the central pillars holding such a party together. These include, but not limited to, ‘a constitution that is clear about a party’s goals and about the role and tasks of members’, and a compellingly appealing document of Party Manifesto and Programmes. Once these pillars remain intact, then, it becomes a ‘till-death-do-us part’ pact.
Elders of our land, let it be known that there’s no family without crises, not even royal kingdoms. But the perception of an unresolved conflict is a clog in the wheel of progress of any society. With particular reference to Osun APC, isn’t it surprising that, rather than recruit new members into its fold, supposed believers or subscribers are now embracing a ‘To-Your-Tent-O-Israel’ kind of arrangement? If nothing has happened to the constitution and/or manifesto of the party, why then will a loyal party man want to rupture the pillars upon which the party stands? Yes, there may be grievances but isn’t it time stakeholders came to a roundtable with a view to discouraging a journey back to the Red Sea?
Now that the troubling scenes are in the open; and, now that it can no longer be denied that ‘brothers are at war’ in Osun APC, the ball is therefore in the court of an unpretentious intervention by the party leadership – to take pre-eminence; or an invented concrete mechanism – to keep undesirable intrusions at bay. Why did I say so? As Osun steadily approaches July 16, 2022, how the internal wrangling is resolved will serve as a precedent for other would-be conflicts. In other words, if reconciliation isn’t encouraged, where necessary; and trust isn’t rebuilt, where needed, it will become an unfortunate reference point. This time, it is most likely going to be a negative precedent. Not only that, the peace of the society will also be at risk; and that will not be too good for a fledgling democracy like ours.
Talking about the implications of the ongoing fracas between opposing members of a family, government may need to educate as well as orientate the people about what’s going on across party lines as a way of further enhancing the credentials of democracy in the State. For example, with the reported factionalisation currently rocking Osun APC, many followers who are not so literate are most likely to be confused about what’s going on, not only locally but also nationally; and that’s likely to have severe consequences for the moral authority and integrity of our democracy. Therefore, if the leadership can see the essence of holding State and Ward meetings, consistently, at a time like this, that will no doubt go a long way in dousing tension as well as cementing any existing cracks.
All said, it is important to note that Oyetola has been able to achieve this much for Osun – paying full salaries and ensuring smooth running of the State – because he has stayed focussed. Many of the roads, including rural roads, that some Nigerians were complaining about, hitherto, are now receiving government’s attention, with some either completed or almost completed. Yes, it is because the governor has opted not to ‘seek a place on the bed of Caesar but has rather continued to prophesy to Caesar about his duty to his citizens’ that other sectors like Health, Agriculture, Education, Internal Security, Special Intervention Programmes and other aspects of the domestic economy have all become a success story.
Last of all, Oyetola should not allow himself to be distracted by the condemnation of the dark world that may be working contrary to the State’s happiness. Instead, he should admit that there are challenges and that the only way to make the beautiful destiny of Osun APC more attractive and busier is by keeping the party machinery moving. To this end, the governor must put his house in order and ensure that members who have chosen to remain loyal are not given any opportunity to drift away. He should bear in mind that a party that wants to implement its plans successfully must be blessed with active members. Conversely, a party that cannot attract; then, nominate candidates, will sooner or later surrender its ‘elemental opportunity for power.’ So, the governor owes posterity a duty to find ways of keeping loyal party members happy and active. The more the party devises programmes to develop ‘members into activists, and activists into leaders’, the more those whose pastime reside in a fertile fancy infatuated with flimsy straws in the ocean of disingenuous tales will continue to wallow in their collective amnesia.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!
*KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])