Some Yoruba leaders, including traditional rulers, yesterday, began a move to resolve the conflict between the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and former governor of Osun State and Minister for Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2003 and Aregbesola who, served under him as Commissioner for Works before going to Osun State to become governor in 2010, has been at loggerheads over the Osun State governorship election scheduled to hold on July 16 2022.
The two APC leaders are currently engaging in a war of words over the re-election bid of Governor Gboyega Oyetola. While Tinubu is supporting Oyetola who is his blood brother, Aregbesola, who is the immediate predecessor of the governor, believes that Oyetola does not deserve a second term just like former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was deprived of re-election in Lagos in the October 2018 direct governorship primary election.
Aregbesola is insisting that what Ambode was alleged to have done that made Tinubu, himself and other stakeholders join forces to stop the former Lagos governor in 2018, Oyetola has done worse than that, lamenting that Tinubu is now trying to protect Oyetola because they are brothers.
The concerned traditional rulers said their intervention became important because there are no leadership strata in the Yoruba APC that could stop Tinubu and Aregbesola from the current show of shame.
A source within the traditional institution told The Guardian yesterday that efforts were ongoing to prevent the reoccurrence of what happened between the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his then Deputy, the late Chief S.L Akintola, that led to the Western Region crisis in the 1960s.
The source also said that beyond the fear of the damage that Tinubu and Aregbesola could do to each other’s political career, the monarchs are of the belief that the fight will set a very bad precedent for the younger generations.
“The thinking of the worried monarchs is that the mudslinging approach the two political leaders have adopted would reduce the pride of Yoruba race among other ethnic nationalities. They wonder what’s the life span of the two fighters for them to destroy the integrity of their race and coming generations because of political interest,” the source said.
But beyond the Osun saga, which is believed to be the remote cause of the outburst between Tinuhu and Aregbesola, The Guardian learnt that what actually triggered the crisis was the advice the minister gave Tinubu to jettison his presidential ambition, claiming that the presidency and northerners were not favourably disposed to it.
“Since that day, there have been targeted efforts to decimate Aregbesola both in Lagos and Osun State, which of course is forcing the minister to fight back now,” the source said.
It was gathered that to further prevent any form of crisis among personalities eying the presidency in Yoruba land, the traditional rulers and other Yoruba leaders may still approach the likes of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is still interested in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Tinubu. Such invitation is likely to be extended to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. The aim is to appeal for a consensus.
When his opinion was sought, Chairman of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said he did not want to get involved in the personal issue between Tinubu and his former Works Commissioner. “I don’t want to be involved at all. They know and understand each other’s secret and they will expose it. Let us not degrade national issues to individual matters,” Adebanjo said.
A former Minister of Defence and now Chairman, Social Democratic Party, Dr. Olu Agunloye, who claimed that Tinubu is his personal friend while Aregesola is a close friend of his (Agunloye) junior brother, said their misunderstanding is better resolved not for political purposes but in the interest of Yoruba nation. “The way they are going they will destroy many things.”
Secretary-General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide said he had been extremely worried over the type of news he read concerning Tinubu and Aregbesola in the last couple of weeks.
“It is not doing the Yoruba nation any proud both at home and abroad. The two of them could be described as foremost Yoruba political leaders for now. To start washing their dirty linens in the public is a great disservice to Yoruba people. I appeal to them to caution their supporters while the elders in Yoruba land will intervene quietly to resolve their differences.”
President of Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu, said it was necessary for the traditional rulers, especially the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Awujale of Ijebu land, Alake of Egba land, and others to resolve the crisis. “The traditional rulers should not fold their arms and allow the interests of two political gladiators to destroys the aspirations of millions of other subjects of theirs.”