MEMBERS of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State trooped out in large numbers on Saturday morning to pick their candidate ahead of the +governorship election slated for July 16, 2022.
Speaking on the turnout, Senator representing Osun Central Ajibola Basiru told Journalists that he was satisfied with the turnout of party members.
“From what you have seen yourself, have you not seen that people are happy to participate in this exercise? This is the third ward I have been to, aside from doing accreditation in my own ward.
“I have been to Ward 10 and now in Ward 9, and we have seen people ready and willing to vote, and everything so far has been very peaceful, and it is contrary to the impression that some people had given that there would be an atmosphere of violence.
“I believe that at the end of the day, the person that enjoys the most support of our party members will emerge, and you will see the beauty of direct primary.
“The party members have taken over the control and will determine who will be their flagbearer,” he said.
An uneasy calm has settled over the state resulting from the tension from a fierce battle for the party’s gubernatorial ticket between the Governor, Gboyega Oyetola and a former Secretary to the State Government Moshood Adeoti.
Adeoti, a former state chairman of the party, have the support of the Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, while an unconfirmed report claimed Oyetola is being backed by a former governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu.
Ironically, Oyetola was the chief of staff to Aregbesola when the latter served as governor of the state for eight years.
However, the relationship between the governor and the minister has deteriorated to the extent that they now belong to different camps of the party in the state.
Also in the race is a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Lasun Yusuf.
On Friday, a convoy of about 30 trucks of combined security team comprising soldiers, police, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) moved around major areas in Osogbo, the state capital in a show of force.
Tension has been on the rise since the beginning of the week when Aregbesola, at the APC stakeholders meeting held at Ijebu-Jesa, declared Adeoti as his candidate for the governorship position and asked members of the party to support him.
A shooting incident in the state also led to accusations and counter-accusations between Aregbesola’s men and Osun State government.
Supporters of Aregbesola, led by the factional APC Chairman Rasaq Salinsile had protested at the Police headquarters in the state, demanding the removal of the Commissioner of Police Wale Olokode.
During the tour to local government areas recently concluded by Oyetola, he called for support of members of the party.
Speaking in Ikire during the last rally held by Aregbesola’s faction, the former governor accused Oyetola of waging war against him since he was elected governor.
He had said, “I begged him (Oyetola) for two years. I told him that people must not mock us. I told him that he was heading towards destruction. I served this State with the whole of my heart. I also positioned Oyetola so that he could succeed me in office.
“When we came to this town (Ikire) for his campaign, we were drenched in the rain from Akire’s palace to this place. He got to the office and claimed I am his enemy. Those who contested against him during our party primary, he pulled them closer while he fights me.
“Since Oyetola assumed office, he has been waging war against me as if I once harmed him. He claimed that I did not want him to emerge as governor. I told him that I heard him and that now he has been governor, what else does he want?
“All that I warned him not to do were what he did. He opposed what I did, all the things I did together with him for eight years, he opposed and reversed them. He thought he could destroy me through my work; nobody was pushing him; he is the one pushing himself.
“When Adeoti was angry with us, he did not abuse us. When we refused to do his will, he protested, but he never cursed us. We have realised our mistake. That is why we gave him the ticket of our caucus.”
But responding, Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, said Aregbesola only expressed personal opinion, insisting that Oyetola did not fight his predecessor.
He said, “Our former principal only expressed a personal opinion which no one was privy to. Oyetola did not fight him. He declared that Oyetola’s tenure was his third term, and he wanted to be in charge.
“He also promised those close to him that 80 per cent of them would return as cabinet members, which did not happen. The former governor thought his eight years tenure was going to be like an eternity. Now, it has ended, but he could not believe that reality. The root cause of the issue (disagreement) is what I just told you.”
Meanwhile, Osun State Police Command on Friday said it had received more men for deployment during today’s primary.
A spokesperson for the command, Yemisi Opalola, said attention was also being paid to border communities to ensure that hoodlums were not allowed into the State.
Opalola, however, warned against acts that could jeopardise peace during the exercise, saying police officers that would be on duty across the State had been duly briefed on the expectations from them.
She said, “We are fully prepared for tomorrow exercise. They (police authorities) have sent more hands from neighbouring states. I can’t tell you the actual number of those deployed.
“By God’s grace, we have mounted checks across all boundary communities in the State. They are well fortified. All boundaries are well taken care of, more men have been deployed. No cause for concern. We are fully ready.”
Meanwhile. Aregbesola lost his ward to Oyetola.