By Henry Odeh
In a silent war of supremacy between Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, the Chairman of Osogbo South Local Council Development Area, Akeem Olaoye and the parliamentarians in the council have become the first casualties.
Although, the two gladiators had on various occasions openly declared that their relationship is cordial, however, the in-fighting between their supporters clearly polarised the party itself into two factions- Ileri-Oluwa and Oranmiyan.
The crisis became obvious after the party’s victory at the Supreme Court on July 5, 2019, when the incumbent governor embarked on a street rally to celebrate the judgement.
Few days later, his predecessor, Aregbesola came all the way from Lagos for another victory rally organised by his supporters.
During the rally, Aregbesola declared that he had become a ‘Godfather’, in the state political arena which however, did not resonate well among the teeming supporters of Oyetola, who felt Aregbesola cannot continue to explore the governor’s calmness to claim dominance over the party in the state.
However, the silent war reached its peak when Oyetola, rather than wait to attend the turbanning of Aregbesola as the Amiru Waziri-l-Muminina of Osun state, embarked on lesser Hajj to Saudi Arabia.
Besides, only three cabinet members attended the event, and only four out of the 62 local government and Council Development Area bosses elected during Aregbesola’s administration were present at the gathering, including the embattled Akeem Olaoye, Osogbo South, Temilade Olokungboye, Osogbo West Local Council Development Area, Olalekan Omole, Obokun East Local Council Development Area and Uthman Mukaila of Ede Area Council.
Some days later, the council boss was confronted with the impeachment crisis. The lawmakers, in a letter to the state house of assembly, alleged that Olaoye’s removal became necessary due to his flagrant disrespect to the law establishing the council, as well as financial irregularities.
The parliamentarians after impeaching the council chairman elected his vice as acting chairman, ordered the impeached boss to handover document in his possession to the acting chairman or council-manager, pending the ratification of the process by the state Assembly.
However, upon getting the notice, the Assembly rather than embarking on its constitutional role of investigation and ratification of the process or otherwise ordered the immediate reversal of the process and declared that the ‘impeached’ chairman remains the authentic council boss, a move vehemently opposed by the leader of the parliamentarians, Badmus Akeem, saying the house had no such power.
Allegations against me frivolous — Olaoye However, Olaoye while speaking with Vanguard said the allegations against him were frivolous, besides, he was not given the opportunity to defend himself. According to him, a little misunderstanding between colleagues was escalated for political reasons, saying his travail was politically motivated by some gladiators in Osogbo.
It was gathered that Olaoye is a loyalist of Senator Ajibola Basiru, the leader of a political group in Osogbo, who is also a keen supporter of the former governor. Besides, the faction loyal to the governor is keen on decimating Aregbesola’s camp in the town. Even after the intervention of Oyetola that warring parties should sheath their swords, a legislative aide to the Senator, Yusuf Akeem posted on a Facebook page that “the governor would be saving his government. He knows our capacity and what we can do. This prompted the Ileri-Oluwa faction allegedly led by a former lawmaker from the town to take a stand and vowed that no one would be allowed access into the council, a threat that was executed as workers and elected officials were denied entry by security operatives on the claim to avoid breakdown of law and order.
Realizing the futility of its stance, the state Assembly quickly summoned both parties last Friday to find a common ground to settle the crisis but only the Olaoye group appeared while the Badmus group snubbed the invitation on the ground that they were not properly invited.
To exonerate itself from the crisis, the lawmakers addressed journalists that its interest is in ensuring that due process is followed and it is not taking sides.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Femi Akande said: “We have had reasons to call both parties to a round table today, trying to find an amicable solution to the crisis, but unfortunately, the party that purportedly removed the embattled chairman failed to show up today, however, the house has resolved to give the gentlemen another chance to come and state their cases next week. It is unfortunate that some people accused the house of taking side, our interest, as lawmakers, is to ensure that due process is followed and to this extent, we would summon both parties again.”
The Assembly also ordered that status quo ante be maintained pending the appearance of both parties before it, a motion the Badmus led group vowed to resist, saying, “Olaoye has been impeached and remain so, we followed due process in his impeachment. We have also made available to security operatives our resolution with a view to helping ensure peace in the council area and we believe he would not go the office.”
Meanwhile, last week Monday, security operatives cordoned off the council Secretariat denying both workers and elected officials access. The state Assembly, in its bid to show neutrality and loyalty to the two gladiators, convened an emergency session last week Monday, suspended the parliamentarians and ordered that the council-manager takes charge of the administrative duties in the council, pending the outcome of it committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs within seven days.
It was however gathered that a majority of the council chairmen had been running the local governments like sole administrators, hence, creating enough enemies for such impeachment moves to succeed.
Before Olaoye’s removal, his colleagues in Olorunda North had been impeached in late October, but the House of Assembly had not yet ratified his impeachment while another that of Olorunda Local Government was also impeached barely a week after Olaoye over alleged financial misappropriation.