Osoba: Returning, yet away from home
Whether as Aremo or Akinrogun, Chief Olusegun Osoba, has earned his place in Southwest politics. As a former news reporter, he knows how to get the gist and also make the news.
Recently the Akinrogun was in the news. Shortly before the 2015 general election, he was also in the news for a similar political circumstance. After contributing both in brain and legwork towards the actualization of the merger of some frontline opposition parties into the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osoba quit.
The circumstances of his exit at the point of fruition of the merger exercise caused a lot of political unease, especially in the Southwest. Though he had tried to dismiss the squabble between him and the incumbent state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Osoba was also having some political cum ideological differences with his namesake, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Leaving APC to join the resurrected Social Democratic Party (SDP), situated Osoba’s disappearance from the new mega party was explained as a defection necessitated by ideology and principle. But curious appraisal showed it actually revolved around self preservation.
Having sowed in the new party, Osoba wanted to reap. And being denied the fruits of his sagacity and oversight, he decided to cast anchor on another platform in the belief that, after all, progressive is progressive.
Osoba’s about face then was viewed as a calculated effort to move further afield and take a middle ground in anticipation of the outcome of the presidential election, which remained cloudy to the last hour.
The former two term governor, perhaps adopting his journalistic tool of research and analysis, thought less of the APC contraption and joined SDP that was more of middle of the left.
Instead of anchoring his political future on the shoulder of a born again democrat, Aremo must have contemplated the ease of doing political business in the centre with a pliable democrat. His different perspective played out during the debates on the national conference.
While most leaders of APC thumbed down the conference, Osoba, by virtue of his new alliance with the SDP, saw the national conference as a veritable avenue to reshape the political structure and orientation of the country. For siding with the pro-national conference progressives, Aremo was chosen to lead the bloc of former state governors to the national confabulation.
But not long after, the conference ended and attention shifted to the mode of implementation of the resolutions. Amid those contestations, the election turned the corner. At the end of the day, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its incumbent cum presidential candidate, Jonathan, lost. Shortly the governorship poll in Ogun held, and the APC governorship flag bearer, Amosun, bested the SDP and candidates of the other parties.
Following that unexpected outcome, things looked a little bit foggy for SDP and Akinrogun. The political accommodation or accord concordiale it expected to strike with PDP and Jonathan after victory was won was no longer feasible.
Marooned politically, so to say, his quiescent situation was to change when words started making the rounds about how some members of the National Assembly from Ogun State were putting heads together to settle the rift between Osoba and the Southwest fold of the progressives in APC.
But while the idea of reconciliation sounded good to the ears, none of the protagonists cared to tell how such a project could be successfully prosecuted given the fact that Osoba kicked against the decision of the party to hand over the APC structure in Ogun to Amosun.
Furthermore, the peace advocates did not see a road block ahead against the background that had SDP won the governorship or PDP triumphed in the presidential election, such talks could not have been feasible.
Again, there was the tendency for Amosun to stonewall, knowing that though the governorship had been settled, his succession agenda was yet to be executed. Osoba had actually wanted to be treated differently when APC resolved to donate the party’s structures in the states to incumbent governors, so as to be able to help the party deliver the winning votes in their states.
From playing a spoiler out of frustration and calculating the benefits of a likely political accommodation at the centre, should PDP win, Akinrogun came across as a typical Nigerian politician. What mattered at the point of departure from APC, seemed to be his immediate political interest and those of his loyalists.
As the member representing Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency of the state in the House of Representatives, Ayodele Isiaka, who was among those angling for a reconnect with Osoba; explained: The differences between Amosun and Aremo Osoba was political, rather than personal.
Not much was heard about the peace talks until Osoba hugged the front pages of major national news media, last week. And as the news broke, the return of the former Ogun State governor to the fold of APC raised anew speculations of political realignments in the country. The backward defection also exposed the trends in political rebuffs and reconnections in the polity.
Osoba has by his action established what he tried to denounce in words, namely, his unresolved trouble with Governor Amosun. During the burial ceremony of the mother of the former Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2010, Aremo dismissed the quarrel before journalists. He had said: “Where did you hear that? There is nothing like that, we are all stakeholders in the state saddled with the responsibility to deliver dividends of democracy to our people, it is a mere rumour and there is no element of truth in it. In ACN, we are one family with same vision and focus for development.”
Yet try as much as he could, the fight with the incumbent remains as a gaping wound. Amosun’s camp has denied that the Akinrogun has returned to APC. By that position he wants the returnee to do the needful including, literally coming to ‘dobale’ (obeisance) for him at the Government House and going to his ward to register to become a member of APC once again.
Given the fresh development, Aremo has made himself a political bat; belong neither as landed animals nor to those of the air. He would be left to roam the political fields of Southwest, at the risk of being effectively suspended from his roots.
Could it be that the Southwest leaders programmed to use Aremo as pawn on the chessboard of zonal political, and thereby teach him a lesson in teambuilding and discipline? The leaders created the impression that all contending issues that led to Osoba’s exit had been ironed out, before the meeting at his (Aremo’s) Ikoyi residence. But on the roll call, one name was missing. There were in attendance, former APC interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, (Osun); APC National Vice Chairman (Southwest) Chief Pius Akinyelure; Lagos State Deputy Governor Oluranti Adebule, (representative of Governor Akinwumi Ambode); former Ekiti State Governor, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and former Ogun State Deputy Governor, Segun Adesegun, (Amosun’s estranged deputy). Governor Amosun, was missing both in name and physical representation.
Tinubu had observed that it was very crucial for APC to strengthen its border, stressing that “progressives must be united with their vision”. Despite those enticing words, Osoba should know that he could become a field officer without a base, at least, while Amosun is still around.
He may have been procured to fight other people’s battles. And being a former governor, he should remember the power of incumbency. His return journey not being so smooth, Aremo should also recognize the fact that he has been made to occupy the centre of new animosities in the party.
If the party overlooks the due process of ward registration, should he be singled out for a party function, Amosun group could go to court to press their disclaimer. The former governor may have opened himself up for a similar misfortune that befell his former colleague, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, during his spat with then Governor Sullivan Chime.
Until he is free to mix with APC members at the grassroots where Amosun remains leader, Aremo Segun Osoba, would remain away from home no matter what roles they procure for him abroad.
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