It’s All Over
Tension generated by the altercations between Rauf Aregbesola, governor of Osun State, and Iyiola Omisore, former senator, is now over
For the people of the State of Osun as the former State of the Living Spring is now referred to, courtesy of Rauf Aregbesola, the state governor, the past four weeks could be tagged a season to show solidarity with the governor. On April 15, 2012 a security report allegedly prepared by the State Security Service, SSS, was published by a newspaper.
In it, the Federal Government was said to have “mobilised virtually all security agencies in the country to put Aregbesola on 24-hour surveillance.” The agency levelled grave allegations of discarding conventional police and SSS security men in preference for members of the Jama’at Ta’awunil Muslimeen, TAWUN, as private guards, attempting to islamise and excise the landlocked state from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It raised an eyebrow over the state government’s plan to buy 750,000 school uniforms for public school students and sew them in Islamic style. The alleged report queried the state’s new adoption of a new anthem and crest.
After the report was leaked, Iyiola Omisore, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Osun and former chairman, Appropriation Committee of the Senate, told newsmen in his country home in Ile-Ife, that he would stop and dislodge any private security man in the governor’s convoy. “We will stop his convoy, search and remove all the arms his thugs are using. It is unethical to use thugs as security. Aregbesola should explain why he goes about with thugs. Who wants to kill him? Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is more important than he is. If Aregbesola does not trust the SSS, let him resign. We are going to stop his convoy and search him,” he was quoted by a newspaper.
Since the grave allegations were made against the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, governor, words of support have been pouring in torrents for him. From Christian and Muslim clerics to monarchs, traditional belief practitioners, student bodies and politicians from within and outside, the show of support has been tremendous. Even kinsmen and cousins of Omisore, the governor’s traducer, have not been left out of the outpouring of good words for Aregbesola.
The controversy has, however, snowballed into regular altercations between the ACN and PDP, with the latter criticising every government policy. The PDP accused the administration of witch-hunting its leaders in the state, especially Omisore. Diran Odeyemi, the party’s spokesman, advised the state’s police command led by Kalafite Adeyemi, a commissioner of police, to steer clear of the matter.
But Kunle Oyatomi, his ACN counterpart, described Omisore’s act as an assassination attempt. “We call on all lovers of peace in the country to advise Omisore and his cohorts against this act of desperation first in his own interest and in the interest of peace and survival of democracy in the country. If the PDP in the South-West even has a private army, it will be suicidal to use that illegal army against the chief security officer and chief executive of a state, which is a federating unit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said adding: “When did it become the responsibility of Omisore to determine who constitutes the security convoy of the governor? Is he now the national security adviser? Or has he replaced the Inspector General of Police or the Director of State Security Service?”
The party noted that earlier, Segun Oni, new national vice-chairman of PDP in the South- West had threatened to make Osun ungovernable for Aregbesola. “These are not just mere coincidences. They have the hallmarks of strategic planning of criminal nature. President Jonathan, who is a national leader of the PDP, has a responsibility to protect the citizens of this country against criminals, assassins and political thugs who are driven by desperation to create mayhem like the one being plotted against Governor Aregbesola by the PDP and its chieftains in the South-West,” Oyatomi said.
Barely a week after issuing the threat, the former senator denied he ever said so but was misquoted. “As a politician who does not believe in politics of life and death, issuing of such threat as reported by the media was uncalled for. It is unfortunate that I could be misquoted to the extent of issuing a threat of attacking Aregbesola’s convoy. Why should I make such a threat for God’s sake? I have no problem with Aregbesola or any politician whatsoever, why should I attack his convoy? In fact is that possible? In what capacity will I be carrying out an empty threat?,” he asked rhetorically.
Last week, Aregbesola told Newswatch that he had put the incident behind him lest it distracts him from governance. However, he said that long before it was published, he had got a copy of the report. “I told the President of my observations and my concern about the threat to the stability of my state and the security of my person,” he said (see box).
He believes his note was receiving the right attention in the Presidency, Abuja. “From all indications I am quite conscious of the efforts being made to ensure that issues are not allowed to degenerate to the level of constituting a threat to my personal security, security of my state and the stability of the nation.”
Also, the security agencies have begun to look into the matter. Last week, one of the reporters who were at Omisore’s residence in Ile Ife for the chat was guest of the SSS and Criminal Investigation Bureau, CIB, Osogbo. Newswatch learnt that they have obtained copies of the tape of the interview.