ANALYSIS: How Aregbesola’s rift with Tinubu may affect their Political Ambitions

All is not well with the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the crisis between two political allies, ex-governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola deepens.

POLITICS NIGERIA reported how Aregbesola who was once a loyalist to Tinubu openly criticised the national leader of the APC at a political rally in Osun State on Monday.

He accused his former boss of silence over alleged lack of respect being displayed to him by Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State.

Aregbesola stylishly condemned Tinubu for supporting Oyetola, his nephew who seems to have highjacked the minister’s political structure in Osun. He also used the Monday outburst to declare his support for Moshood Adeoti, former Secretary to the State Government who is contesting against Oyetola and Lasun Yusuf, ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The trio are the aspirants expected to battle for APC ticket during the primary election billed for Saturday, February 19, 2022. While Lasun’s chance of securing the party’s ticket appears very slim, it’s not clear if Aregbesola’s new bride, Adeoti has the influence to be the flagbearer of the APC in the coming election.

The good-old-days between Aregbesola and Tinubu

If not for the popular saying that “there is no permanent friend in politics”, one would have swore that Aregbesola and Tinubu will end their lives as allies. It was a friendship cum father and son relationship. In absence of Tinubu, Aregbesola’s decision was always final.

Insiders confirmed to POLITICS NIGERIA that in many instances, Tinubu usually ask his followers to take instructions from Aregbesola as far back as his early days as the Director General of Asiwaju Campaign during the 1999 election.

As the Commissioner for works for eight years in Lagos, POLITICS NIGERIA learnt that Aregbesola was the ‘class captain’ of Tinubu’s executive council and ‘de facto governor’ of the cabinet. It is, however, important to note that Tinubu did not just trust Aregbesola with so much power, the minister of interior showed political dexterity and he delivered.

Perhaps that was why Tinubu went as far as hiring international experts to fault the election result that rigged Aregbesola out in Osun in 2007. After three and half years, Tinubu ensured that Aregbesola got back his mandate from Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In one of his interviews after the supreme court declared him victorious and as the legitimate governor of Osun, Aregbesola called Tinubu his “demi god.” He said “after God, all power belongs to Tinubu for everything I achieve as a person.”

What has changed? He has lost Alimosho which used to be his strong hold in Lagos, he has condemned Tinubu openly and declared war against Asiwaju’s nephew. The answer to other major crisis between the duo remains between them. Interestingly, it seems worse than what the public can percieve.

The Implications

Just two days after embarrassing Tinubu publicly, the House of Representatives ordered an immediate investigation over the usage of over N165 billion budgeted to the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCS) within the last two years.

Adopting a motion under matters of national importance sponsored by Ndudi Elumelu at the plenary presided by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the House explained that the measure was aimed at addressing the appalling state of custodial facilities and general welfare of inmates in the country.

Even though Gbajabiamila said his leadership is not targeting Aregbesola with the decision to probe spending in the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), many Nigerians wondered why the development came at a time when he tackled Tinubu. For many political pundits who spoke with POLITICS NIGERIA, the probe came at the wrong time even if the lawmakers have genuine interest.

For those who are suspicious about the probe, they may be politically correct because majority of the members of the House Representatives are Tinubu’s loyalists including with the speaker, Gbajabiamila who got his seat on the back of Asiwaju.

POLITICS NIGERIA recalls that some party leaders never wanted him to return to the national assembly for the fifth time but Tinubu interfered on the grounds that 2019 was Gbajabiamila’s best opportunity to be the speaker and number four citizen of the country.

By simple arithmetic, if Tinubu refused to fight Aregbesola openly, he has a lot of people to do the job for him.

Blurry future

Meanwhile, the fight between the duo may affect their political engagement in future especially now that Tinubu is running for president. Before now, the politician has lots of controversies surrounding his ambition.

Aregbesola’s open assault has also shown that his house is not in order. In what appeared like a reaction to Aregbesola’s action, the House of Representatives led by Tinubu’s loyalists want him probed.

The big question is: if Aregbesola could summon the courage to dare the ‘political god’ of the Southwest openly, he may not mind exposing some secrets he has against Asiwaju at his disposal.

The probe of Aregbesola may mean the beginning of the demystification of Tinubu.

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