Mr Rasaq Salinsile is the leader of the faction of All Progressives Congress in Osun State supported by the Minister of Interior and former governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola. In this interview. Salinsile demands the cancellation of the recently held primaries where candidates of the party in 2023 polls emerged.
What is the situation in Osun APC currently bearing in mind the tussle over control of the party involving you and the chairman, Gboyega Famoodun, recognised by the national leadership of the party?
As far as my side is concerned, we don’t have any problem.
Have you rejected Governor Adegboyega Oyetola as the APC governorship candidate in the forthcoming poll or decided to support him?
Well, my group belongs to the APC. We don’t have any other party. It is just that the man at the helm of affairs, that is, the governor, does not understand the rudiment of politics. Otherwise, the misunderstanding should not have gone this far at all.
What exactly did the governor do wrong?
He created the problem. We worked together as a united party while electing him. However, he started the politics of segregation and division immediately he got into power. Along the line, he sent somebody, an intermediary to me and two other members of the party, of his interest to meet us and that he would like us to grant him an audience. I said no problem, he is still my governor. I think that time was around the period we had the ward congress. He said he was travelling to Abuja and would see us upon his return.
However, a week, two, three to four weeks after, he wasn’t forthcoming and I had to call the supposed intermediary to find out what was happening. The feedback was that Governor Oyetola said the matter had gone beyond his power. That means that he takes instructions from someone who is higher than him. Well, there is nothing one can do than watch. It means he can do it all alone. So, let’s see where that takes him.
Your faction is currently before an Abuja Federal High Court regarding the last governorship primary of the APC. What is the status of the case?
We were not in court for the primary that produced Oyetola. We were in court because of an infraction along the line because we are aware of a particular part of the Electoral Act which says that you must resign your appointment one month before contesting an election. As the governor, Oyetola doesn’t have to do that, but as a member of the APC Caretaker Committee at the national level, he should have resigned and stood firm. But all through that period, he refused to quit and that is what we took to court. The case is coming up again on the 20th of this month.
Specifically, are you asking the court to replace Oyetola with Moshood Adeoti whom your group supported during the primary?
Sure, the Electoral Law is very clear about it. If you run afoul of it, you have forfeited your votes. There are no two ways about it, other than for him to step aside, and for Adeoti to step in.
Will this not affect the chances of your party winning the governorship poll?
It would be a plus for us in the sense that Oyetola came from the wrong constituency. People in and beyond Osun know that it was supposed to be the turn of Osun West to produce the governor in 2018.
The Osun Central Senatorial District where he comes from has been in government for eleven and half years, the East for eight years and the West Senatorial District for just twenty-two months. So, everybody was expecting that the slot would go to the West, but because of one thing that led to the other, the West’s agitation did not go as expected and in cases like that, the beneficiary if he behaves like a mature person, within a short time, everybody will forget about it and wait for another time.
Instead of him being a father figure to everybody, he started the politics of division and segregation. He does not want to see anyone that does not belong to the Ilerioluwa group, which is his campaign group up till now.
It has nothing to do with the APC as a party. His major concern is his Ilerioluwa group. We told him that we are the APC members. Ilerioluwa was just a campaign group that was used when he was an aspirant. Immediately he became the candidate, he should have dissolved it. Like it happened during Aregbesola’s period, Oranmiyan was his symbol.
Immediately after he became the candidate of the party, he dropped the group and it was used for campaigning in the background. But this one (Oyetola), everything up till today, is Ilerioluwa. We are progressives. We are not an Ilerioluwa group, we are Osun APC members. Whoever takes this position can never be in Governor Oyetola’s good book. That is his problem and we don’t have any apology.
Your faction is demanding the cancellation of the recent Osun primaries where APC candidates for the 2023 general elections were elected. Why do you want the exercise cancelled?
In Osun here, there was nothing like primary elections. Whoever conducted or claimed that such an exercise was an election deserved to be pushed aside with disregard. There was nobody. There was no presence of INEC officials, no security officers and so on.
A few days ago, members of the faction belonging to the Ilerioluwa group were called to the Government House and named as delegates that would affirm their candidates. It did not go well.
We never elected any delegate. The governor only christened some people as delegates and by the time they got to the Government House, they were given a blank sheet to sign. There was no name written on it and neither did they award scores.
They were given a blank sheet to write whoever they wanted. It was a tug of war and the governor had to use the police to disperse those they called delegates. At some of the so-called primary election centres, some results were written on cement papers. The man (Oyetola) is a curse on the progressive family in Osun state. We have never seen it this bad. It has never been this terrible and shameful. We demand total cancellation of the mess christened the primary election.
How prepared are you for the 2022 poll?
Then, why are you not campaigning?
Don’t worry. We are all over the state. It is not when people start running from pillar to post. Politics involve a lot of things, a lot of tricks.
All these going from one town to another is just a jamboree. Real politics takes place in our various wards. We have been doing that in preparation for when this Oyetola will be shown out of the race. We are prepared. We are not new to this game.
There were insinuations that the ex-Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and ex-Osun governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola are already meeting to seek an amicable resolution of the crises. Their supporters, however, were said to be the ones fuelling the misunderstanding. How true is this?
Well, I don’t know that and I don’t care. Even if they are not talking, if Oyetola is ready to do the needful to salvage the party, we are very ready, but he is not.
In clearer terms, what do you want the governor to do?
That is inviting and treating people as APC members, not as Ilerioluwa group members. He should also stop the politics of segregation and the politics of hatred that he has introduced into Osun politics. He should act like a father figure to everybody. He is the leader of the party and the leader of the government. He should behave like one and not see anybody who does not belong to his group as his enemy. We all worked to get him into office.
Your faction is said to be in crisis, with the rumour going round that ex-commissioner, Kolapo Alimi, has decided to join another party. What is your take on this?
Even if the rumour is confirmed, we are different individuals. He (Alimi) has said times without number and apology to everyone that if Oyetola should be given the ticket for a second term, he would never work for him but instead would work against his party. He would move out of the party and make sure that he works for the party that will defeat him.
If Adeoti fails to get the APC ticket before the July poll, what will you do?
When we get to the river we would know how to cross it.
With the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate, will your group campaign for him, or you will back Atiku or you will be indifferent by sitting on the fence?
I have said it several times. I am a core progressive. I don’t have any other party than the APC. Any APC candidate from the councillor to the president is my candidate and candidate of our group. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our candidate for the presidential election. I have said it several times and I am still repeating it, we are core progressives.