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The Siege on Aregbesola Sunday, 29 April 2012 – Thisday Editorial

For some time now, the South West leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been telling some interesting tales, all against the Osun State Governor, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola. From an attempt to “Islamise” Osun State to his plan for “secession” from Nigeria, there is no political crime in the book that Aregbesola has not been accused of. And to “prove” their damaging allegations, the PDP leaders have been quoting copiously from the contents of a “special security report” of very dubious value.

Aregbesola’s accusers have for instance alleged that the governor has “links” with Islamic extremists in North Africa, just as they referred to his trip to Cuba; introduction of a separate “coat of arms” and a flag for Osun State etc. The governor’s other “crime” is that he changed the official nomenclature of the state from “Osun State” to “the State of Osun”. All these, Aregbesola’s traducers allege, make the governor a threat to the corporate existence of our country.

While we understand that most of these allegations border on politics and may have been made in such light, we feel worried by the threat from a PDP chieftain in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to the effect that his “team” would henceforth “stop and search” Aregbesola’s convoy because the governor was using touts as security guards instead of the official State Security Service (SSS) details assigned to him. Quite expectedly, Aregbesola’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), has picked the gauntlet by raising the stakes in what has become a game of threats and counter threats which could snowball into something more sinister if not quickly nipped in the bud.

There is no doubt that political rivalry especially between a ruling party and parties in opposition is a welcome development in every democratic setting. If anything, such rivalry helps to put the party in power in check while promoting democratic consolidation. However, it becomes absurd and certainly dangerous when an opposition party embarks on scaremongering, spreading hate message and blackmail, all in the name of politics. The charges against Aregbesola are not only laughable and ridiculous, we believe the PDP leaders are making a political mountain out of a patently irresponsible report whose origin and authorship we still consider very doubtful.

It is on record that we have had reasons in the past to take umbrage at Aregbesola’s comportment as governor, especially when he was disrespectful of the president at a public function in Osogbo and also when he delayed the appointment of commissioners. But on the current allegations against him, we believe the South-west PDP is overreaching itself and we enjoin the newly-elected national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to intervene on the side of reason and common sense. Hounding Governor Aregbesola, as is the case now, on the basis of a spurious “security report” is uncalled for. And those behind this political machination should be held accountable in the event of a breakdown of law and order in that state, which may ultimately snowball into a major crisis in all of the South West.

We shudder to imagine what could result from a situation, where Omisore and his group actually attempt to stop the convoy of a serving governor to search for “illegal” weapon. That can only be an open invitation to violence and a prelude to anarchy. But in all these, we are more worried about the authorship of the “security report” being brandished by the PDP. At a time when there are serious national security issues that should engage their attention, we do not believe that the State Security Service (SSS) leadership would be writing fiction and making such the basis for demonising a serving governor. It would be tragic if they were indeed involved in this sordid matter. If the PDP wants to win future elections in the South West, it is a legitimate aspiration but using intrigues and blackmail as weapons is definitely beyond the pale and clearly unacceptable. Governor Aregbesola deserves some peace to work.

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