Governor Ibikunle Amosun has appealed to members of the ruling party in Ogun state to avoid statements that could bring disunity and heighten tension in the state.
The governor, who made this statement on Friday, January 10, 2013, at an interactive session with state correspondents at Oke Mosan in Abeokuta declared that he remained unshakably loyal to the APC leader in the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
Amosun who drove himself into his office around 9.20am described the speculation milling round town that there was crisis between him and Chief Osoba as unfounded.
Mr. Governor who was surrounded by some of his cabinet members said what happened at the party secretariat in which some people allegedly attacked some journalists was regrettable.
He also debunked media reports that Thursday’s fracas between some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was a fallout of a competition between him and former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
“I am not in competition with my predecessors. How can I be in competition with party elders like Chief Osoba?
“Chief Osoba is our father in the party and there is nobody that is anti-Osoba in the state. We are all pro-Osoba”, he said.
The governor described as unfortunate, the incident which erupted in the APC state secretariat in Abeokuta, resulting in claims and counter claims of violent attacks between contending groups in the party.
According to him, the crisis arose as a result of a “Communication gap”, adding that, “What we experienced was quite embarrassing. It was something that could be avoided if we are sincere with ourselves.
“The harmonisation committee is no more necessary because, according to the national headquarters of our party, this committee should have been put in place about five months ago and since this was not done, they have asked us to go into membership registration. I think the problem is that of communication gap”, the governor said.
Amosun, while also apologising to the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), over allegation of harassment of its members during the fracas, assured that such an ugly incident would not occur again in the state.
He said journalists should not be harassed by politicians in the course of going about their lawful duties, describing them as partners in progress.
The governor said that the composition of the harmonization committee was done in error and described it as an effort in futility.
“Majority of the people who were there were not at the meeting where the decision was taken.
“They don’t know what I know and maybe that was what caused that gap. Of course, our party leadership in its wisdom, wanted to have, not even the names they were calling there, they were not there, I was there.
“They have been toying with this thing for five or six months. And if you don’t know, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that Interim Exco must not be more than six months in office and I think, whatever you are doing, it must be concluded by the end of March.
“So, the committee they are talking about should have been in place about 4-5months back, but somehow, it didn’t happen and because of the urgency, we are now going into registration. I’m sure registration will start next week,” he said.
He also said that registration of members of the party would commence next week and acknowledged the former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, as the leader of the party in the state.
He said, “Of course, I have to apologize really. When I heard what happened, believe you me, it was highly embarrassing.
“They told me, our leader in Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba said some things. They even said some people were pro-Osoba and anti-Osoba and I asked them, who is not pro-Osoba that some people would say that they are pro-Osoba?
“They are using that to cause problem, it’s uncalled for. As for me, governors will come, governors will go. When I was told that Chief Osoba abused me, yes, he is our leader and it is the elders that will abuse the young ones.
“I also understand that some of you (journalists), I used to call our ogas were attacked. Accept my apology on their behalf.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly unleashing terror on journalists and residents of Leme, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Waliu Oladipupo, the party warned the warring factions not to plunge the state into another round of avoidable crisis and bloodletting.
“We are shocked at the level of violence and destruction visited on hapless journalists, residents and party men and women. It is an ominous sign that portends grave danger for our dear state, especially as the 2015 general election approaches.
“We are particularly saddened that those who are supposed to ensure the welfare, safety and security of the people were said to be the mastermind of this ugly incident.
“We have equally noted the decision of those at the receiving end to retaliate and wish to appeal to both parties to exercise restraint. We also call on the relevant security agencies to rise above pecuniary interest and live up to expectations.
“We sympathise with the long-suffering people of Ogun State and the hapless journalists who were manhandled by the thugs, just as we assure them that this phase shall pass. They should remain strong and focused. Together, we shall liberate our dear state from the claws of intolerant and blood thirsty politicians whose stock-in-trade is violence.”
– DAYO RUFAI