By Josiah Oluwole
A former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olabode George, are currently engaged in a verbal conflict over the latter’s aspersions on the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM).
Mr George had in a recent interview criticised the leaders of the movement which Mr Oyinlola heads as its national coordinator.
He had in the interview dismissed the CNM movement led by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying it would have no impact on the outcome of the 2019 elections.
The former Osun State governor knocked Mr George for his interview, eliciting a reaction on Sunday from the former PDP national officer.
“I read today the untidy, uncharitable and irritable vituperations of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola against my good self. I was rather astonished at the level of uninformed , reckless, misleading verbiage against me,” Mr George’s statement read.
“Prince Oyinlola was very junior to me in the military. I am very senior to him in age. It was my humble self and the late Chief S.M. Afolabi who introduced him to our former President and my Egbon Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was through me and the grace of God Almighty that he was elected Governor of Osun State.
“Oyinlola should not dabble into issues he does not know anything about at all. I have served several generals with hundred percent loyalty. I have no grudge against our former President. I have a lot of respect for him. I greet him wherever we meet with deep respect and reverence as a well born Yoruba man.
“Oyinlola, please don’t start to open any can of worms that you do not know where it will widen and spill over. When one is sent a slave’s errand, you should behave like a true, well born.”
However, Mr Oyinlola’s statement on Sunday noted that he only told Mr George, in a statement on Saturday, to stop throwing stones at his benefactors.
He said his admonition to Mr George was that as an officer and a gentleman, it was uncharitable to repay good with evil by attacking his (George’s) benefactors, particularly Mr Obasanjo.
“If you are allergic to the singing of birds you won’t build your house near the bush,” he said.
“If Chief George didn’t want me to react to him, he won’t call me and other promoters of the CNM all sorts of names as he did.
“Our ancestors in Yorubaland did not recommend kolanut as appreciation for the kind of negative words Chief George used against me and other leaders of the CNM including Chief Obasanjo.
“Chief George is my egbon by six years. I respect him and said so in my statement on Saturday. I observed he also said he was “very senior” to me in the military. He used the word ‘very.’
“It will interest him to know that I joined the Nigerian Army on September 3, 1969 and was commissioned as an officer on September 11, 1971. I want my egbon to do his calculations and justify the word ‘very’ that he used.
“However, the fact of his seniority to me in age and otherwise, has always informed the respect I have for him. But I also know that his Ile Ife title, Atona Oodua, makes some demands of him which include civility in words and action and loyalty to friends and benefactors.
“That was why I asked him to apologise to Chief Obasanjo and stop attacking anything and anyone that is connected to him.”
Mr Oyinlola also denied the claims by Mr George that it was through his effort that he became governor, arguing that he became governor by the overwhelming support of the people of Osun State.
“The results of that election showed clearly that my support was rooted in the people and not in outsiders who neither voted nor funded my election. I know my leaders whose support was greatly invaluable,” said Mr Oyinlola.
“They were with me throughout the unprecedented three primaries which I won three times. Chief George started out as a backer of one of those I was contending with. He later switched over to the popular side which was mine. He did not vote in my election; he did not give me money. So how did he make me governor?
“I also like to state that I combine the fine qualities of a prince and a gentleman officer and therefore I am not an ‘omo’ that can be sent on any errand. Chief George will recall how I moved the entire Osun state PDP machinery in protest against the then President Obasanjo and walked away from the party’s national convention in Abuja.
“That was me and nothing has changed in the way I react when necessary. When I need to make my point, I do not need the prodding of anyone to do so. It is not everyone who acts based on such a conviction and I believe Chief George knows this.
“I am also interested in the content of the can of worms which Chief George alluded to. I believe members of the public also look forward to it from our dear Atona Oodua.”