Rauf Aregbesola, Nigerian Minister of Interior.
The Minister of Interior and former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has travelled out of Nigeria, boycotting today’s governorship election in the state, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Mr Aregbesola left Nigeria on Friday to attend a conference slated for Monday in Germany by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), reliable sources close to the minister have confirmed.
Although the interior ministry does not supervise the agency, it manages Nigeria’s borders through the Immigration Services, a jurisdiction critical to the NFIU’s mandate of checking illicit financial flows.
Mr Aregbesola had publicly scorned the second-term ambition of Gov Adegboyega Oyetola, endorsing the former secretary to the state government, Moshood Adeoti. His annointed candidate would later lose to Mr Oyetola at the APC governorship primary election held on February 19.
Prior to the primary, Mr Aregbesola had publicly declared his support for a caucus within the state’s chapter of the APC, The Osun Progressives (TOP), even as he said the caucus is peopled by the “real” progressives in the party and vowed to unseat the governor.
Displeased by the outcome of the primary election, TOP approached the Federal High Court in Abuja to seek the disqualification of Mr Oyetola from the race.
The suit was predicated on the argument that Mr Oyetola had taken part in the primary without resigning his membership of the ruling party’s national caretaker committee which was then led by the Yobe State Governor, Mala Buni.
But on Thursday, Justice Ekwo ruled that the case is a matter within the internal affairs of APC, noting that the court has no jurisdiction to meddle in.
The minister could have travelled on Sunday but chose to leave on the eve of the state’s governorship election “for some obvious reasons”, those familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES. The sources craved anonymity because they were not permitted to speak on the matter.
‘Aregebsola not invited to work for Oyetola’ — Aide
Mr Aregbesola’s media adviser, Sola Fasure, said his principal could not have campaigned for APC because he was not invited to work for Governor Oyetola’s second-term bid in Osun.
Mr Fasure said the former governor’s name was “conspicuously absent” from the list of the 86 members of the APC National Campaign Council for the Osun governorship election.
“He has not been personally invited by the governor to be in his campaign and he is not a member of the State of Osun election council,” the official told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.
“If you get the list, you will see that his name is conspicuously absent. What role do you expect him to play?” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Aregbesola-backed TOP said it remains a part of the APC despite the alleged rancorous approach of Mr Oyetola’s administration towards its members.
A former commissioner in the state and Mr Aregbesola’s loyalist, Sikiru Ayedun, said in a statement released on Friday on behalf of the factional group that the one-sided pattern of Mr Oyetola’s administration led to the unholy division in the party.
The minister’s loyalists however appeared to be apathetic about supporting Mr Oyetola, despite claiming to be members of the APC in the state.

“Nevertheless, we remain unflinching members of our party, the All Progressives Congress and stand by its ideals, irrespective of our travails or even the outcome of tomorrow’s election,” the statement read in parts. “We are long-distance runners and will not abandon the ship of our party, in calm or stormy waters.”
Meanwhile, sources within the Aregbesola-backed APC factional group have remained indifferent about the ongoing election, after the court struck out the case against their candidate’s prayer.
“If he was not invited, it means that the state governor believes he can win the election without him,” one of the sources, who asked not to be named, said. “The government has spent four years attacking and maligning him maliciously, it means he is not reckoned with.”
The minister was said to have attended an event recently organised by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Lagos before flying to Abuja on the same day.
Contacted to officially confirm the whereabouts of Mr Aregbesola, the spokesman of the interior ministry, Ajibola Afonja, said he could not immediately tell the current location of the minister.
“I cannot immediately confirm that,” he said briefly.
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