My Decision Not To Join Ìlérí Oluwa Group Caused My Suspension – Suspended Osun Teacher, Mr Philip Akinyemi
An Osun State schoolteacher, Philip Akinyemi, who was recently suspended for allegedly abusing Governor Adegboyega Oyetola in Facebook posts, speaks to us out the case
Please briefly tell us about yourself.
My name is Philip Akinyemi. I am a teacher. I also farm by the side to augment my salary. I am 39 years old. I am married and have four children. My mother is alive but my father is dead.
I went to school and I had NCE and Bsc certificates. In the year 2013, when the government wanted to recruit teachers, I was among those that showed interest. We took an aptitude test. I applied to teach Physics. There were about 256 other applicants and the cut-off mark for Physics was 150. I scored 177 and I was given an appointment letter on November 27, 2013 and I commenced work.
I have worked in different schools. I was first posted to Isoko Community High School, later to Ilawo Community Grammar School; and then Wole Soyinka Government High School – all in Ejigbo Local Government Area. I also taught Chemistry at a time before I was transferred to Masifa Community Grammar School where I teach Physics.
A letter suspending you from work recently surfaced on the social media. What led to that?
Truly, I was suspended as a teacher working at Masifa Community Grammar School, Masifa in Ejigbo Local Government Area of Osun State, after my accusers said I abused the governor. The allegations really saddened me because I didn’t abuse the governor.
It was alleged that you abused the governor through a Facebook post. What exactly did you post on Facebook?
My posts contain eulogies, praises of Dr Najeem Salam, who is my political leader and benefactor. In the Facebook post, I wrote, “Don’t give a betrayal second chance.” Another one read: “Osun change of guard…,” but I didn’t mention the name of the governor in any of my posts.
Are you in partisan politics, as alleged?
I joined partisan politics in the year 1999. I was a member of Alliance for Democracy, Action Congress of Nigeria, and now the All Progressives Congress. My political leader since the days of AD till now is Dr Najeem Folasayo Salam.
You said you joined politics in 1999. Will it be correct to say you are both a politician and a teacher?
Yes, but being an active politician has not affected my teaching job. My Principal at Isoko Community High School is Mr Sobanke; my Principal at Ilawo is Mr Amuda, a former Chairman of the state NUT; Alhaji Kareem was my Principal at Wole Soyinka Government High School. They can all attest to me being diligent at my work. I was wrongly accused and punished for reasons beyond what people can understand. I have never been against the state government nor have I said anything bad about the governor. Being fully involved in politics did not affect my job in anyway.
Who were the people you said wrongly accused you?
Recently, some people asked me to come and join the Ilerioluwa faction of the APC in the state. We had been on the issue for some time. But I told them that I didn’t have interest in the group and that I preferred to be with the group where my political leader, Najeem Salam, belongs.
What group does your political belong to?
He belongs to The Osun Progressives. In 2018, he showed interest in contesting for the governorship position but he lost the ticket to Governor (Gboyega) Oyetola during the party’s primary. After the whole exercise, Salam urged us, his followers, to go back to our wards/local government and start working for APC’s victory.
But in anger, a particular person from Masifa led some people to the ADP after the primary. Some of us called to persuade him and his followers not to be angry but he insisted on leaving the party.
The governorship election was and our party won. In January 2019, when the election petition tribunal hearing the case was taken to the Federal High Court, Apo, Abuja, 27 of us were selected as APC witnesses. Later, the number was reduced to 13. I was still in service while all that happened. Three of us testified before the tribunal in Abuja. One of the three of us is presently a local government chairman. We appeared as APC witnesses and we answered questions. (Chief) Wole Olanipekun (SAN) gave the two of us N10,000 each that day because he was so impressed with how we managed to answer questions posed to us. After that incident, I returned to the state and continued my work and I never had any issue or quarrel with the governor or anyone.
At what point did the issue that led to your suspension start?
It was when the issue of The Osun Progressives (Rauf Aregbesola faction) and Ilerioluwa Group (Oyetola group) started. Since my leader, Salam, belongs to former governor Aregbesola’s faction which is TOP, I also identified with the group and whoever belongs to the TOP faction is seen as an enemy of Governor Oyetola’s administration. Some of my people from Masifa urged me to join Ilerioluwa faction but I told them I was not interested. A member of my community that I said left the APC for the ADP and returned and was given political appointment at local government level joined forces with other people, accused me of abusing the governor and reported me to the Commissioner for Education.
It was after that man had been made an LGA executive that he and those that decamped with him started to say all sorts of negative things about me at the state level and also went to the extent of showing some of my posts on Facebook to the Commissioner for Education and from commissioner to the Tutor General. In fact, I knew the day they forwarded the screenshots of my Facebook posts to the commissioner.
What was the petition written against you?
No petition was written against me by anyone at my workplace. That was just a lie by some people to justify their actions. I am always present and punctual at work.
The government only used that (suspension) to suit their purpose, so that people can blame me for allowing politics to affect my job. There are other civil servants that are into politics. I have seen a lot of them here in Masifa.
Were you at any time invited by the authorities before your suspension?
Yes; the day they invited me and my principal for questioning, they lied that my principal had warned me against my Facebook posts, but I refused to listen to him and did not desist from posting things on Facebook. But that is not true. I was later given a query on December 8, 2021 and asked to answer it before mid-day on Friday, which I did.
On Tuesday (14th December) of the following week, some people called and asked me to report in Osogbo and I honoured their invitation. Again, they asked if I was ready to join the Ilerioluwa faction, still I declined and I told them I wanted to take a break from TOP and Ilerioluwa issue henceforth.
Who are those people?
They are politicians. This suspension slammed on me was the outcome of me not joining Ilerioluwa faction.
Are there efforts presently to resolve the issue amicably?
Yes, the lawmaker representing Ejigbo State Constituency in the House of Assembly, Israel Oyekunle Adekunle, has taken some steps. He is working on it; our leaders too are working on an amicable resolution.
I wish this matter is resolved, but my fear is that they will start monitoring me too closely, if I return to work. This may affect a lot of things and other people. I am passionate about teaching and I love and enjoy being a teacher.
What do you intend to do next?
I’ve been praying and I believe God will do the best