In this report, CHIBUZO UKAIBE writes on the task before the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde to rebuild the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west.
The task of managing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in South-west falls on the shoulders of the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, being the only serving PDP governor in the region.
Before him, in recent times was former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko and later Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
For a region that has been relatively a tough sell for PDP, leading the party in the zone, analysts aver isn’t for the light hearted. What’s more, for a party peopled by political titans, the ability to lead them requires more than the office one occupies.
Perhaps a little more than other the southern regions of South-east and South-south, the PDP has been a lot more troubled in the South-west region, a situation which naturally threw Oyo State governor in the thick of affairs of the party in the region.
For many his major litmus test so far is his handling of the friction in Ekiti State PDP, where a rivalry battle between former Governor, Ayo Fayose and Senator Olubunmi Olujimi, resulted in the emergence of two party executives in the state.
As would be expected, Makinde as an incumbent governor will have to wade in and stabilize the situation. But his peace moves was hurriedly opposed by Fayose who threatened to stop him from entering the state. But in a rather humane reaction, the Oyo State governor had urged his predecessor not to fret over his desire ensure peace within the party in the region to the benefit of all.
In spite of Makinde’s assurances, several abides attacks has trailed his peace moves.
But Makinde, in a statement by his special adviser on Strategy and Political Matters, Mr. Babatunde Oduyoye, stated that he would not be deterred by opposition to his reconciliatory efforts and plans to bring unity and cohesion to the PDP in the South-West.
He added that the governor has been doing his best both as the elected governor of Oyo State and as a leader of note within the PDP structure.
According to him: “As for the incumbent assignment given to Governor Makinde by the national leadership of the PDP, making him the chairman of the National Campaign Council for the party for the Ondo State governorship election, the governor has been doing his best to provide leadership, doing everything possible towards ensuring that the party comes out victorious in the October 10, 2020 governorship election.”
While some adduce the reaction of the former Ekiti State governor to the fact that his rival Olujimi welcomed Makinde’s intervention in Ekiti PDP, others argue that it is largely in reaction to the rising profile of the Oyo State governor who has since become of the face of the party in the region.
This is more so that barely two weeks ago, Makinde was roundly endorsed by South-west caucus of PDP lawmakers in the National Assembly.
The caucus said it will supporting Makinde in its resolve to reposition the party in the region with the hope of ensuring that divisions are completely stamped out in the party.
The National Assembly South West Caucus which comprises of Senators and House of Representatives members who were elected under the platform of PDP in the zone took the decision in order to avoid unnecessary skirmishes in the forthcoming South-West Congresses and also to correct some unorthodox egoistic moves by some state chapters that are trying to cause confusion in their state congresses recently.
The Caucus noted that the constitutional provision of the party were flouted by some leaders who did not follow due processes of conducting their congresses which has created parallel executives of the party in some south west states.
The South-west National Assembly Caucus took that decision in order to forestall disorderliness which is gradually rearing its ugly head like it happened in 2016 which polarized the party in the elections that followed in Ondo and Ekiti states.
The caucus expressly warned the National Working Committee of the party not to recognize any list sent to them by any individual(s) no matter how highly placed from the region unless it has the consent of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The caucus also warned that doing otherwise would cause avoidable confusions and may have negative effects on the party during electoral processes and general elections the nearest future.
The caucus in a resolution said it adopted the following decisions which appear more or less like a communique concluded as follow:-
“At a meeting of the National Assembly Caucus of our party, the PDP, held in Abuja on the 26th of August, 2020 the following decisions were unanimously adopted.
“That the leader of the party in the Zone is His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde
“That all PDP issues in the Zone must be channeled through him as our leader in the South West Zone.
“That all elected members from the Zone are solidly behind him.
“That the National Working Committee should take note and act Accordingly.
“That Senator Ayo Akinyelure and Hon. Muraina Ajibola were duly elected as the Chairman and Secretary of the caucus.
“That the Caucus congratulates Governor Makinde and pray for wisdom to reconcile, resolve and re-position the party in the zone.
“The meeting urged His Excellency, the leader, Governor Makinde to quickly intervene and resolve the issues of contentious congresses in the Zone, especially Ekiti State.
“That the modalities for the Zonal Congresses be set in motion by the leader of the zone, His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde.
“That all leaders and members of the party in the Zone are hereby enjoined to team up with the Leader in his efforts at re-positioning the party for more electoral successes in the zone,” it read.
The resolution was signed by Senator Ayo Akinyelure, Senator Kola Balogun, Senator Biodun Olujinmi, Hon. Oluwole Oke, Hon. Kolade V. Akinjo, Hon. Oghene Egoh, Soyinka Olatunji, Tajudeen Obasa, Adedeji Stanley Olajide, Hon. Bamidele Salam, Hon. Ajilesoro Taofeek, Omolafe Adedayo, Dr. Hon. Ajibola Muraina, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, Hon, Yemi Taiwo and Hon. Abass Adigun Agboworin.
In spite of this endorsement, pundits aver that opposition to Makinde’s strides is inevitable in light of the egoistic politics that pervades the polity.
However his handling of the situation would be insightful in light of the fact that he is expected to also lead PDP’s campaign to regain the South-west region by 2023.
This much was indicative of Makinde’s emergence as chairman of the PDP campaign in the Ondo State governorship election. Emerging the only successful PDP candidate in 2019 governorship elections in the South-west region seems to have placed in the stead for the task.
Leading to the party to the Ondo campaign recently, Makinde told the Ondo people that the election is special because “it is about you choosing between continuous servitude and freedom. We want freedom for the entire South-West. It has started from Oyo state, it will continue in Ondo State on October 10, 2020.
Will you rather stay with a candle when you have the sun? Ondo state is the sunshine state. They have been lighting candle for you, so it is time to let the sun shine again.
“So, you will come out, cast your votes and stay with your votes. Your votes will not only count, it will be counted and it will liberate Ondo State,” he said.
However, the APC has been tackling of the governor in the state as a group known as All Progressives Congress Professionals (APC-P) in Oyo State has accused Governor Seyi Makinde of wasting the state resources on the PDP affairs over his alleged ambition to run for vice-presidency in 2023.
The chief Convener of the APC-P, Alhaji Adekunle Lawal, said, “Governor Makinde has completely abandoned governance in Oyo State for his quest to extend his political control to the entire South-West, South-South and some states in the North-Central.”
Reacting however, a PDP chieftain from the South-west, Abiodun Adeleke, said “we are not surprised that such attacks will come against the governor because the APC has realized how much of a threat he is their continued dominance in the South-west. The people in the South-west are intelligent enough to see through lies and deception.”