There is a flicker of hope that the lingering crisis bedeviling the Ogun State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will end soon. The intervention of the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC) led by former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki seems to have opened a fresh pathway to unity in the party.
A major milestone for the committee was getting the feuding camps to withdraw all pending litigations with immediate effect. The feud in this dispensation had been largely between camps loyal to late Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon Ladi Adebutu.
The legal dispute over which camp should produce the governorship candidate for the 2019 election in the state contributed to the party’s poor outing in 2019.
Party faithful aver that if the concerned stakeholders abide by this new peace arrangement, resolving the political crisis would be easier to achieve unlike what court verdicts had, in the past, failed to do.
But, of course, there is call for cautious optimism, according to pundits like Abiodun Folarin, a political analyst, who argues that “it’s a good thing that stakeholders are now willing to meet and dialogue after almost a decade of crisis in the party but it’s still delicate at this point, one misstep and its back to square one.”
Before now, the PDP in Ogun State, has been embroiled in one crisis or the other, forcing majority of its founding fathers to dump the party.
For instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wouldn’t have left the party as of the time he did but for the crisis which was bent on humiliating him.
The issue go to a head with Obasanjo overseeing the “shredding” of his membership card, signifying his exit from the party and retirement from partisan politics.
Aside Obasanjo, others who dumped the party due to infighting were former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel who formed a new political party: the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN); and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
Interestingly, while former governor, now Senator, Ibikunle Amosun won senatorial seat in 2003 on the platform of PDP, incumbent governor of the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun was also in the PDP in the past.
But one principal figure at the center of the party crisis since 2010, was the late Senator Kashamu who was a major financier of the party.
Kashamu made himself available to PDP stalwarts and was always ready to offer financial assistance. He would however part ways with them the moment he felt he was done with their benevolence.
However during the Goodluck Jonathan era, Kashamu who had fallen out with Obasanjo, succeeded in taking over the party structure, particularly all members of the PDP State Executive Committee under the chairmanship of Engr Bayo Dayo, which was also loyal to him until they fell apart.
The development further polarised the party to the point that a parallel SEC emerged: one led by Dayo and loyal to Kashamu, and the other led by Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele which was principally sponsored by Hon. Ladi Adebutu.
At the peak of the crisis which was the build up to 2019 polls, Kashamu remained the fulcrum upon which whatever political resolution to the crisis revolves. This was so even till his demise in year 2020 as his faction had a court judgment that was recognised by even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Perhaps, this explains why many political analysts and observers of events in the state conclude that his death signalled the end of the PDP crisis in Ogun.
But speaking with LEADERSHIP on the recent move to unite the party, the state publicity secretary of the Kashamu-led faction, Sunkanmi Oyejide confirmed that the warring camps have agreed to sheath their swords and work as a united family towards fighting their common enemy in APC.
Oyejide stated that the intervention of the Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki-led Reconciliation Committee took a right step by inviting all of them to a meeting in Abuja where they all signed an agreement to allow peace to reign in the Ogun State chapter of the party.
“Yes, all of us were invited to Abuja for a reconciliation meeting and we have all agreed to come together and work for the common interest of our party, PDP. No more factions in Ogun PDP,” he said.
The state chairman of the Adebutu-led faction, Hon. Sikirulahi Ogundele, also confirmed to LEADERSHIP that the warring factions have resolved to work together towards moving the party forward.
Ogundele, who refused to acknowledge that the party had serious crises, maintained that the disagreement which later polarised the party was poorly managed, hence, it lasted for 11 years before the Saraki-led committee intervened.
“At so many fora, I have tried to correct the misconception over the belief that we were into crises. It has never been a crises, it was a misunderstanding that can happen in all organisations. Crisis to me, is characterisedwith violence and breaking of heads. We have never had any records of violence in PDP in Ogun State despite all disagreements. But it was just a mere misunderstanding and disagreement that was poorly managed that led to the exit of some people from the party”.
Commenting on the sincerity of the gladiators to allow peace reign within the PDP fold in Ogun State, Ogundele said the feuding camps are genuine about the reconciliation, stressing that party members have learnt their lessons the bitter way.
“It is very genuine! We got convinced on reasons we must come back and take over from this people that is why I noticed the sincerity of intention to come together. So, we are so genuine about it.
“I want to tell you with all sense of factualities, that we have learnt our lessons, PDP is now rebranding to come back and takeover from the government of APC,” he said.
Now that it seems like the party is set on a reconciliation course, perhaps, it’s chances in 2023 might be brighter. But some pundits believe it is yet early to make such assumptions, considering the recent spate of defections from the party’s fold and the impact that would have.
But reacting to the defections, Ogundele dismissed the insinuation that it would hamper the party’s chance of making appreciable impact in the political landscape of the state.
He particularly condemned the defection of former speaker, Bankole, whom he said found it difficult to win his reelection back to the House of Representatives “from just only one local government; Abeokuta South Local Government”.
With the unfolding event in the gateway state, observers opine that PDP might be on the move again in the state. But whether the party will be able to wrestle power from the incumbent state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in year 2023 or not is another matter.
First, political watchers will be mindful of how the party will provide credible opposition to the ruling APC in the state, unlike what was obtainable before.