The infighting between Oyo State’s Governor Seyi Makinde and immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, has set the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest in disarray. ADEWALE AJAYI in this piece, examines the problem in the party and its implications.
The humiliation the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose was subjected to at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) grand finale rally in Ondo State last Wednesday, points to the fact that the crisis rocking the party in the Southwest zone is not yet over.
Fayose’s cap was removed by youths at the rally to round-off the campaign for the PDP governoship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede in the Saturday Governorship poll.
Before the harrasment of the former governor, there has been a running battle between him and the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde on who wields more influence in the zone.
In the last three months, it would be wrong for one to say there is peace in the Southwest zone of the PDP. The falcon is no longer heeding the advice of the falconer. Members of the party are divided along the battle line, with each of the combatant recruiting troops to their side.
Though, in line with the party constitution, Makinde who is the only PDP governor in the Southwest, should be the leader of the party and should be given preference when decisions regarding the party were to be taken.
Fayose, on the other hand felt that as a two term governor, he should also be accorded the respect due to him, particularly on issues that affect the party in his home base. And as a result of failure to give him that honour, he was prepared to rock the boat and make the captain of the ship uncomfortable.
His move is seen as an affront and disrespect to constituted authority. The feeling among party members is that while he was the governor of Ekiti State, and being the only PDP governor in the geo political zone then, he was accorded his due respect. And now they wonder why he wants to challenge the respect and honour due Makinde.
This development has further polarised the party as some have queued behind Makinde, while others are supporting Fayose.
The party chairman in Lagos State, Engineer Deji Doherty, who is supporting Fayose is probably doing that to score a political point and of course take his own pound of flesh. There has been no love lost between him and the apex leader of the party in Lagos State, Chief Olabode George. He was not the preferred candidate of Chief George for the position, and the fact that his ambition scuttled the chances of Dr Adegbola Dominic, who became the state party chairman after the former chairman Adegoke Salvador dumped the APC. And that did not go down well with Chief George.
Since his emergence, steps have been taken to mend fences between him and Chief George, however, a truce was not arrived at. To further exacerbate the situation, whenever Governor Makinde or the leaders of the party in the Southwest visit Lagos, their port of call is Chief George’s office, thereby sidelining the party chairman.
At a meeting convened by Chief George to host the party candidates for the forthcoming Senatorial and House of Assembly elections, the party chairman was left incommunicado.
Since Fayose is not favorite of George, Doherty felt comfortable relating with him.
On two occasions, Fayose had visited Lagos State and was hosted at an event centre owned by Doherty. On one of the visitations, he lambasted Chief George for holding the party down in the state and urged members of the party to work at retiring him from politics. This statement infuriated George who saw his move as an effontery.
Fayose also warned Makinde to stay away from his state and that if he dared him on the matter, he would fight him.
Members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) and leaders of PDP in the region in a statement, also warned the national headquarters of the party, to desist from giving the former governor undue recognition, it stated that doing so is inimical to the progress and success of the party in the Southwest.
The BOT members and the party leadership in the zone, appealed to all National Working Committee members to deal directly with the governor of Oyo State, Makinde, who is the only recognised leader of the party in the zone and not Fayose who has spent his time on same seat.
“It will be recalled that Gov Fayose of Ekiti State, in 2016 single-handedly handpicked Dr Eddy Olafeso and Bunmi Jenyo, as Chairman and Secretary of the party in the zone without recourse to any other leader of the party”, the statement read.
Moreso, Ogun State chapter of the party stated that the former governor, Fayose, lacked the moral right to complain about the leadership of the party in the Southwest.
The party spoke against the backdrop of media reports that Fayose warned the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde, to steer clear of the leadership of the party in Ekiti and other Southwest states.
The party, in a statement issued by its chairman, Hon Samson Bamgbose, stated that it was an irony of fate that Fayose who refused to allow legally-recognised Ogun State PDP Exco to function since 2016, could be complaining of interference.
“We are surprised that Mr Fayose could be talking of the need to allow some persons to complete their terms and run the party in their states, whereas he is the master of impunity and meddlesomeness.
“He is the brain behind the impostors that he has been associating with in Ogun State. He has been supporting them against the Rule of Law since his days as governor of Ekiti State.
“He truncated the tenure of the Southwest Zonal Exco as well as that of Prof Wale Oladipo and the late Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju as National Secretary and National Auditor. He ran the party like his personal business when he was the only PDP governor in the Southwest.”
The statement further reads, “We have been following Mr Fayose’s forlorn dream to be the imperial leader of the PDP in the Southwest, in spite of the fact that he is not the only former governor of the PDP in the zone.
“We do not know what he stands to gain, in undermining notable leaders and elders of the PDP in the Southwest, especially the governor of Oyo State, Engr Seyi Makinde, who God has chosen to be the new leader of the PDP in the Southwest.
“It is high time Mr Fayose woke up from his dream and faced the reality that his time has passed and a new leader has emerged; and we must genuinely accept Engr Makinde without any dispute, as the one who has been anointed by the Almighty God to lead us in the Southwest PDP at this point in time
“When Mr Fayose held sway as the governor of Ekiti State, he never allowed anyone to challenge him. He bamboozled and supressed everyone as governor even when we had the more experienced and mature Dr Olusegun Mimiko as governor of Ondo State.”
Shedding more light on what triggered the face off, a member of the National Working Committee, who preferred anonymity stated it was not true that Fayose is laying claim that he is the leader of the party in the Southwest.
“Nobody is contesting the leadership position with Makinde. That is not what Fayose is saying. What Fayose is saying is this; The Genesis of this crisis is the face off in Ekiti. I hope you knew the PDP set up a caretaker Committee for Ekiti State PDP.
“The crisis started from there. Seyi Makinde as the leader of the party in the Southwest is of the opinion that, the position of the executive council of the party in the state should be shared between factions loyal to Senator Abiodun Olujimi and Ayo Fayose.
“Fayose also is of the opinion that even if executive position should be shared between the faction loyal to him and Olujimi. Olujimi should come down from her egoistic position, and she should desist from addressing herself as the leader of the party in Ekiti State. The matter became an issue as to who is the senior between the ex governor and a serving Senator. Being the nature of Ekiti people, they like to brag about their position.
“Where Governor Makinde was involved was that, he wanted a peaceful resolution and he was of the opinion that the executive position should be shared between the two political gladiators. We, members of the Caretaker Committee disagreed with Oyo State governor, insisting that we shall follow the party constitution. So far, we can’t arrive at a truce.
“The party constitution says that the exco should be chosen either by concensus or election, but Oyo State governor insisted as the leader of the party in the Southwest, that the executive position should be shared between Fayose and Olujimi without any election, which is not right.
Fayose was infuriated by the governor’s position. He was disturbed that how can he be an ex governor and a senator will claim to be his boss in the party? He wondered if any of the ex governors can take such.
“That is what triggered the crisis which made Fayose annoyed and to be of the opinion that if Makinde does not support him, he also would disturb him and also will not support any candidate he presents for elective position for Southwest. And that he also will present his candidate for the position in the Southwest, then the two candidates shall slug it out.
“Not that Fayose is challenging Makinde’s leadership position, he is the leader in the Southwest but, his grouse is that if he is a leader and he cannot accept him, as one of the manpower he could use, then he would create a problem so that he [Makinde] would realise that he is useful.”
Speaking on the allegation that Fayose is hobnobbing with Bola Tinubu, and probably is a mole in the party, the source added,” They just want to use that to rubbish him. It is pure propaganda and blackmail. An easy way of rubbishing a politician is to accuse him of anti-party activities,” the source added.
As preparation for the party’s zonal congress is getting closer, Fayose has started mobilising support for Dr Eddy Olafeso to emerge the National Vice -Chairman of the party in the Southwest. Olafeso was the immediate past National Vice chairman of the party (Southwest).
He has toured the states in the Southwest to garner support for him. Oyo State Governor Makinde, is allegedly said to be disposed to Hosea Agboola becoming the National Vice Chairman Southwest and he has also started mobilising support for him.
Commenting on the development, a chieftain of the party, Chief Willie Akinlude, urged the party National Working Committee to wade into the crisis before it goes out of hand. He explained that of all the gladiators, none of them is a push over, just as he admitted that nothing is wrong if anybody craves for relevance.
“Fayose is a prominent member of the party and he deserves some respect. He is a courageous person that speaks his mind, not minding whose horse is gored.
“He is also an experienced politician, but I believe the national body of the party should make a move to reconcile the warring political gladiators, so as to bring an end to the imbroglio.
“Olujimi can as well be the leader of the party in Ekiti State because she is also an influential politician. The position of leadership between the two could be resolved harmoniously. The best thing the National body could do is to resolve the issues between them.
There is nothing wrong if Fayose sponsors a candidate for leadership position in the Southwest and Makinde doing the same thing, that is the beauty of democracy. My concern is they should not allow the crisis to spread to the level that it will affect the party fortune.
“Fayose can’t be working for Tinubu as alleged, he is an experienced politician, well bred and understands the political terrain.
“Even, Bode George is said to be manipulating the governor of Oyo State to the detriment of some politicians in Lagos State, what have you got to say about that? Everybody should be allowed to play his part, but not to the disadvantage of the party. The National body should wade in now, before the matter deteriorates,” he said.
Speaking shortly after the attack on him, Fayose begged for forgiveness from those he might have offended within the party. This is the extension of an olive branch, and it is an opportunity for the party to cash in and reconcile all aggrieved members so as to move the party forward.
Ever before the attack, the party intended to take advantage of the rally, to fix a date to bring about a truce among the warring members of the party, a source had said.
The reconcilation is necessary because of the task ahead, and failure to quickly put the issue behind may spell doom for the party and create an avenue for the opposition to have its way.