BY ADEBIYI ADEDAPO
As the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) awaits verdict of the Supreme Court to resolve it’s leadership crisis, ADEBIYI ADEDAPO observes that the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee is already seeking an alternative platform for its loyalists
he National Caretaker Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had last week disclosed that state chapters were free to consider platform appropriate for members to contest pending elections in the meantime.
National Publicity Secretary of the committee, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, in a statement noted that while the party awaits the verdict of the Supreme Court’s on its leadership tussle, the party is being confronted with pending councils’ elections in many states.
Adeyeye said that there were also National and State Assembly bye-elections to be contested in some states.
He explained that the order to the states was meant to avoid a repeat of the party’s misfortune in the Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial polls, where chances of the party and candidates were scuttled by internal wrangling.
But, in a swift reaction, the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction condemned the directive, saying that Makarfi-led caretaker committee had no authority to issue the order.
Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, in a statement opined that the committee was not recognised and was therefore, an illegal body.
“As far as we are concern, we are one family and whatever problem we have in PDP we should not wash our dirty linen in the public.’’
He added that the door of peace was still open to Makarfi’s group, advising, however, that they could go back to Seriake Dickson’s reconciliation committee’s recommendations.
However, it appears that that PDP faction loyal to the Ahmed Markarfi’s caretaker committee are gradually giving up on the party and are already seeking an alternative platform ahead of the coming elections.
For instance, in the just concluded Warri South 1 State constituency by-election in Delta state, PDP officially represented by Sheriff fielded Mr. Ojere Edeyibo while the Ahmed faction fielded Princess (Mrs.) Shola Ogbemi Daibo who contested under the platform of Accord Party and won the election.
Also, the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Ayo Fayose has adjusted his campaign strategies ahead of next year’s governorship election in the state.
Fayose reportedly removed the logo and name of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from his campaign office at Olora junction, Adebayo, Ado- EkitI, and the one storey building was repainted white, with every insignia of PDP removed.
The governor who had repeatedly said he would rather leave the party than work with Ali Modu Sheriff also installed a billboard close to the gate of Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), without PDP’s name and logo.
Ekiti residents observed that the mini signposts mounted on Ado-Ikere Road, bearing the logo and name of PDP alongside Fayose’s name, have been removed and replaced with ones without PDP name and logo, but with Fayose’s pictures.
Already, there are speculation that Fayose will pitch his tent behind the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and use the platform to anoint a successor for the 2018 governorship election.
But the PDP faction loyal to Ali Modu Sheriff in the state noted that Fayose’s exit from PDP will not its fortunes, adding that all the ward, local government and state executives as well as the state’s leadership caucus remain intact.
Factional Deputy chairman of the party, Olasunkanmi Ogunbiyi and secretary, Ilesanmi Obe, stated that Governor Fayose wanted to leave the party because he had lost control of the party structures in Ekiti state from ward to local government and state level in accordance with a federal high court judgement.
The faction also said most of the elected and appointed officials at all levels of government have resolved to remain in PDP and are not following Fayose if he eventually defects.
“All the 177 wards and 16 local governments still believe in the PDP as the party that delivered and performed best so far since the creation of Ekiti State. The incontrovertible fact is that on the two occasions he won the governorship elections it was the PDP that provided the platform and opportunities for him.”
The factional leaders further stated that the Governor had once tried his popularity when he contested for the central senatorial seat while in Labour Party and failed.
“This proves that the PDP platform aided Fayose’s victories and not his so-called popularity. if Fayose decides to leave PDP again, the party will not miss him as the PDP remains strong and intact under the able leadership of Chief Clement Awoyelu, the first state chairman of the party.”
Similarly, the Chairman of the Ahmed Makarfi-led Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Dr. Bayo Faforiji, disclosed that the faction’s candidate in the forthcoming by-election to the Osun West senatorial district which became vacant following the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, will contest on the platform of another political party.
This according to him, became necessary in view of a subsisting court judgment which recognised only the Ali Modu Sheriff-led executive of the party.
Faforiji, however, did not disclose the name of the party.
“We are going to present our own candidate for the Osun West Senatorial District by-election but the candidate will contest under another party. We are keeping the name of the party close to our chest. We don’t know the plan of the other group but we are going to contest. Our candidate will contest on the platform of another party.
He explained that the faction was not leaving the PDP yet, as it would await verdict of the Supreme Court before taking any decision.
“We are not leaving the PDP but we won’t allow our candidate to be denied the opportunity to contest the election.”
According to Faforiji, the Makarfi-led PDP in Osun would imitate what the faction did in Delta State by fielding a candidate on the platform of another party.
In compliance with Makarfi’s directive, the National Vice-Chairman (South-South) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Emmanuel Ogidi, said his zone would heed National Caretaker Committee’s directive empowering state chapters on platforms for members contesting elections.
He explained that there was nothing wrong in allowing state chapters of the party to decide the political platform their candidates could use to contest imminent elections pending resolution of the party’s leadership tussle.
According to him, the decision of the committee headed by Ahmed Makarfi was apt, as he alleged that the National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, had continued to sabotage the party’s efforts in elections.
“Yes, the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt said that Sheriff is the chairman of the party but we have appealed against that; therefore, we still maintain our position.The committee’s directive is right since we know that in any given election, Ogidi said.