ADEBAYO WAHEED, writes on the political crisis bedeviling the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest.
Since the election of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he has been playing the role of a leader of the party in the Southwest of the country.
This was evident in his role in both the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections when he was made the chairman, campaign committee for the elections. Makinde did not become the leader of the party in the zone because he was the governor of a state, but because he is the only elected governor in the zone.
However, this has been challenged by some members of the party who claimed that he should not interfere in the state party’s activities.
Trouble started when Governor Makinde tried to interfere in the party’s crisis in Ekiti State, which was rebuffed by the former governor Peter Fayose.
He had accused Makinde of supporting Senator Abiodun Olujinmi who was claiming to be the leader of the party in the state.
As a result, the two governors have continued to trade words over the control of the soul of the party in the zone. The political feud between the duo appeared deepened, when Makinde declared that Fayose would be sent to jail.
Makinde, who was reacting to proceedings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) case against Fayose, said no matter what the former governor did on the case, he would be sent to jail.
Fayose had arraigned on an 11-count charge by the EFCC on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd.
Makinde, who had pitched his tent with Fayose’s opponents within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, spoke through one of his aides, Dare Adeleke, said the former would be jailed.
The leadership crisis deepened when the Oyo State governor held a Southwest meeting in Ibadan, in which some prominent members including former governor, Fayose were not invited.
At the meeting, it was declared that the leadership of the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde was sacrosanct and leaders of the party in all the six states of the Southwest Geo-political zone agreed to work with him to move the party forward.
The Southwest of the PDP in the zone also stated that all the leaders agreed that there was evidence of division among individual states which was making it difficult for “us to come out victorious in recent elections in the region, with specific reference to Ondo State Governorship election despite the rejection of the ruling party in the Southwest by the electorates.”
In the communique signed by Hon Dayo Ogungbenro, Caretaker Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Southwest Zone at the end of the meeting, leaders agreed that a concrete and positive step be taken on the need for unity and cohesion in the party, stating that the zone remains strategic to the PDP if it must win presidential and other national elections in the country.
As a result a 5-man committee be set up to be known as the Southwest PDP Reconciliation Committee, to be headed by the former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola with the following people as members: Chief Saka Balogun; Chief (Mrs.) Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Ambassador Omolade Oluwateru and Barr Olayinka Kukoyi.
The leadership of the party in the Southwest led by Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde called on the national leadership of the party, to bring all aggrieved factions in the party together by ensuring that whatever “we agreed upon at the zonal level, should be the final decision that will be approved by the national leadership of the party without any interference whatsoever from any individual or group of people.”
The leadership decided to zone zonal offices of the party to various states which was democratically debated and agreed upon as follows: Zonal Chairman – Oyo State, Zonal Secretary – Lagos State, Zonal Publicity Secretary – Ekiti State, Zonal Organising Secretary – Ondo State, Zonal Financial Secretary – Osun State, and Zonal Youth Leader – Osun State,
Others were Zonal Legal Adviser – Ogun State, Zonal Treasurer – Ogun State, Zonal Women Leader – Oyo State and Zonal Auditor – Lagos State.
The meeting also resolved that, in the spirit of fairness and equity, additional slots of ex-officio members be given to Ekiti and Ondo states, in view of the fact that they would occupy only one office each in the zone.”
However, barely 24 hours after the Ibadan meeting, a faction loyal to former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose announced the setting up of its own parallel reconciliation committee, to resolve the crisis within the zone.
The Fayose faction, which met in Ikeja area of Lagos State, in a communique issued at the end of the parley, attended by leaders from the six states in the zone, said the six-member reconciliation committee headed by Engr Femi Babalola was put in place because the party placed a high premium on solidarity and comradeship amidst the leadership and membership of PDP.
While the Ibadan meeting announced the constitution of a reconciliation committee for the purpose of uniting all the factional groups within the party, the Fayose faction said the terms of reference for its committee should include a reconciliation of thorny issues within the party, crisis settlement and all other sundry issues that may arise.
Other members of the committee were Chief Kolapo Ogunjobi; Barr Ahmed Okandeji Mustapha; Chief Idowu Odeyemi and Chief Tunde Akindehin, while Prince Diran Odeyemi would act as its secretary.
“The Terms of References shall include a reconciliation of thorny issues within the party, crisis settlement and all other sundry issues that may arise,” the communique said.
The communique was signed by the PDP Chairmen Hon Bisi Kolawole, Ekiti State chairman; Hon Sikirulai Ogundele (Ogun); Engr Deji Doherty (Lagos) and Elder Sunday Akanfe (Deputy State Chairman Osun State PDP).
The faction also set up a five- man committee headed by Chief Bola Olu-Ojo, charged with the responsibility to study, assess and identify factors responsible for what it termed “this unprecedented, woeful performance” in the just concluded Ondo State governorship election and submit its report within a month.
Other members of the panel are Hon Mike Ogunlade; Dr Lere Oyewunmi; That we note very sadly the abysmally woeful performance of the party in the last gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
“We declare that it is disappointing that we lost that election so colossally in a state where we won the presidential election, two senators and three house of pepresentative seats in 2019.
“This loss runs contrary to the trend of recent success attained in such elections in (a) Oyo which we successfully won in 2019 (b) Osun which we won outstandingly but was irresponsibly hijacked by the APC controlled Federal Government through criminal abuse of privileges and (c) Ekiti that was hijacked.
“Therefore, it is resolved that a five-man Panel is hereby set up to study, assess and identify factors responsible for this unprecedented woeful performance in Ondo State and submit its report within a month,” the communique said.
The faction frowned at attempts by a group of people that it said was “beginning to introduce intra-party violence within the zone,” describing it as “ugly development which possesses the capability to destroy amity, unity and comradeship within the party and which must be checked at once.”
It encouraged the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), to take stringent actions against identified sponsors of such actions, pledging to forward the panel’s report detailing all incidences of violence and their sponsors to the NWC for further action.
They, however, commended the efforts of the NWC “geared towards sustaining our great party and extending its frontiers across the nation,” even as they particularly congratulated the national leadership of the party for the victory recorded in the last gubernatorial election in Edo State.
Some leaders of the party in Oyo State went with a delegation of the party to a parallel meeting in Lagos with the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose and some other leaders of the party in Southwest.
Among the leaders who were at the meeting were Chief Femi Babalola and Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeniyan. This was coming barely 24 hours after the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde met in Ibadan with some leaders of the party from the zone.
Governor Makinde, former governors of Osun and Ekiti states, Chief Bode Judge, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Engr Segun Oni, among others held a zonal leader’s meeting at Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, with absence of some party leaders in the region.
Engr Femi Babalola Jogor, Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan who were not in Ibadan meeting from Oyo State on Friday, attended same zonal meeting called by former Ekiti Governor Ayodele Fayose, a meeting which was said to be attended by bigwigs in Southwest PDP was held at Fayose’s residence in Lagos.
Speaking on the two separate meetings, a prominent member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Oyo State, Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeyan, described the meeting where former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was appointed to reconcile members in the Southwest, as a dinner.
He said that any PDP meeting that former governor Ayo Fayose, himself, and other notable members of the party were not aware of, was not authentic.
According to him, the Lagos meeting which produced Engr Femi Babalola Jogor and Prince Diran Odeyemi as chairman and secretary of reconciliation committee was well attended.
“There was no meeting at Oyo Government House as far as I am concerned. It was a dinner. Tell me any notable members of our party that you saw there. It was good that they came to the dinner,” he said.
According to him, “four out of the six state chairmen of the party in the zone attended the Lagos meeting.
“This is just that the party is poised for true reconciliation of aggrieved members. We are out to save our party from those who want to bring it down after it had saved their ambitions.
“We won’t allow that. And that was why we met in Lagos yesterday to discuss the future of PDP. We have set up committees and we are hopeful that everything would be settled in a few days.
“I want to thank former Governor Ayo Fayose for leading the task,” he said.
Also speaking, Ayodele Fayose’s spokesperson, Lere Layinka, said that his principal was not contesting the leadership position of the People’s Democratic Party in the Southwest region with Governor Seyi Makinde, but stated that the latter cannot dictate what would happen at the state chapters of the party in the region.
Olayinka insisted that the Lagos meeting called at the instance of his principal, was to forge a path for the PDP in the region which he noted was ailing.
“Let me say this, nobody is disputing the fact that Governor Makinde is the leader of the PDP in the Southwest, but he cannot sit in Ibadan and be controlling the State chapters of the party in the zone.
“It was this attitude that made our party to lose the governorship election few weeks back. Do not forget that this is a state that the PDP won with a landslide in 2019. We must get things right.
“Imagine that the factional chairman that Governor Makinde invited for his meeting in Ibadan, is not recognised by the national Secretariat of the party.
“If Adeleke had won the 2018 governorship election in Osun State, will Governor Makinde still behave the way he is? Can he determine how the party will run in Osun State? Can he dictate to the Adebutus in Ogun State?” he asked.
He further said “Many of those who were with Engineer Makinde before the election are no longer with him. They were at the meeting in Lagos and yet, you think that is not something.”