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Ekiti 2018: PDP walks tight rope towards governorship primary

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Uche Secondus


The national Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus was not under any illusion that the forthcoming May 8 Ekiti State governorship primary would have a serious impact on the future of the party, not only in the state, but also in the Southwest.

The chairman therefore, led a powerful delegation, comprising former Senate President, David Mark and other prominent PDP stalwarts to the state for rapprochement and assurances of a level playing field for all aspirants.

Though many thought the peace meeting was belated, because many of the aspirants had bid farewell to the party shortly after Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose announced his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, as his preferred choice as the party’s flag bearer for the July 14 governorship election.

That preference did not only cause ripples among some party faithful who could not understand why Fayose would turn full cycle from his much touted assurances that he would leave Oke Ayoba, the Ekiti State Government House, with his deputy. Besides, Fayose’s choice of Olusola.

As at the time of his selection, Olusola was a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, without political antecedent. Presented as a political neophyte, the deputy governor is still seen in that light in political circles.

Upon Olusola’s anointing by Fayose, there was stiff opposition from some party members, but when all internal entreaties failed to persuade Fayose to consider one among those who claimed to have suffered with him during his dark political days, some left the party in frustration with their supporters to other parties to realise their ambition.

Many political observers could still not grapple with the fact the a strong supporter of Governor Fayose and former Chairman of Ado Ekiti branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barrister Ajayi Owoseni, could resign as the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, because of Fayose’s action. Indeed, Owoseni held the same office in the aborted first term of Governor Fayose.

Information has it that he is already romancing with the Labour Party (LP) in the state, alongside his supporters. Despite possessing the LP structure, Owoseni told The Guardian that he has not left the PDP, but that he has withdrawn from the governorship race.He said: “It is true that some of my friends have left PDP for the LP, but I am still in the PDP. I will address the press if I change my decision. I have to quit, because Fayose has perfected plans and manipulated the structure to support his choice. Besides, I don’t think I can single handedly compete with former Minister of Works and a serving Senator for a PDP ticket that Fayose has given to Olusola.

But, my decision will be communicated to the public at the appropriate time.”Secondus and his men would have been pleased to still meet former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Sikiru Tae Lawal in the PDP. He had left before their belated intervention. Lawal and Owoseni are strongly believed to be eying the LP ticket.

Another former deputy governor of the State, Surveyor Biodun Aluko and Dr. Bode Olowoporoku, have also dumped the PDP for the Mega Party, while a former Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Dare Bejide and Senator Raji Rasaki are pushing their luck at the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where an erstwhile PDP chieftain, Clement Awoyelu is leading.

However, the peace meeting was not without remarkable achievements. Some party faithful said it allowed the governor, the former Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senate Minority Whip, Chief Biodun Olujimi and Olusola to sit together and discuss for the first time since they have disagreed with Fayose over his choice.

Also, all the aspirants went away with a promise that the primary will not be held at the Government House as earlier announced by Governor Fayose, but at a neutral place acceptable to all the aspirants.

At the meeting, Secondus and his team promised free and transparent primary, pledging to accept the result of the primary provided it is free, fair and transparent. Secundus said: “I assure you once again, there will be transparency and the process would not cheat anybody. I urge you to join the leaders to work together to ensure free and fair transparent primary, trusted and eminent Nigerians will conduct the primary.

“We urge you to remain calm. We also urge INEC and security agents not to be partial, but defend democracy. From here we are moving to other parts of the country for sensitization.”

On his part, Senator Mark, who chaired the reconciliation committee stated: “I have been working on bringing peace to Ekiti, by reconciling all parties and that has been done very well. I thank you for the agreement to work together. I assure you that the process leading to the final election of whoever will become PDP candidate in Ekiti for the July poll will be free, fair and credible.

“If we are insisting that INEC must be fair, it means we will have to do so ourselves at the party level. Nobody will write delegates names, every one will vote for candidate of his choice. We will ensure this and all stakeholders will ensure it. We want to show the world that internal democracy has returned to our party.”

Fayose said that he is ready to vacate Ekiti during the primary to ensure his neutrality, saying that without being physically present on the day of election, he will still win the election for his party, even as he allayed fears of aspirants. He said:” There is no value you can add to us more than this. Your presence has gingered everyone, because the party is on ground here.

“I want the other aspirants to be comfortable; the ultimate is to defeat APC in Ekiti and Nigeria. I will not do anything that would undermine this process, the party or aspirants. In a matter like this there will be many interests. I am for Olusola, but whosoever wins the primaries I will stand by that person.

“The worst PDP aspirant is better than the best of APC. I won’t behave like the mother of the biblical twins, who killed her own child. If the other aspirants are not comfortable with my coming to the primaries I won’t come. If you lose and the process is transparent you should support the party.”From Adeyeye came, “I believe this meeting is to assure all of us in Ekiti that there will be free and fair primary. If there is anybody who has written names of delegates, they should tear it off. The party has also assured to publish all names of delegates and that by

“If this is done, I am assured that PDP will coast home with victory. This is the first time I have seen the PDP being well organised in the primaries.”Senator Olujimi also speaking, said: “This is a good beginning, because before now most of us could not come home to do anything, but your comments as leaders would change the tide of things.  There is very much work to do, we need to set up another committee to do another reconciliation and the right thing has to be done.

Even the governor’s choice Olusola added:”As an aspirant, I am committed to free, fair primary and by the grace of the almighty God, I remain loyal to this noble party and ready to abide by the rules and regulations.  We, PDP in Ekiti, are on ground and we will ensure that we work together for victory.”Some disgruntled members of the party said the peace parley did not achieve what they expected from it and alleged that the national party leaders worked to achieve a premeditated result as allegedly written by Fayose.

But, one of them, confiding in The Guardian said: “What Secondus and Mark came to do was to remind us all that Fayose remains the leader of the party in Ekiti State and whoever wants peace must cooperate with him. We are not surprised by their disposition, because they were lodged in the Government House and treated like Kings by Fayose to work in his favour. But, we are not carried away with their antics. Afao is not a ward; it has only four polling units. We have prepared to do funny things to achieve funny results.”

Nonetheless, the ward delegates’ election held thereafter proved critics of Ekiti PDP wrong. All the aspirants expressed satisfaction at the end of the exercise that threw up three delegates each from the 177 wards to vote during the primary. Mark described the conduct of the exercise as “a peaceful and successful exercise, which showed that PDP is still strong.” He noted that post-election complaints are normal, saying that contending issues are being resolved to allow the party go into the election as a united house.

The former Senate President disclosed that all the aspirants have agreed to support whoever wins the primary to ensure victory for the party at the poll. He promised that his committee would treat every complaint on its merit, boasting that the party would win the governorship election.
Mark also promised that the party would try and talk to key party leaders and aspirants who had defected to other parties to return.

Adeyeye, who also described the delegates election as satisfactory denied calling for the cancellation of the exercise in all
the 177 wards saying his camp only had problems with three council
areas.

He said: “On the whole, we are happy about the three-man Delegates Election but in the case of Ikere, there was extreme violence and we want our security agencies to investigate it.”

He praised the special committee led by former Senate President, David Mark, for supervising the exercise with integrity and fairness to parties involved.

The former Minister hailed the Mark panel “for doing a good job,” expressing hope that the party’s primary, slated for However, Adeyeye asked the Mark-led three-man committee to take a look at the conduct of the exercise in two local governments and partial cancellation in one other council over alleged “extreme thuggery and tearing of nomination forms. We are satisfied with (results of) five wards in Ikole, but the
remaining seven wards; we don’t know where they did it.”

An analysis of the party members that won the delegates election indicated that Fayose might have his way after all, with Olusola emerging as the PDP candidate on May 8.Informed sources hinted that negotiation is on to appease Adeyeye with the Ekiti South Senatorial ticket, an office presently occupied by Olujimi. That could also stoke fresh crisis.


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PDPPrince Uche Secondus
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