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Fresh leadership row unsettles Oyo PDP

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Rashidi Ladoja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State is embroiled in a fresh row over the recent decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to harmonize the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party between the two predominant factions in the state.

Former Governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja has not only rejected the sharing formula approved by the NWC but has threatened to quit the party. To him, there was no faction in the PDP. Indeed, the former governor who dumped Accord Party (AP) and returned to the PDP in August last year was said to have set up a committee made up of his loyalists to shop for another platform.

Ladoja seems not to be having his way in the PDP despite the fact that he is being referred to as the leader of the party in the state. Engr. Seyi Makinde who also returned to the PDP at the same time with Ladoja seems to be getting the upper hand with alleged support from the Waddata House Abuja headquarters of the PDP. Makinde was the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last election.

Five major opposition parties – PDP, AP, SDP, Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Labour Party (LP) contested against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 but their inability to come together made it easy for the APC to retain the power.

Since then, the opposition parties had been working out a political arrangement that will wrestle power from the APC. That opportunity came in August last year when the former National Caretaker Committee of the PDP led by Senator Ahmed Markaffi visited the state and wooed leaders of the opposition parties to the PDP.

Indeed returning to the PDP was like homecoming to almost all of them and they all agreed to work together to make the party strong and return to the Agodi Government House but the romance did not last. The State Congress held the following November to determine who controls the party especially as 2019 general election approaches threw spanners in the political alliance. The party became polarized.

While a faction loyal to Ladoja held a congress at Old Ife road, another parallel congress was held by a faction being led by Makinde at Oke-Ado and several efforts by local leaders of the party to reconcile the factions and harmonize the executive failed.

The National Secretariat of the party waded into the crisis last month and asked each of the factions to present five representatives at a meeting where the State Working Committee was harmonized. Ladoja’s faction was given 14 slots while the faction loyal to Makinde had 12.

Ladoja’s group got the State chairman, Women’s Leader, Publicity Secretary, Legal Adviser, Vice Chairman 1 & 11, Assistant Secretary, Assistant Organising Secretary, Assistant Financial Secretary, Assistant Auditor, and three first Ex-Officio members

The Makinde camp got the State Deputy Chairman, Secretary, Youth leader, Organising Secretary, Financial Secretary, Auditor, Vice Chairman three, Assistant Publicity Secretary, Assitant Treasurer, Assistant Legal adviser and two Ex-officio members.

If the NWC thought they had proffered solutions to the crisis, the condemnation that trailed their decision especially from Ladoja’s camp had proved that the battle has just begun. Ladoja did not only reject the harmonization but blamed the zonal chairman of the party, Dr Eddy Olafeso for escalating the internal crisis of the PDP in the state and passed a vote of no confidence on him.

The State Chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, said their decision became necessary because Olafeso allegedly colluded with others to rock the boat of the PDP and frustrate Ladoja out of the party.

Mustapha said the zonal chairman, who could have intervened by finding out what was happening in the party, took the matter to Abuja to use a platform that looked as if he and others invited for the meeting were discussing with the NWC.

Disclosing how the party shared offices among the parties that came together, Mustapha said,  “The day we shared the offices, we did not do so on the basis of factions but among the five political parties that came together to form the new PDP, namely the old PDP, Accord, SDP, LP and AD.

“While PDP got 13 offices, Accord got only six; SDP, three; Labour Party, 3; and AD, one. Makinde can’t say he has not got any slots. He has three of the SWC members given to SDP. We did the ward and local government congresses successfully and there were neither factions nor rancour. We did not have any problem because the arrowheads of the five parties were appointed coordinators to handle the congresses in the wards and councils.

“People are yearning for a change in Oyo State and we feel our coming together will bring about the change. If all of us can come together, if Ladoja joins us we will win the election. But these people don’t want Ladoja from the onset and they are still on it.

“We worked hard to bring Ladoja to PDP unsuccessfully. But it was during Markafi that this was achieved. We know Ladoja has the masses of Oyo State behind him and politics is a game of number. They don’t want Ladoja, but we want him to be the rallying point for Oyo PDP.”However, the Makinde faction disagreed with the chairman, expressed confidence in Olafeso’s zonal leadership and lauded the NWC for their decision to harmonize the SWC.

A statement signed by the former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Hosea Agboola, said, “It is a notorious fact that the press conference purportedly held and addressed by Mustapha was filled with half truths, outright misrepresentation and wishful thinking. It is unfortunate that this factional group would wish away the harmonisation of the Oyo State executives which was in the first place the template submitted for the resolution of the congresses which were separately held in Ibadan last year, and which was subsequently acceded to at a meeting jointly attended by leaders of both factions at the party’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday February 20, 2018.

“Accusing Olafeso of connivance and passing a vote of no confidence on him is as strange as it is unfair. It would appear that they are merely looking for a scapegoat. With all the emphasis at our disposal and the unity of purpose as exhibited by the Abuja declaration, we hereby pass a vote of confidence on Olafeso and admonish him to continue with his good work. We also rebuke the Kunmi Mustapha-faction for openly criticising the national body for performing its legitimate function.”

The statement added that it would be counter-productive to the aspiration of the party to reclaim the state in 2019 if old wound of the PDP had to be revisited especially after the issues leading to the holding of parallel congresses had been resolved.For Ladoja who accused the party of impunity, he insisted that there was only one congress held last year and the decision of the NWC to recognize Makinde faction is unacceptable.

The former governor said, “There was only one state congress held as far as I am concerned and Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha emerged as the chairman. The issue of the state executive being shared 14 and 12 does not even arise at all. There is and there will be nothing like that.“It was impunity that drove us from the PDP and if they allow the impunity to return, we will leave the party for them. We brought Accord less than four months to the 2011 elections and the people of the state accepted the party.

“Wherever there is impunity, you will not find me there. How will some people think of going to Abuja to ask them to help to substitute names of their preferred candidates in the list of duly elected officers? It is very wrong and we will not accept that.”

But Makinde, who spoke through his Campaign Organisation in a statement signed by Dotun Oyelade, appealed to Ladoja to rescind his decision to dump the PDP. He reminded the former governor of his leadership role and the collective desire of Oyo people for a change of baton come 2019.He said, “I am privileged to be referred to as one of your political sons and which you yourself confirmed on a Radio programme two days ago. Therefore as a true son of a valiant father, I hereby humbly but strongly appeal to you not to contemplate leaving the house that we are jointly trying to roof, just before the raining season.’’

Makinde said that such a decision, coming from a tested leader will leave the people confused as majority of party members and indeed the masses in the state are already excited about the prospect of genuine regime change that will fulfill its electoral promises and respect Institutions and elders.

According to him, “In our own party, the PDP at the national level learnt a bitter lesson from 2015 debacle where only one tendency was saddled with control of the party hence it became imperative for the NWC to ensure an all-inclusive state executive is put in place to avoid going to war with a divided army. Like others, who desire positive change via PDP under your leadership in the state, I strongly believe no single tendency can do it all alone.

Makinde asked Ladoja,  “What does it profit you sir, to abandon your children and allow by default the perpetration of anti-youth employment policy as seen in the current 2018 budget to continue? God forbid. You and I will not allow it, and the millions of youths who are pining away in abject lack in spite of going to school and who were deceived to being foot soldiers in 2015 will obviously resist it legitimately. And this is why sir, that the prospect of leaving the party is not an option.”


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