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PDP presidential campaign in Oyo and semblance of truce with Makinde

By Seye Olumide (Southwest Bureau Chief)
22 January 2023   |   4:00 am
The major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be moving towards resolving the lingering crisis over the G-5 governors’ demand that the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, should step down for a Southern candidate.

Governor Seyi Makinde

The major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be moving towards resolving the lingering crisis over the G-5 governors’ demand that the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, should step down for a Southern candidate.

This is premised on what transpired at Mapo Hall, Ibadan, Oyo State last Thursday, when Governor Seyi Makinde, one of the G-5 governors, tactically allowed all the PDP structure loyal to him in Oyo State to attend the campaign of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, unlike what happened a fortnight ago when he (Makinde) refused to be part of a rally organised for Atiku.

While some observers said the development was an indication of a possible reconciliation among the warring stakeholders ahead of the general elections, other schools of thought said the physical absence of Makinde from the campaign did not suggest any form of reconciliation.

Contrary to expectations that Makinde would completely withdraw the state’s paraphernalia and support for the campaign, which was the last leg of Atiku’s campaign ahead of the February 25 presidential election across the Southwest zone, the governor was surprisingly commended by all the party’s stakeholders including Atiku, National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, Director General, Atiku Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor Udom Emmanuel, Governor Ademola Adeleke and host of others, for giving massive logistic support and using his office to create a conducive environment for the campaign.

Beyond providing logistics, Makinde’s die-hard-loyalists were also physically present at Mapo Hall to give moral support to Atiku and the PDP’s structure ahead of the election. As a matter of fact, some supporters of the party said the ‘unprecedented crowd’ that graced the campaign with the deployment of both major and local security personnel that ensured peace and success of the campaign was also an indication of the good omen.

In a strong message that indicated a truce may have finally been achieved between Atiku, Ayu and especially Makinde, the former vice president did not mince words when he told the mammoth crowd and the Southwest electorate, not only to vote for him (Atiku) and PDP candidates for National Assembly on February 25 but to also vote for Makinde’s re-election and candidates of State Assembly on March 11, 2023.

The Guardian learnt that series of meetings held among members of the Oyo State chapter of the PDP before the Thursday campaign, were not palatable. The governor, it was gathered, was warned about the danger of his continuing face-off with the national body of the PDP.

Although it was reliably gathered that not all the stakeholders in the various meetings were themselves happy that a section of the country, which Atiku belongs to, now controls all the key positions at the PDP national level, their fears bothered on the fact that the party might lose Oyo to the major opposition party if both warring parties refused to shift position.

The development has affected the party so much that it may lose major votes in the Southwest, a situation many of the party loyalists regarded as dangerous and may not guarantee its victory in the presidential election.

One of the outcomes of the meetings was that Makinde was said to have agreed to work for the success of PDP on the condition that he would not spend his money to fund any campaign for the presidential candidate.

The governor was made to understand the implications of allowing the major opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC) to take over Oyo with his persistent face-off with Atiku over the demand for Ayu’s resignation.

In his remark at the campaign, Atiku vowed to restructure the country by devolving more powers to states, tackle insecurity, halt university strikes and industrialise the Southwest region, which he described as the economic hub of Nigeria.

The former vice president also lauded Makinde for his support for the success of the campaign, while he emphasised that restructuring is one of the pillars of his programmes for the people of the country, saying it is the commitment he had made with Nigerians.

While pointing out that the ruling APC has failed in all promises it made, he called on Nigerians to vote out the party from top to bottom.

In his remark, the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa and running mate to Atiku, said there is no doubt Nigerians have continued to suffer as a nation in the last eight years, saying, “the suffering is too much, we can not bear it anymore and the only way we can express it is to ensure that we use our PVCs to show the APC that we are not happy with what they have done with Nigeria in the last eight years because this is not the Nigeria of our dream. Our youths are getting frustrated; they are hungry. People are getting poorer by the day.”

Okowa also lamented the state of insecurity in every part of the 36 states of the country.

“The APC government has destroyed this nation but there is hope for tomorrow and that hope lies in you because, with your vote, you can vote back PDP to power and together our leaders, with Atiku leading as president, working with Seyi Makinde and everyone, we will begin the process of building back a Nigeria that will create hope for our youths so that we can have a future for ourselves.

The national chairman, Ayu, asked the people to vote for PDP to rescue Nigeria from debts and mis-governance, which he blamed APC for.

According to him, “After this election, the APC would go into extinction. I urge all aggrieved members of the party to come back home.”

ALTHOUGH, Makinde was not physically present at the campaign, the Chairman, Advisory Council to the governor, Senator Hosea Agboola aka Hallelujah, was present and made a presentation, urging the electorate to vote for Atiku and Makinde respectively in the coming elections.

Agboola also told the crowd that all the party’s candidates for the 2023 elections in Oyo State were present at the campaign.

Senator Dino Melaye, a spokesman of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, told the crowd, “The presence of Agboola represents Makinde’s endorsement, support and consent.” He stressed Atiku and Makinde’s issue is like a father and son.

Former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Azeem Gbolarumi, who had been at loggerheads with Makinde over the governor’s rift with Atiku, commended the governor, noting that it was an indication that a truce has finally been achieved.

The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Senator, Lekan Balogun, had urged Atiku and other leaders of PDP to do everything possible to ensure reconciliation with Makinde.

Olubadan, who spoke through the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola, made the remark at the Alarere residence of the Olubadan while playing host to Atiku.

The monarch asked the party to bring about genuine reconciliation between him and all the aggrieved members of the party before the election, noting that there’s nothing like unity of purpose in an exercise of this nature.

The monarch also charged the PDP flag-bearer to see security as a serious issue if he becomes the country’s number one citizen after the election. “Ibadan people want from your presidency the creation of Ibadan State and at our level as traditional rulers, we want your government to put us in mind so as to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country,” the monarch stated further.