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2019: Ekiti PDP at a crossroads, bedeviled by intractable crises

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[FILE] Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi.

The crisis rocking Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dated back to September 2017, when then Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose picked his deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola as the party’s anointed governorship candidate, though primary election had not been fixed.

The other aspirants, including former Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, former Ambassador to Canada, Dare Bejide, former Deputy Governor to Fayose, Mr. Bisi Omoyeni and the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseeni Ajayi, kicked against Fayose’s alleged imposition.

The aggrieved aspirants teamed up with their supporters across the 16 local government areas to battle what they perceived as Fayose’s unjust and anti-democratic action.

As a result of the logjam created by the endorsement, some of the aspirants left the party to realise their aspirations in other political parties.

For instance, Omoyeni decamped to Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) where he contested the governorship on July 14, 2018.

Another aggrieved aspirant and former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Sikiru Tae Lawal, decamped to the Labour Party, where he was fielded the governorship candidate.

On his part, Ambassador Dare Bejide left for the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and became the party flag bearer in the July 14 governorship poll. Others, such as Architect Aluko, also a former Deputy Governor, decamped to Labour Party.

While these people left, Olujimi and Prince Adeyeye remained in the party to battle Fayose. 

The two aggrieved politicians initially worked separately. They petitioned the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee to intervene.

Consequently, a reconciliation committee, led by the former Senate President, Senator David Mark was set up by the party’s national leadership to reach out to aggrieved parties. The committee held several meetings within and outside the state.

Olujimi and Adeyeye gave conditions upon which they would bury their hatchet.

The summary of their demand was a free, fair and transparent primary election. Knowing what was at stake, the party leadership acceded to their request.

Subsequently, an electoral committee, led by Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa was set up to conduct the governorship primary.

To ensure transparency, lists of delegates were made available to the contestants prior to the D-day and the lists were published in the national dailies.

However, in a dramatic twist of event, Olujimi and Adeyeye met on the eve of the primary and reached a secret pact to wit, present Adeyeye to face Olusola. Olujimi immediately rallied her supporters to vote for the former Works Minister. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Olusola defeated Adeyeye, and though the conduct of the election was adjudged free and fair by all the contestants, Adeyeye kicked against the outcome of the poll and left the party for the APC. Olujimi decided to stay put.

After the party lost the governorship to APC, the PDP once again returned to the trenches.

Like a festering sore, the crisis of confidence rocking the party refused to heal. Another major crisis that broke out few days to Fayose’s exit, started at the Ekiti State House of Assembly, when 14 members of the Legislature impeached the Speaker, Kolawole Oluwawole and other principal officers.

The lawmakers, made up of three APC and 11 PDP lawmakers, suspended other 12 lawmakers, including Oluwawole, perceived to be loyal to Governor Fayose for 125 legislative days.

Although the APC members were just three, the PDP lawmakers, for inexplicable reason traded the Speaker to them.

Therefore, Ebenezer Alagbada was chosen as the new Speaker. What was more, the lawmakers quickly pledged their cooperation with the governor-elect Dr. Kayode Fayemi to move the state forward.

The legislators predicated their action on the need to reposition the State Assembly for effective service delivery. They accused the former Speaker of being clueless and leading the House adrift.

The new Speaker thereby announced the dissolution of all the House’s statutory and standing committees, urging the chairmen to hand over to their respective secretaries.

Those suspended include the immediate past Speaker, Kola Oluwawole, Mr. Shina Animasahun, Omotoso Samuel, Wale Ayeni, Dare Pelemọ, Jeje Samuel, Akinleye Dayo, Fajemilehin Ayodele, Fasanmi Temitope, Tunji Akinyele and Sanya Aladeyelu.

The Assembly also reinstated the former Deputy Speaker, Hon Segun Adewumi, a PDP member to his former position.

Mr. Gboyega Aribisogan of APC was given the post of leader of Business, while Hon Sunday Akinniyi of the APC was elected the Minority Leader, and Fajana Ojo-Ade as Deputy Leader, Hon Cecilia Dada, Chief Whip, and Hon Musa Arogundade, Deputy Chief Whip.

Reading between the lines, it was obvious that the protracted crisis rocking the party was what snowballed into the suspension of the lawmakers and the impeachment of the principal officers.

As it later turned out, the lawmakers pledged their loyalty to Olujimi. So, their action was like the biblical hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.

As if the party was destined for self-destruction, few weeks after Fayose left office, another crisis reared its ugly head. This time, some party leaders met and appointed Olujimi as the party leader in the State and Southwest to replace Fayose.

In the same manner, the stakeholders passed a vote of no confidence on the party’s Chief Gboyega Oguntuase-led State Working Committee in Ekiti, calling on the party’s National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus to dissolve the executive and set up a caretaker committee to pilot the party’s affairs.

They said they decided to call for the disbandment of the State Working Committee due to alleged financial recklessness being exhibited by it.

In a communiqué signed at the end of their stakeholders’ meeting, the pro-Olujimi group said it took the decision to install her the leader, owing to the fact that she remained the most top ranking elected official in the state and the southwest.

However, five House of Representatives members from Ekiti State under the aegis of House of Representatives Caucus immediately dissociated themselves from the said leaders’ endorsement meeting of the party stakeholders, and also expressed their confidence in the leadership of the Chief Gboyega Oguntuase-led State Exco of the party.

The House of Representatives members, including Kehinde Agboola (Ekiti North I), Thaddeus Aina (Ekiti North II), Ayo Oladimeji (Ekiti Central I), Segun Adekola (Ekiti South I) and Akin Awodumila (Ekiti South II) also reiterated their loyalty to Fayose.

“There is no leadership vacuum in Ekiti State PDP. Those desperate for political leadership should wait for their time,” They said. They urged the Senate leadership to call Senator Olujimi to order, to avoid crisis capable of affecting the party’s chances in the 2019 general elections.

The House of Representatives members said: “While we agree that individuals or groups have rights to hold meetings, we are miffed that Senator Olujimi was taking her selfish agenda of collapsing the party structures to the extreme.

“We were not consulted before the meeting was held, and most of those that attended the meeting were those who worked against our party in the July 14 governorship election. Some of them were even governorship candidates of other parties, and collectively, they could not get up to 1,000 votes in the election.”

It was this state of affairs that led to the crisis over composition of the Atiku/Obi Campaign Council. The Senate Minority Leader felt slighted that after composition of the council, Fayose unilaterally reconstituted it.

She, therefore, petitioned the PDP National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus, calling on the National Working Committee to disband and reconstitute the council in the party’s interest in the coming election.

Olujimi accused Fayose of having hijacked the council and allegedly injected hiscronies in all strategic positions with the sinister intention to sideline other party members from participating in mobilising for the PDP presidential candidate.

The Senator told Secondus to compel Fayose to adhere strictly to the resolution reached by stakeholders on how the council should be composed at a stakeholders’ meeting held in Ado Ekiti on December 28, 2018 to forestall cracks and crisis in the party, ahead of the much-awaited polls.

In a petition dated January 6, 2018 and signed by the PDP Senator, she said only immediate dissolution of the highly ‘lopsided’ campaign council could avert unnecessary cleavages in Ekiti PDP, warning that failure to accede to the request could dim the party’s chances in the state.

Of particular reference, she alluded to a publication in the newspapers wherein changes were made to members of Atiku/Obi Campaign Council for Ekiti State without notifying stakeholders, describing such as “demeaning and mischievous”.

She said: “The original composition had Prof Olusola Kolapo as chairman; Otunba Yinka Akerele as Director General; and Chief Sanya Atofarati as Spokesperson/Director of Media, among others, while the position of Secretary did not exist in the original composition by the National Directorate.”

But the composition, which Olujimi was rejecting, had Prof Olusola as chairman; Chief Dipo Anisulowo as DG; Chief Gboyega Oguntuase as Secretary; Jackson Adebayo as spokesperson, and Lere Olayinka as Director, Media and Publicity.

Olujimi warned that PDP might lose the state to APC, despite people’s resolve to vote against the ruling party in the presidential poll, if urgent remedial action was not taken to rectify the perceived injustice.

Olujimi said in the spirit of equity, justice, fairness and general acceptability in Ekiti PDP, that majority demanded that, “Mr. Fayose should be mandated to comply immediately with the party’s earlier resolution by adhering to the earlier membership and composition of the Atiku/Obi Presidential Council, as previously agreed by the State Working Committee led by the party Chairman, Barr. Oguntuase; Senator Biodun Olujimi; Senator Duro Faseyi; Prof. Olubunmi Olusola and federal lawmakers there present.

She later carried out her threat by inaugurating a parallel campaign council, while the former governor also inaugurated his own.

While the Olujimi inauguration took place at the Ajilosun area and was attended by party members loyal to her, Fayose’s inauguration held at his former campaign office in Adebayo area of the state capital.

The former governor described another gathering purportedly held to inaugurate a campaign council by Olujimi as a nullity. He warned that he was not contesting for any elective position, saying he may mobilise the people to vote out those he described as ‘traitors’. “They need me more than I need them. We will ask our people to vote against these betrayers.”

According to Fayose, the campaign council was carefully selected to represent all shades of opinion in the state PDP, wondering what the complaint was all about.

In his remarks, the chairman of the campaign council for both camps, and former Deputy Governor, Prof Kolapo Olusola distanced himself from the Olujimi inauguration.

Olusola said the Olujimi Council was illegitimate. “There is no alternative campaign council except this one. Any other campaign council where my name appears is illegal,” he said.

The state PDP chairman, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase, in his opening remarks said: “This is the only legitimate gathering where authority resides. Any other gathering is illegal and illegitimate, but we shall not be provoked.

Olujimi who inaugurated her own campaign council said injustice breeds impunity, adding that if the party stakeholders met and selected people, no individual, including Fayose had the right to void same.

The two inaugurations were well attended by party chieftains from the state House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Local Government chairmen.

What remains baffling is the inability of the PDP national leadership to mediate and call the feuding parties to order.

Unless urgent efforts are made to reconcile the combatants, winning Ekiti State for Atiku might be an uphill task. To political observers, the party is already at a disadvantage as an opposition party, and could not afford a division in less than six weeks to the presidential election.

What is more, the aspirations of various contestants on the party’s platform, including Olujimi, could also be adversely affected, particularly with the subtle threat by Fayose to work against Olujimi and others in her camp.


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