Ekiti PDP and search for genuine reconciliation
It is no longer news that Ekiti State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been bedevilled by intractable crises and the foundation of that crises arguably, was laid in September 2017, when at a stakeholders meeting, the former governor, Ayodele Fayose masterminded the adoption of his Deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola as sole candidate of the party in the 2018 governorship election.
Fayose had summoned a meeting, just like he has done now, which comprised of leaders of the 177 wards in the state, the state Executive Committee of the party and others. The former governor singlehandedly announced Olusola as the preferred candidate of the party to the bewilderment of some party stakeholders.
This singular action coupled with what some leaders of the party perceived as high- handedness by Fayose, led to the crisis. Expectedly, the PDP bigwigs who had hoped they would have a free, fair and credible primary to test their popularity and influence in the party kicked against the action of the governor.
Despite efforts made by the national leadership of the party to arrest the drift, not much was achieved as the effort was like window dressing. The deep- rooted animosity persisted. This state of Affairs led to the exodus of many leaders of the party and their supporters to other political parties.
By the time the PDP governorship primary held on May 7, 2018 at the Eagles Hall on Ikere Road, Ado Ekiti, there were just two very top shots that remained in the party, they are Senator Olujimi and Dayo Adeyeye and even then, it soon dawned on Fayose that Adeyeye had merely taken part in the primary to find out if truly Fayose actually meant it when he pledged that he would allow a free, fair contest.
The consequence was that by the time the July 14, 2018 governorship poll took place, many PDP strongmen who would have held forte in areas where they had made the party strong in the past and achieved landslide victory, had abandoned the party. The APC merely cashed in on the division in the PDP and dealt it a deadly blow at the polls.
For instance, it was Adeyeye, the prince of Ise-Ekiti kingdom, in Ise-Orun Local Government area of the state, who left PDP and became candidate of APC for southern senatorial district of Ekiti, joining forces with APC to deliver the southern senatorial district votes to the then opposition party at the governorship poll.
As if that was not enough, the party lost all the 26 seats in the House of Assembly to APC. It lost six House of Representatives seats. Except for the return of Olujimi to the Senate, through the tribunal, the party would have lost three Senate seats.
Still counting the cost of the crises, the crisis in the state chapter contributed to the loss of the presidential election to APC. As soon as Fayose, who was the leader of the party in the state, left office, he engaged Olujimi in titanic battle on who is the rightful leader of the party. The two political gladiators set up parallel Atiku Campaign Councils and PDP and went into the poll with a highly divided and politically battered party.
The PDP, which had all the 26 members of the House of Assembly in its kitty, not only lost four members to APC, they traded away the speakership position and the leader of the House. As if destined for self-destruction, they suspended some of their members from the House indefinitely. What is more, the PDP dominated House suspended the 16 PDP council Chairmen.
Before the reconciliatory move of Fayose, the PDP had lost seven local government chairmen elected on the party’s platform to the APC. They swapped the umbrella for the broom at a rally held at the Fajuyi Pavilion where Governor Kayode Fayemi received them recently.
The local government chairmen who defected to APC along with their supporters described Fayemi as a true leader who plays inclusive politics and never victimised them since coming to power last year. They are Ayodeji Daniel ( Ekiti West), Abiodun Dada (Ijero), Yemi Ayeni (Ikere), Tunde Aladegbami (Ido/Osi), Sikiru Ogundana (Ekiti East), Olubayode Okeya (Emure), and Yemi Owoeye (Efon).
How genuine is the rapprochement being sought by ex-governor Fayose? This is a question begging for answer. Firstly, since the party lost out in the elections, no stakeholders’ meeting has held at his instance to unite the different tendencies in the party, until now. A bit late, some would say.
Secondly, in the absence of Fayose, Olujimi appears to have taking over the leadership. Today, no fewer than 20 immediate past Assembly members are with her. No fewer than half of the commissioners that served under Fayose are with her. The State Working Committee (SWC) of the party is with her. They say, he who plays the piper dictates the tune, it was learnt on good authority that it was Olujimi that gave the SWC money to mobilise for the just concluded local government election in the state.
So, to some keen observers, the new reconciliation move by the ex-governor has more to do with the March 2020 congress of the party that would usher in a new party structure.Although, Fayose had pleaded with Senator Biodun Olujimi, Senator Duro Faseyi and other aggrieved members of the party to give peace a chance, , the State Working Committee had earlier called on party members to boycott the meeting called by Fayose.
The SWC in a statement by its State Publicity Secretary, Jackson Adebayo, described the meeting called by former State Assembly member, Dr. Samuel Omotosho on behalf of the former governor, scheduled for Afao Ekiti on Tuesday 10th Dec, 2019, as illegal, unconstitutional and without its backing.
But the former governor said he was extending olive hand to all aggrieved members of the party in the state to work together in unity in the overall interest of the PDP.Fayose said the party must be repositioned ahead of future elections; warning that it was only in unity that PDP could win future elections. He said: “We are on a mission to repositioning the party because truly we need a new attitude as members of this party. We must tell ourselves the truth that there is nothing to share in failure and we must join hands to achieve something tangible.
” I know some persons are aggrieved and I know we are humans. I apologise to all those that I have offended; let us come together in unity for this our party not to die in this state. That is my priority as the leader. I am doing this one year after I left office just to allow the present All Progressives Congress to display what they have for the people and you can all see for yourselves. I am not here for my selfish interest but just to ensure this party does not fail.”
Fayose who used the meeting to officially congratulate Senator Biodun Olujimi on her recent victory as the lawmaker representing Ekiti South senatorial district noted that she remains the leader of the party in the state.While explaining that creating different groups within the party would not be the best option, he assured that all issues and tendencies would be resolved for the party to reclaim the state from the APC in future elections. ” Everybody should come back to the party. I plead with Senator Biodun Olujimi, Duro Faseyi and others to forgive and forget, even though I know I have not wronged anybody. It is my duty to ensure that this party didn’t fall. Don’t let us divide the party. If Senator Biodun Olujimi calls you for meeting tomorrow, go there and listen to her,” he said.
In truth, the PDP needs genuine reconciliation and repositioning, if it intends to survive its political quagmire and go ahead to challenge the APC in 2022 governorship poll.In the opinion of Fayose, no single individual could make the party win future elections, which is why all hands must be on the deck.
A leader of the party who does not want his name in print, said apart from reading political meaning to Fayose’s gesture, “it takes courage to say ‘I am sorry’. “The man has demonstrated that the strength of a politician is the ability to rally people when it matters.”
According to him, it is left for the estranged combatants to seize the current while it lasts and embrace the olive branch extended to them by Fayose. In his view, anyone who refuses to embrace the peace move is selfish.
It remains a matter of conjecture whether Olujimi and other aggrieved leaders of the party would follow the line of reconciliation being charted by Fayose.
Only time will tell how this would play out.