Ekiti PDP and tales of secretariat sale
The Ekiti Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is always in the news now for the wrong reasons. Like a festering sore, the crisis bedeviling the party continues to manifest in different forms. Just when many thought the party was seeking genuine reconciliation, it got enmeshed in another crisis.
Having stayed in a rented apartment since 1999, the party leadership decided it was time to own a secretariat. Before then, the party was and still occupying an apartment in Ajilosu area of the state capital, leased out by a chieftain of the party, Chief Ropo Adesanya.
Sometime in 2016, the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, along with eight governors of the party converged in Ekiti for the launch and groundbreaking ceremony of the new secretariat. Modu-Sheriff donated undisclosed amount, while each of the governors pledged N10m. It could not be ascertained whether or not the governors fulfilled their pledges.
Few weeks afterwards, the construction of the new Secretariat commenced. And though there were rumours that the secretariat had been sold before ex-governor Ayodele Fayose left office in 2018, the former governor recently confirmed the fears of many, when he publicly declared that the property was disposed of in 2017.
Fayose chose to release the “bombshell” at a meeting he himself instigated to begin the reconciliatory process among aggrieved PDP members in the 177 wards of the state.
While explaining the reason behind the decision to sell the party’s property, he alluded to the fact that he and the party leaders felt that due to the factional crisis facing PDP at the time, should Modu-Sheriff win at the Supreme Court against Senator Ahmed Makarfi Interim Committee, the secretariat could be taken away by the faction loyal to him. According to Fayose, the property was sold to avert such likely occurrence.
Party members, who had trooped to his Afao Ekiti country home, had exclaimed loudly at the revelation. Being a smart politician, the former governor quickly added that the secretariat was sold with the active involvement of the state Working Committee members and some party leaders and that the proceeds from the sale, made in two installments, were paid into the party account.
Fayose’s startling revelation had opened another chapter in the seemingly unending crisis plaguing PDP in the state.
Reacting to Fayose’s claim, a few days later, the PDP Chairman Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase described the allegation as misleading, malicious, and condemnable.
“As far as the South West Caucus (SWC) and party in the state were concerned, we have not sold the Secretariat. I want to tell you that any document they claim to have is an absolute falsehood,” he said.
He stated that contrary to Fayose’s claim that the Secretariat was sold at foundation level, the SWC had monitored the construction up to the second and third floors. He insisted that if the former governor sold the property, the party would use legal means to retrieve the property from whoever bought it.
He said: “At the meeting held in Afao Ekiti, some sensitive things were said by one of our revered leaders. Fayose said or alleged that the party’s Secretariat had been sold with the knowledge of the party Chairman and SWC members. With due respect to his person, we consider the statement misleading, malicious, and condemnable.
“We would have called it outright falsehood, but for the sake of modesty, and the future peace of this party, we will not use this word. That he said we sold the property in collaboration with him was cruel, untrue and slanderous. I believe by that statement, he has committed libel on a high scale.
“To the best of my knowledge as chairman of the party, and to the knowledge of many SWC members, we have not sold the Secretariat… It is true he approached me to sign a document, but I told him it was going to be a disservice to the party. I still stand by that.
“Those who are claiming to be Fayose’s can’t be more Fayose than us. But we know where to draw the line of respect for party leaders, and the truth and godliness. I told him I couldn’t sign and I did not sign. He even asked me what I wanted to take and I told him I wouldn’t take such sacrilegious offering…
“We have received assurances from loyal party leaders that they are with us. If there is somebody’s signature on the document, it must have been procured through another transaction to have an appearance of legality…
“Up till now, all the documents are with Fayose. If we sold the property, the document would be in our custody. He used one of us to take the document illegally from the Secretary. We are not against this man, but we are against his action and we are unrepentant about it…”
Asked for Fayose’s reactions to the SWC’s position on the matter, his media aide said: “We don’t join issue with those people. We don’t want to join issues with them on this issue or other issues. They are free to say what they like.”
However, less than 24 hours later, the legal adviser to the party, Barrister Sunday Olowolafe, a Fayose loyalist fired another salvo by joining issues with Oguntuase.
Olowolafe said not only were Oguntuase and other exco members privy to the sale, but they were also active participants.
He said: “It has come to my knowledge the inglorious lies, perfidious statements and unacceptable press release credited to Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase, the PDP Chairman in Ekiti State on the alleged sale of the proposed party Secretariat in Ekiti State by the former Governor, Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose.
“It is trite to state that, as the state Legal Adviser of the party, I am privy to all documentary transactions and in custody of duplicate of same, more so that the party cannot purchase nor sell any property without my knowledge and involvement.
“It is also important to state that I have been in office to complete my predecessor’s tenure before Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase was assisted into office as party Chairman by Dr. Ayodele Fayose. Therefore, I am in a much more privileged position to speak on issues, especially those that border on documentation and those that transcend his ascension into office.
“True leaders preserve progress. They do not divide but build and sustain a relationship. But in this instance, the reverse is the case with Mr. Chairman because of present pecuniary gain by his newfound political allies…
“Whereas Oguntuase, a lawyer like myself was fully a party to this sale upon assumption of office to complete the proposition by his predecessor in office, Chief Idowu Faleye; whereas the original owner of the property reneged to fulfill her undertaking to produce the deed of release on the mortgaged property.
“This necessitated the Chairman signing the letter of acceptance of a refund, dated January 18, 2017. And if he wants to deny his signature, he should proceed to the court, rather than his comical entertainment of the public at the expense of the party’s image. The same letter was also signed by PDP State Secretary, Pastor Tope Adejorin and my humble self as the legal adviser.
“The proceed of the sale was remitted into the party’s account in Heritage Bank and the same was acknowledged by the party. Yet he claimed not to be aware…”