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Ekiti PDP: Fresh crisis threatens fragile peace ahead April congress

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti
02 February 2020   |   4:17 am
As it was in the beginning, when the party lost the 2018 governorship poll, largely due to infighting and also lost the Presidential election due to intractable crises that led to parallel Atiku/Obi campaign outfits...

[FILE PHOTO] Fayose.

As it was in the beginning, when the party lost the 2018 governorship poll, largely due to infighting and also lost the Presidential election due to intractable crises that led to parallel Atiku/Obi campaign outfits, peace has once more taken flight from Ekiti state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  The party is currently embroiled in fresh crisis ahead of the party’s congresses.

The current trouble is the carry-over of mutual distrust among members, dating back to 2018. The crisis that followed the adoption of the then Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola as the sole governorship candidate divided the party. Whereas, the former governor Ayodele Fayose has been leading a faction, the former Senate minority leader, Biodun Olujimi has been leading the other. It is the two tendencies in the party that are trying to undo each other to take over the structure of the party. What is at stake is the next state Exco of the party, which will be sorted out the congress slated for April 2.

Among the motley crowd jostling for the chairmanship position, three candidates stand out. They include the former commissioner for Environment, Bisi Kolawole, a prominent chieftain of PDP, Tope Aluko and a former Reps member, Kehinde Odebunmi.

Before matter came to the open last week, there had been clandestine support for two of the aspirants by the two camps. However, the narrative changed last week when Fayose rallied the party in the Ekiti Central Senatorial district, to endorse Bisi Kolawole as their preferred candidate for the state chairmanship. Other stakeholders have said there was nothing sacrosanct about Fayose’s choice, saying others are also free to openly endorse their choice aspirants.

What is more, the party’s spokesman in Ekiti, Mr. Jackson Adebayo promptly responded that the PDP has not endorsed anybody for any position. “The Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State has affirmed its determination to conduct a free, fair and acceptable congress that will reflect the wishes of the majority members in the party.

“The purported endorsement of any member of the party for positions in the coming congress by individuals or groups should not be taken as the opinion of the party hence such should be disregarded.”

Adebayo said that the party would give equal rights and privilege as enshrined in the constitution to all members to contest for all the positions irrespective of group or interest.

According to him, “this statement becomes necessary because of these endorsements here and there which can confuse members on whose aspirations should be disregarded or supported.

“In as much as the party cannot disrespect personal opinions of individuals or group of members on the aspiration of anybody, we want to say categorically that the party would not allow anybody or group to ambush the congress as it’s being planned.

“PDP maintained that any officer of the party who may express his opinion at any meeting aside from the one from the Secretariat of the party does so on his or her own. In the same vein, any officer of the party who attended any of such meetings has not been so directed by the party either.

“The party called on all members to be at peace with one another as the congress approaches, saying in togetherness we can rescue the state.”

But the media aide to Fayose, Lere Olayinka, defended the action of the former governor, saying others might as well endorse their own preferred aspirants.

Olayinka, who was responding to a statement by Adebayo, querying the endorsement of Kolawole, in a letter to the state chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, said “It is no longer news that you (Oguntuase) are interested in returning as the state chairman and we have it on good authority that you are Senator Olujimi’s preferred candidate.”

“Rather than ranting, and having boasted that he will defeat Fayose’s candidate in the congress, it is better for Oguntuase to go and prepare for a free and fair contest.”

Olayinka, who accused the Oguntuase-led State Exco of not playing its role as opposition party in Ekiti State, said it was funny that the state Publicity Secretary was always prompt in releasing press statements on intra-party issues, but asleep on issues bordering on governance in the state.

He reiterated that “Hon. Bisi Kolawole stands endorsed by Fayose and others leaders of the party in Ekiti Central senatorial district as the preferred aspirant to the office of the chairman of the PDP in Ekiti State without apology and others are also free to openly endorse their preferred aspirants.”

The Olujimi faction, which controls the majority of the State Working Committee promptly wielded the big stick by sacking a loyalist of former governor, Ayodele Fayose, who was also the acting chairman of Ado Ekiti local government area of the party, Mr. Dare Olomofe considered to be one of the arrowheads of the endorsement, for engaging in anti party activity.

The party also said it has equally suspended two ward chairmen for allegedly conducting elections into the ward executive position without being given the nod to do so by the state or national Secretariat of the party. However, their suspension according to impeccable source in the party was because they mobilised for the endorsement.

According to a statement by the PDP state Publicity Secretary,  “The State Executive Committee, after considering the report of the Disciplinary Committee hereby reviewed the suspension of Mr. Akintunde Osadeyi and reinstate him therein as the substantive chairman of PDP, Ado Ekiti local government area.

“The party has equally suspended two ward chairmen who were also found to have conducted elections into the ward executive without authority from the state or national Secretariat of the party.

“This was consequent upon the submission of the report of the 7-Man Disciplinary Committee set up to look into the allegations against them by members of their wards.

“The party has therefore suspended Mr. Remigious Ogunmoriye and Mr. Tope Makanjuola for the period of three months, in line with section 58(1) of the constitution of the party, while their vice chairmen would become acting chairmen till the expiration of suspension.

“The affected chairmen are hereby directed to handover all the property of the party to their vice chairmen.”

In response, the Fayose faction through the deputy chairman of the party, Mr. Adebayo Oluwole voided the purported sack of the Ado Local Government chairman of the party by the State Working Committee.

Briefing newsmen in Ado Ekiti, Oluwole said that report being circulated on Social Media that the State Working Committee (SWC) suspended some members, including Olomofe should be disregarded.

According to him, “the state chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase is presently in Abuja where he attended the 88th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party held yesterday (last Monday), and he is not yet back to Ekiti State as at today (Tuesday).”

He said as the deputy chairman of PDP in Ekiti State, the party Constitution (2017 as amended) unequivocally empowered him to summon, preside and act in the SWC meetings of the party, and he was never in Ado Ekiti on Monday, and as such, no SWC meeting was held.

He said; “I woke up this morning, Tuesday, January 28, 2020, to read on several social media platforms the story about suspension of some members of the PDP in Ekiti State, more precisely in Ado Local Government.

“The general public should please note that the State Working Committee (SWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (Ekiti State) did not call nor take such decision being circulated on social media.

“For avoidance of doubt, our chairman is presently in Abuja to attend the 88th NEC meeting of the party held yesterday, Monday January 27, 2020 and not yet back to Ekiti State.

“As the deputy chairman of the PDP in Ekiti State, the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended) unequivocally empowers me to summon and preside/act in such meeting where decisions being shared/circulated on social medial were taken in the absence of the chairman.

“The State Working Committee of the PDP in Ekiti State did not call /hold (not even an emergency meeting) nor took any decision on Monday, January 27, 2020, more so that the SWC statutory meeting holds every Wednesday.

“My findings clearly showed that majority of the SWC members were not at State Secretariat yesterday, January 27, 2020.

“That the news on purported suspension of Dare Olomofe (Kala) or any other person(s) mentioned should be disregarded accordingly.”

Certainly, the last has not been heard about the crisis now threatening to tear the fragile peace that the Fayose’s olive branch has recently brought into the party.

If the PDP is unable to call its warring parties to order, it may end up producing parallel executive from parallel congresses.