Ekiti PDP still grappling with crisis ahead of governorship primary
The crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti is an old one, dating back to 2018. The crisis produced two major factions, led by former Governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Abiodun Olujimi respectively.
Throughout the tenure of the past National Working Committee (NWC) led by Prince Uche Secundus, the crisis festered like fire in harmattan. This is why there was high expectation from political watchers that the new leadership of the party, led by Senator Iyiorcha Ayu would quickly settle it because of the governorship election in the state.
Expectedly, as soon as Ayu and his team were sworn in, the party embarked on fence mending efforts to ensure that PDP does not only proceed to primary election as a united political family, but also records a rancour free post primary situation.
Amidst this crisis, when the party began sales of nomination forms for the June 18, 2022 governorship election, no fewer than 17 aspirants – eight men and nine women – obtained forms. They are ex-governor Olusegun Adebayo Oni from Ido / Osi local government, Ajijola Lateef Oladimeji from Ado local couunil, Otunba Bisi Kolawole (Efon); Albert Kayode Adaramodu (Ekiti South West): Aribisala Adewale (Ikole); Ogunsakin Kazeem Ayodeji (Ado), Prof. Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola Eleka (Ikere) and Yinka Akerele (Oye).
The women aspirants are former minority leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi from Ekiti East, Mrs Olumide Ojo Olukemi Olubunmi (Ido /osi); Chief Mrs Arogundade Olutoyin (Ekiti East) and Princess Adekemi Adewunmi (Efon).
Others are, Mrs Cecillia Ebiesuwa (Emure); Mrs Adewumi Adesoye (Ado); Mrs Titilayo Owolabi Akerele ( Ikole); Mrs Modupe Asaolu (Ekiti South West and Mrs Deborah Alo ( Ido/osi).
All the aspirants that obtained nomination forms had been screened by PDP at its national secretariat in Abuja.
This was the state of affairs when Ayu met with party stakeholders from the state to commence the process of reconciliation. The meeting according to multiple sources was for Ayu to learn firsthand about the causes of the seemingly intractable crisis. It was, however gathered that after listening to all sides, the national chairman was said to have handed down a warning that all aspirants must support whoever wins the primary, warning that doing otherwise would amount to anti-party activities, which would not be condoned.
The PDP new helmsman was quoted to have said: “The mood of the party is that of a united house. The mood of the party is that of a party that will fight together as one united force and hopefully, we should be able to recapture as many states as possible, as many members of the National Assembly, both the two houses as possible or state houses of assembly.
“We’re not going into any election to lose. We are going into every single election with the determination to win and I think that should be the mood of every member of the PDP family. It is not important to us in the leadership of the party whether you like a particular candidate or not.”
Ayu was said to have mandated the two camps to set up a three –man committee each to meet, harmonise positions on the congresses, set the tempo of reconciliation, withdraw cases in courts and revert to the national secretariat on the outcome of their peace parley on January 4, 2022.
However, a development was said to have occurred while the decision was being taken, according to sources at the meeting. It had to do with former Governor Segun Oni, who though was at the meeting did not belong to any of the two factions being reconciled. The source said Oni was then appointed as mediator to reconcile the two factions.
But after series of meeting in Lagos, Ekiti and Abuja, it is unclear if progress has been made. Although, the two factions emerged after their Lagos meeting and expressed commitment to peace and working together for the interest of the party, sources say the road to peace is still far ahead.
At the last Lagos meeting, which was attended by Fayose, Olujimi, Senator Duro Faseyi, Otunba Yinka Akerele and Hon Deji Ogunsakin, they issued a statement saying, “the two groups once again want to reassure the entire PDP members in Ekiti State in particular, that the ongoing talks and reconciliation will lead us all to the desired victory.
“The groups admonished all stakeholders to embrace peace before, during and after the primaries.
“While thanking our national chairman and the entire NWC members for their immense support so far, we want to assure the leaders that we are committed to the understanding we had with the party”, the statement jointly signed by Fayose and Olujimi read.
However, the source maintained that much still needed to be done to achieve true reconciliation as none of the two factions have conceded anything. For instance, after the meeting Olujimi, an aspirant from Ekiti South, granted an interview where she said, “I am unrepentant advocate of southern agenda that power must shift to the South. The reason is for equity, fairness and justice for the zone and nothing more than that. If people treat it with levity, without due respect, then you have got to show them the stuff you are made of and that is the reason why I am an advocate of southern agenda.
“I believe in God and my party that a Southern person will become the candidate of our party because that would be our selling point and that is the best we can do for Ekiti in the present circumstance. That will be the best we can do for a people with six local governments that have been waiting for 25 years. I believe that my party, known for or being just and considerate will do that for us.”
On the other hand, Fayose continues to promote the candidature of his favourite aspirant and former chairman of the party, Mr Bisi Kolawole. Besides, the ex-governor was said to have appealed for understanding and support for his aspirant, rather than making any major concession. This is because as things stand, should the party decide to use indirect primary election, his camp would gain upper hand.
However, the Repositioning Group is said to be persuading the national leadership to adopt supper or statutory delegates, which was used in Anambra State gubernatorial primary, owing to controversies trailing the congresses.Oni, who is also an aspirant, seems to have become a major victim of the unending crisis. The former governor, though enjoys substantial support among the electorate, has been rebuffed by the two factions. While Oni was hoping to reap the fruit of the reconciliation and get endorsement to inherit both structures, the former governor had been told not to expect to reap from where he did not sow.
A source said, “But when someone raised the issue of the candidature of Oni as consensus for the election, Olujimi and Fayose groups said he was not part of the struggle in the last few years and he could not come and benefit from it. They said they wouldn’t hand over to him (Oni) the structures they laboured with their resources to build over the years.
“So, that is the situation at the moment, but you know in politics, consultation will continue and before the primary on January 26, a lot will still happen and you can’t rule out anything.”
But there is fresh crisis over the conduct of the ward electoral congress to elect three adhoc delegates to participate in the January 26 primary election of the party.
Some aggrieved governorship aspirants in the party alleged that the exercise was rigged to favour a particular aspirant being backed by Fayose.
The exercise, which was supposed to have been conducted in the 177 wards of the state on Saturday January 16, failed to hold as Fayose group allegedly hijacked materials.
Aggrieved aspirants including Oni, Olujimi, Alhaji Lateef Ajijola and Akerele, among others, took to the street to protest the alleged shoddy congress. They accused the five-man panel sent by PDP national secretariat to supervise the congress of compromise, lamenting that the exercise was shrouded in secrecy to subvert people’s will.
The aspirants, who protested at Christ School, enroute Adebayo Area of Ado-Ekiti with their supporters called on the national leadership of PDP to annul the exercise.
They accused Fayose’s group of alleged manipulation of the exercise to favour his preferred aspirant.
Addressing journalists at the venue of the protest, Senator Olujimi who was flanked by Ajijola, Akerele and Oni and two others, noted that the ward congress didn’t take place in any part of the state, disclosing that Fayose concocted the result being bandied around.
She said: “There was no adhoc ward congress and we want absolute cancellation. What really happened was that one person hijacked all the materials and went to write the list. It’s not about me. It’s about our party and its future. What is important is fairness and justice. Any place where there’s no fairness and justice, peace will be eluded. So, the peace agreement has been broken. When you brake the peace agreement, what do you expect us to do; to fold our arms? No, we won’t”, she said.
The national leadership conveyed a meeting for Wednesday January 19, with chieftains and stakeholders of the party. However, the national secretary of the party, Senator Sam Anyanwu suddenly issued a statement cancelling the meeting. He attributed the cancellation to reasons beyond the control of the party.
In the same vein, the leadership of the party has constituted the ward congresses electoral appeal committee to consider appeals arising from the conduct of the ward congresses. The committee, which would begin sitting immediately included former national chairman of the party Okwesilieze Nwodo, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, Esther Uduehi, Kingsley Chukwu and Musa Elayo (secretary) to review the outcome of the controversial congress.
As things stand few days to the party’s primary, unless the party takes a very firm position to resolve matters, the party may be going to the primary with unresolved crisis.