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Osun PDP internal rift unabated as governorship primary draws closer

By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
02 February 2022   |   4:09 am
As March 7 governorship primary election of Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) approaches, party chieftains and members are worried over the implication of internal crisis that has divided the party.

Oyinlola

As March 7 governorship primary election of Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) approaches, party chieftains and members are worried over the implication of internal crisis that has divided the party.

Since 2018, when the party lost governorship election to All Progressives Congress (APC), it has been struggling to recover from that electoral loss. The case of the erstwhile PDP chairman in the state and incumbent southwest zonal chairman, Soji Adagunodo, brought the crisis to the fore after he was accused of mismanaging N150 million campaign funds for 2018 governorship, and other allegations.

The State Executive Council (SEC) passed a vote of no confidence on Adagunodo and he was removed. The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in September 2020 ratified Adagunodo’s removal and directed former deputy chairman of the party, Sunday Akanfe, to take over pending the emergence of a substantive state chairman.

Few months later, the present chairman of the party, Sunday Bisi, was selected and ratified by NWC.

Since Adagunodo was ousted and replaced, all has not been well with the party, as it has been divided into two factions. While Bisi chairs a faction that enjoys support of Ademola Adeleke; Federal lawmakers, Bamidele Salam and Wole Oke, former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi; former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and other stalwarts; the faction headed by former vice chairman of the party for Osun East, Barrister Wale Ojo is supported by Adagunodo and other party leaders in the state.

Ojo, a former Senator, who represented Osun East senatorial district, was appointed as acting chairman in December 2021, by some stakeholders of the party in the state to fill the vacuum created by the exit of Adagunodo.

Ojo’s appointment was reportedly validated in the presence of members from all the local government areas in the state, as well as the verdict of an Osun State High Court, which recognised and affirmed the actions of Adagunodo.

Four of the aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket, Sanya Omirin, Akin Ogunbiyi, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade and Dele Adeleke were present at the meeting, where Ojo, was announced as the substantive chairman of the party.

But rising from the executive council meeting of the party, Adeleke’s faction described Ojo’s selection as “kangaroo” and affirmed Bisi as the authentic chairman of the party. The faction also announced the removal of Ojo and barred him from holding party office for one year.

The resolution of the meeting signed by Ayodeji Areola, State Publicity Secretary reads in part, “The report of the Osun PDP Disciplinary Committee recommending the removal of Barrister Ojo (Vice-Chairman Osun East) and Alhaji Remi Arogundade (State Financial Secretary) as members of SWC/SEC and their immediate replacement from their various local governments as well as their debarment from holding any party executive office for the next one year is hereby approved.

“That SEC also condemn the action of Hon Soji Adagunodo, who took the party to court without exhausting domestic remedies as provided for by the party’s Constitution and still surreptitiously pursued the case even after his assumption of office as Southwest chairman of the party.

“That the NWC of PDP led by Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is hereby called upon to warn Adagunodo loyalists and that NWC should not spare the rod in dealing with the anti-party activities of Adagunodo loyalists within Osun PDP.”

Another group, the Authentic Democrats also condemned Adagunodo for allegedly blackmailing and sponsoring disinformation against PDP national legal adviser, Barrister Kamal Ajibade and other members of NWC.

Adagunodo’s loyalists, however, challenged Ajibade for filing papers for approaching court to stop the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) in the new case he instituted at the Osun State High Court sitting in Ile-Ife against Adeleke’s faction.

Reacting, the group in a statement by its chairman, Mr. Soji Adekola, expressed displeasure that Adagunodo and his loyalists could attack the legal adviser for doing his statutory job and called on PDP national chairman to be watchful of further attacks on the party by Adagunodo.

He said, “For the benefit of the readers, it is pertinent I let them know that after Soji’s adoption as national vice chairman, he went to High Court in Ile Ife to deceive the court and he got an order to cause a fresh crisis in Osun PDP. In this fresh suit, PDP and INEC are the respondents. Is it too much for national legal adviser to now defend his party?” Adekola asked.

Senator Ademola Adeleke

Also a group, the South West PDP Youth Alliance (SWPYA) accused former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki of hindering efforts by Osun State PDP to achieve success by supporting Ademola Adeleke in his governorship ambition bid.

The group, in a statement made available to the media by its coordinator, Apesin Adegoke said Saraki, being a close associate of Dr. Deji Adeleke, the elder brother of Ademola Adeleke was planning to impose Ademola Adeleke on the party.

Adegoke said Saraki had deliberately created frictions between aggrieved leaders of the party instead of using his position then as Senate President to mediate between warring factions in the state.

He said, “It is also on record that Senator Bukola Saraki breached the agreement reached in his house in 2018 between former Senator Ademola Adeleke and Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi because Dr. Deji Adeleke, who claimed he is not a card-carrying member of our party dictated to him what he wanted, and that partly made us lose opportunity to have a landslide victory in that election.

“Otunba Christopher Iyiola Omisore is alive today and he can testify to how Saraki ignored the well laid out political arrangements and agreements reached with him and PDP leaders in 2018 to support PDP during re-run of governorship election on September 27, 2018. He treated Omisore with disdain, like someone they didn’t need, hence, the defeat at the end of the exercise.”

Saraki was also accused of worsening the crisis in the party by failing to reconcile aggrieved parties when he headed the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee.

According to the group, “at the peak of the crisis and when it was becoming too obvious that Saraki wouldn’t come to Osun, all the leaders of the party from both factions took Osun matter to NWC and they had to force the Saraki-led reconciliation committee in Abuja to attend to the leaders of both factions. He (Saraki) reluctantly met with them (aggrieved Osun PDP chieftains) at Legacy House in Abuja but till today, Saraki sat on the outcome of that meeting and he kept on manipulating the fortunes of Osun PDP in favour of Adeleke’s family.

“Also, Senator Saraki has made active involvements in the efforts to force the illegal factional ward congress of the Pathfinder group conducted under Hon Sunday Bisi on the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led NWC through his boy, the new national legal adviser, Barrister Kamal Ajibade SAN, after failing to force the administration of Prince Uche Secondus to give that factional group his proposed undue recognition.

“The recent efforts of Dr Saraki through Ajibade, to subvert the legally conducted ward congress in Osun under a legally constituted State Executive Committee that was elected between March 23 and 25, 2018, which tenure will expire on March 22, 2022 is no longer hidden.

“It is so sad that Saraki, who would have been the chief mediator between the factional groups in Osun State, has suddenly become the chief solicitor and advocate of former Senator Ademola Adeleke. Accompanied by the National Legal Adviser, he (Saraki) has been taking him (Ademola Adeleke) around Abuja, begging members of the newly elected NWC of the party”, the group alleged.

They, however said they are not quarreling with him on his choice of who to associate with, adding that they did not see anything wrong in Saraki working for his friend’s brother but the involvement of the new legal adviser, a member of NWC, who will sit with others to discuss the same Osun issue leaves much to be desired.

The group asked NWC not to recognise Adeleke’s faction but Adagunodo group, advising it to send a neutral panel to conduct the party’s governorship primary. Defending Saraki, former PDP deputy national publicity secretary, Prince Diran Odeyemi, said the allegations were untrue. In a statement, Odeyemi said the allegations by the group are libelous, mischievous and false.

According to Odeyemi, “My attention has been drawn to a statement issued by one Apesin-Abiodun Adegoke, who claimed to be an indigene of Modakeke in Ife East Area Office , and made many libelous, mischievous, and false claims, particularly directing such at the chairman of the Reconciliation Committee, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who was also President of the Senate between 2015 and 2019.

“As a major stakeholder in the party, I am obliged to respond to this write-up because the writer made several untrue assertions concerning the party, some key leaders, and insinuated things that only existed in his imagination as well as that of his sponsors. I believe that the entire write up is a dubious attempt to mislead the public and malign Saraki as well as the new leadership of PDP under Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and stampede them into taking premeditated decisions that will favour a group in the Osun State PDP crisis, on whose behalf the writer did the hatchet job.

“From my knowledge, the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee (NRSC) met the Osun State stakeholders on March 15, 2021, in Abuja as it did to most of the other states where there are intra-party conflicts. From the commencement of the meeting, Saraki declared his closeness to Adeleke’s family, particularly revealing that two of the members of the family (late Isiaka and Ademola) had been his colleagues in the Senate. He however, made it clear that this will not prevent him from saying the truth and ensuring justice, equity, and fairness determined the outcome of the deliberations. After his statement, nobody raised any objection to his presiding over the meeting. Many of the stakeholders praised and commended his objectivity and full disclosure.

Adagunodo

“I know very well that as a result of the reconciliation efforts in other states and later developments leading to the emergence of the new party leadership, the final report of NRSC has not been submitted to the new NWC headed by our respected leader, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu. Therefore, the committee as a body, its chairman, Dr. Saraki as a person, and other members could not be accused of playing any role in whatever decision the party leadership has taken, is contemplating, or may take on the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Osun State.

“There are more lies by the dubious author of that press statement. Dr. Saraki volunteered on his own to help his party win the governorship election in 2018 and I can say it without any fear of contradiction that there was no other PDP member outside Osun State, who did as much as the former Senate President to help Osun State win the election. When the manipulators got the election results declared inconclusive, Saraki on his own volition approached Chief Iyiola Omisore on September 24, 2018, three days to the re-run to help the PDP win the election, particularly in the wards in Ile Ife areas. The meeting with Omisore was held in the presence of so many leaders and even aides. No secret meeting or secret agreement, which Saraki could have breached, was arrived at. It was just a visit to appeal to and appease the former Deputy Governor to support his party.

“The following day after Saraki’s visit, the APC team led by its then national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and four serving governors also visited the former Senator. It was obvious Omisore went with the ruling party with the better promises they made to him. So, which liar from hell is now claiming Omisore did not support PDP because Dr. Saraki or any PDP member broke promises to him. Which promise? At what time before the re-run election was any promise made and broken? Liars do not care about facts. They just want to muddle up the water.

“From my experience as a former party spokesperson, I know no National Legal Adviser of the party can on his file suit or take decisions without the consent of the national chairman and other NWC members. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu that we all know is not somebody that can be dictated to by any NWC members or external influence. So, all these claims against the National Legal Adviser and Dr. Ayu are mere fabrications by ungodly people,” he said.