Politics

Ekiti PDP back to trenches as intrigues, brinkmanship threatens survival

ekiti pdp back to trenches as intrigues brinkmanship threatens survival

[FILE] Former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose (right); Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Vice Chairman, South-West, Dr. Eddie Olafeso and former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Olabode George, during the party’s South-West zonal stakeholders’ meeting in Ibadan… .

As covert moves have begun towards the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is once again in the news for wrong reasons. The imposition of candidate was arguably the genesis of the protracted crisis in the party, which dated back to September 2017 when former Governor Ayodele Fayose picked his deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, as the anointed sole candidate before the party primary was fixed.

A similar episode is about to repeat itself when Fayose decided to foist his former deputy on the party in 2016, other aspirants then including former Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, former Ambassador to Canada, Dare Bejide, former Deputy Governor to Fayose, Mr. Bisi Omoyeni and the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi rejected the move.

The aggrieved aspirants had in the wake of that action, which was considered as overbearing, led their supporters across the 16 local government areas to battle against the erstwhile governor. As a result of the logjam created by the endorsement of Olusola-Eleka, some of the aspirants left PDP to pursue their governorship ambitions on different political platforms.

For instance, Omoyeni decamped to Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) where he contested the governorship on July 14, 2018. Another aggrieved aspirant and former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Sikiru Tae Lawal, decamped to the Labour Party (LP) where he was fielded as the governorship candidate. On his part, Bejide left the PDP for the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and became the party’s flag bearer for the 2018 poll. Others such as Architect Aluko also a former deputy governor decamped to LP.

While these people left PDP, Olujimi and Adeyeye stayed back to confront Fayose. The two aggrieved politicians initially worked separately in various capacities. They petitioned the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) to intervene. Consequently, a reconciliation committee led by the former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, was set up but after a series of reconciliatory meetings, Olujimi and Adeyeye gave conditions upon which they would bury their hatchet. One of the conditions was a free, fair and transparent primary election. Knowing what was at stake, the leadership of the party acceded to their requests.

Subsequently, an electoral committee led by the Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, was set up to conduct the governorship primary. To ensure transparency, lists of delegates were made available to the contestants prior to the day of the primary and the lists were published in some national dailies.

However, in a dramatic twist, Olujimi and Adeyeye met on the eve of the primary and reached a secret pact to wit, present Adeyeye to face Olusola-Eleka. Olujimi immediately rallied her supporters to vote for Adeyeye but their efforts could not withstand Fayose’s political machinery as Olusola-Eleka defeated Adeyeye. Though, the primary was adjudged by all aspirants as free and fair, Adeyeye kicked against the outcome.

After several days of accusations and counter accusations between Fayose and Adeyeye, the latter defected from PDP to rival All Progressives Congress (APC), which at then was the major opposition in Ekiti. Upon his exit, Adeyeye was offered automatic ticket to contest for Ekiti South senatorial seat against the incumbent, Olujimi, who decided to stay in PDP after extracting commitment from the party’s leadership for a return ticket to the Senate.

After PDP lost the 2018 governorship election to APC and was also dusted in the 2019 presidential, National and State Houses of Assembly elections to the APC, owing largely to these intractable crises, the party once again is back to the trenches.

Fayose and his supporters seem not to have learnt lessons from the past mistakes. The antagonists have refused to accept compromise and solution. At a recent meeting of his (Fayose) supporters under the acronym of Osoko Peoples Assembly (OPA) held at Efon Alaaye, the erstwhile governor unilaterally nominated the chairman of his faction, former commissioner for Environment, Mr. Bisi Kolawole, as the candidate for the 2022 governorship election. This action, observers fear could be the last straw that will break the Carmel’s back. Many wondered why Fayose was compounding a difficult situation in the party.

However, Fayose had at different fora, defended his action. He said the endorsement would not foreclose the primary that would be organised by the NWC, at appropriate time. The ex-governor noted that some of those who are aggrieved by his action have benefited in the past from his alleged unilateral action. He added that some members of OPA, who had indicated interest in the governorship election, voluntarily stepped down for Kolawole. “Anybody has the right to support any preferred candidate,” the former governor said.

Apart from generating ripples in the party, some staunch members of Fayose’s group are said to be angry at the decision. His former deputy, Olusola-Eleka, who once said he was “uncompromisingly loyal” to Fayose, dismissed the development, saying, “It won’t stop me from going ahead with my governorship ambition.” Although, Olusole-Eleka is also a direct beneficiary of similar imposition in the past by Fayose, but the former deputy governor attributed the defeat of PDP in the 2018 governorship election to the action of his former boss, warning that the victory of the party in the 2022 governorship poll may be a pipe dream.

What is more, in what looks like political realignment, Olusola-Eleka and ex-governor, Chief Segun Oni, who earlier indicated interest to run for the 2022 governorship election on the platform of PDP, may have joined forces with Olujimi, who is leading a faction of the party. The three political big wigs were sighted at a zonal meeting of the party held at the Agodi Government House Ibadan, called by the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde.

Fayose and Makinde have been at daggers-drawn over the leadership of PDP in the Southwest. The party in the zone is currently divided into two factions led by the two leaders.

The leadership of the party at the national level seems to be complicit in the crisis. Instead of performing the role of unbiased arbiter, and call the feuding parties to order, the NWC is accused of taking sides with a particular faction.

As the national reconciliation committee led by the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki begins its troubleshooting efforts to the Southwest, it is expected that the committee will call the warring parties in Ekiti to a round table for dialogue. The party cannot afford to delay the reconciliation effort because apart from the pending State Assembly bye-election, the 2022 governorship election is at stake.



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