By Rasaq Ibrahim, Ado-Ekiti
The Southwest chapter of the People’s Democratic Party has been enmeshed in a fierce battle over the control of the leadership of the party in the zone ahead of its regional congress.
The intense leadership struggle is fast assuming a perilous dimension as the gulf within the zonal chapter widened among the party’s heavyweights in the southwest thereby creating centrifugal force ripping it apart.
The Nation learnt that some chieftains of the party who are opposed to governor Seyi Makinde as the zonal leader being the highest ranking PDP member in the zone have allegedly ganged up to neutralise his dominant and seemingly hegemony within the chapter.
Sources within the party said the alleged conspiracy against Makinde stemmed from his recommendation that Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi should find a political solution to the clash between the duo over botched ward congress in Ekiti.
While the Olujimi camp was said to have been willing to accept political solution, which would allow for the sharing of positions in ratio 40 to 60, the Fayose camp was alleged to have disapproved the recommendation, preferring to take the party structure 100 per cent.
However, Signs of cracks in the ranks and file of the southwest chapter of the PDP first came to the fore when the chairmen of the party in Lagos, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states accused Makinde of neglecting the Southwest Zonal leadership of the party.
The chairmen, in a joint letter dated June 19, 2020 and addressed to the National Chairman, Uche Secondus, accused the governor of unilaterally calling a Zonal meeting without a recourse to the Zonal executives of leadership of the party.
The letter was co-signed by Deji Doherty (Lagos), Eng.Clement Faboyede (Ondo), Dr. Sikirulai Ogundele (Ogun) and Elder Sunday Akanfe (Osun).
They also alleged the Governor Makinde of prodding Chief Olabode George and Sen. Hosea Agboola to become the National and Southwest chairmen of the party respectively.
Events, however, took a new dimension on Monday when ex-governor Ayodele Fayose led some party leaders to meet the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus in Abuja.
On the entourage were four southwest PDP chairman. They included Doherty (Lagos); Ogundele (Ogun); Akanfe (Osun) and the newly elected Ekiti PDP factional chairman, Bisi Kolawole;
Others were former PDP National Vice Chairman, Southwest; Eddy Olafeso, the South-west PDP Secretary, Bunmi Jenyo who represented the PDP candidate in the 2018 Osun State governorship poll, Senator Ademola Adeleke and Oladipupo Adebutu.
A party source that was privy to the details of the meeting, said discussion was centered on forthcoming southwest zonal congress as well as the alleged plot to hijack the leadership of the party in the region from Makinde.
In a deft political move, the Southwest PDP National Assembly caucus who had got wind of the surreptitious plot swiftly mobilised its members and placed an advertorial affirming Governor Makinde as the leader of the party in the zone, being the highest ranking PDP member.
The advertorial published in different national dailies was signed by all the five PDP Senators and 12 of the 14 House of Representatives members in the Southwest. The senators included Ayo Akinyelure, Kola Balogun, Biodun Olujinmi, Francis Fadahunsi and Nicholas Tofowomo.
The House of Representatives members were included Hons. Oluwole Oke, Kolade Akinjo, Oghene Egoh, Soyinka Olatunji, Tajudeen Obasa, Adedeji Stanley Olajide Bamidele Salam, Ajilesoro Taofeek, Omolafe Adedayo, Ajibola Muraina, Yemi Taiwo and Abass Agboworin.
The NASS caucus said it took the decision in order to avert “unnecessary skirmishes in the forthcoming South West Congresses and also to correct some unorthodox egoistic moves by some state chapters that are trying to cause confusion in their state congresses recently.”
This came as the Ekiti state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party passed a vote of confidence on Governor Makinde leadership, urging him to continue with his quest to reposition, galvanize and salvage the party from the brinks of collapse.
The vote of confidence was passed at the end of a meeting of party’s officials and stakeholders held to discuss matter arising in the state chapter on Tuesday.
The meeting was well attended by the Ekiti PDP factional Chairman, Kehinde Odebunmi, Senators Biodun Olujimi, Duro Faseyi, ex- Deputy Governor, Sikiru lawal, Otunba Yinka Akerele, former Acting-Governor, Diran Odeyemi and other party leaders across the state.
Odebunmi, who spoke on behalf of the stakeholders, said the party has resolved to give Makinde all the needed support towards bringing southwest PDP out of political Oblivion.
He said the state chapter was solidly behind Makinde’s leadership and had therefore decided to endorse him to continue with his resolve to build a strong and united party in the zone.
Odebunmi, who fingered Fayose as the leader of the anti-Makinde’s crusade, alleged that he was up in arms against the governor solely because he refused to support his alleged shenanigans.
Corroborating the Odebunmi’a position, Olujimi described those plotting against Makinde as ‘political jobbers’, saying Fayose and his conspirators will fail.
She stated that party leaders in the zone would resist any attempt to rubbish him because of his uncompromising stance on truth against some elements bent on destroying the party from within.
She added the ex-governor was behaving with his antics like a dying dog fastening its teeth to any nearby object, saying he was resolute render the institutional core of the party flaccid ahead of his alleged planned departure to the All Progressive Congress.
Olujimi expressed his unalloyed support to Makinde’s leadership, saying “this is the best time southwest zone needed the governor most when ‘hijackers’ are trying to undermine the party’s structure through egregious conspiracy.
“The truth is that former Governor does not lead the party in the southwest. Eng. Makinde is the symbol of the party in the southwest. So, anything that must come from the zone must come through.
“Fayose and his conspirators’ visit to Uche Secondus was nothing but a recreational. I can take anybody to the national Secretariat of the party and we take pictures. What is important is what was said. While they were there nothing could have been said. We stand by him because nobody can rubbish him and wish him away”, she said.
In his reaction, Fayose through his media aide, Lere Olayinka vehemently denied that he was contending leadership with Makinde, saying his relationship with him remains strong.
Fayose said that the governor remains the leader of the party in the southwest being the only governor but should not abuse his position by meddling unduly in the internal affairs of the state chapters.
“Nobody is contesting leadership with Makinde. Ayo Fayose is not contesting leadership with anybody including Makinde. But being the leader of the party doesn’t also mean he will be in control of PDP in all the state chapters.
“The truth of the matter is that PDP in Southwest has never being run as a one-man show and it would not start now. When Fayose was the only governor, he was not involved in who was PDP chairmen in Osun, Oyo, Lagos, Ondo and Ogun. Those people in those states chose their own people who will want to lead them. But reverse is the case now.
“Politics is a game. You play your game I play my own. When I play my own don’t complain just go and play your own. It’s a game. When you are playing your own I won’t complain. Smart politicians don’t sit in their bedroom complaining about what their opponent are doing. They also play their own game. So, Ayo Fayose is playing his own political game. Others should also play their own. If Fayose took peoples to go and meet Secondus, they should also take people to go and meet him,” he said.