Despite the ongoing reconciliation move by stakeholders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party across the nation, in order to bring the former ruling party back from the brink, there are strong indications that the party is still wallowing in various avalanche of quagmires as its state chapters across the country are battling with diversifying contending issues.
The reconciliation move followed the sheathing of swords by the two major gladiators at the national level, former acting National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, both former governors of Borno and Kaduna states respectively.
But, political observers argued that the main opposition party might need to do more than the proposed reconciliation between the Sheriff and Makarfi factions of the party to get its acts together, if it cares to contest and make appreciable impact in the 2019 general election. According to them, different challenges rocking the party at the states levels across the country have caused the party’s disciples at the grassroots to waiver and doubt its resurgence.
Among the states where PDP leaders need to buckle up their belts if they truly care about saving the soul of the party are; Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Kogi, Lagos, Ondo, Edo, and Kwara, among others.
Osun pdp ahead of 2018
The hypothesis that Osun PDP has yet to recover from the defeat it suffered from the All Progressives Congress in the last gubernatorial election in 2014 may not be in doubt, as the party has been battling with series of calamities that have befallen it since after the election.
The crisis rocking it evolved a new dimension as the party now parades two chairmen with two separate party secretariats.
Though the camp led by one of its stalwarts, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, had on May 12, held a congress which produced Adagunodo, a former lawmaker in the state, as the chairman among other executives, the other camp, led by Dr. Bayo Faforiji, which held no congress, is now parading Faforiji as its chairman.
The Point gathered that the conduct of the ward congresses, which determine the delegates that will elect the state executives of the party had thrown the party into division as Faforiji, who was one of the chairmanship aspirants of the party, accused former party chairman, Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa of hoarding delegates’ forms.
Faforiji, who enjoyed the support of the state party warlord and its 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore, accused Olaoluwa of not giving the delegates’ forms to his supporters, and thus disenfranchised them in the election.
But Adagunodo, who is believed to be enjoying the backing of former National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Wale Oladipo, declared that Faforiji was only being economical with the truth concerning the true position of things, saying that his opponent obviously was not prepared for the congress.
He added that Faforiji’s camp paid late for the forms and decided to disrupt the congress because it knew defeat was staring it in the face. Despite Faforiji’s protests, the PDP state congress was held at Osogbo stadium on May 12, attended by Adagunodo’s camp and boycotted by Faforiji’s camp.
The state congress, supervised by a committee from the national secretariat of the party, led by retired Justice Emmanuel Dodo and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, produced Adagunodo as the chairman, Prince Bola Ajao as secretary, Chief Sunday Atidade as vice chairman and Mr. Sunday Bisi as Publicity Secretary.
At the congress, some stalwarts of the party, believed to be loyal to Senator Omisore, were conspicuously absent.
Some of the notable absentees at the congress were the past Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan; the outgoing Osun Central PDP senatorial leader, Rev. Bunmi Jenyo and the chairmanship candidate of the group, Dr. Faforiji.
The congress was, however, witnessed by Oladipo, member of the Board of Trustees of the party in the state, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, Erelu Olusola Obada, Senator Kola Ogunwale, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, Senator Olu Alabi and Sunday Fajimi, among others.
But as the congress was ongoing Faforiji stormed the party’s secretariat at Ogo-Oluwa in protest against the congress, describing it as illegal and fraudulent, saying that his camp had approached the court for an injunction to stop the election.
Meanwhile, as the rumpus continued, Adagunodo and other newly elected executives of Osun PDP could not access the party secretariat, and thus decided to rent a building at Bicket area in Osogbo as a new secretariat.
Findings by The Point revealed that the decision was borne out of the consciousness that the party’s secretariat at Ogo-Oluwa, was majorly financed by Senator Omisore, who is the backbone of their opponent.
Meanwhile, despite the ongoing wrangling, which pundits believed was the last straw that broke PDP camel’s back in Osun, both camps still boast of reclaiming power from the ruling APC in the 2018 gubernatorial election in the state.
Though, leaders of the opposing camps claimed to have embarked on peace moves to pave the way for victory against the ruling APC in 2018, the party appears to be heading towards another phase of logjam.
Apart from this, some PDP stakeholders in the state have fingered some national leaders as the brains behind most of the crises bedeviling the state chapter of the party.
Commenting on the development, a PDP stalwart, Mr Erasmus Adebayo, maintained that the recent visit of Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, to the state to campaign for the National Chairmanship of the PDP, further deepened the Osun PDP crisis, adding that the media mogul publicly disowned the Adagunodo faction and aligned himself with Faforiji camp.
Adebayo averred that the statement by Dokpesi while addressing journalists at the Ogo-Oluwa secretariat of the PDP confirmed his alliance with Omisore’s camp. Dokpesi was quoted to have said that “any genuine PDP member in Osun State should be here and not in any other place. If I go to any other place, that means I am promoting factionalisation of the party and indiscipline. If the leaders have not been listening, I will during my tenure encourage party discipline.”
Meanwhile, Adagunodo, while reacting to Dokpesi’s speech, described Dokpesi’s outburst as laughable, saying he would still visit his camp as 80 percent of votes from Osun PDP is from his faction.
Also, PDP youths said to be Adagunodo loyalists carpeted Dokpesi, describing his statements as anti-peace, callous and sentimental.
In a release signed by its publicity secretary, Olajide Adam, the Youth Forum for Democracy said Dokpesi was only on solidarity visit to Omisore, who they described as Dokpesi’s colleague in the custody of the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission.
As it is, observers said if the crisis is not resolved soon, it might affect the chances of the party in the forthcoming local government elections in the state and might also spread to the gubernatorial in 2018.
Lagos Pdp: Between Moshood and Adewale
Another state chapter of PDP which has yet to enjoy any peace is Lagos. Despite that the party’s stalwarts are sure that reconciliation is ongoing among leading gladiators to bring the party back together, there are indications that the two factions that were at war over the soul of the party have yet to lay their swords to rest, digging deep in their respective positions.
One of the factions is led by Moshood Salvador, while the other has Segun Adewale as its leader. According to sources, the two factions have not come to terms with each other over time.
Political watchers in the Centre of Excellence are quick to decipher that the crisis in Lagos PDP, commenced with the election that produced Moshood Salvador, a former candidate to the House of Representatives, as the new party chairman in the state.
Though Salvador, shortly after his inauguration, said the state chapter of PDP was no more factionalised, some of the party’s stakeholders believed that the internal wrangling bedeviling the party had not been solved.
This was just as shortly after Salvador’s election, Adewale, a former senatorial candidate for Lagos West, declared Salvador’s election null and void and announced himself as the authentic chairman of the party in the state.
“I am the authentic state chairman of the party (in Lagos). I will like to seize this opportunity to appeal to the media to avoid granting interviews to Mr. Salvador, Mr. Gani Taofik, or any member of their illegal executive. Under my leadership, this 2016/2020 executive committee is committed to total victory in Lagos come 2019. We are determined to rid ourselves of the old PDP cabal, who led this party astray for 16 years,” Adewale said while addressing journalists.
Meanwhile, party leaders in the state have said Adewale was endorsed by the factional national chairman of the PDP, Senator Sheriff, while Salvador received the backing of the Makarfiled national caretaker committee of the party.
One of the leaders who pleaded anonymity, said “despite the fact that things seem to be calm in the party now as a result of interference by some big wigs in our party, both factions are yet to really come to terms. They have since been doing their things differently. But we hope all will be well and we will be back as one before the next local government election in Lagos.”
Meanwhile, political observers in the Centre of Excellence have come to conclude that the crisis facing the party is an offshoot of the impasse between Sheriff and Makarfi, who are currently on reconciliation move.
A former Minister of Works and a leader of the party in the state, Adeseye Ogunlewe, said, “The factional crisis was caused by two factors: a fallout of the PDP gubernatorial primary contested by Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje, where Obanikoro lost. Obanikoro’s supporters felt robbed in the primary and this has caused divisions in the party.
“The other factor is the disagreement between Sheriff and the Makarfi-led national caretaker committee. Once the crisis is solved at the national level, it will be easier to resolve the crisis in the state chapter.”
Further findings by The Point revealed that the crisis in the party, which is majorly between the two factions, was however, caused by a breach of agreement among stakeholders. The two factions had earlier agreed on a 60/40 power sharing formula in the state.
A former acting chairman of the PDP in the state, Kamaldeen Olorunoje, told The Point that the 60/40 power sharing agreement, allegedly signed by Chief Bode George and other party leaders, was not followed. This, according to him, led to the conduct of two separate congresses, which produced two chairmen for the party in the state.
Olorunoje, believed loyal to the Adewale faction, also accused George of using military tactics to rule the party in the state.
Meanwhile, Mr Adewale, while peaking with The Point, vowed not to back down from the tussle, saying that he is the authentic chairman of the party in Lagos State.
“Moshood is not and will never be the chairman of PDP in Lagos. I am the authentic chairman and my position was ratified by Sheriff,” he said.
Following this, observers believed that if urgent steps are not taken to douse the internal wrangling that has become the bane of the party in the Centre of Excellence, its chances in the forthcoming local council election may be near zero.
Ekiti PDP: No end to perennial crises
The brewing crisis in the Ekiti State PDP recently assumed a new dimension, with the announcement of the reconstitution of the State Working Committee by a faction of the party.
The party had since been embroiled in internal wrangling, after the substantive state chairman, Idowu Faleye, was suspended two months ago by members of the committee, who appointed Tunde Olatunde as acting chairman.
However, Faleye, believed to be enjoying the backing of the state governor, Ayo Fayose, still claims to be the authentic leader of the party, in spite of the action taken by a faction of the committee against him.
Meanwhile, the faction also announced the removal of the Publicity Secretary, Jackson Adebayo, and replaced him with one of its stalwarts, Folorunso Oladipo. It also appointed Dapo Adebisi as the new deputy chairman, to replace Femi Bamisile, who defected to the APC last year.
Olatunde told journalists in Ado-Ekiti that the decision to appoint new officials was reached at the SWC meeting held at the state party secretariat and attended by 10 other state executive members.
He said the new appointees were recommended from their wards to fill the vacancies, explaining that the SEC would meet “very soon” to ratify the new appointments.
On the validity of the action, Olatunde said it was backed by Section 24(5) of the PDP constitution, which states that a quorum for SWC “shall be one-third of members drawn from the three senatorial districts and a simple majority shall pass any motion.”
Quoting Section 47(6) of the PDP constitution, which empowers the state executive to appoint new officers, he said, “I have addressed this issue times without number, there is a difference between the government and the party. The party produces the gubernatorial candidate and the highest organ in the party is SEC.
“The governor is a SEC member while the state party chairman presides and from that simple illustration, that is the responsibility of the party. While the governor faces governance, the SWC runs the party.”
Kogi PDP: House in disarray
Kogi PDP is not out of the crisis rocking the PDP boat across the nation as the state chairman of the party, Sam Uhuotu, was recently suspended by the SEC. The suspension, which came after a vote of no confidence was passed on Uhuotu, was contained in a letter addressed to him, dated September 29 and signed by 30 out of the 37 SEC members. The members, at a meeting held at the party secretariat in Lokoja, the state capital, accused the chairman of violating the provisions of Chapter 10, Section 58 (1a, b, c, d and h) of the constitution of the party.
But in a quick reaction, the embattled chairman, debunked the announced suspension by his people, claiming that he was yet to be served with the letter.
Uhuotu told journalists that until he receives the letter in person, he will not “react to mere allegations.”
According to the members, the embattled chairman deliberately refused to call meeting of the SEC since assuming office, and hardly come to the office in Lokoja, but prefers to stay in Abuja. The letter reads in part: “The underlisted members of the state executive committee of the party wish to bring to your notice that we no longer have confidence in your ability to lead and carry the party to its desired destination due to your constant and deliberate violations of the provisions of our party constitution.
“You have deliberately refused to pass any information to members of the state executive committee, which has led to lack of party activities at the state, local and ward levels.
“The party as it is today in the state under your leadership has remained stagnant. “You have constituted yourself into a one-man executive, where you take and implement decisions without following the laid down provisions of the party.
“After the loss of the party in most of the elections, you did not deem it fit to call for meetings to discuss the supplementary elections, strategise for those elections and deliberate on how assistance can be rendered to our various candidates.”
The SEC members said following Uhuotu’s suspension, his deputy should take over and constitute a disciplinary committee, consisting of seven people, to look into the allegations levelled against the embattled chairman.
Ondo PDP: Jimoh Ibrahim, bitter pill to swallow
The forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ondo State is the major factor fueling the wrangling in the party in the Sunshine State. The crisis climaxed to another level last week, when an Abuja Federal High Court declared businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, as the authentic candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming gubernatorial election and also directed INEC to recognise him as such.
This development has thrown the state chapter of the party, already battling with credibility crisis, into another furore. And this has necessitated series of meetings among stakeholders of the PDP in the state to find a way out of the logjam.
A source close to the party said the party leadership was greatly disturbed by the pronouncement of Justice Okon Abang, conferring authenticity on Ibrahim.
The source told The Point, “As soon as the news of the judgment came, there have been series of meetings to discuss the next line of action. “There were serious worries, whether to continue with the litigation by appealing the judgment or move the party, achingly to the Labour Party, which is still largely controlled by Governor Olusegun Mimiko.”
A statement by Ondo PDP publicity secretary, Banji Okunomo, said the gubernatorial candidate of the party could only emerge through due process in consonance with the constitution of the party.
He urged party supporters to disregard the judgment, saying the party’s gubernatorial candidate would not be produced through the back door or some unconstitutional procedures.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria has made it clear that only the National Executive Committee (NEC) of a party could nominate the gubernatorial candidate of the party,” Mr. Okunomo argued.
He added, “This was done in the nomination of Eyitayo Jegede (SAN). As such, no High Court can invalidate or alter this position, which is clearly defined by the highest ruling court in Nigeria.
“The PDP wishes to allay the fear of party members as appropriate steps are already being taken in this regard to quash obnoxious and baseless ruling.
“Such judgment or ruling, if it ever existed, is appealable with expedition and for want of legal justification shall never stand. More so, Mr Ibrahim who took the case to court is not a registered member of the PDP.”
Mr. Okunomo maintained that Ibrahim had ceased to be a member of the PDP, and his non-membership of the PDP had been verified at the ward, local government and state levels, having openly defected to the Accord Party.