S’West PDP: How far can reconciliation effort go?
Prior to the elections, the leading opposition party, drummed its intention to the hills, vowing to serve the incumbent ruling party – All Progressives Congress (APC), a dose of its own medicine which it administered on it during the 2015 elections, when it (PDP) was bundled out of Aso Rock villa.
Of course, with a voting strength of 16,292,212 registered voters that placed it second behind the North-West zone which tops the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voters’ register, the South-West was a major force that the PDP banked on to return to power.
The six states that make up the South-West zone are Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun.
Courting voters in South-West at the flag-off of his campaign in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was PDP’s presidential candidate, said: “Let me tell you that today, I said before you that within six months, we shall start the process of restructuring of this country. Ladies and gentlemen, I have lived here, so I am not a stranger.”
Following up in the same breath, the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Seconds, said: “With what we have seen here today, it is sure that our people in the South-West want a change in government and Atiku is the only candidate who can rescue Nigeria at this time.”
After the election, the APC candidate and incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, was declared winner of the keenly contested election after polling 15.1 million votes to Atiku’s 11.2 million votes, thereby returning to Aso Rock with a margin lead of 3.9 million votes.
At the gubernatorial level, the party contested the three vacant seats in Ogun, Oyo and Lagos. While it was able to secure the Oyo State seat, it lost in Ogun and Lagos to its perennial albatross, the APC.
In the senatorial election, the PDP won four seats out of the 18 in the zone. The party won two Senate seats in Ondo and one each in both Osun and Oyo states. However, the party has one pending via the Election Tribunal ruling that upturned the APC victory in Ekiti State.
While some analysts largely considered the performance of PDP in the South-West during the 2019 general election as not too woeful especially with its reclaiming of Oyo State, where Seyi Makinde emerged as governor, others believe that the party didn’t manifest its potentials due to protracted internal crises across its chapters in the states of the zone.
Those in the latter school of reasoning cited some of the unresolved crises from its as the bane of the underperformance; they also highlighted traits of betrayal, conspiracy, greed, inordinate ambition, thirst for power and personal interests as the reason for the party’s loss in states like Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti.
But refuting the insinuation of woeful outing for the party in the zone, the South-West Chairman of the PDP, Dr Eddy Olafeso, told New Telegraph that the statistics of the party in the zone in terms of election result was the best among the remaining five geo-political zones.
“We also won the governorship and presidential election in Oyo State and we also won the presidential election in Ondo State with 34,000 votes. The margin in Osun was marginal. We won two senatorial seats in Ondo and three House of Representatives.”
“As far as we are concerned, over monetization and institutional abuse, what I mean by that is INEC and security agencies being used to harass our people and deny them of their democratic rights also limited us in some ways. Outside that, we are on top here, we are not in the minority here.
“We are on top of the game and generally speaking we are fine and determined to do well in subsequent polls. If anybody is saying we didn’t do well, they should come up with better statistics,” Olafeso said.
Lagos: Still searching for a substantive chairman to pilot its affair
No doubt, the Lagos chapter of the PDP is in the crucible and it appears that there is no way out anytime soon.
Out of all the six states of the zone, Lagos is the only the state that the PDP has not been opportune to rule for even 24 hours, yet, the party has been contesting against the metamorphosing progressive movement in the state.
For the better times in the life of the party, the issues around it revolve around individuals and the test of might among them.
At different points, names like Chief Olabode George, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Mr Jimi Agbaje, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Chief Mrs. Aduke Maina, Hon. Moshood Salvador and Segun Adewale, among others, dominated the content of the opposition party. However, internal wrangling and lack of cohesiveness has limited the performance of the party during elections in the state.
It will be an understatement to say that the Lagos PDP had a bad show at the last general elections. The poor outing has been intrinsically linked mutual mistrust among the leadership that has always degenerated to a ‘dog eats dog’ scenario during elections.
A member of the PDP, who pleaded anonymity, told New Telegraph that the members and supporters of the party are tired of the antics of the leadership in the state and at the national level, adding that some of them are seriously considering their options over the party.
He said: “We are just tired of how the party is being run here in Lagos. Look at Oyo State, they are back to power, what is our own problem. As we speak we don’t have a substantive state chairman, how can we run a party without a chairman?
“We are in a dilemma and it’s interesting that nobody is here to listen but when it’s time for election, you will see all sorts of people coming to pick the party’s ticket. We can’t take Lagos that way.”
However, some analysts looked at the election stalemate of the PDP in Lagos from another prism. For them, the fang of the National Leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, is too sharp and strategic for the opposition party, hence the second fiddle position in the last 20 years.
Interestingly, some even insinuated a secret pact between him Tinubu and Lagos PDP. At the last general elections, the party could only keep three House of Representatives seats it won in 2015 and also lost all the eight House of Assembly seats it won before. Its governorship candidate, Agbaje, also recorded a humbling defeat from the APC.
Just after the election, darts started to fly from one end of the party to the other. Expectedly, a post-mortem meeting on the party’s poor outing was held at the Ikoyi office of the former Deputy National Chairman of the party, George, and this perhaps unmasked the latest round of crisis in the party. Of course, the party started experiencing exodus from its fold. Leading the list of decampees was a former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe.
His son, Moyo, who was a two-time state Assembly candidate of the PDP, had earlier moved to the APC. Also on the defection train from the PDP was the lone lawmaker of the party in the last 8th Assembly, Hon. Dipo Olorunninu.
In the same guise of crisis, the party’s chairmanship seat is literally vacant as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in Abuja, has asked the South-West PDP chairman, Olafeso, to take over affairs of the party, following the expiration of Dominic’s three-month acting tenure.
Clearly, the on-again-off-again internecine political interest in Lagos PDP is still active and alive, but the question on the lips of its supporters is who will save it from its failure syndrome every four years.
But that was not to be as the protracted factional crisis in the state chapter not only factionalised the party but also led to open market anti-party activities that made the different blocs in the party work for other candidates and parties. At the centre of the battle for the soul of the party are two prominent chieftains who were equally members of the National Assembly, Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu.
The ambitions of the duo have practically put the party in limbo and disoriented and disillusioned its teeming members who got caught in the unending supremacy tussle and legal fireworks. Close to the election, the party produced two sets of candidates from the governorship to national and state House of Assembly positions and this led to serious contention over who were the authentic candidates of the party.
Two factions led by Chief Adebayo Dayo and Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, which have tried to outdo each other to control the PDP structures, are laying claim to legitimacy and leadership of the state chapter before relevant bodies. Kashamu is backing the executive led by Dayo, while Adebutu is supporting the Ogundele group. Eventually, INEC recognized the Dayo-led executive and Kashamu, who represented Ogun East on PDP platform, emerged as the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
But during the elections, the various interests went blazing as former Governor Gbenga Daniel openly canvassed votes for APC’s Dapo Abiodun days to the governorship election, while Adebutu on his part went into alignment with the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate, Adekunle Akinlade. With the elections over, the various camps are experiencing defections to the APC.
For Adebutu and Kashamu, reconciliation still remains elusive and the big question is: Who will bend first between the duo? Ondo: Party banks on Oyo’s template for 2020 guber Aside Oyo State, the other state chapter of the PDP in the South-West that has been galvanizing its members for a united fold is Ondo State. Although the party performed woefully in the state during the House of Assembly elections, its performance at the presidential and National Assembly elections was hugely a success. During the elections, PDP won two senatorial districts and three House of Representatives seats.
While the party appears to be the new bride among the electorate in the state, it is believed that its leadership must maturely control ambitions and interests of its members for public acceptance to translate to votes.
Expectedly, no fewer than 16 aspirants have indicated their interests in the ticket. Twelve are from the South Senatorial District, which by the political antecedent of the state, is more favoured to produce the governor.
Of the lot, three appears to be in the frontline, they are Olafeso, Eyitayo Jegede, and Sola Ebiseni. For a state which is made up of sub-ethnic Yoruba group, it is believed that zoning would play a major role in the choice of a candidate for the party.
Although the party has not spelt out modalities for the primary that will produce its candidate, it was gathered that the party is bent on reclaiming the state back from the APC and has decided to use the manual adopted in the road to recovery of Oyo State. Osun: Still ruing Adeleke’s loss at the court The Osun governorship seat nearly fell into PDP’s lap, but almost didn’t count for the party in the State of the Living Spring.
For a tortuous legal journey that spanned for almost a year, the PDP gave the seat a hot chase, but the Supreme Court on July 5, 2019 dismissed the appeal of its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, which challenged the declaration of Gboyega Oyetola of the APC as the winner of the September 22, 2018 Osun State governorship election.
In the lead judgment by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, the apex court declared that the absence of the judge, who read the majority decision of the election tribunal during the panel’s sitting, made the judgement a nullity.
The judge upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal and noted that the proper thing to have done in the absence of Justice Peter Obiorah was to start the entire trial afresh.
Thus, four of the seven Justices of the apex court, sat to deliver the judgment, with Justice Rhodes Vivour presiding. In the end, there was a majority judgment of five and dissenting judgement of two, in Oyetola’s favour.
But three months down the lane, the party is still gathering its momentum from the disappointment although its state chairman, Soji Adagunodo, said it has accepted its fate based on the ruling of apex court. Although the party was able to win a senatorial seat in the state, there are still pockets of unresolved animosities in the state chapter of the party and the earlier these are resolved ahead of the next round of elections in the state, the better.
Oyo: Makinde as the rallying point
For a party once associated with a record of internal crises, the victory of Seyi Makinde in the March 9 governorship election was all that was needed to start on a new slate. Interestingly, the state chapter of the party is leading the charge to launch the recovery of the remaining five states in the South-West.
The APC candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, polled 357, 982 to come a distant second. Makinde won in 28 Local Government Areas while Adelabu won in five councils. According to the chairman of the party in the state, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, excellent performance of the PDP-led government in Oyo State will enhance its chances in future elections in the zone.
“Presently, we are targeting Osun and Ondo states and we are working tirelessly to capture these states,” he said. Expectedly, the Oyo State PDP has been witnessing and welcoming loads of defectors from other parties.
However, it is expected that the party, under the leadership of Makinde, will not only manage its affairs internally, but become a model of emulation for other chapters of the party in the zone.
Ekiti: Fayose, Olujimi at daggers drawn Since three courts validated the party’s loss in the last gubernatorial election, the PDP in Ekiti State has gradually turned into a shadow of its self. Interestingly, the two gladiators in the heart of the crisis, ex-governor, Ayo Fayose and Senator Abiodun Olujimi, were once allies, but politics for what it is, can only be a game of interest.
Olujimi was once a special adviser and deputy governor in the administration of Fayose. She also got the senatorial ticket to represent Ekiti South during Fayose’s era. But the centre is not holding between the duo and the reason is nothing but political interests which started at the commencement of the presidential campaign in 2018.
Speaking recently about her former boss, Olujimi whose re-election to the Senate was recently upheld at the expense of the incumbent, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said: “I played an unforgettable role in Fayose emergence as Ekiti governor. I helped Fayose back to the party. I was going to contest the governorship before he came. “When he came, he could not come into the party, the party said no way.
He came to me and said please, help, let’s work together.
Let me come back into the party if we win, you will determine what you want. “For him to now come out and say I made Olujimi this and that is a blatant falsehood. We are both benefactor to each other although I was nominated under him as party candidate for Senate.
Speaking on the status of the party in the state, Olujimi said Ekiti PDP is in disarray over who determines who get what, when and how in the party. According to her, the party is on autopilot. Reconciliation of warring chapters According to Olafeso, the national leadership has given the zonal executive the mandate to unite all interests in the zone, adding that, “We are doing very well and we are united, you don’t see court cases anymore in South-West PDP.
“On the 12th of September, we had our zonal caucus in Ibadan under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde. Part of our way forward is to ensure that we bring peace to all the six states in the zone. “That is why we are making efforts to rejig Lagos State and make sure that there is more effective and efficient leadership. All that we are doing in the zone is the policy of the national leadership,” he said.