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South-West PDP and its many crisis

Published by Tribune on Wed, 04 Jun 2014

As 2015 elections draw near and with Ekiti and Osun governorship elections beckoning, DARE ADEKANMBI looks at the plummeting fortunes of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West and how heavy factionalisation of the party may affect its chances in the polls.Like an economy sagged into recession by poor corporate governance and irrational macroeconomic decisions, the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West region has been flogged into a recession by its own leaders and members on account of conflicting interests and mutual suspicion. Observers say that in view of the enormity of the crippling crisis in the party, it may take a while for the fortunes of the party to be restored in the region.The genesis of the misfortune of the party was the year 2010 when two of its then governors in Ekiti and Osun states, Chief Segun Oni and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola respectively, were sacked by the courts and the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now transmogrified to the All Progressives Congress (APC), increased its territory of influence from Lagos to the two states, leaving half of the region in its control.More miseries were added to the woes of the umbrella party in the region as a 'family dispute', to use the phraseology of the party hierarchy, broke out in Ogun and Oyo state chapters in the build up to the 2011 elections. The consequence of that wrangling in now history: the ACN furthered its base by winning the two states, leaving only Ondo State in the hands of the Labour Party.After the 2011 elections, frantic efforts were made to achieve the rebuilding of the party. A series of reconciliation meetings across the six states succeeded infurther dividing the party rather than unify it. The re-discovery of the centre for the party in the region in a former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who had been variously pilloried as the architect of the fall of the party in the region, also failed to achieve anything meaningful.The election of former governors Oyinlola and Oni as the national secretary and national vice-chairman (South-West) of the party was upturned with intrigue by the camp that considered these principal officers 'sons' of Obasanjo. The anti-Obasanjo camp succeeded in getting their men to replace the two former governors.With governorship election coming up in Ekiti next month and another one Osun in August, before the February 2015 general election which is eight months away, the South-West PDP exists only in factions and shreds. Yet, there is an orchestra rendition from a band in the party boasting not only of victory in the two states but also to reclaim the region's control. The three main groups in the party are: the loyalists of former president Olusegun Obasanjo; the Buruji Kashamu faction; and those that can be called the non-aligned.Ogun PDPNotwithstanding claims of defection to the state chapter of the party in recent times, checks by Nigerian Tribune revealed that the crisis in the party has led to its haemorrhaging many of its leaders and members to either the ruling APC or the Labour Party. The party is torn in power tussle between former president Obasanjo and the chairman of the South-West Committee on Mobilisation, Prince Buruji Kashamu. The Chief Dipo Odujirin-led state executive installed by Obasanjo during the 2012 congress of the party was sacked by the court in a suit filed by the pro-Kashamu faction. Ever since that time, the structure of the party had come down with political prostate cancer.While the power tussle is continuing, Kashamu, realising the need to fortify the party head 2015 elections, has been busy deploying human and material resources to rebuilding the party. His efforts were said to have netted into the PDP, a former deputy governor in the state reportedly with about 5,000 others from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He is also said to be behind the recent reported engagement of about 200, 000 canvassers for the PDP's victory in the region during the next year's general election, starting with Ekiti and Osun polls.In spite of this solo effort, apparent division in the party has made many politicians and power brokers to be wary in investing their resources in the party. A former governor of the state, Chief Gbenga Daniel has formally dumped the PDP for LP as his teeming loyalists, supporters and other notable politicians across the state. With no governorship hopefuls signalling intention to use the PDP platform to realise their aspiration in 2015, a faction of the party recently appealed to the immediate past speakerof the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole, to come and fly the party's flag. The reaction of the former speaker was blunt. He told the PDP leaders he would not want to be ridiculed again by contesting election in a divided party, as the outcome of such contest would always be predictable ab initio. He was one of the heavyweights that kissed the dust in the 2011 general election which the party lost as a result of factional crisis between the Obasanjo and Daniel groups.'We need to mobilise our people from the grass roots and begin to mend fences and address those challenges that robbed us of victory at the 2011 polls. We must urgently embark on a sincere and genuine process of reconciliation and allow aggrieved members who had left the party to return to the fold. We must allow unity to reign supreme in our party and work together to move PDP forward in Ogun,' he stated.Oyo PDPAs it is in Ogun, so it is in Oyo, the political capital of the defunct Western Region. There are three main factions of the party in the state and these groups are: the Adebayo Alao-Akala faction, the Teslim Folarin faction, and the Olajumoke Akinjide faction. The party has two state secretariats and two state executives of the party produced at the parallel state congress in March, 2012.Folarin, a former senate leader and governorship aspirant in the party, has his faction recognised by the national leadership of the party under the Bamanga Tukur chairmanship. The two other groups in the party had since shouted to the rooftop the need for justice and equity and fairness in the party. They argued that only the dismantling of the current structure of the party to pave way for its all-inclusive reconstitution was the only way the party could be positioned to win the next governorship seat in the state.Many of the non-aligned leaders and members of the party have joined the Accord Party and LP, citing the seeming intractability of the crisis in the PDP as reason. But unlike in Ogun, there are as many as about 12 governorship aspirants eyeing the ticket of the party.Speaking on the crisis in the South-West chapter of the party and why the party is losing some of its leaders to the opposition parties, a former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly and PDP chieftain, Right Honourable Asimiyu Alarape, said: 'the drift can be arrested if the PDP leadership is so genuinely inclined to resolve all the crises in the state chapters in the zone. The national headquarters of the party must sit up and carefully investigate the veracity of the claims by some individuals who, because of unbridled ambition, always paint a no-problem fairy tales and pretend as if all is well.''Osun PDP In Osun, the PDP is not a cohesive party. The PDP that once held sway has been reduced to a shadow of it glorious days. The party is torn between those who are loyal to the deposed but court-reinstated national secretary of the party, Prince Oyinlola and supporters of the party's governorship candidate in the August 9 election in the state, Senator Iyiola Omisore.Evidence that Omisore has the structure of the party in his grip moved from the realm of speculation to reality when the name of the chairman of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Chief Jide Adeniji, was removed as a ministerial nominee to replace the dropped Chief Olusola Obada. Omisore's loyalist, Abdul-Jelil Adesiyan, eventually emerged the minister form the state. The Omisore camp also showed it enjoyed the benevolence of the centre when the former senator clinched the ticket of the party, leaving his challengers to cry foul over the circumstances of his emergence. Efforts to reconcile the aggrieved aspirants with the victor have yielded barely fair result.While the power play continued, Governor Rauf Aregbesola appears to have been harvesting from the crisis in Osun PDP. Last weekend, the ruling APC netted into its fold, a big fish in the first executive governor of the state, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. The former governor is reckoned to be a major force in Osun Central Senatorial district and a major boost for Aregbesola's re-election. Aregbesola appears to have closed ranks with his immediate predecessor, Prince Oyinlola, as part of his determination to win the August election.Ekiti PDPIt is almost the same scenario. Many of the governorship aspirants who vied for the ticket of the party with Mr Ayo Fayose still remain largely implacable. However, some observers note that the PDP in Ekiti is more cohesive than in Osun and that Fayose has no reason to fret over his re-election in Ekiti.Conversely, there are those who think the defection of former governor Segun Oni to Governor Kayode Fayemi's camp of the APC will affect the fortunes of the PDP in the less-than-18-days election. Oni, a loyalist of Obasanjo, was booted out of office as the PDP's deputy national chairman (South-West) as part of the campaign against the pro-Obasanjo group. With Oni now in APC, there are two former governors of Ekiti solidly behind Governor Fayemi, a reason some say upstaging Fayemi will be a very tough challenge.Lagos PDPIn Lagos, the PDP does not speak with one voice. While there is a faction that seeks sanctuary and leadership in Chief Bode George, there is another that refuses to accept George's leadership. The factional crisis in the state chapter has also caused a near-paralysis in Lagos PDP.The rise of Accord, Labour PartyThe rate at which aggrieved chieftains of the PDP have been trooping to Senator Rashidi Ladoja's Accord Party and Governor OlusegunMimiko'sLabour Party is quite high. The two parties, which are at the vanguard of the Third Force, have been presenting themselves as alternatives to the APC and the troubled PDP in the South-West region.From cashing in on the lack of coherence in PDP and profiting maximally from it in Oyo, Accord Party, which was only heard of in the politics of the South-West in 2011, when Ladoja made a strong showing in the 2011 elections in the Oyo on its platform, has spread its tentacles to Ekiti, Osun, Ogun and Lagos.Accord has a candidate in the Ekiti election later this month and aggrieved governorship aspirants in Osun have been beseeching Ladoja to anoint them to use the platform in the August 9 polls. In Ogun State, it is being speculated that Governor Ibikunle Amosun might be romancing Ladoja to fly Accord's flag next year, if the crisis between him and former governor Segun Osoba comes to a head. Big politicians are constantly being linked with the party in Lagos and the party is said to be position to profit from the likely implosion in Lagos APC over who succeeds Governor Babatunde Fashola.For Labour Party, the sterling performance of Governor Mimiko has made the party attractive to those who fallout with either PDP or APC. Honourable Opeyemi Bamidele, LP governorship candidate in the June polls, is considered a major contender for the governorship of the state. Mimiko was in Ibadan and Abeokuta recently to inaugurate the secretariats of the party in Oyo and Ogun State. LP is also a major platform in Lagos State.Emergence of Omisore, FayoseThe emergence of Omisore and Fayose as candidates of the party is said to be a major victory and validation of the Buruji faction by the National Working Committee of the PDP over the Obasanjo group. Some members of this victorious faction went to court to re-validate their caretaker leadership under Chief IsholaFilani. While reacting to the court verdict, national Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh, had said the national headquarters would abide by the decision of the court, thus upholding the leadership of the Filani-led committee in the South-West probably till next year's elections are held. Almost all the feuding factions of the South-West PDP have pledged loyalty and support for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, should he decide to run again. But will the party leaders come together to ensure the victory of the PDP in Ekiti and Osun this year and then Oyo, Ogun and Lagos in 2015' Can genuine reconciliation be achieved in the state chapters before the coming elections' Will the ashes of South-West rise to glory again
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