The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have slipped back into trouble, barely three months after the Supreme Court resolved its leadership tussle.
Ahead of the party’s December 9 national convention that will produce a new leader, it is battling to resolve crises in at least six states where the congresses for the election of delegates and state council executives have thrown up problems.
The troubled state chapters are: Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Adamawa, Zamfara and Gombe. The congress is yet to hold in Lagos where the party is also divided.
The party held parallel congresses in Oyo and Ogun states. Two factions were yesterday locked in a bitter struggle to take over the secretariat in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
But the biggest confusion was raked up by some leaders in the Southwest who, believing that the party’s chairmanship had been zoned exclusively to the zone, excluded some aspirants from the race. They endorsed others.
But yesterday, the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee and Southwest Vice Chairman Eddy Olafeso dissociated themselves from the endorsement.
All aspirants interested in the race for national chairman were cleared to pursue their aspirations.
A November 3 document signed by Board of Trustees (BoT) member Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun shortlisted only three of the eight Southwest aspirants.
The Oyedokun document cleared Chief Olabode George, Prof Tunde Adeniran and Prof Taoheed Adedoja for the race. George and Adeniran are members of the BoT.
The list excluded Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Mr. Akintayo Akin-Deko and Prof Wale Oladipo.
Party spokesman Dayo Adeyeye yesterday described the endorsement of some aspirants as “a non issue because we read the report in the newspapers just like every other person did”.
“They never informed the national secretariat about the matter and that should not stop any interested aspirants from pursuing their aspirations.”
According to him, since the position of the chairman had been zoned to the South, qualified members from any of the three geopolitical zones in the South are eligible to contest.
A statement by Olafeso said: “The South West Zonal Executive takes serious cognisance of the purported endorsement of some aspirants to the office of the National Chairman of our Party and wishes to state very firmly that the executive dissociates itself from that action outright..
“We equally wish to underscore the fact that we detest this act of impunity and will not support any action that will infringe on the fundamental rights of any party man to aspire to the highest position in the party. In furtherance of this, we affirm that all those gentlemen from the Southeest that wish to contest for the position of the National Chairman of the party are at liberty to continue to pursue their ambition without encumbrance or hindrance.
“We also wish to respectfully declare that the said decision to shut out people from contesting the election is a mere personal decision of a few as many members of the BoT we have contacted on this score have firmly disassociated themselves from this action and even their absolute ignorance of any meeting called for that purpose.
The issue of adopting a common position in the party is a serious action that must take due cognizance of every tendency within the party. The PDP is a people’s party and not the personal estate of a few and this executive will not stand by idly and allow anyone, no matter their privilege status, to impose their views or desires on the generality of the party.
Party sources said the bitter battle in the Southwest might have opened the way for the Southsouth to grab the party’s top post as former Deputy National Chairman Uche Secondus is waiting in the wings with the support of some governors.
The argument of the party’s leaders from the south west is that it is the zone that should naturally be allowed to take the chairman’s slot having never produced a chairman in PDP’s 19 years of existence.
BoT Chairman Senator Walid Jibrin said the party would provide a level-playing ground to all the aspirants.
He insisted that the chairmanship position is zoned to the entire South.
He told reporters yesterday in Kaduna: “I want to state clearly that the meeting in which such decision (to endorse aspirants) was taken was never in the instant of the National Board of Trustees and that we cannot afford to hold such meeting now as done in South west”.
Jibrin added: “In the Southwest we have two BoT members contesting for chairman and who should never be in a meeting where such a sensitive decision was taken.
“I will like to urge all BoT members in all the zones not to undertake such meetings without first intimating the BoT Chairman. I have invited Chief Shuaibu Oyedokun to a national caucus to explain what led him to champion that exercise.
“I want to further advise all other organs of our party to be extra careful not to rush to any one-sided decision. All aspirants must exercise restraint of give and take and wait for proper guidelines from the National Working Committee.
“I want to assure all aspirants to the various positions in the National Convention that they will be given full and fair play. Never again will our party witness any impunity. Count me out in any game that deliberately excludes any aspirant from fair participation. The delegates of our convention should be allowed to decide in accordance with set-up rules of the party,” he stated.
Fight broke out in Osun State at the weekend during the state congress. The factions also did not agree on the way forward.
Caretaker Committee of the PDP in the state Sarafa Ishola and other members of the committee were at the party secretariat along Gbogan-Osogbo road when the fight broke out.
Security men had to fire gunshots into the air.
Ishola was accused of working for the Governorship ambition of Chief Iyiola Omisore by some factional members.
But one of his loyalists Dr. Bayo Faforiji denied the claim.
In Ekiti, PDP leaders are not seeing eye to eye with Governor Ayo Fayose as a result of the governor’s endorsement of his deputy Prof. Olusola Kolapo as candidate in next year’s election.
PDP Publicity Secretary Dayo Adeyeye and Senator Biodun Olujimi are openly opposed to the governor. Fayose is also known to have rejected the candidacy of Prof Adeniran, an Ekiti man seeking to be PDP chairman.
The governor has also declared his intention to contest for president.