The internal crisis rocking the Southwest region of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP took a messy scenario yesterday as two parallel leaders meeting held in Akure and Ijebu-Igbo respectively, News Punch has learnt
The controversial Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose who earlier was reported to be part of the mastermind of Ijebu Igbo version of the meeting eventually shunned it but attended the Akure's.
Fayose further displayed his inconsistency as he showers praises on Chief Olabode George, who he had few days ago lambasted openly in a live television programme
Speaking at Akure on Wednesday Fayose said there was no disagreement between him and a former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George.
Fayose, who stated this in Akure, Ondo State capital, during a meeting of the leaders of the party from the South-West, also said there was no grudge between him and his Ondo State counterpart, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, over the sharing of national political positions of the PDP.
The Ekiti governor said what was paramount to him was how to unite leaders and members of the party in the region, in the interest of the people.
“For me and Governor Mimiko, we are one and the same on party issues. Do not mind what the newspapers are saying. As for our leaders, Chief Bode George, you can see me sitting next to him on the high table; all what you read in newspapers are just sensationalism to sell them (papers).
“We are bound to agree whether it’s convenient for us or not when it is in the collective interest of the Yoruba race and the party. Chief Bode George will forever remain our leader in the PDP. We are ready to speak as one indivisible members of the same PDP,” he said.
At another meeting of zonal executive of the party in the South-West in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, those at the meeting said they constituted the true representatives of the party in the zone.
The more than two hours parley, convened by the South-West national vice chairman of the party, Chief Makunjuola Ogundipe, was attended by PDP stakeholders drawn from all the six states in the zone.
They described the parallel meeting held in Akure, the Ondo State capital by another set of PDP leaders as unconstitutional and of no effect.
At the Akure meeting, Fayose reiterated his commitment to the unity of the party in the zone and Nigeria, with a pledge not to do anything that would jeopardise the chance of the party in future election.
“I want this great party to regain its leadership position and to remain solid,” he said.
Fayose, who openly embraced Chief George before the commencement of the meeting, said he would not stop criticising the ruling administration in the country until the dividend of democracy was delivered, as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party.
Speaking on the occasion, Mimiko said the meeting became imperative in order to put the PDP house in order and unite all the leaders ahead 2019 general election in the country.
He added that the meeting became important when “it seems the party in the South-West was drifting and there were cacophony of voices. This is the time for the South-West to speak as one in the interest of the region, our people and our heritage.”
The governor stated further that “this is the time to get our acts together and take our rightful position in the politics of the country. There is no alternative to our unity in the South-West.
“There is no doubt about it that Nigerians are waiting. If we mess it up, a new party will emerge and become the darling of this country. We need to realise our position today. If the purpose of politics is to serve the greatest interest of the people, this is the time to come together in the South-West.
“I want to thank my brother, Governor Ayo Fayose. Both of us have resolved that in the interest of Yoruba nation, we are coming together,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PDP leaders have agreed to equitably distribute the positions allotted to the zone amongst the six member states of the zone.
The positions are national secretary, national publicity secretary, national auditor and zonal executive committee.
The leaders of the party unanimously took the decision after the meeting held at the International Culture and Events Centre (The Dome), Akure.
The leaders, however, criticised the present administration in the country over its inability to contain the economic challenges with attendant dwindling fortunes that had reversed almost all the economic gains recorded under the last administration of PDP.
In the communique of the meeting, which was read by former Minister of Youths and Sports, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, the leaders resolved” “that the time is ripe for all members of the PDP in the South-West to forge a common front and pursue a common agenda towards occupying their destined leadership position in Nigeria.
“That despite the challenges confronting the PDP, the South-West caucus has agreed to unite and confront the challenges that is facing the Yoruba race in Nigeria.
“That members of the PDP have agreed to rise up beyond personal interests to confront crucial national issues that affect us as a race, especially the thriving menace of the Fulani herdsmen.
“That the meeting notes with dismay, the poor state of the national economy and feel terribly sad that the current ruling party has not demonstrated the capacity to contain the economic challenges with attendant dwindling fortunes that has reversed almost all the economic gains recorded under the PDP.”
The leaders also welcomed a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, back to its fold.
PDP leaders at the Akure meeting included Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Jimi Agbaje, former leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola-Akande; Chief Saka Balogun, Debo Anisulowo and Chief Jumoke Akinjide.
Others were Adeseye Ogunlewe, Adesiyan Jelili, Doyin Okupe, Senator Remi Okunrinboye, Professor Tahoeed Adedoja, Eddy Adefeso. Jide Adeniji, Tajudeen Oladipo, Bisi Jinadu and Bashir Awotorebo, among others.
We are the authentic leaders —Ijebu Igbo parley
Some of the leaders at the Ijebu-Igbo meeting included PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) members such as Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun (Osun), Senator Clement Awoyelu (Ekiti), members of the Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe-led zonal executive committee, PDP chairmen from Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Ondo states with delegates from Ekiti and Lagos states.
Others were Senator Buruji Kashamu, Honourable Segun Adekoya, Honourable Segun Odebunmi, Chief Jide Damazio, Honourable Muraina Ajibola and Chief Kola Balogun, Dr Ade Dosunmu, Chief Semiu Kukoyi, Alhaji Azeem Gbolarumi and a former Ekiti deputy governor, Abiodun Aluko.
In his opening speech at the Ijebu Igbo meeting, Chief Oyedokun, who presided on the occasion, said the presence of the party elders, members of the BoT and other top organs and power blocs within of the party unequivocally confirmed the legitimacy of the session.
He noted that they had been called unprintable names over their stance on the decision of PDP NEC to zone chairmanship to the North-East, declaring as totally untrue that they compromised or sold out on the interest of the zone.
He said rather than being called traitors, the South-West leaders that represented the zone at the centre should be commended for not only defending the interest of the zone, but for also securing three strategic positions for the zone.
He alleged that those behind the Akure meeting had plans to seek elective offices or facilitate the emergence of their proxies, just as he stressed the need for a gradual generational power shift.
The convener of the zonal meeting, Chief Ogundipe, described it as the only authentic one, since it was convened in line with the constitution of the party and attended by all the core stakeholders cutting across all the state chapters in the zone.
Ogundipe declared that other parallel meeting held elsewhere was illegal, saying “there is only one nationally recognised zonal committee of this party at the South-West zone, led by Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe and ably supported by my secretary, Chief Pegba Otemolu, so there couldn’t be any other meeting elsewhere. The only meeting I know is the one that I convened and is holding here in Ijebu-Igbo today.”
He said the outcome of the meeting of which chairmen of the state chapters and representative of South-West PDP caucus in the National Assembly fully expressed their support and confidence in the zonal leadership, would be communicated to the PDP highest decision-making organ of the party,
In his address to the delegates, Senator Kashamu restated the commitment of the South-West to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff leadership as PDP national chairman.
He said the meeting was called by the Chief Ogundipe-led zonal leadership as a follow-up to the resolutions made at the South-West PDP stakeholders’ meeting held in Ibadan, on March 30.
In a communique signed by Chief Ogundipe and the PDP zonal secretary, Chief Aotemolu, the leaders ruled out the possibility of the South-West being marginalised in the party, given the key national offices zoned to the area.
In the communique issued later, “the meeting commended the vision and selflessness of the national zoning committee, under the chairmanship of Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State.
“That the PDP South-West is one and indivisible family working for the actualisation of the dreams of the party as articulated in the vision of the founding fathers.
“The meeting agreed that the South-West, as it is presently operating, is not playing and cannot play a second fiddle in view of what accrued to the zone -national secretary, national auditor and national publicity secretary.
“To this end, the meeting enjoined every leader, youth and woman to support the party for a better share of the positions in the not too distant future.
“The meeting noted and resolved that since the zonal executive committee members were elected on October 11, 2014, their tenure will elapse on October 11, 2018. Therefore, this meeting resolved to support the existence of the zonal executive till October, 2018.”
In the meantime, Chief Ogundipe has said the South West was backing the ambition of the acting national chairman as substantive chairman to give way for equity and justice.
“The issue of Ali Modu Sheriff is a forgone conclusion. We are the custodian of the constitution of this party. We said it from the onset that the best way to play this politics now is to allow the North-East to complete its term and that is two years,” he said.