There seems to be no end in sight to the crisis rocking the Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The two factions hold parallel meetings today in Akure, the Ondo State capital, and Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, to discuss its proposed national convention, The Nation Newspaper says
The Akure meeting, which is slated for the Government House, Alagbaka, is convened by Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who is leading party elements opposed to the zoning of the national chairmanship to the North and moves by the chairman, Senator Modu Sheriff, to extend his tenure beyond the May 21 convention.
The Ijebu-Igbo meeting, which has the backing of Senator Buruji Kashamu (Ogun East) and five PDP state chairmen, is being convened by Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose.
A statement by the PDP National Vice Chairman, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, said the Ijebu-Igbo meeting, which will take place at Omoilu Foundation Headquarters, will forge a common front on the zoning of party positions, ahead of the national convention billed for Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Expected at the meeting are members of the NEC from Southwest, Board of Trustees (BoT) members, former and serving governors and deputy governors, former and serving senators, and former and serving National Assembly members.
Others are former governorship candidates and their running mates, former ministers and ambassadors, six state chairmen and members of the working committees, former and present members of Houses of Assembly and 50 selected leaders from each of the six states.
But, a source close to Miniko said: “The real meeting of Yoruba leaders in the PDP takes place tomorrow (today) in Akure. The governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, is convening the meeting on behalf of the leaders. We know that some people have slated a parallel meeting at Ijebu-Igbo. But, that Ijebu-Igbo meeting is a non-event.”
According to the source, prominent PDP leaders expected at the Akure meeting include former Deputy Chairman Chief Olabode George, former Transport and Aviation Minister Chief Ebenezer Babatope, former Works Minister Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, former Sports and Special Duties Minister Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chief Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Femi Kila, Senator Bode Olajumoke, Ambassador Dare Bejide, Chief Ladosu Ladipo, Dr, Doyin Okupe, Chief Yekini Adeojo, Chief Joju Fadairo, Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi and Capt. Tunji Shelle.
It is not certain whether former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel will attend the Akure or Ijebu-Igbo meeting. Although he was present at the PDP elders’ meeting in Lagos two weeks ago, he did not speak at the meeting.
The source added: “It is possible that some leaders from other zones will also attend the Akure meeting in solidarity with the cause of the Southwest.”
Shedding light on what he described as the Southwest cause, the source said: “There is an effort to relegate the Southwest to the background in the PDP by some elements who are sacrificing our interest on the altar of their 2019 ambition. These are the Southwest elements backing the zoning of the chairmanship and the presidential candidate of the PDP to the North.”
The zonal body split into two factions a month ago, following the zoning of the chairmanship to the North. The Fayose/Kashamu camp endorsed the zoning and backed Sheriff’s chairmanship aspiration. Other Southwest leaders, led by George, opposed it, saying that the slot should have been zoned to the Southwest.
At a meeting of some PDP leaders in Lagos, George said it was strange that the two critical positions of chairman and presidential standard bearer are zoned to the North, in utter insensitivity to the interest of the South. The BoT member also said Sheriff’s ambition is contradictory to his promise to hand over to a new chairman at the convention.
Ahead of the ratification of the zoning arrangement by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, some PDP leaders from the Southwest had stormed the PDP National Secretariat to show solidarity for Sheriff’s bid. In the delegation were the chairmen of the PDP in Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Lagos. However, the Lagos chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle, retraced his steps, saying that he was not properly briefed about the mission to Abuja.
Party sources said during the meeting of the PDP Governors’ Forum, which considered the Committee report on Zoning, headed by Akwa Ibom State Governor , Mimiko pleaded with the governors and other party leaders to consider the agitation of the Southwest for the position, but without success.
At the meeting of the Southwest PDP Elders’ Summit in Lagos convened by George, party leaders, especially those attending the Akure meeting, vowed to resist the zoning arrangement, saying that it was in bad faith. According to the zoning formula, the national secretary, the national publicity secreatry and the national auditor are zoned to the Southwest.
Hope of a truce between the two factions dimmed this week when Fayose fired salvos at George, describing him as a spent force. He said it was curious that elders who have dominated the political scene for decades were unwilling to give youths a chance to actively participate in party affairs because of their over-bearing influence.
The Ekiti governor also said that George has an axe to grind with him because he refused to support his chairmanship bid.