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Southwest PDP Rift Deepens



The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday ratified the outcome of the Ekiti congress, it was learnt on Thursday.

National Secretary, Senator Umaru Tsauri, urged security agencies and the Resident Electoral Commissioner to cooperate with the state executive committee, led by Bisi Kolawole.

The congress threw up two factional chairmen – former Environment Commissioner Kolawole and former House of Representatives member Kehinde Odebunmi.

Kolawole enjoys the support of former Governor Ayo Fayose. Senator Biodun Olujimi is backing Odebunmi.

Moves by the party’s Southwest leader, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, to resolve the conflict collapsed, following the rejection of his call for a political solution.

Fayose had taken the Kolawole-led exco on a visit to National Chairman Uche Secondus at the party secretariat in Abuja.

A party source lamented that the two factions might approach the court for adjudication on the parallel congresses.

Yesterday, it was learnt that the faction, led by Odebunm, had gone to the High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, to challenge Kolawole and members of his team.

There are fears that the crisis may affect preparations for the proposed Southwest zonal congress.

Blaming Secondus for the escalation of the rift, the source said: “The national leadership of the PDP saw the crisis coming, but they failed to avert it through their inaction. They should have called the two sides and proposed harmonisation or any other option agreeable to the two sides.

“Now, the court is the last option. It takes time, from High Court to the Supreme Court. No court verdict has ever restored party unity and cohesion.”

On Thursday, Olujimi, a former Senate Minority Leader, urged Makinde to ignore the alleged threat by Fayose to stop meddling in the affairs of Ekiti PDP. She also said the ratification of the Ekiti PDP congress was fake, vowing to challenge it in court.

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Senator Olujimi was reacting to comments by Fayose, who had allegedly the governor a persona-non-grata who should not visit Ekiti.

Also, Oyo State Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters Babatunde Oduyoye said Makinde cannot be distracted in his mission to foster peace and unity in Southwest PDP.

He said the governor will continue to play the role of zonal leader in the interest of the party.

Fayose was said to have warned Makinde against interfering in what he described as “Ekiti local politics”.

But, objecting to Fayose’s remarks, Senator Olujimi said the “threats are empty and shallow”, adding that Makinde is at liberty to visit Ekiti in his capacity as the undisputed zonal leader.

The senator, who represents Ekiti South District in the Upper Chamber, spoke in his native Omuo-Ekiti, during an empowerment programme.

Materials distributed included 480 deep freezers, 250 sowing machines, 220 motorcycles, carrier machines, solar panel , cash , 250 drying machines, 220 laptops, 6 carry -go tricycles, among others.

Olujimi accussed Secondus of complicity in the lingering crisis rocking the chapter.

Noting that Makinde meant well for Southwest PDP, she said: “This is the best time Southwest needs the governor most when ‘hijackers’ are trying to destroy the party’s structure through egregious conspiracy.

“I heard Fayose said the caretaker in the zone has not been allowed to function. Why should he say that Because he too had stranngulated the caretaker committee in Ekiti?

“What has Makinde done? He said we should wait and resolve this crisis before conducting the congresses, because no individual can run Ekiti and deliver.

“Let me say this, Governor Seyi Makinde is welcomed in Ekiti anytime. He should even come now, so that we can celebrate him. Fayose’s comment was just an empty threat.

“We state unequivocally that Governor Makinde is the leader of the party in the zone. All these have happened because the party at the national level have supported the former governor so far.

“The time has come for the national body to declare support either for Fayose or the party in the zone led by a sitting governor. Suffice it to say that Fayose when he was on seat would not have allowed that to happen. Why is the party allowing him to own our party? Is there something we don’t know?

“In Ekiti, we have adopted Makinde. We have refused impunity, undesirable attitude and the wholesale destruction of the party. We will resist all attempts to foist a man who supervised the total loss of the party on us with our blood.”

Oduyoye, in a statement in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, said Makinde will not be deterred by opposition to his reconciliation efforts and plans to bring unity and cohesion to Southwest PDP.

He said: “As for the incumbent assignment given to Governor Makinde by the national leadership of the PDP, making him the Chairman of the National Campaign Council for the party for the Ondo State governorship election, the governor has been doing his best to provide leadership, doing everything possible towards ensuring that the party comes out victorious in the October 10, 2020 governorship election.”

Oduyoye, a former House of Representatives member, said Makinde would not abandon the regional task while also focusing on delivering good governance in Oyo State in fulfillment of his mandate.

He advised those accusing Makinde of meddling in the affairs of the party in their states to check themselves against the barometer of honesty, altruism and selflessness.

Oduyoye said: “Upon his assumption of office in May 2019, Governor Makinde embarked on a mission to bring about unity and cohesion in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across all the states of the South-West geopolitical zone.

“To date, he has achieved a level of success in that effort and the party has not only become stronger, it is also better positioned for more successes in the zone.

“The governor was in Lagos State to reconcile all sides and the whole world can see the outcome of that effort. He is playing the same role in Osun and Ekiti states, consulting everyone and seeking middle grounds for hitherto warring sides. I believe the opposition from some quarters in Ekiti State is fallout of the peace effort being championed by the governor.

“One is gladdened by the fact that the consultative approach of Governor Makinde is paying off.

“We are equally gladdened that the hitherto subdued voices in each of the states of the South-West now have a chance not only to hear others but also to be heard.

“The governor will not back down from any effort that will bring about genuine reconciliation and strengthen the PDP in Ekiti State or any other state of the Southwest for that matter, because he is of a strong conviction that it is by repositioning the party that all stakeholders can enjoy a win-win situation.

“We must also make something clear, the attempt to energise the opposition by insinuating that Governor Makinde has left the task of developing Oyo State for meddling in party affairs in other states leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

“For Governor Makinde, developing Oyo State is non-negotiable. He will continue to remain ever committed to rebuilding Oyo State as can be seen in the various efforts to fix the infrastructure deficit, revitalise the health sector and put in place solid policies for the turnaround of the education system.”

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