…as South west zone splits into two factions
By OLUSESAN LAOYE
It is now glaring that the leadership crisis rocking the South West Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has put the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and the incumbent governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde may be deepening.
At the moment the South West PDP is now polarised along two factions, which are headed by Fayose and Makinde. The polarisation is based on who controls the zonal end of the party since the last general election was held on April 2019.
Before the election, Fayose as the only serving governor was the leader of the party based on the constitutional arrangement of the party, which makes the President the national leader at the centre, the Governor as the leader in the state and the zone.
In case there are more than one governors in a zone, the governors would meet and appoint a leader among themselves but in a situation where the zone produces only a governor, that governor automatically becomes the leader in that zone.
The same is applicable in the state but in the state where the party is not in government, the most senior elected officer especially at the National Assembly becomes the leader in that State. That has been the situation since the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo as the President and National leader of the PDP.
The crisis with Makinde and Fayose comes in two folds. Firstly, at the Zonal level and in Ekiti State where Fayose is also fighting to control to still be the leader.
This means, that Fayose who was the last leader of the PDP in the South West as the only governor in the zone then, did not want to let go and accept Governor Makinde who is now the only governor in the zone as the leader.
At the same time, he wanted to still hold on to the leadership of the party in Ekiti, knowing full well that he is no longer entitled to that, which automatically should be occupied by Senator Biodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti State South Senatorial District and the minority leader in the 8th upper legislative chambers.
The disagreement between Fayose and Olujimi which led to two factional party congresses at the ward, local governments and State levels got the attention of Makinde who was called in as the recorgnised leader of the party in the zone for solution.
And, in an attempt to mediate, bring peace and sanity to the party in Ekiti, Fayose got angry and vowed that he would fight him, if he meddled in the affairs of the party in the State. But Senator Olujimi and others who recognised the leadership of Makinde rebuffed Fayose and backed his intervention as the leader.
Although Makinde, along with other Zonal and National leaders of the party, could not resolve the matter, Ekiti PDP as at now operates two leaderships and two state executive councils, led by Fayose and Olujimi.
Why Fayose is in trouble
Since top leaders of the party across the zones, especially the former Deputy National Chairman South, Chief Olabode George are in support of Makinde, Fayose is not finding it easy both at home and in the zone. Those he had offended now saw the leadership tussle between him and Makinde as opportunity to fight back.
Although Fayose has been parading himself as the leader of the zone, which made him to lead some aggrieved State chairmen of the party to protest in Abuja and Ogun state, against the way the affairs of the zone were being managed and the crisis in Ekiti State, these leaders believed he was getting too much on the nerves of everybody and never recognise what they described “as his self acclaimed leader of the party in the South west”.
Other reasons which got him the wrath of other members of the party was his fraternization with the All Progressives Congress National leader Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu over his presidential ambition.
They other leaders of the party both at the zonal and National levels saw Fayose’s action as inimical to the overall interest of the PDP, since there were others in the party too in the Zone, who were equally interested in the presidency, especially, Chief Bode George, who is also from Lagos just as Tinubu.
Bode George had earlier in the year made known his intention to vie for the Presidency, if zoned to the South West by his party. Those against Fayose wondered why at this stage, he has started working against the common interest of the party. As such he is no longer trusted.
It was these crises, which climaxed in the humiliation he was subjected to in Akure during the campaign for the governorship candidate of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede.
Fayose was attacked by hoodlums at the venue of the grand finale mega rally for Jegede. His cap was removed and he was to have been beaten up after he was rough handled but for the intervention of his body guards who engaged the thugs in a duel, before the situation was eventually put under control.
But Fayose who boasted that the last has not yet been heard promised to pursue his attack in Akure to a logical conclusion. He accused the Governor Makinde and Chief Bode George of being the brain behind his attack and humiliation.
It was learnt that he has already, after the Akure incident, petitioned the National Headquarters of the Party, and the Inspector General of Police for the arrest of the hoodlums whom he said were identifiable.
He made specific reference to what happened to the late Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige whose cap was removed in the same circumstances, at Ile Ife, before he was subsequently assassinated.
In her reaction when contacted, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, said as far as she was concerned, she should naturally be the leader of the PDP in Ekiti Stste, being the only serving Senator of the party. She said Fayose was over bearing and too aggressive without wanting to do things in a normal way.
“As far as the state is concerned, I remain the leader of the party being the only serving Senator; while calling Fayose to order, she said that what the party needs most now is unity and called on Fayose to toe the line of unity and how the party would come together to fight the 2022 governorship election and bring back Ekiti State to PDP.
Olujimi believed that Makinde, for now, remains the symbol of the party “because nobody can rubbish and wish him away. This is the time the zone needs Makinde most to bail the party from hijackers who wants to undermine the party structures through conspiracy”.
The spokesperson to Fayose, Lere Olayinka, said that the gang up against his boss would not work because Fayose has been known to speak the truth without being afraid of anybody, while Fayose believed that the party “is being misdirected and not operating the way it should be in the South West”
Fayose accused Makinde and Chief George of undermining his leadership, saying, that George was inconsequential because he has not even made an impact in Lagos State. According to Fayose, “since 1999 when Bode George started calling himself the party leader in Lagos, he has not produced a governor.”
Also, the factional chairman of the party loyal to Fayose’s group, Mr. Bisi Kolawole said there was the need for peace and unity in the party.
He also pointed out that the situation has reached a stage to stop the suspension of members but to focus on reconciliation of aggrieved members, saying, that members still working against the interests of the party should be dealt with.
“I want all members to unite and cooperate so that the party would be able to face the very close 2022 governorship election as a team, so that the position would come back to PDP”.
Chieftain of the party Hon. Opeyemi Falegan has called on all the party members, both in Ekiti State and the South West to bury their differences and build a virile party. He called for genuine reconciliation at all levels of the party and pointed out that was the only way they can solidify PDP.
Former Deputy Chairman of the Party in Ondo State, Engineer Johnson Alabi said that the only way to ensure sanity in the South West Zone of the party is to respect the leadership at all level.
He argued that Makinde, being the only serving governor of the party in the South West “he remains the symbol of the PDP in the zone and anything from the party should come through him”.