The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing an uncertain future in the Southwest of Nigeria, especially with the on-going romance between Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, who is the leader of the party in the region, and President Bola Tinubu, of APC, and also from the region. It was such romance that ensured the victory of both parties in the state, PDP in the state election, and APC in the federal.
From 2003, the PDP had been a formidable party in the region, when it first controlled the centre, with former president Obasanjo, who is from the South west, in the saddle. In 1999, the Advance for Democracy, AD, had swept the zone, but lost it to PDP in 2003, with the exception of Lagos.
However, with the emergence of APC as a coalition of the Southwest and Northwest, with other fringe parties and groups, the region rebounded into reckoning as the new power broker in the country. This has been bad news for PDP. Its inability to dislodge Tinubu from Lagos has been it’s greatest undoing.
Since Obasanjo left power and finally, left the party and politics, the fortune of PDP in the region has gone down.
The demise of the likes of Late Lamidi Adedibu, the master planner, Segun Agagu and others, who were the driving forces of the party caused a set back because they have not found someone, like Adedibu, who would call everybody to order and give the direction the party would go.
The PDP over the years has gone from the a party, controlling virtually all the States in the South West, to controlling only one and now two of the six states in the region.
Although, the party could not have found itself in this precarious situation if not for greed, ego, lust for power, arrogance, and self centeredness, of the leaders, starting from Obasanjo himself, who became an emperor over the governors and used his position to oppress them. The cases of the impeachment of Senator, Rashidi Ladoja in Oyo and that of Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti, which forced, (he), Fayose out of the governorship overnight, are clear examples.
Since that time, the party has been in one mess or the other and has never been the same again in the region.Though subsequent events gave leadership of the party to capitalize on their gains, but they never did.
Since Tinubu used the instrumentality of the courts to upturn some of the PDP governorship victories, the party has never stabilized and has been left with only one state at a time. Starting with Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti during his second coming, and after him Makinde of Oyo became the only governor of PDP in the region as well.
This brought serious leadership tussle between him and Makinde, which was later resolved after Arapaja emerged as the national vice Chairman South West.
The point is that, the party is now in a situation which no one knows where it is heading to, even with it controlling two states, after the to the emergence of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the governor of Osun State, in the last governorship election.
With the party controlling two states in the region, what political analysts are saying is that both Makinde and Adeleke should be a driving force to consolidate the grips of the party in the two states and as well, strengthen it in other states controlled by the ruling APC. But that does not seem to be happening with Tinubu as president. In fact, the fear is that those states, especially, Iyo will go APC after Makinde’s tenure.
The animosity between Adeleke and Makinde is still believed to be a stumbling block against the solidification of PDP. Makinde still belongs solidly to the G5 PDP governors, opposed to the presidential candidate of the party Atiku Abubakar, while Adeleke is in his camp.
With his involvement with the G5, Makinde ensured the victory of Tinubu in the last presidential election, in Oyo State, just as Adeleke made sure that Atiku won in Osun, as the only state in the South West.
All the party members and other stake-holders, are presently looking forward to Makinde and Adeleke to bury their differences and come together, to take the lead and transform the party not minding the mistakes of past leaders, that brought them to where they are today.
What is now left of the PDP carcass, is for Makinde and Adeleke to manage and if not able to modify it, should be prepared at all cost not to nail the coffin of the party in the zone.
In Osun, there are still relative differences in the party, despite the fact that the PDP is in charge. The same with Oyo, where the crack is still very glaring as some of the stakeholders are not with Governor Makinde, despite his second term victory.
Adeleke single handedly financed his election, through his business mogul brother, Deji Adeleke and if not for the singular efforts of the family, the governorship could have eluded PDP, as the APC, its, strongest opponent, was ready to retain power at all cost.
Makinde on his part, who sensed the danger for his second term had to mend fences, with those he had offended. He went out, without relying on the fragmented party to curry favours to his side, for his second term victory.
If the cracks in the South West PDP should be cemented, it must now be Makinde and Adeleke, but the fear is that both of them are still not outrightly forthcoming. The party followers are still confused as to what would be the final outcome of their romance with the APC power at the top.
It is being speculated that Makinde with the picture on display, is likely, along with his colleagues in the G5 go to APC. Even now, the man perceived to be their leader, the immediate past governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike has been offered a ministerial appointment by President Tinubu.
Adeleke too is being speculated to do the same, but people in his camp strongly believed that the governor would not for anything, abandon the PDP. It was said that the priority of Adeleke is to see how the PDP would be very strong in the South West, in collaboration with Makinde because he did not see the need to dump the party, which he is trying to build to stability in Osun State.
Sources informed Business Hallmark in Osun State, that his concern for the unity of the party informed his recent visit to Governor Makinde in Oyo State, that they should bury whatever could have been their past differences and work to sustain the party in the Southwest.
Although it was hinted that Adeleke’s visit to Makinde was to correct the mistake of calling the South West Zonal meeting without due consultations with Makinde and other stake holders, especially the Zonal Executive Committee, it was, however, believed that the move was in the right direction and it could cement the strained relationship between the duo and their followers and this would in fact help to solidify the party in the region.
With people still guessing the outcome of their meeting, it was believed that both of them, at the moment are cautious of the danger in extending their subtle grievances further at the expense of the party.
It was argued that the two of them should do everything to put the party back to shape and unite members, to make PDP a strong and formidable opposition in the South West, rather than abandoning it to the ruling party.
This means that the task ahead of them is to ensure that things are back to normal in all the six states of the South West and look for how to bring all the warring factions in the region together, especially the leaders , in Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun , Ekiti and Lagos.
In most of these states the party has been completely relegated to the background as it can not even boast of controlling sizable numbers of Senators, members of the house of Representatives, and State Assemblies, except, the two States controlled by the party.
Feelers from the camp of Adeleke in Osun State, believed that with Adeleke and Makinde, who are youthful governors, they would use the advantage of the love people have for them to unite the party across the region.
One of the leaders of the party in the State, Prince Olalere Laoye, who is presently the Vice Chairman Board of Directors of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC), said the PDP will never die in the South West, adding that the turbulent periods of the party in the past were enough to have brought the party into extinction but the party still remains the strongest opposition, both in the region and the entire country.
He said he would want both Makinde and Adeleke to use the advantage of their positions to put the house in order. He said both of them would not gain anything if they abandon the party at this crucial time. He said he was sure that Governors Ademola Adeleke would not at this period commit any political blunders that would affect him and the party in future.
Former Deputy Governor of Oyo State and the Director of Atiku Presidential campaign in the last election, in Oyo State, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, pointed out that no matter the obstacles and difficulties the PDP may be going through now in the South West, it would be a thing of the past.
He too argued that this is the best time for the two governors to reach out to all concerned groups in the party, to build it and make it as strong as it was, before it went in to the present situation.
The PDP publicity Secretary in Oyo State Akeem Olatunji had once defended Makinde, saying that all his actions are to protect the interest of the party in the region.
In his own reaction, the formerChairman of the party in Ogun Srate Chief Bayo Dayo believed that there is still a lot of work to do in the South West to put the PDP in order.
He said, most of the problems being faced by the party in the region were caused by the former National Chairman of the party, Iyorcha Ayu, who imposed most of the candidates on the party, in some states, including Ogun State as an example, where Ladi Adebutu was imposed on them, which cost the party the governorship and other elections in the last general elections.
“Honestly, the party deserves to be cleaned from top to bottom and we need to restrategize properly if we must take back our glory in the Soith West.”
Another leader of the party in the zone. who was the former National Deputy Chairman South, Chief Olabode George has said that Ayu created a lot of problems in the South West, as the national chairman of the party.
According to him, the rift over the issue of governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, was caused by Ayu and this affected the party.
He however believed that hope is not yet lost for the party in the South West. With the hope that Makinde and Adeleke as leaders would do the needful to bring the party together as a vibrant one that it used to be.
The chairman of Ogun PDP Alhaji Sikirulai Ogunlade too, was optimistic that the party would bounce back in the region, notwithstanding the fact, that President Tinubu is from the South West, who may want to use that advantage as the former President Obasanjo did, for the AD governors, saying, the people are wiser now and the situation at hand presently, is different from that time.
The former Vice Chairman PDP South West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso said some of them are committed to PDP and its success in the South West and as such, they would not fold their arms to allow some disgruntled elements who only want to use the party for their selfish ends, to ruin the good work which the founding fathers of the party built.
Meanwhile, the fear among members, is that they hope, the prediction of Dr. Doyin Okupe in 2021, before he left, that the PDP would face a big doom, which could drive it into extinction, would not come to pass, just as they blamed the present Deputy National Chairman of the Party, Ambassador Taufeek Arapaja, for his alleged nonchalant attitude, towards the party and his inability to reach out since he assumed office.
They said, he has not taken bold steps or initiatives to ensure that the party is intact and very strong in the region.
Some members also accused him of being a stooge, following Governor Makinde dogmatically, without considering other opinions except that of Makinde, who installed him.
They now see him as a clog in the wheels of progress of the party in the South West “because he could not take any decision on his own without going to Governor Makinde.”