By Ola Ajayi
Like it happened in the 2011 and 2015 elections in Oyo State when the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was defeated by the All Progressives Congress, APC, the party seems not to have learned from its past mistakes as it again held two parallel congresses last Saturday where two factional state executives emerged.
The presence of the PDP congress committee set up by the national secretariat which comprised former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Liyel Imoke, Chief Peter Orji; Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo and Dr Harry Oranezi could not solve the festering crisis within the party.
Also, members of the state PDP caretaker committee led by Mr Tunde Akogun, and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were in attendance.
Ladoja, Makinde flex muscles
Consequently, two congresses which held simultaneously at the Watershed Event Centre, Ibadan and Baptist School, Oke-Ado produced two state executives.
Politicians from the state that attended the congress led by a former Governor Rashidi Ladoja included senators Gbenga Babalola, Olufemi Lanlehin and Ayoade Adeseun; former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Chief Jumoke Akinjide; former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Hameed Gbadamosi; Dr Saka Balogun and Chief Sarafadeen Ali while Hazeem Gbolarumi, former Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs Mulikat Adeola-Akande, Engr Seyi Makinde, Senator Hosea Agboola were at other congress.
The congress held at the Watershed started far behind schedule due to efforts made by the committee to bring the two sides together which proved futile.
The congress at the end produced Alhaji Omokunmi Mustapha as the state chairman, Wasiu Emiola(secretary) Mrs Wulemot Wunmi (woman leader) Mr Kola Adeoye (youth leader and Mr Akeem Olatunji (publicity secretary).
At the other end, Chief Jacob Adetoro was selected as state chairman of the party. The delegates came from all the 33 local government areas of the state.
Speaking on the delay experienced before the congress commenced, the caretaker chairman of the party in the state, Akogun, noted that they waited that long to carry everyone along and to ensure that the party did not lose anyone.
PDP is one family—Mustapha
He, however, made it clear that anyone not present at the Watershed Event Centre venue of the congress would still be regarded as member of the party.
Alhaji Mustapha said all hands must be on deck to foster unity and ensure that “PDP is fully back to set standards. We must revive and rejuvenate our already eroded traditional values. It is our expectation that Nigeria must be strongly rooted on unshakeable platforms in all ramifications in order to allow her shine the light of good leadership to the rest of the Black race. This is a challenge w e are ready to meet.”
At the other side, over 750 accredited delegates from local government areas of the state unanimously elected Chief Jacob as the State chairman, and Wasiu Adeleke, as the State Secretary.
Senator Agboola, Akande, Gbolarumi and Alhaja Adedibu, addressed party members at the congress and denied that there was rancour among PDP leaders in the state.
In his remarks, Agboola said party leaders brainstormed throughout the morning to ensure that all is well within Oyo PDP, adding that the political party remained one in the state.
Makinde declared that leaders of the Oyo PDP have resolved to work together to ensure that the political party returns to power in the state in 2019.
Makinde added: “What we are witnessing here today is normal in politics. There is no rancour among us. What we are doing here today will lay foundation for our party to return to power in 2019.”
Reacting to the parallel congresses, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi alleged that former governor Rashidi Ladoja should not be allowed to hijack the party from stable members.
He explained that the original agreement of the party was to run an all-inclusive party but Ladoja decided to exclude them including Seyi Makinde and his supporters from the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
Gbolarumi said, “We don’t even trust him at all. He has only come to destroy this party. The national leadership of the PDP should investigate my claims. He contested in Accord twice and failed. If he was that strong as he believes, why did he come back to the PDP? We have always been in the PDP. He has not come to add value but to destroy it but people like me won’t allow that because I don’t have any other party to go to. We are not cowards. Why should a tenant come and send away the landlord? It is not possible.”
But Ladoja through his media aide, Alhaji Lanre Latinwo took the allegations with a pinch of salt saying sharing of party positions was based on the number of followers and strength of each party in the last election. He was optimistic that the crisis would soon be resolved in due time.
APC taunts PDP
The ruling party in the state through its Director of Media, Research and Strategy Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde said ”No one should be surprised about what is happening in PDP. There was crisis during the local government congress across the state and the factional congress held last weekend was expected. It is marriage of convenience among different greedy people and nothing good will come out of it. Some of the individuals that make up the party prefer a one man show and the same thing was witnessed during their time at the helms of affairs in the state. Oyo State can be built with collectiveness of individuals and not through factionalization or individualism.”
The party continued in a statement that “We believe people are watching the unfolding scenario with keen interest and can actually decide what best suits them when the time comes. We believe that no one will be interested in the violence and thuggery of the past. Hence, we want to appeal to our people to be weary of these politicians who are hell bent on returning the state to the yesteryears of anarchy which characterized their administration.”
During the tour of the zone by the national secretariat of the party to make overture to aggrieved members of the party, a notable and powerful politician in the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala was invited but he declared he would not join them.
It was gathered that Otunba Akala was not comfortable with the presence of his former boss, Ladoja in the PDP. Akala who was the deputy governor was the preferred candidate when Ladoja, who was the governor, needed a second term ticket badly. This created a form of political wall between them and since then, they had kept each other at arm’s length until Ladoja went to his residence.