By Dirisu Yakubu
For a party itching to stage a comeback after its 2015 thrashing; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must leave little or no room for another sequence of self-inflicted woes.
Following the August 12 Supreme Court judgment which affirmed the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led leadership of the party; the PDP has succeeded in picking itself up, reaching out to defectors and aggrieved members to return to its fold.
Not surprisingly, the non-elective special convention held with no hurdles as the tenure of the National Caretaker Committee led by Makarfi was extended by four months to enable it to reposition the party for the challenges ahead. Although no political party is completely free from the intrigues of internal squabbles, the past few weeks have undoubtedly been rosy for the country’s once dominant political party.
Difficult as it is to single out for mention the most potent factor in the rise of the party from the ashes of its defeat two years ago; Makarfi’s selfless leadership stands out apart from the rest. In all the state chapters where caretaker committees have been inaugurated, the former Kaduna State Governor ensured that the chairmen of those committees come from different States; a move intended to enthrone political neutrality and aloofness in the conduct of elective congresses in preparation for the 2019 general elections.
However, in spite of the rosy narrative, cracks are beginning to manifest in the affairs of the party with pundits fearing it may be in for another round of fresh crises in the weeks ahead if issues are not properly managed.
A fight to the finish is currently evolving in the Ekiti State Chapter of PDP where the State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye are locked in a titanic battle.
The governor, a fearless critic of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, is one of the few voices today, pointing out the wrongs of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government. Basking in the fortress of constitutional immunity, Governor Fayose has become the poster boy of the opposition in the past two years, winning in the process, a good number of admirers for the PDP.
Prince Adeyeye on the other hand displayed uncommon loyalty to the PDP cause and helped in no so small measure in steadying the party as its publicity scribe. At issue today is the ambition of Adeyeye to succeed Fayose whose tenure as Ekiti State governor comes to an end in 2018. However, the governor’s preference and subsequent endorsement of the Deputy Governor, Professor Olusola Eleka as his successor led to the parting of ways between him (Fayose) and Adeyeye earlier in the week.
With Adeyeye not prepared to entertain any compromise in his fight to get the PDP gubernatorial ticket, he resigned his appointment as Chancellor of the Ekiti State University last week; a move that has set the tone for what appears to be a looming big fight. Only a few days ago, a group loyal to Adeyeye, the Concerned Ekiti PDP Stakeholders (CEPS) took Fayose to the cleaners, reminding him of his stewardship of the state. They said in a statement that:
“We view his decision to cause unnecessary upheaval in the party by the provocative action as a continuation of his desire to sustain the division he caused at the national level when he canvassed and fought like a wounded lion for the enthronement of Ali Modu-Sheriff as the National Chairman of the party, a move that almost brought the party to its knees.
Having bonded with Adeyeye in the past two years, nothing short of astuteness on the part of Makarfi is needed to reconcile the brewing feud between the two party assets in Ekiti. In a chat with Saturday Vanguard on the issue, a former national officer of the party who pleaded anonymity tasked the NCC to step in and stop the duo from washing their dirty linens in public.
The source who was referring to CEPS’ attack on Fayose said PDP should be prepared to lose Ekiti in 2018 if it fails to reconcile the governor and Adeyeye. “What is going in Ekiti State Chapter of the party is a matter of interest. But we must not allow the pursuit of those interests to becloud our vision for the big picture. I call on the party leadership to quickly resolve this issue now because we can’t afford to lose any of our States to a rival party,” he said.
The NCC has consistently pledged to curb impunity, having realised the role of the vice in the last general election. Yet, the scheming by an unnamed ‘stalwart’ in the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) to have the Secretary of the board emerge from his state is a sad reminder of the days of impunity.
At the PDP secretariat on Wednesday where the BoT met to appoint a substantive secretary following the vacuum occasioned by the death of the former scribe, Ojo Maduekwe, some members of the board from the South-East failed to show up because they were not prepared to support the push to have the new scribe emerge from a particular State in the region, as being championed by the unnamed big man.
Another divisive issue currently dominating headlines in both the traditional tabloids and some online platforms is the reported aspiration of Chief Raymond Dokpesi for the office of the PDP national chairman. The media mogul who in the past few months hobnobbed with the newly registered Advanced Peoples Democratic Congress (APDA) is being linked to the chairmanship of the party even though the South-West region is leading the race to produce Makarfi’s successor.
The party, it would be recalled, zoned the office of the national chairman to the entire South comprising South-West, South-East, and South-South; the South-West is the only zone yet to occupy the office since the formation of the party in 1998.
News from the grapevine indicates the hand of a power broker behind Dokpesi’s aspiration for the exalted seat. What is however not clear is what the ‘power broker’ stands to gain in the event of Dokpesi emerging as the national chairman of the party in the December elective convention. Dokpesi’s aspiration is already breeding tension in the party with the South-West prepared to go the whole hog to have one of its own mount the seat in December.
All said, PDP is back in the groove but until these issues are resolved before the convention; the party will have nothing else but itself to blame, pundits say.