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PDP’s convention and challenge of peace in South West chapters

Today, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold its Non-Elective Special National Convention at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The convention which is aimed at meeting some constitutional requirements of the party in dealing with leadership issues is also aimed at amending its constitution and putting in place modalities for dealing decisively with issues of discipline, internal democracy and administrative bottlenecks.
The convention follows a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party which resolved among other things to reinstate all states executive elected at the April 2016 congress that were later removed by Ali Modu Sheriff.

The last national convention of the party in May 2016 threw it into a leadership crisis. At the event Ali Modu Sheriff was removed as national chairman while Ahmed Makarfi was appointed as National Caretaker Committee (NCC) chairman.

But Sheriff challenged the decision of the PDP, insisting that he was the chairman of the party. This tussle continued until recently when the Supreme Court declared Makarfi as the authentic chairman of the party.

However, despite the intention of the NEC to use the convention as opportunity to realigning its leadership in the states and the region, how the convention intends to bring peace to the party in the South West region where the members have been at war with itself remains to be seen.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling which settled the leadership tussle of the party once and for all, the leaders in the party in the South West seem bent on taking the fight further and ensuring that peace will not rein in the region.

This is more worrisome when one considers what is happening in the Lagos State chapter of the party, where since inception internal wrangling has not allowed the party to make significant impact in the state.

The crisis in the South West came to public fore shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, when the executive members and leaders of the party in the South-West region decided to raise a disciplinary committee to sanction Senator Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, over what it called anti-party activities.

At a well attended meeting held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the leaders while congratulating Senator Ahmed Makarfi for what it called landmark victory, condemned the actions of some members of the party, including Kashamu.

Senator Kashamu is formerly the Chairman of the South West Mobilisation Committee of the party.
The party in a communique after the meeting declared that the anti-party activities of some of the members led the party to lose elections in Ondo, Ogun and Edo states, hence the need to sanction them.
Zonal Chairman of the party, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, flanked by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, Chief Bode George and Otunba Iyiola Omisore while reading the communique at the end of the expanded meeting, urged the Ogun State chapter of the party to do away with anything that has to do with Senator Kashamu and to stop dealing with him henceforth.

Part of the communique reads: “First and most the south West Zonal leadership congratulate the National Caretaker Committee of the party under the able leadership of His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and other distinguished members of the National Caretaker Committee of our great party over the landmark victory recorded at the Supreme Court on the 12th of July , 2017

“The Zonal Leadership also hereby condemn and regret the action and ignoble role of some of its membership that led to the unfortunate experience and trauma that held the entire party down for over a year now and pray that may such never recur again in our great party

“The entire South West leadership and stakeholders condemn the destabilising and anti-party activities of Senator Buruji Kashamu and demand disciplinary actions against him for his roles in the loss of the party in Ogun, Ondo and Edo states.

“The zonal leadership and stakeholders hereby dissociate the zone from the activities of Senator Buruji Kashamu and resolve further to henceforth desist from dealing with him in any capacity in the zone, and the leadership of the party in Ogun State are hereby directed to stop all dealings and meetings involvement with Senator Buruji Kashamu and his agents until further notice

“The Zonal Leadership and stakeholders also hereby reject any association whatsoever with Senator Buruji Kashamu henceforth

“It is hereby resolved that a special committee be set up at the zonal and national level to reach out and appeal to all those who had left the party as a result of the disruptive and destructive activities and act of sabotage visited upon the party,” the communiqué added.

Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose while speaking earlier said the Supreme Court did justice to Nigeria and not PDP.

Fayose who said that the party which was now in opposition was optimistic to retain the power in 2019, noted that “The whole problem of PDP in South-West started from Ogun state.”

Those who were present at that meeting included former Governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel; Senator Ayo Adeseun; former Chairman Odu’a Investment Company Limited, Mr Sarafadeen Alli, former Chief of Staff in Oyo State, Dr. Saka Balogun; Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye, Hon. Jelili Adesiyan, Senator Femi Lanlehin, Elder Wole Oyelese and Hon. Muraina Ajibola.

Others are Senator Hosea Agboola, Mr. Lowo Obisesan, Hon. Demola Ojo, Mrs. Bose Adedibu, Mr. Dare Adeleke, Mr Femi Babalola, Hon. Ladi Adedibu and Hon. Asimiyu Alarape; Hon. Mulikat Adeola and Mr. Tajudeen Oladipo among others.

But if the South West leadership of the PDP who gathered in Ibadan to take the anti-Kashamu decision thought that the Ogun State born Senator was going to take the attack on him laying low or come back to them crawling and begging, then they were mistaken.

Few days after their meeting, Kashamu also gathered those loyal to him in Lagos for a meeting and there declared the members and leaders of the party who gathered in Ibadan, Oyo State as “impostors and errand boys”.

Chairman of the faction, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, said he remains the validly elected chairman of the party in the region which has been affirmed by two court orders.

Ogundipe who addressed newsmen on the outcome of the meeting noted that Olafeso’s tenure as PDP chairman in the zone ended on 11th October, 2014 according to a Federal High Court pronouncement of June 24, 2016.

He said the zone under his leadership would mobilise for today’s non-elective convention of the party in Abuja.

According to him, the excos have set up reconciliatory committee to woo back members who dumped the party.

The factional chairman also urged the National Caretaker Committee of the party to desist from relating with Gov. Fayose whom the faction declared as persona non grata.

He said, “We unequivocally condemn the hostile, authoritarian and destabilising activities of Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose and demand that he should be called to order before he sounds the death knell on the party in the South West.

“The authentic zonal leadership and stakeholders hereby declares Fayose a persona non grata and dissociate the zone from his activities.”

Those who attended the briefing include Senator Kashamu, the immediate past National Secretary of the Party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, former Treasurer, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, and factional chairmen and members from the six states of the zone.

He noted that PDP in the country remains one even as he assured that by 2019, the number of PDP governors would increase.

As the South West crisis has remained difficult to resolve so also that crisis in the party in Lagos State.

Despite that, the factional chairman of the party in Lagos State, Chief Segun Adewale has handed over the state secretariat of the party to the Board of Trustees (BoT), following the directive from the national headquarters of the party, he has made it clear that those now leading the party in the state had already left for another party.

Adewale explained that the National Caretaker Committee of PDP had ordered that the state secretariat should be handed over to Chief Bode George and other members of the party’s BoT in Lagos.

He instructed all his supporters to stay away from the secretariat in the interest of peace, even if the key is given to someone else.
He however said, “It is quite unfortunate that those, who as at last week Saturday, were campaigning against PDP while in Labour Party, now want to take over the secretariat.

“I was the one mobilising for the party during last Saturday’s local government elections in the state.
“Even at that, I am ready to leave the secretariat, the police asked us to sign an undertaking that there will be peace in Ikeja.

“I am not fighting with anybody, because if we continue this way, we will continue to lose elections in Lagos,” Adewale said.

It will be recalled that the crisis rocking the party at both the national and state levels made those loyal to Makarfi and led by Hon Moshood Salvador made an alliance with the Labour Party for the recent Lagos State local government election.

However, Adewale said the “party’s faithful” would resist any attempt to subvert the interest of PDP.
He accused George of being a principal actor in the crisis.

He said for peace to be achieved, BoT members should stay within the confines of its mandate of taking possession of the secretariat.

“The directive was to handover the state party secretariat building to the Commissioner Police. This we have fully complied with. Reports that we handed our mandate to Honourable Moshood Salvador and his team is misleading and untrue,” the statement read.

“We are aware that Chief Bode George is going around claiming he has the authority of the NCC to hand over the party leadership to his stooge. This is not true as the party’s faithful will vehemently resist any attempt to subvert the interest of our people.

“Our members will resist any attempt by certain members of the BoT to return the PDP in Lagos to its dark days of imposition. Despite being fully aware that Chief Bode George a member of the BoT is a principal actor in the crisis, we abided by the NCC decision for peace. We strongly believe in the unity of the party and that the PDP is bigger than any single individual.

“For us to achieve lasting peace, however, BOT members involved should stay within the confines of its mandate of taking possession of the secretariat pending when the NCC fully reconciles all aggrieved members in Lagos,” he said.

Despite the lingering crisis in the South West chapters of the party, one thing the national leadership of the party has made clear is that though it will deal with every errant member who is not ready to turn over a new leaf, but those who are ready to abide by the party’s guidelines will be accommodated. It remains to be seen however, how those at daggers drawn in the region will be made to sheath their swords and embrace peace for the sake of the party in future elections.

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