Against the backdrop of the sharp division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), HKEEM GBADAMOSI examines the preparedness of delegates from the South-West chapter of the party to its national convention taking place tomorrow.
For most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spread across the country, the raging power tussle among the top shots is an unnecessary detraction. This is because of the leaders what ought to be uppermost in the minds of the leaders ought to be the need to achieve totatl reconciliation and healing of the wound occasioned by the not-too-impressive performance of the PDP in the 2015 general election.
But it seems the effort of the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led Committee on Reconciliation set by the party only achieved a salutary impact and success. The fallout of the congresses conducted by the PDP at different levels in the last few weeks confirmed the apprehension among many party faithful that a lot still needs to be done to repair the umbrella. Almost all the six zonal chapters of the party had one or two issues at the end of all the congresses. Suffice to say that the eminent crack manifested in the rainbow coalition formed by a number of Concerned Stakeholders that has scheduled a parallel national convention tomorrow in Abuja. Therefore, the one in Abuja and the one taking place in Port Harcourt will be parading eminent leaders of the party, who have separated by differences that bother on the quest to capture the soul of PDP. So, the unity of purpose among delegates to convention will be an issue, something that had bothered the leaders of the party across the zones before and after the zonal congresses held last Saturday.
For each of the zones, the stakes are high as far as the convention is concerned. It is particularly so for some because of the discordant tunes among its frontline members. For instance, many had thought the the South West zonal congress held in Akure, the Ondo State capital, would be suspended, following an order of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, restraining the party and its officials from going ahead. The leadership of the party in the zone went ahead with the congress which had since produced officials who will represent the interest of the party for the next four years. This, some political analysts said, was like a a repeat of what happened in the zone where a former governor of Ekiti State, Engr. Segun Oni – led executive was sacked because of executive lawlessness and disobedience to a valid court order.
Prior to last Saturday’s congress, the South-West Secretary of the party, Pegba Otemolu, who was said to have sympathy for another faction of the party in the zone, had filed a suit praying for the suspension of the congress, hinging his prayer on the need for the present executive in the zone to complete their tenure at the helms of affairs. Otemolu said it was wrong for the party and its national officers to contemplate organizing a zonal congress for the zone, explaining that the Zonal Executive Committee members elected on October 11, 2014 to steer the affairs of the party for four years were still in office while their tenure ends on October, 2018.
The national secretary of the party, Professor Wale Oladipo confirmed the receipt of an order from the Lagos Federal High Court which suspended the congress, pending the outcome of the suit instituted by Otemolu.”As the National Secretary of the party, and Adewole Adeyanju, the National Auditor, who are the two representatives of the zone, want to tell you that the party has decided to abide by the order,” but said the order would not affect the party’s National Convention scheduled for May 21st.
That notwithstanding, leaders, chieftains and members of the PDP in the zone converged on Akure for the zonal congress where Chief Eddy Olafeso emerged as the new South West national vice chairman. The state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko,used the occasion to prepare the minds of other party members for the national convention. He hammered on the need for unity in the party in the zone and at the national. His words: “The PDP has a bright future in this country, but our actions and inactions will determine the future of our party in Nigeria. We must therefore stand for integrity as a party with history of integrity and progressivism.” Mimiko, who doubles as the chairman of PDP Governors Forum, averred that “the truth which we stand for will vindicate us in PDP in the South-West region. Governor Ayo Fayose and I are working for the progress of the party in the South West and we shall continue to do that.” He however iterated that “the extent at which we stand up for the truth will determine the future of our party,” just Fayose also mentioned the need for unity, discipline and personal sacrifice for collective progress among members of the party in the South West, urging all members to work towards the victory of the party in the 2019 Presidential election.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti state governor has declared that he was not opposed to any set of leaders in the PDP from the zone. In fact, he said there was iota of truth that he was working against the interest of PDP elders. He said: “I love our elderly people. But the elders should play the roles of advisers and allow the young generation to take over. This is in line with my stance against
Buhari, who is too old to rule Nigeria.” Fayose however, cautioned the judiciary to be wary of those politicians with propensity to win elections through the court and not through election. Also, the PDP chairman of Ogun State, Honourable Olawale Ogundele stressed the need for trhe delegates and indeed all PDP members from the zone to always work together as one big family.
The occasion was supervised by a team led by a former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Celestine Omehia as chairman and superintended the election of the former Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Olafeso as the new zonal chairman of the party. The other new officers are: Reverend Bunmi Jenyo (Osun) as Secretary, Hon Wasiu Bankere (Ogun) as Organizing Secretary, Hon. Femi Adetola (Oyo) as Youth Leader, Mrs Ajigbeda Oshunleke (Ogun) as Women Leader, Hon Abiola Makinde, (Ondo) as Publicity Secretary, Chief Aifoji (Lagos) as Financial Secretary, Hon. Aminu Gbenga Ogundele (Oyo) as Auditor and the Legal Adviser Mr Sunday Ojo-Williams (Osun). The new treasurer for the zone is Adeola Oguntinde.