Grumblings As Makinde Takes Over South-West PDP
Amidst allegations that Governor Seyi Makinde has cornered all leadership positions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the southwest zone for his allies to the exclusion of other interest groups within the party, aggrieved chieftains of the PDP in the zone are not about to end their face-off with the Oyo helmsman even as political parties prepare for the 2023 general elections, reports Assistant Editor, ‘Dare Odufowokan.
With Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state now firmly in control of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the southwest ahead of the 2023 general elections, aggrieved chieftains of the party are left to grumble against his leadership of the party in the zone. Checks by The Nation revealed that in spite of the Oyo governor’s success at installing his allies in all the PDP leadership positions zoned to the southwest, he has been unable to placate most of his ardent opponents within the party in the zone.
“It is a fact to declare that Makinde, who incidentally, is the only governor from our party, the PDP, in the zone, have taken over the structures of the party in the southwest. But what he has not been able to do is douse the festering crisis within the party in the zone. Many of our leaders are still unwilling to associate with him and this is not good for the PDP as we move towards the 2023 general elections. We still need to reconcile many of our leaders with the governor in order for the PDP to maximize its new strength in the zone,” a source said.
But the governor’s supporters insist he is providing leadership for the PDP in the southwest in spite of what they described as the ranting of a few disgruntled elements within the party. “It is natural to have a few people unwilling to accept the reality of the day. We have a new order in Southwest PDP. It is an order where Governor Makinde is leading the original owners of the party, the members, to take decision and drive the party towards reclaiming its lost glory across the zone,” another source told The Nation.
To the Makinde, as the only governor of the governor, he is the leader of the party and should be respected as such. Many observers have wondered what his intentions are but he has been very consistent in claiming that his main concern is repositioning the PDP in the zone and returning it to winning ways. The Oyo governor believes the party needs to take some firm decisions regarding the way it does things if it is to work its way back into the minds of the people of the zone ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Responding to some of the allegations against him by his party men recently, Makinde had said, “What I want you to know is that I am also a man; I have flesh and blood and I make mistakes. Maybe there are some issues we need to address and we are trying to look at them. I know that wherever we need to make amends, we will definitely do that. I don’t want to believe that I did not do well with some members of the party but some may feel I have not done enough while some may feel I have done the best. But those who think I have not done enough could be right and I think we need to evaluate all of these. Moving on, there is room for improvement.”
Weeks after the successful completion of the national convention of the opposition party, some prominent members of the PDP in the southwest are allegedly displeased with Governor Makinde over the outcome of the convention. The bone of contention, The Nation gathered, is the alleged cornering of all the National Working Committee (NWC) positions zoned to the Southwest, by the Oyo State governor, leaving other leaders and groups within the party in the zone without any one, contrary to the terms of the reconciliation preceding the convention.
About three weeks before the convention, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State had brokered peace between Governor Makinde and former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose. Party sources claim the meeting discussed the power struggle between the two PDP leaders in the southwest and proffered ways to end the rift and avoid new ones. “One of the things agreed at the meeting was the need to share party positions among leaders of the party. We were looking forward to the convention at the time and it was believed that positions given to the zone will be shared in that manner,” our source said.
The Benue State Governor impressed it upon the two party leaders to work together in the interest of the PDP in the Southwest. At the convention, the positions of Deputy National Chairman (South), National Publicity Secretary and Deputy National Secretary were zoned to the Southwest. Amidst allegations that Makinde was working towards pocketing all the positions, his known allies emerged the winners of the three slots at the expense of other contenders, their leaders and their groups.
The emergence of Taofeek Arapaja, a former Deputy Governor of Oyo state, and an associate of Makinde’s, as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the PDP, completed an alleged take-over of the control of the party structure in the zone by the Governor. He defeated Olagunsoye Oyinlola, an ally of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with over 1200 votes. Arajapa got 2004 votes against 705 by Oyinlola. Setoji Kosheodo, another candidate of the Oyo governor from Lagos state, emerged as deputy national secretary while Debo Ologunagba from Ondo state, rode on Makinde’s back to become national publicity secretary.
Speaking on the development, a PDP chieftain from Ogun State, who preferred anonymity, insisted that Governor Makinde, contrary to the advice of the Ortom committee and others before it, executed a take-it-all-plot at the convention. This, he claimed, escalated the crisis within the PDP in the southwest. “What you are seeing now is the peace of the graveyard. People are now more aggrieved than they were before. I can also tell you the number of those aggrieved now is more than what it was. At least, you saw how Makinde dealt with Prince Oyinlola and his team at the convention, these were people supporting him all along,” he said.
Another chieftain of the PDP, a former federal legislator, claimed that the silence of the Fayose group on the matter should not be taken as acceptance. “We saw how Eddy Olafeso was denied the right to contest against Makinde’s candidate in Abuja. This will not bring unity. The governor is not the only force to reckon with in Southwest PDP. The outcome of the Southwest zonal congress in which there was just 13 votes difference between the winner and the loser should be enough to prove that the two groups are strongly on ground,” he said.
Aside from the happenings at the convention, critics of the governor are also citing the recent appointment of new Board of Trustees (BOT) members for the PDP ith all the five people appointed for the Southwest zone allegedly coming solely from the camp of Governor Makinde. “Anybody overlooking the interests of the likes of Fayose, Olafeso, Alh. Adebisi Olopoenia, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, Deji Doherty, Sunday Bisi and many other party leaders in the zone, is not considering the interest of the PDP,” he warned.
The ratification of Soji Adagunodo, the embattled chairman of Osun PDP, as the South-West National Vice Chairman of the party, is regarded as another political move by Makinde in his quest to control the party in the zone. Adagunodo is an ally of the governor. He replaces Arapaja who has been elected Deputy National Chairman of the PDP. Adagunodo’s nomination was on Wednesday, November 17, ratified by the Southwest Zonal Executives of the party.
But supporters of the governor are quick to point out the fact that Adagunodo’s nomination was arrived at after an extensive meeting of the Osun PDP elders and leaders which held at the Okuku residence of Oyinlola. “The leadership of the party in Osun indicated that the decision to nominate Adagunodo was approved by all the leaders and elders caucus in a meeting which held at the residence of the former governor. Part of the decision arrived at the meeting is the withdrawal of all pending court cases bordering on the leadership of the party in Osun, meaning that an amicable resolution to all the leadership disputes of the state chapter of the party has been arrived at,” a source added.
A former Governor of Oyo State, Hazeem Gbolarumi, former Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, frontline PDP leaders in the state, including Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeyan, Femi Babalola, Nureni Akanbi, Michael Okunlade and many other aggrieved chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, are said to be unrelenting in their rejection of the governors leadership in spite of efforts by various committees to reconcile the two warring factions. At a recent meeting, their group passed a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the Governor.
PDP leaders who spoke at the well-attended meeting which recorded participants from across the 33 local government areas of the state said the governors sidelined those that worked for his emergence and promised to work against him in 2023. During the meeting, some of the PDP members also asked Makinde to leave the party. “Members are assured that efforts are being made at the state and national levels to ensure that the ownership of PDP reverts back to members of the party. The meeting rose with the passing of vote of no confidence in the leadership of Engr Seyi Makinde on the Oyo State PDP,” the communiqué read in part.
Following his loss to Arapaja at the convention, Oyinlola’s loyalists accused Governor Makinde of betraying the former governor. Party sources recalled that few weeks to the convention, Makinde had convened a stakeholders meeting where it was agreed that the position of the Deputy national chairman should be zoned to Osun state, with Oyinlola as consensus candidate.
BoT member, Alhaji Shuiab Oyedokun, who confirmed the decision, said it was based on the fact that Oyo state had produced the zonal chairman. “Those of us who are elders here and are statutory delegates to the convention believe that with the division we have been nursing in Osun State for the past three years, Oyinlola seems to stand out as somebody who can be a rallying point to bring the two factions together. And Oyo already have Arapaja in office as zonal chairman of the party. The lot fell on Osun and we picked Oyinlola,” he recalled.
Some sources in Makinde’s camp have explained that he decided to push Arapaja forward for the position allegedly because the stiff contest between Oyinlola and Professor Wale Oladipo could not be resolved in good time. But his critics are quick to remind him that the contest between Oyinlola and Oladipo was laid to rest before the convention with the latter agreeing to support the former’s ambition.
The Osun State chapter of the party had announced the resolution of the contest twenty four hours to the convention in a document jointly signed by its chairman, Sunday Bisi, Oladipo, and Senator Ademola Adeleke. “After exhaustive deliberation on the forthcoming national convention of our party as it relates to the issue of post zoned to Osun state, we the elected and statutory delegates of PDP from Osan state resolve as follows: that the unwarranted, orchestrated and out-rightly illegal exclusion of Prof. Wale Oladipo from standing for election as Deputy National Chairman (South) is nothing but the rape of democracy.
“The reason is to smuggle in a weak and pliable candidate into that exalted office knowing that Prof. Oladipo has the national reach to get easily elected at the convention. As a result of Prof. Wale Oladipo’s exclusion, Oyinlola remains the only aspirant from Osun state for the position of Deputy National Chairman (South) of our party at the convention. We vehemently oppose the attempt by Governor Seyi Makinde to hijack what has been micro-zoned to Osun State, after all.
Oyo State already occupies the South West Chairmanship of the party, in the person of Amb. Arapaja, who is a member of the National Working Committee. We therefore, unanimously agreed that all elected and statutory delegates from Osun State to the PDP National Convention should cast our votes for Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the position of Deputy National Chairman (South),” the statement by the state chapter f the PDP had read.
Thus, Oyinlola’s supporters aren’t ready to believe the argument. To them, the governor suddenly stopped trusting Oyinlola who had before then, helped him to overcome Fayose and other political adversaries in the zone. “It is nothing but betrayal. If Oyinlola had not mobilised other South-west leaders to back Arapaja for the position of zonal chairmanship, how could Makinde have had his way during the South-West Zonal congress in Osogbo?
Makinde on track
A chieftain of the PDP, Chief Wale Oladoja, has advised aggrieved members of the party to stop fighting an unjust course. He said Makinde showing aggrieved members of the party and even opposition the best way to play healthy politics. According to him, it is high time aggrieved party members embraced the olive branch extended to them by the governor. “Makinde as a successful businessman and politician has done it again. The outcome of the just concluded convention is enough to teach our aggrieved members and opposition a good political lesson. We need to join hands to build our party ahead of the 2023 general elections, for oppositions to know we are one big family, regardless of our internal wrangling. PDP is back in the hands of the founding fathers and our resourceful governors across the country,” he said.
Oladoja congratulated the newly elected executive of the party, especially Arapaja, saying Governor Makinde had done what many governors couldn’t achieve in the fourth republic. “Our past governors in the fourth republic couldn’t install a top hierarchy of the NWC because of their selfish interest, but Makinde has done that in less than three years. This must be commended,” he added. The politician expressed confidence in the leadership of the Oyo state governor and urged his opponents to allow him steer the party to victory in the next general election.
Similarly, the General Secretary of PDP in the South-West, Rahman Owokoniran, commended Makinde, saying the governor had made the party and the South-West region proud. According to Owokoniran, Makinde is a blessing not only to Oyo State, but the South-West region of the country. “His leadership of the party, his style of governance, his relationship and engagement with people are contributory factors to his success as a true leader,” he said.
On Makinde’s role in the party, Owokoniran noted that his astute personality and skilful handling of delicate matters contributed in no small measure to the strengthening of the PDP in the zone. “He is a visionary leader who consults widely in decision making. Better yet, his ability to maintain excellent relationship is next to none. His genuine pursuit for peace has further led to his encouragement of PDP stakeholders and party faithful in the South-West to embrace peace and work in unity in preparation for winning 2023 elections,” Owokoniran stated.
Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun, another chieftain of the party in the zone said Makinde has no inordinate ambition to lead the South-West caucus of the party, as his desire is to work with others towards a regional development. “Governor Makinde is all out for peace within the party and the South-West region, he has been working to use the unity among the leadership of the party in the region to create a hub of development and commercial growth, which other parts of the country will want to emulate. It is normal to see and hear some of these misconceptions about leadership tussle, but I tell you that it is going to fizzle out soon, what really matter is how to unite the leaders for the States to forge a common front for development of the people.”