Southwest PDP crisis persists
•No truce in Ogun, Osun, Lagos chapters
The crisis in the Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) escalated at the weekend as some chapters failed to agree on the proposal by two governors to present a single list of delegates for the national convention next month.
The division in the zone persisted, following the refusal of certain chieftains loyal to the embattled “National Chairman”, Senator Modu Sheriff and the National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to sheathe their swords.
At the meeting of selected zonal leaders at the Eko Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos many chieftains reiterated their loyalty to Makarfi. They stressed that his committee was set up in accordance with the PDP constitution.
Former Works Minister Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, from Lagos State; former Osun State House of Assembly Speaker Adejare Bello; and former Senate leader Teslim Folarin, from Oyo State, emphasised that the region was backing Makarfi.
But the embattled National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, disagreed. He said that Sheriff was the authentic chairman.
He added that he remained secretary, until resolution of the litigation triggered by the leadership crisis.
The meeting, which was attended by selected leaders from Oyo, Osun and Lagos states, was summoned by Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, his Ondo State counterpart, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Senator Buruji Kashamu, from Ogun East.
Although Fayose explained that only leaders of the state without governors were invited, Ogun State leaders were not present and no explanation was offered for their absence.
At the meeting were former Osun State Deputy Governor Olusola Obada Chief Tunde Odanye; former Sports Minister Prof. Taoheed Adedoja; Wole Oke; Ganiyu Olaoluwa; Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele and Captain Tunji Shelle (rtd).
Others were Agboola Dominic, Femi Carena, Tajudeen Agoro, Niyi Owolade, Dr. Tokunbo Pearse, Pa Kola Balogun, Segun Adewale, Owokoniran, Dr. Ade Dosunmu and Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi.
There was a mild drama at the venue when some Osun chieftains stormed out to protest the governors’ advice that the chapter should close ranks and present a joint list.
The aggrieved chieftains said the proposal favoured unpopular chieftains, who lost out in the ward, local government and state congresses.
A chieftain said: “It is better to conduct an election to select delegates as this will give opportunity to leaders and groups to test their popularity.”
Olaoluwa, who pacified the protesters, said the chapter would “thoroughly discuss the option before taking a stand”.
He said: “I advise we don’t disperse yet. Let’s go downstairs to discuss further and resolve our differences before we take a stand.”
Lagos PDP chieftains were led by Ogunlewe and Balogun, who belong to the two main groups, led by Chief Olabode George and Adewale. The George camp installed Adegoke Salvador as chairman. But Adewale, the managing director of Aeroland Company, rejected the outcome of the congress. He said he was the authentic chairman.
After Ogunlewe briefed reporters on the outcome of the meeting, Dosunmu and Owokoniran said he lacked the mandate to speak to reporters. In their view, Balogun led the chieftains to the meeting.
Balogun, who reluctantly spoke with reporters, assured that party elders would resolve the crisis in the chapter.
Adewale was also conciliatory, as he apologised to George for any wrong doing, promising to mobilise his group for reconciliation.
Mimiko, who left before the meeting closed, said the zone made progress in resolving the crises affecting chapters. He said Southwest PDP will go to the national convention as a united region.
Bello said it was in the interest of the region to resolve its internal problem before the convention. He hailed the governors and Kashamu for the peace moves.
Folarin said reconciliation became necessary following contrary positions taken by leaders.
He said reality dawned on the PDP family that only the Makarfi committee could stabilise the party and conduct a peaceful convention.
Fayose explained that the meeting was part of efforts by the Southwest PDP to put its house in order.
He said: “We want a united party. We encourage our chapters to have one list each for the national convention. The list will reflect representation of various groups in each chapter.”