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PDP: Issues Over Appointment Of S’West Campaign Coordinator

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ANAYO EZUGWU reports that the appointment of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State as the Chairman of South-West Campaign Coordinating Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may jeopardise the chances of the party in the 2023 general election

The drama and crisis in the South-West chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took another twist recently with the appointment of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State as the chairman of the South- West Coordinating Committee of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council ahead of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

A notice to that effect and signed by the Director-General of the Campaign Organisation, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, stated that the appointment is with immediate effect.

The appointment comes as Governor Makinde, who is seeking re-election, is yet to pledge support for Atiku’s ambition over demand by aggrieved governors of the PDP under the aegis of G5 for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu. The South-West PDP crisis has been a lingering one but it has worsened over the last couple of months with some key stakeholders withholding their support for the presidential candidate of the party.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Most members of the party against Atiku and Ayu are part of the Integrity Group and they are insisting that the chairmanship of the PDP must return to the South. The fear is that the appointment of Governor Adeleke and the unending crisis may erase the achievements recorded by the PDP since 2019 in the region.

Before the 2019 general election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was in control of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Ekiti states. But the performance of South West PDP in the 2019 general election was not a total disappointment, considering the outcome of the polls. Except in Lagos and Ogun where it performed woefully, the party managed to reclaim Oyo State and Osun State, recently.

Makinde is insisting that he would not support the presidential candidate of the party until the party ensured fairness. He said he would only support Atiku if the party does the needful. According to him, the party must demonstrate that it can ensure fairness and justice within its system before seeking to implement it in the country. The governor also sent a subtle solidarity message to the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the 2023 general election.

The deputy governor of the state, Bayo Lawal, who represented his principal in Ondo State at a reception for Tinubu by the leader of pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, noted that though they separated by political affiliation, strong ethnic bond unites them. Makinde and four other PDP governors believed to be aggrieved over party leadership tussles have been at loggerheads with the chairman of the party, Ayu, over the zoning of the party’s chairmanship seat.

The governor and notably, Rivers state governor, Nyesome Wike have boycotted Atiku’s campaigns so far across the country, moves believed to have heightened tensions in the camps of Atiku’s loyalists. Speaking in Yoruba language at the event, the deputy governor stressed that the people of his state will stand with the decision of Yoruba leaders as regards the 2023 presidential election. His words: “Since Makinde became governor, he doesn’t joke with anything that concerns the Yoruba people, whenever baba (Pa Fasoranti) calls him, he is always available. Whenever there is an event, either organised by Afenifere or any other Yoruba group, Governor Makinde will always be supportive. Though we are not of the same political affiliation, we are bound by ethnicity.

The message he sent me to deliver here is that, whatever you are doing in Yorubaland, Makinde and Oyo people are in support of it.” Likewise, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, said if the party had stuck religiously to the principle of zoning as entrenched in its constitution, Atiku would not have become its standard bearer. George, who spoke on Arise News, said the former vice president was allowed to contest, and eventually won the presidential ticket based on an in-house agreement that opposed the provision of the party’s constitution.

He said: “On the issue of constitutionality, I referred you to the fact that our party’s constitution explicitly states and I quote: ‘there will be zoning and rotation of elective offices and party offices’ and if we had stuck rigidly to that, there was no chance for Atiku to have emerged as the presidential candidate.” George also lambasted those faulting the calls for the resignation of the party’s national chairman.

The former Ondo State military administrator had during a recent press conference in Lagos called for Ayu’s resignation while making a case for the position to be filled by a southerner. Defending his call for Ayu’s resignation, George said it was surprising that some party members were advocating for the anti-Ayu group to respect the constitutional provision that supports a new chairman to emerge from the same zone as Ayu even if he (Ayu) resigns.

The elder statesman explained that if the party members could abandon the constitution and allow all zones to contest when in fairness, the presidency should have been zoned to another region aside from the North and then the same can apply to Ayu’s situation for another chairman to come from the South.

He said: “So, when it suits you, you can refer to the constitution and when it doesn’t suit you, you can back away from the constitution. If we all on moral suasion purpose, and during a family discussion we agreed that look, people have been canvassing, spending money and going around for the last six months and since there was no definitive selection or zoning of whether it should come from the North, South, West or East, let us allow this to go now, the same principle is what will happen for Ayu.

“If we could accept the issue (sideline constitution provision) for a presidential candidate to come from any zone, which is against what is in our constitution, then what is good for the goose is good for the gander. On this premise (Ayu’s resignation), we can do that again. Allow us for this period to do that because no matter what happens, at the end of the election, whether we win or we don’t win, there will be a convention to revisit the whole thing about these positions.

“They (those backing Ayu’s chairmanship) are making it look as if it is rigidity. We bent the constitution based on moral suasion purposes, justice, and equity to allow all the zones to contest and now when the same issue comes up to allow the south to produce the national chairman, they are now saying no, it will go against the constitution. “It is true it will go against the constitution. But they forget there was a provision for the zoning of the presidential candidate in the constitution too but we abandoned that for unity and peace, we allowed everyone to contest and if we were able to do that at that time, what is different now?” George also went down memory lane on the history of the PDP regarding power rotation, saying: “I’m looking at the thought processes of the founding fathers of our party.

They gathered in 1998 and intentionally looked at the problems that have beset this nation called Nigeria. They came out with a suggested solution that we should divide Nigeria into six geo-political zones because, in the First Republic, they had the majority tribes and their way and their say. Minority tribes were just on-lookers; same in the North and same in the South. “That created that friction that led us to all kinds coups and counter coups and the civil war and the incursion of the military into government It took all those into consideration and came up with this solution that said ‘look, let us divide Nigeria into six geo-political zones’ and there are also six top positions in this country.

The positions are the presidency, the vice presidency, the Senate presidency, the Speakership, Secretary to Government and the National Chairman of the party.” George said there are six zones and six positions and that each zone would have one of these six top positions.

“In other words, you have removed the friction, the anger in people that ‘are we just mere onlookers in the management of our country’ and that after every eight years, all the three positions in the North will come down to the South and the three positions in the South will go to the North.

“If you look at it, number one is the presidency, number six is the chairman of the party and so number one and number six cannot be from the same zone for the balancing act. The party is woven into the executive, the legislative arm and the party.

It was a brilliant concept and that was what gave us the opportunity to stabilise the country for almost 16 years. “Here we are again going into it and some people said there was no need for zoning anymore and that shocked me. In fact, the need to have zoning is more important now than in 1999. Maybe some of these people don’t understand the concept that led to the thought processes of our founding fathers.” Whereas Makinde is insisting on Ayu’s resignation for him to support Atiku, some leaders of the PDP in Oyo State have declared their support for Atiku.

They said the governor was only speaking for himself by allegedly declaring support for Tinubu. A former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Wole Oyelese, who spoke at an emergency meeting of leaders of the party in the 33 local councils of the state, said Makinde was not speaking for the party in the state but for himself. He said the PDP leaders would work and deliver the state for Atiku in 2023. His words: “A good politician would not speak like that.

For Makinde to say he would not work for Atiku doesn’t mean anything. He is on his own; t is an empty threat. If he says we should not vote for Atiku, who are we voting for? We are too sophisticated for that in Oyo State. Makinde is a newcomer in Oyo State politics but we shall continue to work for our party. “However, we are working for Atiku in a special way.

My advice for any politician who wants to win in Oyo State is to come to the mainstream. Mainstream is the leadership of the party in the state,” he said. A foremost party leader, Femi Babalola, said the governor was guilty of the points he raised against Atiku. He said: “He that comes to equity, must come with clean hands. The first question I asked myself was is it good for a northerner to take over from a northerner? “And another question is whether it is good for an Ibadan man to take over from an Ibadan man that spent eight years? So, for Makinde that benefited from such, why is he now antagonising another person? He didn’t see anything wrong in that but when it is Atiku’s turn, it is wrong.” Besides Oyo, the party also has issues in Ekiti State.

The party omitted the names of the former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose and the senator representing Ekiti South Constituency, Biodun Olujimi, from the campaign council. The party named its governorship candidate in the just concluded election, Bisi Kolawole, as the chairman of the council, while Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe was named as the vice chairman. A statement signed by Governor Tambuwal, said: “The Peoples Democratic Party after wide and extensive consultation has approved the composition of the Presidential Campaign Council for Ekiti State pursuant to NEC approved guidelines.” Tambuwal said the campaign council was composed to see to the emergence of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the forthcoming general election.

As a result of the omission, some members of the party loyal to Fayose have rejected their appointment and list of members of the party’s presidential campaign committee and management committee. However, the rejection by some members and stakeholders including a former governorship candidate, Bisi Kolawole, named as the state PCC chairman in a letter to the PDP PCO DG, titled: “Re-appointment as chairman of PCC Ekiti State,” said although he had not been contacted about the appointment, he wished to raise concern on the membership.

The letter read in part: “Even though I regard the appointment as honour, I wish to state that I will not be able to function amid people who openly and gladly worked against my election. The SDP members included in the Campaign Management Committee are people who left the PDP before the governorship election and have not returned to the party.

“With their inclusion in the campaign committee, how will they function when their party, the SDP, is also fielding candidates for the National Assembly and National Assembly elections will hold the same day as that of the President?” Other PDP members including Omotoso Okaya, who was appointed to serve on the committee as Assistant Secretary, the Directorate of Research and Strategy rejected their nomination to serve on the committee in the state. In the same vein, some PDP National Assembly candidates in the state for the 2023 general elections also rejected the composition of the Campaign Management Committee for the state, saying it comprised people who would work against their ambitions.

The candidates – Lateef Ajijola (Ekiti Central senatorial), Funso Ayeni (North senatorial), Oluyinka Akerele (Reps Ekiti North 1), Lere Olayinka (Reps Ekiti Central 2), Mrs Adenike Emiola (Reps Ekiti South 2), Joju Fayose (Reps Ekiti Central 1) and Babatunde Ajayi (Reps Ekiti North 2) made the position known in a letter to the campaign DG titled “Rejection of Ekiti State PCC and Campaign Management Committee.” The seven candidates stated, “Particularly, the persons appointed as Directors of Campaign for the Central and North Senatorial Districts are members of SDP. SDP is fielding senatorial, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly candidates in the abovementioned senatorial districts.

The implication is that SDP members will work against us as our Senatorial Directors of Campaign for our elections.” With the crisis seems intractable, the chances of PDP in the presidential election in the South West look slim, especially with Tinubu being on the ballot. As it stands, it is yet to be seen how Atiku and Adeleke will resolve the issue before the February 25 election.

Source: New Telegraph

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