The Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) factions yesterday resolved to end its differences over the party’s zoning arrangement and forge a common front at the proposed national convention billed for Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on May 21.
The zonal body also resolved to share the four party positions zoned to the region between the two factions, led by Chief Olabode George and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Following the reconciliation between the two camps, George’s group agreed to step down its agitation for the national chairmanship and support the zoning of the topmost position to the North.
There was anxiety in the PDP as members of the two camps held separate meetings at Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, and Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The Ijebu-Igbo meeting convened by Fayose and Senator Buruji Kashamu (Ogun East) resolved to back the chairmanship aspiration of the Acting National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
At the meeting, presided over by the zonal leader, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, were the National Auditor, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, former National Deputy Chairman Shuaib Oyedokun, Dr Olu Ogunye, Dr. Ade Dosunmu and Alhaji Afeez Gbolarunmi.
Others are Yinka Taiwo, Amb Gunju Adesakin, Chief Abiodun Aluko, Ebenezer Alabi, Kola Balogun, Senator Clement Awoyelu, Alhaja Atinuke Oyawoye, Mrs. Grace Akinribide, Chief Semiu Kukoyi, Babatunde Gbadamosi, Ajibola Muraina, Chief Solomon Ogunjobi, Segun Adekoya, Segun Odebunmi, Chief Oluwole Aina, Chief Adekunle Alao, Mrs. Olabisi Salis and Dr. Ayo Olaoye.
The Akure meeting was convened by Governor Olusegun Mimiko. At the meeting were George, former Transport and Aviation Minister Chief Ebenezer Babatope and former presidential aide, Dr. Doyin Okupe.
However, Fayose, who was expected at Ijebu-Igbo, stormed the Akure meeting with a message of reconciliation. His presence, which came as a surprise, ultimately calmed the brewing tension.
But the Fayose/Kashamu camp had an edge. While it insisted on the zoning of the chairmanship to the North and support for Sheriff’s bid, the Akure communiqué was silent on the zoning formula, which initially triggered the zoning crisis which had engulfed the party for a month.
Kashamu said: “We will mobilise delegates from the Southwest to support Sheriff to continue in office, if he shows interest in contesting for the position at the May 21 national convention in Port-Harcourt.”
The Akure communiqué, signed by 28 leaders, including Mimiko, Fayose, George, Okupe and others, avoided the vexed issue of zoning, merely emphasising the challenges facing the Yoruba in the PDP.
In the spirit of reconciliation, the leaders resolved to set up a committee that will recommend the equitable distribution of party positions zoned to the region. The slots are the National Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, National Auditor and Zonal Executive Committee.
Read by former Minister of Sports Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, the communiqué reads: “That the time is ripe for all PDP members in the Southwest to forge a common front and pursue a common agenda towards occupying their destined leadership position in Nigeria.
“That despite the challenges confronting the PDP, the Southwest caucus has agreed to unite and confront the challenges that are facing the Yoruba in Nigeria.
“PDP members have agreed to rise beyond personal interests to confront crucial national issues affecting us, especially the thriving menace of the Fulani herdsmen.
“That the meeting notes with dismay the poor state of the national economy and feels terribly sad that the ruling party has not demonstrated the capacity to contain the economic challenges with attendant dwindling fortunes that has reversed almost all the economic gains recorded under the PDP.
“The Southwest PDP wishes to put on record our dissatisfaction with the performance of the electoral body under the ruling party as all the elections the APC has so far superintended have ended as inconclusive!
“That the PDP will not shy away from effectively playing the role of opposition. This role is crucial to democratic survival and the party shall continually make Nigerians look up to it as a credible alternative to the ruling party.
“That this meeting notes the party posts zoned to the Southwest viz: National Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, National Auditor and Zonal Executive Committee. To this end, a structured Committee was set up to equitably distribute the positions amongst the six member states.
“That we welcome former Governor Adewolu Rashidi Ladoja back to the fold of our party as evidenced by his representatives at this meeting.
“That we resolve therefore to fully back and work for the re-invigoration of the PDP.
“We the undersigned, on behalf of all PDP leaders of the South West fully subscribe to the above resolutions and recommendations today.”
Welcoming the chieftains, Mimiko warned PDP leaders not to use their ambitions to destroy the party in the Southwest.
The governor, who also called for unity among Yoruba leaders, urged his party leaders to be more concerned about the challenges facing the people in the region than fighting over party posts.
His words: “There are issues that are bigger than politics. The rates of attacks of herdsmen in this region call for concern and our people are watching the position that we will take whether our interest is in who becomes zonal publicity secretary or secretary in our party or we will unite to confront the monster in the Yoruba nation.
“Our people are enlightened whether you like it or not they are watching. They are taking notes and at the appropriate time they will pronounce judgment on us
“I think the mission for us in PDP now who incidentally today are not in the mainstream of politics in Nigeria which is new.
“If we don’t show enough concern about the issue affecting the people now, there is no way people will have confidence in us through their vote as 2019 is around the corner.
“Incidentally whether we like it or not, PDP is the alternative party in the country. If we mess it up, another party will come up. There is no doubt about it Nigerians are waiting. If we mess it up, a new party will emerge and become the darling of this country because this country is waiting”.
Mimiko said the minor scuffle between him and Fayose had been resolved, but his Ekiti State counterpart quickly said: “Mimiko and I have no scores to settle because the journalists here might turn the story upside down with screaming headline to sell their papers.
“Even if we have issues, there is nothing to reconcile. We have no issues. I and Iroko are one and the same.
“This party will not be hijacked by money bags, thugs. I won’t join anybody in the party to subvert the truth. Forget about messenger, but focus on the message. Nigeria is too big for an octogenarian. Even as a governor, I am finding it difficult.
“I won’t do anything that will compromise the success of the party. There is nothing wrong with the PDP but some individuals who are running the party. Mimiko and I want a united PDP.”
Chieftains at the meeting include Iyiola Omisore, Ondo Deputy Governor Lasisi Oluboyo, Senator Adesewe Ogunlewe, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Hon Mulikat Akande-Adeola, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan, Chief Segun Adegoke, Jimi Agbaje, Jide Adeniji, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, Dr. Saka Balogun, Clement Faboyede, Joju Dadairo and Akogun Bisi Jinadu.
Others were Bashi Awotorebo, Senator Adeseun Ayoade, Ojo Williams, Niyi Owolade Chief Folorunso Akintade, Gboyega Oguntuwase, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo, Eddy Olafeso, Tunji Shelle, Segun Sowore and Senator Remi Okunrinboye.
At Ijebu-Igbo, Ogundipe explained the zoning arrangement and the motivation for zoning the chairmanship to the North. He said: “As it is now the PDP is not strong in the North; we need someone who can energise and reposition the party ahead of 2019. Before 2019, the party will hold mid-term convention where the presidential candidate will emerge and then the position of national chairman will come to the west”
The zonal leader the said position of National Secretary zoned to the Southwest is very crucial because he controls the party secretariat. The members applauded the decision of the zoning committee.
Ogundipe said the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) recognised only one zonal committee in the Southwest which is headed by him. According to him, “the national headquarters of our party will recognise the report of the meeting we are holding here in Ijebu Igbo today.
Waving the olive branch, he said the decisions reached at Ijebu-Igbo and Akure will be harmonised by the zonal body.
The communiqué of the Ijebu-Igbo meeting reads: “That the PDP Southwest is one and indivisible family working for the actualisation of the dreams of the party as articulated in the vision of the founding fathers.
“That the PDP Southwest appreciates and supports the political doggedness of our national chairman Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as he strives hard to rebuild our great party.
“The meeting agreed that the Southwest as its presently operating is not playing and cannot play a second fiddle in view of what accrued to zone in the just concluded national zoning viz: National Secretary, National Auditor and National Publicity Secretary. To this end, the meeting enjoined every leader, youth and woman to support the party for a better share of the positions in the not too distant future.
“The meeting agreed that what played out against our party in Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo states during the last elections would not be allowed to repeat itself in future elections. To this end, members must renew their loyalty and support for the PDP. The meeting called on members to vigorously pursue those things that will unite the party rather than divide it.
Present at the meeting were, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, member of PDP Board of Trustees Yinka Taiwo, Oyo PDP Chairman Olu Ogunye, Ondo Chairman Gunju Adesakin, Chief Abiodun Aluko, former Ekiti Deputy Governor Ebenezer Alabi, former Ondo Chairman Kola Balogun, Senator C.K. Awoyelu; Chief J. Olabisi, Alhaja Atinuke Oyawoye; Mrs Grace Akinribide and Dr Ayo Olaoye.
They also include Chief Solo Ogunjoli, Chief Semiu Kukoyi, Chief Jide Damazio, Babatunde Gbadamosi, Ajibola Muraina, Segun Adekoya and Segun Odebunmi, former House of Representatives members Mrs Olabisi Salisi, Chief Oluwole Aina, Chief Adekunle Alao and Chief Lere Oyewunmi.