From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde, has cautioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against postponing the South West zonal congress that has been fixed for March 6, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The governor also tasked the NWC to call the party’s National Legal Adviser to order, based on the role he is playing in the alleged plan to postpone the zonal congress in the South West, when other five geo-political zones would be holding their congresses simultaneously.
Makinde who addressed journalists at Government House, Oke Oyinbo, Agodi, Ibadan, yesterday, said it was imperative to call the National Legal Adviser to order in order not to derail the party from producing the president for Nigeria in 2023.
The South West caucus of the party had met in Ibadan on Tuesday, where Makinde nominated former deputy governor of Oyo State and former Ambassador to Jordan, Taofeek Arapaja, for the position of National Vice Chairman (South West) ahead of the March 6 zonal congress. The faction of the party under the leadership of former Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose, also nominated Dr. Eddy Olafeso for the same office.
Makinde said: “Yesterday (Wednesday), I heard of a disturbing news that our National Working Committee is planning to postpone the South West zonal congress because some people went to court to complain about the location for the conduct of the congress.
“Well, there are three things coming out of the court move. One, PDP has moved from allowing within its fold, reactionary elements to hold the sway. Yes, maybe it was possible in the past for the elements within the PDP to collude with NWC to file cases where they, the plaintiffs are the defendants, and they also tried to corrupt the judicial system in Nigeria. That will never be allowed again because this is a PDP that is getting ready to take the mantle of leadership in this country, and we are ready to provide the leadership that is above board for the country. And we cannot be seen within PDP to do something that will compromise any aspect of governance in Nigeria.”
Reacting to the likelihood of the party holding parallel congresses on March 6, with one holding in Ibadan and another in Lagos, Makinde said: “I am the only serving PDP governor in South West and I am very interested in the growth of our party. We don’t foresee a parallel congress because as someone once said to me, ‘if you see a rat staying out there and abusing the cat, there must be something behind him, maybe he has a hole to quickly run into’ and this is why we are putting the National Working Committee of the party on notice that they must do what is right in this instance, and I believe they will do what is right.”
He said he had put on notice the fact that the National Legal Adviser of PDP has not done well. “When the issue of party structure in Lagos came up, I met him personally and I advised him that we have alternative dispute resolution mechanism in this country, especially if it is PDP to another PDP, he should explore alternative dispute resolution mechanism. He said we are going to defeat them in court. So, if you defeat them in court, what exactly are you going to get out of it?
“Now, they have started the same antics with the South West zonal congress. How can you file a case and then you instruct the legal representation for the plaintiff and also for the defendant. I don’t think that is acceptable. We expect the National Working Committee of the party to deal with that decisively. We are ready in the South West PDP to have a congress that will produce the zonal executives that is acceptable to the majority of the people of South West Nigeria.”
Makinde also answered question on the people that have been attacking his personality and challenging his South West leadership of the PDP, including ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, saying: “I do not really have anything to say about people because small minds can actually talk about events, average minds talk about people. We want to talk about issues. So, if there are issues, we will address them. When individuals decide to go low, we won’t follow them to that dirt. If there are issues, the alternative dispute resolution mechanism exists within the PDP, and that is being explored right now.
“I am occupying a very sensitive position. First, as the only PDP governor in the South West. Two, as somebody that is in the leadership position within our party. We will explore all avenues that are legitimate to get everyone to do what is right for our party, including the National Working Committee of the party. This is exactly what we are going to do.
“If the National Working Committee has decided to postpone the zonal congress, for a reason that is acceptable to everybody, then, we will work with them. But if they are towing the path of ‘arrangee’, apology to Fela, I think Nigeria has moved beyond that, and that would mean they are taking PDP back to an era that we should have forgotten about in this country. Even, if they do, there are some of us in that party, that we are bent on taking the party to take its rightful position and to get the party ready for the leadership of the country. We will fight those reactionary elements until they are defeated within the party.”