Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State took a new dimension on Saturday as two chairmen emerged at the state congress held by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
While former Commissioner for Environment, Bisi Kolawole, emerged from a group loyal to former Governors Ayodele Fayose and Segun Oni, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Kehinde Odebunmi, was elected from the group loyal to Senator Biodun Olujimi.
Fayose and Olujimi had been enmeshed in a conflict, with the two clashing over the control of the party’s structures in the state .
However, after several years of political enmity, Fayose and Oni had used the congress to reunite, with the understanding that they work hard to ensure victory for the PDP in the 2022 governorship election.
Speaking pointedly, former Governor Fayose declared that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be defeated easily in Ekiti with unity and discipline among members of the PDP.
Fayose emphasised that loyalty remains the best ingredient of the party in order to be able to triumph over the Governor Kayode Fqyemi-led APC, arguing that the Ekiti people have serious resentment for the ruling party.
Also speaking, Oni appealed to the party to eschew internal wranglings, promising that he would work with Fayose and other like-minds to get rid of APC dominance in the state.
Speaking at the factional congress held at Petim Hotel, Ado-Ekiti, Fayose warned party members against indiscipline and disloyalty, remarking that the ‘PDP was robbed in 2018, but 2022 is another day.
‘Let me tell our members that loyalty pays over time. Let us continue to be loyal. All delegates, we welcome and salute you.You could all see all that are set here for this congress. There is no crack in Ekiti PDP. I would have been surprised if Engr Segun Oni has not been here today.
‘Let us found this party on discipline and truth. If we vote for you at the ward, council or state level and you misbehave, we will remove you .We have to be disciplined, facing an incumbent needs discipline, whoever wants to go is free to do so.
‘Those with party positions, please, respect your leaders, because it will not be business as usual. We are prepared to support the new Exco for them to succeed. I am not looking for Senate or anything, but I am standing for the PDP in order not to destroy it. If you are elected, please, be responsible and respectful to leaders.’
On his new found harmony with Oni, Fayose stated: ‘I welcome Engr Oni to Ekiti PDP. I knew APC will fail him when he left. I congratulate him for becoming born again today. Whoever comes back, you are welcome.
‘APC operates secretly, PDP is the only democratic party. All that defected to APC in 2018 we regret their actions. But we are waiting for all of them. APC is losing their members on daily basis, because people don’t like them. We are even ready to work with the aggrieved in PDP. Today, delegate will stand and there are no escape routes for anybody. Segun Oni is here, because he knew this is where Ekiti PDP is.
‘I have touched those I could, Oni touched those he could, so the ball is in your court to be loyal. We are going to be equitable to all members.’
Tacitly referring to his conflict with Olujimi, Fayose said: ‘5,000 Senators or the House Of Representatives cannot stand any governor or former governor. There must be respect for each other.’
Oni, addressing the crowd, said he felt elated to return to the PDP and realign with those he had worked with in the past and those he could trust when it comes to party politics.
‘There are people that had been lost and we are back. I thank the leader, Mr Ayodele Fayose and other leaders. This party belongs to Nigerians and ready to take its rightful place. We must encourage everybody to be here. We are starting our winning from Ekiti, very soon we will get good news from Edo and Ondo and we will sweep across Nigeria. We will be able to bring the best of development and not talk that we are having now.’
But presenting his acceptance speech at the parallel congress held at Lotus Hotel in Ado-Ekiti, Odebunmi, who was backed by Olujimi, former Deputy Governor, Sikiru Lawal and others, said the task of repositioning Ekiti PDP has begun with his emergence.
Odebunmi lambasted Fayose for trying to forcefully take over the party’s structures in flagrant violation of the existing statute and extant laws guiding the PDP.
On the boast by Fayose that he remains the leader and authentic leader of PDP, Odebunmi said: ‘I don’t have any serious thing to say about that. It is the majority that owns the party, not Fayose. Before you can hold a valid congress, INEC must be there. INEC was not present at the ward and local government congresses conducted by Fayose.
‘Fayose is free to grand stand, but the final arbiter is the court of law and it will adjudicate on this crisis and tell us which faction is authentic.’