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Supreme Court judgment tears PDP apart

· As members engage in expulsion war · Expulsion by Sheriff faction laughable —South-West PDP

Few days after the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court appeared to have issued a red card to the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a decision that was affirmed by the Supreme Court on Thursday, a fresh wave of crisis has hit the South-West chapter of the party, as factions loyal to former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Sheriff have begun a war of attrition.

The Ogun and Osun states chapters of the party showed signs of the widening cracks in the party during the week as the two factions moved against each other, either suspending or outright expelling key figures of the party in the states, citing alleged anti-party activities.

The party had become enmeshed in crisis following the refusal of Sheriff to honour an alleged agreement to stay in office in an acting capacity for three months, after which the party was to hold a National Convention to elect new leaders, with the former Borno State governor engaging the party in a protracted legal tussle that appeared to have come to a head on Wednesday, following the decision the decision of the Court of Appeal on the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ondo State.

However, shortly after the judgment, which gave a leeway to the Makarfi faction of the party, the faction in Osun State under the chairmanship of Dr Bayo Faforiji,  expelled members of the Soji Adagunodo-led faction of the party in the state who were noted to have romanced with Sheriff in the thick of the crisis , accusing them of anti-party activities.

But in a twist to the plot, on Friday, the Adagunodo-led leadership of the party reacted by expelling Senator Iyiola Omisore, leader of the party and its governorship candidate in the 2014 election and members of his camp, accusing them also of anti-party activities.

A similar scenario played out in Ogun State, where the Mr Sikirulahi Ogundele-led faction loyal to Makarfi, on Thursday, announced the suspension of the senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Buruji Kashamu, the factional chairman of the party in the state, Mr Bayo Dayo and the party’s zonal secretary, Pegba Otemolu, among others, for alleged anti-party activities.

The Dayo-led faction also announced the expulsion of former governor, Chief Gbenga Daniel, Honourable Ladi Adebutu and Sikirulahi Ogundele and Mr Tolu Bankole, noting that the suspension of the Sheriff faction was unacceptable, ridiculous and an “affront on the constituted authority of the party in Ogun State.”

While addressing newsmen in Abeokuta, on Saturday, Dayo noted that the Ogundele-led executive had no power to suspend anyone, citing Section 57 sub-section 7 of the PDP constitution, which stated that no state executive committee had power to discipline any member.

Dayo accused Daniel, Adebutu and Ogundele of fraternising with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the last few weeks, saying: “What they are currently doing is to weaken the PDP and cause deep disaffection within it before moving again to their next preferred party. We shall no longer condone this gross misconduct and anti-party activities,” thereby declaring that:  “They are hereby expelled from the party and cease to be members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State and the entire federation,” the statement read.

 

Expulsion laughable

But the South-West leadership of the party, which appears to be firmly under the Makarfi group, has described the reaction of the Sheriff faction as laughable.

Responding to the expulsion of Omisore, the South-West Zonal secretary of the PDP loyal to the Makarfi faction, Reverend Bunmi Jenyo, said “it is laughable, ridiculous and completely absurd that former members of Osun State PDP, who had been expelled by Dr Bayo Faforiji-led exco for alleged anti-party activities, diminished to the level of blasphemy, in their meretricious characteristic antics.

“Instead of coming back home into PDP’s fold like biblical prodigal sons, the duo of Soji Adagunodo and Bola Ajao, today pronounced lawful leaders of the PDP suspended,” Jenyo said.

This singular act of indiscipline, vain ego and desperation, though negligible in every sense of the word, must not be taken with hands of levity to forestall continued impunity within the party.

In the first instance, it is impossible for anyone to give what he lacks. Non-members of PDP can be considered reckless, unthinking and recalcitrant to suspend legitimate members whose leadership roles, position and recognition knows no bounds in Osun and Nigerian politics,” Jenyo said.

 

‘No expulsion in Lagos, Oyo’

However, the Oyo and Lagos states chapters of the party have maintained that there were no plans to suspend or expel members, noting that the party would explore all avenues to ensure that peace reigned in the party ahead of the 2019 general election.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune on telephone, on Saturday, Senator Ayoade Adeseun maintained that there was no plan to suspend the recalcitrant members in Oyo State, saying: “Let me be honest with you, the PDP needs to rebuild. We have a party that has been challenged; the last general election didn’t favour us at all and we want to try and see what we can do about reaching some levels of amity. We want to see if we can find some common grounds among ourselves and see if we can do away with the disagreements of the past.”

“Where people are willing to be repentant and contrite, we can all work together, because everybody is looking for the very best way out of our quagmire, so to say. We are better off working together to face the challenge that the All Progressives Congress (APC) poses in our part of the country. So, rather than suspend or expel or do those kind of things, we will try and find ways of reorienting and rehabilitating people. You know that politics is a game of numbers; so we will ensure as much as possible to retain their membership and we will cooperate to build a strong party that can go to polls and win. But where we find individuals who are simply not willing to cooperate or work together with us, we can reevaluate,” he added.

Also speaking, the factional chairman of the Lagos State PDP, Mr Segun Adewale aka Aeroland, said he was not contemplating suspending any member of the party, noting that he “seeks to allow peace to thrive within the fold ahead of the 2019 general poll” and that what was important was to seek peace and unity among members.

According to him, the problem the party is currently facing was coming from those who had left the party in anger to join the ruling APC, but were now trying to come back to party to use it as platform for the 2019 election, because they had been sidelined in the APC.

Similarly, the spokesperson of the Lagos State PDP headed by Mr Moshood Salvador, Mr. Taofik Gani, said the party was not contemplating suspension or expulsion of any erring members in the immediate.

According to Gani, who noted that the reported suspension of PDP members in Ogun and Osun could be viewed at from a perspective of the peculiarity of circumstances in those states, where some members might have been caught in some misconduct and indiscipline, did not rule out the possibility of the party applying the PDP constitution to mete out punishment to members who deserved it if need be.

“However, giving the relationship among party members in Lagos State, we are not contemplating that (suspension) in the immediate. And that is not to say it might still not come up. For every misconduct, for every indiscipline, the constitution of the party is clear on the mode of punishment that can be meted out, but we are focused now to be further distracted.

“We will use all reasonable means to dish out minimum punishment on any erring member, if we must. We might not be contemplating the suspension and expulsion of any member at this time,” Gani said.