Crises rock APC, PDP in South West
The two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are enmeshed in internal crises in the South West.
The wars of attrition in the parties are threatening to tear them apart, even as the country prepares for another round of elections, starting with the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states in 2018.
The national leadership of both parties have agreed that there is no peace in their folds in the zone, but expressed confidence in their abilities to resolve all differences amicably.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, told Saturday Tribune that the national leadership of the party was on top of the situation.
He said decisions on state executive committees of the party in the South West would be made known in days and weeks to come.
“We are going to take decisions on these states. Some may be drastic, some may just be harmonisation. We will look at the peculiarity of each of the states. For instance, the two sides in Osun State worked together for the party’s success in the last senatorial by-election. We are building on that cooperation. We, however, appeal to all our members and leaders to remain calm,” he said.
Also speaking, the APC Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Segun Oni, said the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) was disturbed about crisis in the Lagos State chapter of the party, but assured that it would make its position known very soon.
The national legal adviser of the party, Muiz Banire has been involved in a cold war with certain leaders of the party in the state, led by its chairman, Henry Ajomale, over the management of the crisis arising from the primary conducted for aspirants contesting in today’s council polls in the state.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on phone, Oni assured the party faithful that the national secretariat of the party would soon wade into the crisis, adding, “We are going to talk about Lagos state at the next meeting of the national working committee.
“Until we talk about it as the NWC, I won’t be able to talk about it as a national officer of the party. But I can assure you, we are going to talk about it, comprehensively.”
Speaking on the crisis in the Ondo State chapter, the APC chieftain further said the South West zonal executive of the party has since put in place a trouble shooting team to address the crisis. He, however, dismissed insinuations that the Osun State chapter of the party is also crisis-ridden as he said, “On Ondo, there is a committee of the zone working on it. You talk about Osun, there is no crisis in Osun that I am aware of.”
In each of the states, the PDP has parallel leaderships contending for the control of the party, while the APC suffers from rebellions against its leadership across the six states.
From Lagos, through Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states, it is not without doubt that the internal schisms in the two political parties would go a long way in determining their fates in the coming elections.
Though the crisis bedeviling PDP appeared to have been resolved by the Supreme Court which, penultimate Wednesday, ruled against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and affirmed Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the national caretaker committee chairman of the party, the ripple effects of the judgment are reverberating in virtually all the states in the zone as the followers of the two factional leaders are still battling for the soul of the party.
Oyo APC, PDP not yet out of the woods
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on the issue of the crisis affecting the chances of the party in the 2019 elections, Senator Ayo Adeseun, a former federal lawmaker and chieftain of the party in Oyo State, dismissed such a possibility as he said, on Thursday, that whatever may be a crisis had been resolved by the judgment of the apex court, adding that the Makarfi-led faction had always been in the majority.
“There is no crisis at all in Oyo PDP. Some very powerful people are coming back to the party to change the equation. This powerful people are the rightful owners of Oyo PDP; they are simply coming back home.
“31.6 per cent of the electorate voted for Governor Abiola Ajimobi in the last election, while 68:4 per cent voted against him. The 68.4 per cent split among four political parties which are all offshoots of PDP. We would not have found ourselves in this mess if we had put our house in order. But we have learnt our lessons.
“Before the judgment by the Supreme Court, the PDP membership was ratio 85:15, with the Ahmed Makarfi having 85 per cent of the members while Ali Modu Sheriff had the remaining 15 per cent. Sheriff is an interloper who was mistakenly brought into the party to bring in fresh ideas, but he was effectively used against the party by the government of the day.
“The judgment was a good riddance to bad rubbish as Sheriff did not really belong in PDP, right from the onset. I am sure some of his followers will want to leave the party, while some others will want to stay because they don’t have anywhere else to go. They are in a dilemma, but we will be willing to accommodate them on our own terms. They cannot come back to PDP riding on a high horse.
“I can assure you that we will not have any crisis affecting PDP in Oyo State in the 2019 elections. Because of the state of the economy, people are looking for a credible alternative to APC and PDP is the only credible alternative. Nigeria cannot afford to be a one-party state, else democracy and the rights of the people will be the worst victims,” he said.
Speaking in a separate interview, the Administrative Secretary (a nomenclature created at the peak of the factional crisis) of the PDP in Oyo State, Honourable Asimiyu Alarape, said the party leadership must increase its membership drive and also create a conducive atmosphere for returning old members.
“As the name connotes, the PDP executive led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi is a national caretaker committee. Expectedly, the national convention of the party must be held to elect new officers who will run the affairs of the party to 2019 and beyond.
“It is expected, as informed by the 74th NEC meeting, held on Tuesday that some amendments will be made to the PDP Constitution, particularly that aspect that will promote internal democracy within the party.
“Again, having promoted internal democracy, it will go a long way to arrest the bickering within the party and among its members. Already, the convention had been slated for October. For Makarfi to do justice and ensure fairness, a decision had been taken to extend his tenure. The party must increase its mobilisation by recalling those that have left and willing to come back, as well as go on massive recruitment of more new members,” he said.
A chieftain of the APC in the state, Honourable Kazeem Adedeji, described internal schism as constituting a threat to the party’s victory in the 2019 elections. He was emphatic as he said the outcome of the elections would depend on the ability of the party leadership to keep with the tenets of democracy.
He added, “As long as we fail to promote the essentials of democracy, especially the internal norms, it would be difficult to retain our ruling party status in 2019. All eyes are on us. If anybody feels that he can impose, the consequence will be dire. People should be allowed to express their preference in a fair and transparent primary.
The spokesman of the state chapter of APC, Olawale Sadare, in a telephone interview with Saturday Tribune, acknowledged that there is crisis in the party, but noted that it is not a new development.
“It was a creation of some fifth columnists who feel that they can only benefit in an atmosphere of rancour,” he said.
He, however, said the party leadership in the state had moved many steps ahead of those he claimed are fomenting trouble in the party, adding, “We have a potent crisis-management mechanism in Oyo APC. Whatever crisis recorded will not affect our chances in 2019 because this is not the first time we will be having such.
“We had crises in 2011 and 2015 and they were all resolved. The leadership of the party in the state is well aware of the agitations and they are working round the clock to ensure that everything is attended to.
“In any political setting, you cannot have a crisis-free environment. Crisis is part of politicking. When you have limited resources and huge vested interests, you have to manage the resources to accommodate all interests.
“By and large, Oyo APC remains one indivisible entity and that is why we are still having several major political players from other camps joining the party. APC remains the party to beat in the 2019 elections, notwithstanding the impediments,” he said.
Lagos APC, PDP far from being crisis-free
The Lagos State chapter of APC, which is currently enmeshed in crisis as it goes out today for the local government poll, has dismissed the insinuation that some of the intrigues and undercurrents going on within the party have anything to do with 2019.
Deputy Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr Abiodun Salami, said attaching such occurrences to 2019 is a mere assumption, asking, “Who knows who will live till 2019?” The party chieftain said what some people within the fold are trying to do was to pursue their interests.
Salami also stated that Lagos APC has nothing to fear or worry about in respect of the 2019 elections, declaring, “So, the party has no problem, it has nothing to fear in 2019.”
But the PDP, which is yet to put its house in order in the state following the Supreme Court judgment that gave the national chairmanship of the party to Senator Ahmed Makarfi, sees the current crisis as having a direct link to the 2019 general election.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune, Publicity Secretary of the Moshood Salvador-led exco of the party in the state, Mr Taofik Gani, said, “Sure, it is about 2019, that is true. Every politician goes for the immediate and long-term benefits of mobilisation of political intrigues. Now, in this present time, especially that the general election of 2019 is very close, there is no doubt that this over-heating of polity is because of 2019.
“Every strategy in the case of Nigeria would see the four years as four months; some would see it as four weeks. In other words, we have started planning from the first day of declaration of results. The four years is even too short for them.
“That is why, if it is possible, there should be a sort of amendment to the Electoral Act or the constitution that would insulate government from politics so that it can concentrate. It is not going to kill opposition; it is going allow government to concentrate on governance.
“For instance, we can have strict rule that anything that is obviously political should not happen until mid-term. So, the National Assembly should look into it; there should be a way of making sure that non-politicians, ordinary Nigerians enjoy smooth governance for, at least, two years.”
Chief Segun Adewale (aka Aeroland), chairman of the Senator Sheriff group in Lagos, also admitted that the crisis within the fold has to do with 2019, even as he accused the Salvador leadership, which enjoys the support of former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George, of working for APC ahead of the next general election.
“That is it! It is about 2019, it is all about positioning for Bode George to bring and install his own people. I defeated his candidate, Moshood Salvador, in 2015. I might not even contest in 2019. I am saying this if the same impunity continues. I won the congress of the party to become chairman of PDP in Lagos and was handed a letter by Senator Sheriff.
“Why did Salvador not bring the letter from Makarfi? They are enemies of PDP, while I am in PDP all through. They will only work for APC. PDP in Lagos has been the only one that has not produced governor throughout the whole of Nigeria. Why should we allow that to continue?” he asked.
Not yet uhuru for APC, PDP in Ekiti
As the PDP in Ekiti State is still basking in the ambience of the outcome of its matter at the Supreme Court, the party still has an angle of the leadership tussle to deal with. That is the issue of those now seen by some of the members of the party as “the losers” in the Makarfi/Sheriff factional battle.
Nigerians were entertained for many months with the war in the PDP between its members who wanted Senator Sheriff as their national chairman and those who see Senator Makarfi as the rightful chairman. Following the resolution of the dispute by the Supreme Court, last week, the Sheriff camp is said to be in a dilemma.
Long before the highest law court in the land resolved the PDP leadership tussle in favour of Makarfi, the two divides in the party had made statements and displayed attitudes that made observers of the quagmire to conclude that they might not work together as partners afterwards, especially in the coming dispensation.
This contention was even more pronounced in Ekiti State where the Governor Ayodele Fayose, who is also the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, holds sway. Fayose had been about the most vociferous critic of Sheriff’s leadership in the party and had, on several occasions, described him as an impostor working to kill the PDP.
The contention of many in the state is that all the members of the party in the state, who are of the Sheriff stock, would face ostracism following the judgment. For instance, the leadership of the Sheriff faction, after decrying the Supreme Court judgment, said it was clear that it could not operate in the same party together with Fayose, considering his utterances and actions since the beginning of the crisis.
The Sheriff faction even got a favourable judgment at the High Court which had declared that its members were the legally constituted executive of the party in the state. On the strength of that judgment, the Sheriff faction had opened a huge secretariat at the Mojere Market area of Ado Ekiti, the state capital. The faction had also begun to make its voice heard in and outside the state, with the intent of finally taking over the party in the state.
The judgment by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, was however challenged by the Makarfi faction, led by Gboyega Oguntuwase. And the matter is still pending before the Supreme Court determination of the national leadership.
The judgment by the apex court, some observers said, has thrown the hope of the Sheriff faction into jeopardy, but members of the faction themselves are not sure of what will happen.
A member of the executive of the Sheriff group in the state, who chose not to be named, said they were still not particularly sure what would happen to their case at the Court of Appeal, as he declared “We don›t know.”
He said: “There are some opinions that we should abandon the matter because of the injustice at the Supreme Court. That›s one school of thought. Another school of thought says we should pursue it to a logical conclusion. But since Senator Buruji Kashamu is the sponsor and financier of our group in the state, I don›t see him continuing in the matter.”
Thus, from the submissions of the various members of the party in the Sheriff faction and the disposition of Fayose towards them, it is clear that there would be a schism along the Makarfi/Sheriff line in Ekiti PDP, even as many others also said they could move en masse to APDA, which was described as “the new abode for the Sheriff faction of PDP in the state.»
But the same cannot be immediately said of the opposition APC in the state. The party is currently scheming to regain power in the state and there is no sign that all is not well with the party. The multiplicity of aspirants in APC, according to the stalwarts, is a sign that the party was «a strong and veritable platform.»
The acting chairman of the party in the state, Mrs Kemi Olaleye, however, decried the extent of name-calling in the party and lamented that members should rather focus their attention on Fayose whom, she said, is their «common enemy.» Speaking when a former governor of the state, Chief Segun Oni, recently came to the party secretariat to formally submit a letter of intent to run for the governorship, she said the personality attacks among aspirants was not healthy for the party.
“APC has about 104 platforms owned by different aspirants and I have been monitoring events closely. Segun Oni has been under attacks since he planned to declare his intention for the governorship slot.
“Let our people desist from this. Governor Fayose should be seen as our common enemy. With the crowd we are seeing today, Fayose will be rattled. So, don’t care about the hate campaign. It wasn’t out of hatred, but some supporters were out to market their principals,” Olaleye said.
However, it is believed in some quarters in the state that the Ekiti South agenda is also a source of worry for the former ruling party in the state as they move towards the election.
Factional crisis lingers in Ondo APC, PDP
The two major parties in Ondo State, the ruling APC and the PDP are still deeply engulfed by crises which emanated from the pre and post-governorship primary.
Some members of the PDP pitched their tent with the Ali Modu Sheriff camp before the last governorship election in the state, before the Supreme Court eventually upheld the candidature of the party’s candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, against Jimoh Ibrahim who was the arrowhead of the Sheriff camp.
Also, the crisis in the APC came to the fore during the tussle for the ticket of the party for the election. The emergence of the eventual winner of the election, Rotimi Akeredolu, still remains a subject of litigation, even as some APC members decided to work against his aspiration.
Apart from the tussle over the governorship ticket, some members who are loyal to the removed chairman of the party, Honourable Isaac Kekemeke, are sitting on the fence, while several others, who were alleged to have worked against the party’s interest, are finding it difficult to find their way back into the party.
The acting Ondo APC chairman, Ade Adetimehin, said the party would be ready to welcome those who work against the interest of the party back if they show interest to rejoin the party.
“We are ready to reabsorb those who left the party to work for another party during the last governorship election. They have ceased to be members of the party and they must defect into the party officially. They must show interest in returning to the party and I can assure you that they will be accepted back in the party,” he said.
However, the former chairman, Kekemeke, maintained that he remained a member and chairman of the party in the state, saying plans were underway to reabsorb those who left the party in the wake of the governorship election.
“I am going to redirect the party and make sure that it gets back its vibrancy. So, I am appealing to all of those members who left the party in protest or anger to return to the party.
“We are also appealing to many people in the party who have been sidelined and alienated to come back to fully participate in the activities of the party in their units, wards, local governments and at the state level.
“This is because the victory that we had at the last election was through hard work and early planning and for us to win again, we must work harder,” he said.
However, the PDP in the state seems to be closing ranks, with last week’s Supreme Court judgment. While some members were said to be heading to another party, the PDP National Vice Chairman (South West), Dr Eddy Olafeso, said the party would soon come together as one in the state.
“Definitely, they are our brothers; it is a constitutional issue and it has been resolved. Nobody is an enemy to another. But we must let them know that in this game, there are rules. They must take to the rule and abide by it. If they can abide by it, then, they can come back.
“Politics is a game of numbers. Whoever participated in the party’s crisis must be made to know that what they did have put the party backwards. We expect these people to be more disciplined, to be holistic in their approach and to have the interest of the generality of the people at heart.
“What has brought PDP to its sorry state is that everybody wanted something for himself. They killed the internal democratic process of PDP with their selfish interest. Suddenly, they took advantage of the judicial system and created a lot of havoc in the system.
“We are going to look at our disciplinary process and anybody that will play a role in the future of our party must be able to comply with our rules,” he added.
Internal wars get messier in Osun APC, PDP
With less than a year to the conduct of the 2018 governorship election in Osun State, the two major political parties, namely the APC and the PDP, are still enmeshed in internal crises, investigations have revealed.
Though the polarisation of the PDP into two factions, headed by Honourable Soji Adagunodo and Dr Bayo Faforiji, had been a major issue, the seeming closing of ranks and fence-mending achieved shortly before the July 8 by-election for Osun West Senatorial District appears to have collapsed. While Faforiji’s faction aligned with Senator Makarfi, Adagunodo’s group belonged to the Senator Sheriff faction at the national level.
However, regardless of the Supreme Court judgment, which affirmed Makarfi as the authentic national chairman of the PDP in the state, both Faforiji and Adagunodo are still laying claims to the chairmanship position, a development which has reignited another round of rivalry over the control of the party’s structure.
Speaking on the cause of the crisis, the PDP Legal Adviser in the South West, Chief Ojo Williams, who is also a chieftain of the party in the state, recalled that “the problem in Osun PDP started from the way the last party congresses in the state were handled by the national secretariat under Professor Wale Oladipo, who was the national secretary at that time and who happened to be an indigene of Osun.
“Oladipo and the outgone chairman in the state, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa, decided to ostracise a whole group within the party and conducted a one-sided congress. They did this jointly, by depriving the other side aspirants of forms for the contest in March 2016. The other group did a parallel congress, resulting in two parallel executives. Every other thing apart from this submission is pure gain-saying,” he said.
On the way out of the crisis, Williams, who belongs to Faforiji’s faction stated that “if a man stumbles, he looks back to where he tripped. There is no way any of the factions can go it alone. I canvass unification of both groups as we did because of the election of Senator Ademola Adeleke”.
But one of the chieftains in Adagunodo’s faction, Honourable Bamidele Salam, maintained that “there is no confusion about the leadership of the PDP in Osun State”, adding that, “those people who may want to create confusion are people who are ignorant of the guidelines of the party and also blinded by sheer ambition.
“The PDP constitution stipulates that a congress must be conducted from the ward and local government levels to the state level before party leaders can emerge. The party members in Osun, last year February, elected Soji Adagunodo as the state chairman during a congress held at the Osogbo Township Stadium. The congress was witnessed by INEC, DSS, police and the media. No other congress was held in Osun PDP.
“The leadership problem at the national level of the PDP started long after the emergence of Adagunodo as the state chairman of the PDP. So, the issue of Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi is immaterial to the Osun issue. The NEC of the PDP listed five states where the PDP congresses had some knotty issues. Osun was not among.”
While the confusion in the PDP over the emergence of two chairmen persists, the ruling party, APC, which has only one chairman, in person of Mr Gboyega Famoodun, is fast losing grip on some of its members, who alleged that the party lacks internal democracy and is reeling under the grips of the governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola.
One of the APC stalwarts, who pleaded anonymity, told Saturday Tribune that “the chairman we have in Osun APC is a figure-head. The problem with the APC is that we are running the party and the government together. It is a one-man show and the governor is the all-in-all. We have a moribund party where the so-called party elders have no say and cannot hold contrary views against the governor’s dictatorship style”.
But he argued that “the only way through which the party can wriggle out of the problem is for Governor Aregbesola and his sycophants to toe the path of peace. The governor should come down from his Olympian height and respect the wish and interest of the party members”.
Reacting to Saturday Tribune’s inquiry about the seeming disunity in Osun APC, its Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Kunle Oyatomi said “forget about political tantrum and shenanigan. Osun is very lucky to have been blessed with Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola as its governor.
“There is no crisis in the APC. Some members are unhappy because they erroneously believe that they are being hit too hard by the economic hardship as a result of what the state government is doing or not doing. Now hear this: We have said it for the umpteenth time that Aregbesola by his makeup is a people-oriented person. He can’t afford to hurt the people of Osun. They simply misunderstood him which was why they took irrational decision when they voted PDP,” he said.
APC, PDP still factionalised in Ogun
The PDP in Ogun State, since 2011, has been enmeshed in leadership crisis which split the party into different splinter groups.
The Ogun PDP executive, led by Dayo Adebayo, is loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu, while the Honourable Sikirullahi Ogundele faction has the support of former Governor Gbenga Daniel and the lawmaker representing Sagamu/Ikenne/Remo North Federal Constituency, Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune, the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Adeniji, however, said, with the latest development in the party which is the judiciary’s resolution of the issue of leadership, a genuine reconciliation committee would bring an end to the crisis rocking the party.
“Now that the Supreme Court has delivered judgment as regards the national leadership, it behooves the national body to allow status quo to remain in all the 31 states that had their congresses before the first convention. This will be the starting point for reconciliation. The PDP National Caretaker Committee should put in place modalities to organise an all-encompassing convention which will bring about a new leadership,” he said.
However, the recognised chairman of the party, Sikirulahi Ogundele, insisted that there are no factions in the party any longer, declaring that the judgment on the PDP national leadership crisis, delivered in favour of the Markafi-led caretaker committee, had automatically put an end to divisions within the party.
“The outcome of the judgment has nailed the issue of faction A or B in our party in Ogun State. With this development, our party has a brighter chance in the 2019 elections. We are going to bring all aggrieved members under the same umbrella and this reconciliation effort has started.
“We have been working on the aggrieved members. We have set up a reconciliation committee to bring back our members together under same umbrella. We shall begin to see changes in the next few weeks,” he said.
It is the same scenario within the ruling APC which has one state exco under the control of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and a faction loyal to a former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
When contacted, a member of APC loyal to the Osoba camp said he could not speak with Saturday Tribune unless he got the permission of the former governor who he said had just returned from a foreign trip.
However, when contacted on telephone, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Sola Lawal, said there were no Amosun and Osoba camps in the party.
“Our party is not divided in Ogun. We don’t have a parallel executive and there is no division among us. There are loyalists to aspirants, but that does not mean there are factions in the party.
“There is no Osoba group. APC in Ogun State is one. Chief Olusegun Osoba is a leader of the party. Who constitute the Osoba faction? The question of factionalisation affecting our party in the 2019 general election does not arise. Our party is strong and united,” he added.