THE contest for the chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West saw Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja emerging as the winner with 343 votes.
His co-contester, Dr Eddy Olafeso, polled 330 votes. A total of 684 accredited votes had 10 voided, with 674 votes cast at the WOCDIF Event Centre, Osogbo, Osun State, venue of the zonal congress.
Speaking after the declaration of the result, Olafeso appreciated those who conducted the exercise and agitated for the progress of the party through mutual cooperation of all members.
He thanked all those that voted for him and promised to work with Arapaja to make the party more virile.
“The storm is over, there is a new beginning for our party. We have to thank God almighty that despite odds, there is a new beginning for our party. The time is now. I thank everybody who supported me,” he said.
In his victory speech, Arapaja appreciated all for rallying round him during the exercise and specifically appreciated the former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State who, he said, stood solidly behind him.
The new zonal chairman also appreciated former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, for his maturity in handling things.
Earlier, it was indeed an anti-climax to the protracted power struggle in the SouthWest PDP as the major power brokers agreed to accept the results of the zonal congress held in Osogbo. Fayose, who had been at loggerheads with Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, dramatically acknowledged the latter as the leader of the party in the zone.
Both PDP chieftains also embraced to the admiration of delegates to the congress and resolved to bury the hatchet by accepting the results of the election of new zonal executive members.
Fayose, in his remarks before the commencement of the programme, affirmed that: “Seyi Makinde is my leader, He is our leader and remains our leader. Enemies should not come in between us because we are one.
“The burning issue in PDP is circumstantial. Who is our leader? Seyi Makinde is our leader. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is our leader. Segun Oni is our leader and whatever the outcome of the elections may be, I will accept it in a good manner.
“If I have offended anybody in the party, I beg for forgiveness and whosoever might have offended me, I have forgiven them also. If Arapaja wins the election, I will be the first person to go to him and congratulate him on his victory. Though he had tongue-lashed me time without numbers but despite that, I will still rejoice and wine with him if he wins. “We are one family and our unity should be paramount in our minds,” he submitted.
In his remark, Governor Makinde described the exercise as a family affair and charged all party members to take the outcome of the election without causing problems.
Makinde said: “We are to reposition the party and whatever the outcome, it will be taken as family affairs. At the end of the exercise, there will be no victor, no loser and whoever wins will have my support and will work in togetherness with him. Whoever wins is my man. Whatever the outcome is, we will take it in the spirit of a family contest. We don’t want to defeat ourselves, we want to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
Benson Abounu, deputy governor of Benue State, who represented Governor Samuel Orton as the congress chairman, first dissolved the caretaker committee members in place to kickstart the business of the day.
A total of 42 aspirants were cleared by the PDP screening committee on Sunday to contest the various positions in the zone.
According to the list released by the PDP national organising secretary, Colonel Austin Akobundu (retd.), while Oyo State has 171 delegates, Osun has130, Lagos, 101; Ogun, 112; Ondo, 114 and Ekiti 115.
Congress committee disqualifies youth leader contestant over age
The electoral committee for the congress affirmed the disqualification of Taiwo Adetola, a contestant as the South-West zonal youth leader, for being 49 years of age.
Abounu, who gave report of its appeal panel, maintained that Adetola was disqualified because he possessed an age above the PDP constitutional provision for youth leader, which is between 18 and 40 years.
The disqualification of Adetola left Bamidele Seyi Abiola as only candidate for the youth leader position.
I presented my driver’s licence before being allowed into venue – Makinde
Governor Makinde said he had to present his driver’s licence before being allowed into the venue of the congress. Makinde made the disclosure while addressing newsmen on his arrival at the venue of the congress.
“Before I was allowed to enter into the venue, I had to show them my driver’s licence,” the governor said, adding: “We know quite sure that there must be ghost voters here.”
According to Makinde, getting it right at the zonal level will assist the party to perform well at the national level.
Arapaja, Olafeso express optimism
Earlier, candidates for the zonal chairmanship, Arapaja and Olafeso, had both expressed assurance of victory.
While Arapaja hinged his optimism on support from the people, Olafeso banked his victory on his track record of performance in the last four years.
The two were, however, united in their belief that God was on their side to guarantee their victory.
They also expressed confidence in the electoral process which they described as fair. On his mission, Arapaja said his major task is to unite all the factions of the party spread across all states of the South-West.
Arapaja added: “My first priority is that all the chapters of the PDP in the South-West are sharply divided so we have to bring ourselves together. We have to be one big together. If we don’t work together, we can’t achieve anything.
“In 2003, we were controlling five states; today, we have only one state. There are so many factions of PDP which we need to bring together. So, we must speak with one voice. It’s not about being the chairman of the party but what I’m able to achieve.”
Olafeso, on his part, said: “This is PDP and competing with one another is one of the cornerstones of democracy. It shouldn’t be an issue for us to vote for and for others to participate. I am excited that this is happening and I pray that as it is starting very well, it will end very well too.
“Our thinking is that our constitution does not recognise people stamping their ballot papers. Democracy is a free choice and nobody should be induced in making a choice. I am excited this is happening because I have a track record of performance. I have done this in the last four years and have a lot of things to show for it across the zone and, if given the opportunity, we will do better in the next four years.”
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