Curious letter throws up Osun PDP again

Months after the unification rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West in Oyo State, that attracted party buffs across the six states, an easy calm now pervades the Osun State chapter of the party, writes KUNLE ODEREMI

IT did not come as a surprise to the most discerning that the bubble could sooner burst in the Osun State chapter of the PDP. Events in the past few months evidently indicated an impending implosion. The muscle flexing among two camps with diametrically opposed direction remained, in spite of desperate efforts by the leaders to patch all loose ends. This was also despite the unity rally midwifed by the governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde in the South-West PDP a couple of months ago in Ibadan, the state capital. In fact, some of the leaders from Osun State chapter had confided in our reporter shortly after the rally that the mutual suspicion and distrust within the party in the state subsisted.

There are varying reasons concerning the crux of the matter with many of them based on narrow political interest and subservience. The real issue at stake are perceived political hegemony, money politics, greed, arrogance and the governorship ticket of the PDP for the 2022 election. These issues have pitched the main leaders of the PDP in the state against some hawks, with the backing of a few national and zonal officers of the party. A letter purportedly from the PDP national secretary, Senator Umaru Tsauri, became the catalyst that escalated the burgeoning crisis, which is between PDP faithful loyal to Soji Adangunodo, the state chairman and those believed to owe allegiance to the Adeleke political dynasty.

Beginning from last Friday, allegations of discrepancies between the signature of the national secretary and the one in the said letter sparked a fury among members of the party BoT from the state in the midst of euphoria in the Adeleke group. There is an allegation of forgery doing the rounds over the said letter. There is also the weighty insinuation that some zonal officers of the party were induced to influence the writing of the letter by the PDP headquarters after one of the national officers with the mandate for correspondence declined. The other allegation about a supposed attempt by some elements to rubbish the report of an earlier fact-finding panel set up by the PDP headquarters to look into issues concerning the running of the Osun PDP. The panel was said to have given a clean bill of health to the embattled Adagunodo over allegations of misappropriation, high-handedness and anti,-party activities. But the report of the committee is still a subject of controversy.

Forces that favour the retention of status quo ante claimed that the controversial letter is a ploy by the loyalists of the governorship candidate of the party in 2018, Demola Adeleke, to hijack the machinery of the party. The forces said they are opposed to internal democracy and a transparent process that will determine the standard-bearer of the PDP for the 2022 governorship contest. It should be recalled that a litany of internal contradictions, intrigues and superiority contests denied the party the opportunity to bounce back to power in 2014 and 2018, even though it has consistently proved as an alternate power in the politics of Osun State. Part of the disputed letter reads: “You would recall that sometime ago, a committee was set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) of our party to look into complaints of malfeasance, mal-administration, and anti-party activities levelled against you and your colleagues and other stakeholders of the party in your state. The NWC has received and reviewed the report of the committee and is satisfied that that there are merits in the complaints found by the committee.”

Adagunodo was stunned by the supposed letter asking him to step aside, with the deputy state chairman acting as chairman to avoid vacuum. Hours after he called for calm from party members while the leaders tried to sort out the issue, Adagunodo declared that the status quo ante subsisted with him as the de facto PDP chairmen in Osun State. In a statement he personally signed, Adagunodo stated: “My dear party members, leaders and the general public, I find it necessary to write you again on my purported stepping aside from the office of PDP State Chairman and state that, as at the time of this release I have not received any official letter from the National Headquarters of the Party, I only read it on the social media as you all did.” Adagunodo denied knowledge about petition written against him by some of his colleagues, adding: “I also want you to know that I am not aware of any such petition. I wish to let you know that I have responded to the only petition which I was served with and the fact finding panel that came to investigate the matter found my defense useful.” Consequently, he advised the party faithful to discountenance the letter.

Adagunodo received the backing of a group of party members, under the aegis of the Osun PDP Interest Group, in his standoff against his perceived traducers, who were accused of tactically working to put the the ruling APC in the state in good stead for the election in the state. The group queried: “The hidden secret as we suspect is now gradually coming to the open and we are suspecting that some unscrupulous elements within the party leaders at the national secretariat have gone into a pact with some Osun APC bigwigs to return Governor Gboyega Oyetola back to power in the gubernatorial contest in 2022 by fielding a weak candidate whose defeat will not give them much pressure. Rather than support and uplift the state chapter of our party in Osun State to stand the chance of wrestling power from the ruling party in 2022 through ballots, these callous elements have abandoned the state chapter, starved it of funds in all past elections with the sole aim of ensuring that we fail…However, it is unfortunate that these desperate and very few high ranking members of the PDP National Working Committee who are supposed to uphold their oaths of office and oath of allegiance have chosen to punish our leaders for reasons best known to them.” They equally alleged a ploy to deny Adagunodo the opportunity to lead the PDP Osun State “delegation to the forthcoming South-West congress just to ensure that they will be able to manipulate the delegates’ list for the congress.

But, the contents of the letter, especially that Adagunodo step aside and prepare to face a dicslplinary committee of the PDP thrilled some quarters in the party in the state. For example, some of them under the platform of Osun PDP Rebuilders Forum with Elder Adesina Adeyemo as chairman, claimed they had been vindicated in their battle against the embattled state chairman. They welcomed the said directive as contained in the letter that the deputy state chairman of the PDP, Honourable Sunday Akanfe Atidade, take over in an acting capacity as chairman.

Sources said many of the leaders have been bombarded by telephone calls since news about the letter went viral. It was learnt that the leaders have been weigh other options that could be applied before the problems gets out of hand. One of the options was for the elders and other major stakeholders of the PDP from Osun State to counter the letter with a strongly worded press statement with the aim of setting the record straight. One of the leaders confided in our correspondent that he had phoned the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus to register the anger of the party leaders on the letter and theentire contents.

In 2014 and 2018, the party moved close to regaining power after the exit of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola through a court process. The party battled more serious challenges in the buildup to the governorship poll held in the state about two years ago. A number of PDP stalwarts defected to rival political parties because of irreconcilable differences. Some of them included a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, former deputy governor of the state, a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adejare Bello, to name just three.

Apparently, the import of the fresh crisis triggered by the NWC letter in the Osun PDP resonates among members of the party. While some are hoping that the leaders would have learnt from the past, others are afraid if those main gladiators that threw spanner in the works in the recent past have not gone back to the trenches. In the meantime, the crisis is ultimately about power, ego, money and individual ambition ahead of the 2022 election in the state.

 

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