Ayo Fadaka is the zonal publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West. He speaks with HAKEEM GBADAMOSI on the crisis rocking the party in Osun State. Excerpts:
AS a member of the zonal executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in South-West, what exactly can you point to as the real issue behind the crisis in Osun PDP?
Please permit me to say that we don’t have a crisis in the Osun State chapter of the party but a furore emanating from the desire of the National Working Committee (NWC) to bring to a conclusion an investigation process it began sometimes back. That investigation involves the Chairman, Honourable Soji Adagunodo, who is being investigated for malfeasance, maladministration and anti-party activities. These are serious allegations begging for a resolution.
Let me equally underscore the fact that petitions were written by people from Osun to the national secretariat which in turn reacted to the weight of allegations against Mr Chairman by constituting a three-man committee to examine these allegations leveled against him. I am told that report of that committee is responsible for this new action requesting Adagunodo to ‘step aside’ for further investigations to be carried out. This action is not a witch hunt and I urge people in Osun to see it as such. If a man has been accused of all these crimes against the party, I think it should even be of concern to him and his supporters for the issues to be resolved in the most transparent manner so as to keep his reputation intact.
Do you suspect some national leaders of the party pulling some strings from Abuja or taking side in the crisis, especially the zonal leaders who they said their tenure had expired?
Nobody at the national and zonal level is after Adagunodo because there is simply no reason for that. His problems are local, therefore it must be resolved on issues generated from Osun where he is chairman. Rather than look outside the shore of Osun, the ingredients of his challenges are totally local and the answers to them will always remain so. It is important to say that out of the 14 State Working Committee members, 10 of them are not working with him and actually are up in arms against him over his managerial style. This readily confirms my assertion that his problems are located in his state.
However, I am not oblivious of the fact that he has supporters in the state, one of them, Senator Olu Alabi, who in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, attempted to shift the locus of Adagunodo’s challenges to both zonal and national levels of the party and I must respectfully say he is very wrong. He erroneously declared that the tenure of the zonal executive has since expired; this is not true as it still subsists. He equally whimsically said that Dr Eddy Olafeso, the national vice chairman, has jettisoned his ambition to contest governorship election in Ondo State and this he said without even discussing with him. On that score again, this is not true. Senator Alabi simply arrived at a destination without taking a trip. He equally took a swipe at the zonal secretary, Reverend Bunmi Jenyo, that he is the harbinger of trouble and premised his assertion on the efficacies of Jenyo as zonal secretary. That again is curious. I must say that we respect our leaders a great deal and seriously value their presence and continuing contributions to the progress of the party. This is why we don’t join issues with them. However, we must respectfully differ with Senator Alabi on his comments in that interview and respectfully express our disappointments on the innuendoes contained therein. He must know that much as he has the right to express his opinions on issues, such rights however ends when it begins to infringe on the rights of other people. We seriously and respectfully take exceptions to the inexactitudes contained in that interview. The main grouse of Senator Alabi is the directive of the national secretariat asking Soji Adagunodo to “step aside” pending further investigations of issues raised against him and I dare say that it is normal for organisations to make such requests if it is perceived that the person being investigated can use the privileges of his position to influence the process. As far as we know, Honourable Adagunodo is still the chairman of the party in Osun but merely on forced leave, pending the resolution of this matter.
The issue of the letter from the national secretariat sparked some controversies between the camp of Adagunodo and Adeleke group. What’s your position on the letter?
Please recall that I have said earlier that politics is local; therefore there are always forces, caucuses and groups contending for influences in every political party and this is normal. Much as I readily identify the Adelekes as a force in the Osun State chapter of our party, I am not oblivious of the fact that it is normal to have a reaction to that. However, they are all members of the party and there is always a mechanism in the party to generate a cohesion and alignment of positions at the appropriate time. I do not credit Adagunodo to having his own group in Osun but readily admit that it is also normal for him to seek help from any quarter if he feels persecuted in any manner. But let me assure you that there is no crisis at all in the party in Osun.
Is Adagunodo still the chairman of the party in the state as some group said his tenure has expires?
Adagunodo was elected alongside other members of the executive and their tenure subsists. That executive is saddled with the responsibilities to manage the affairs of the party in that state. The man that is the acting chairman of the party in the state today was elected alongside Adagunodo and other members of the executive. I think they still have close to two years remaining for their tenure to expire.
Will the crisis not contribute to failure of the party in future election, especially the governorship election?
I have repeatedly said we don’t have a crisis in Osun State. However, we prepare daily for the next election by the way the party is managed. What you refer to as a crisis may even be the required catalyst that will propel the party to greater heights in the nearest future. Remember that one of the allegations against Adagunodo is being anti-party and I wish to impress it upon you that that is a serious charge. I am not saying he is guilty as charged, but the party does not joke with trust issues; it will therefore always move swiftly when there is a suspicion of that. There is no albatross on the neck of a political party bigger than the existence of fifth columnists in its fold and any party desirous of victory will move so swiftly and decisively to resolve such issues before electioneering period I want to assure you that this matter will be resolved very soon and the party will bounce back.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State is a leader of the party in South-West. What effort has he made to settle the Osun crisis?
His Excellency, Oluseyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State is the leader of the party in the zone. That is a responsibility he solely shoulders in view of the fact that he is the only governor in the zone. He is a leader we are very proud of on account of his managerial skill and respects he accords to elders and members of the party across board. The national secretariat of the party had at various times saddled him with some national assignments and the dexterity with which he discharged them makes us proud of him always and he remains of great essence. Within the zone, his inputs to developments are always crucial and strategic; he remains a stabiliser, mobiliser and catalyst for developments. Certainly his inputs to the advancement of the party in all the states of the zone cannot be underestimated.
What do you think is the way out of the current problem?
I want to implore our leaders and members in Osun to be patient and introspective in this matter. The contentious issues are personal to Adagunodo and not anyone else. The queries earlier raised, the investigative panel that came to intrinsically examine the issues were directed at Adagunodo and not anyone else. It all centered at how he discharges his responsibilities as chairman of the party and never at any other person. The essence of this action is to remind all officers of the party, myself inclusive, to be careful the way we discharge our responsibilities as we might be call to answer questions at any time. Therefore, it will be wrong for anyone to see this matter as persecution. Much as we have leaders in all states that can adjudicate on contentious issues and even so do severally, the party constitution completely took issues of discipline and punishment of officers and members completely out of their hands. The only appropriate organ of the party that can investigate and discipline any state chairman is the national executive, through the disciplinary committee. Therefore, it will be completely wrong for anyone beside Adagunodo to see himself as being on trial. We all owe our party the responsibility to ensure its stability. It is certain that this matter will be resolved in the best interest of the party soon.
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