South-West PDP zonal congress: Olafeso, Arapaja upbeat about victory

The two contenders for the position of the zonal chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West zone have expressed confidence in emerging victorious at the party’s congress slated fort Osogbo, the Osun State capital, tomorrow. 

Speaking to Sunday Tribune, Dr Eddy Olafeso, the candidate being supported by a group led by a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, said he is prepared for the congress and boasted of victory. 

“On our own side, we are ready and we are winning. We are speaking to the ballot box. All our supporters will come in on Monday and vote for us. 

“What is important as at this moment is that the screening committee is already in town and we are prepared for Monday,” he said. 

On the allegation that his camp had engaged the service of Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, to cause mayhem at the congress, Olafeso said the allegation was disingenuous and extreme falsehood. 

“Those who are trying to bring chaos and violence into the election are those who are not sure of winning. But for those trying to promote violence, they will meet more than they bargained for. 

“What is important is that we have done our best. We have worked very hard and we know that by virtue of what we have done in the last four years, I know we are going to win,” he said. 

But the other candidate, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, who is a former deputy governor of Oyo State, is also upbeat about the congress, saying he is very optimistic of victory on Monday. 

Speaking through his coordinator, Mr Dare Adeleke, the former Ambassador to Jordan said his pedigree and the caliber of leaders behing his aspiration have made victory inevitable. 

“Definitely, we are going to win the congress. Arapaja is the candidate to beat, if you look at the pedigree and the status of the people that are supporting us. 

“You will agree with me that we have everything in the kitty to win the election. You can start to look at who and who are with us. All former governors, all the former deputy governors are with us. None is with the Fayose group. 

“All the Board of Trustees members and virtually all the national executives are with us, except Aribisala that Fayose snatched from us and Diran Odeyemi. 

“And those two can’t be compared with the status of the people we have in our group. Are you going to talk about Chief Bode George, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dr Olu Alabi, Dr Saka Balogun, Soboyede from Ogun State, Chief Segun Oni, Professor Olusola Eleka, all the serving Senators and House of Representatives members and many others,” he said. 

Investigation by Sunday Tribune revealed that some of the 756 delegates for the congress will start to trickle into Osogbo from today. 

It was gathered that both camps, having failed to come up with a unity list of contestants, have resolved to go for election, battle ready to outspend each other to secure votes from the delegates. 

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the PDP, Adedeji Doherty, has said he is in total support of the congress expected to produce a new set of officials for PDP in South-West. Doherty, who stated this in a short statement on Saturday, prayed for a free and credible congress that would produce the better candidate. Doherty, who belongs to the Fayose group, is drumming support for Olafeso. 

But the spokesperson of the party, Mr Tafik Gani, who is loyal to Chief Bode George and by implication supporting Arapaja, has expressed optimism that the congress will produce a set of officials that will make Lagos winnable for the PDP in 2023. 

Gani commended PDP national leadership for providing an official list of delegates for Lagos State ahead of the exercise, saying the development “thwarted attempt by some persons to substitute people who ordinarily should be legitimate delegates.” 

Gani said the Lagos State chapter was looking ahead to having in place a new set of zonal officials who would have the same mindset as the Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, in winning Lagos and South-West in next election. 

He said Chief George had directed Lagos delegates “to go and vote for those progressives, for those people who will give us the type of things we need in Lagos State.” 

The immediate past chairman of the PDP in Ekiti State, Mr Gboyega Oguntuwase, has warned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party against allowing non-statutory delegates from Ekiti to vote in tomorrow’s congress. Oguntuwase said there is a suit before the Supreme Court on the legitimacy of the party executives in the state, noting that it would amount to bias to allow the executives from a faction of the party to vote during the congress.

The former chairman, who spoke to Sunday Tribune in an interview on Saturday, argued that the national leadership of the party should allow the Apex court to determine the authentic executives in Ekiti, rather than allowing factional executives loyal to Fayose to be picked as delegates. He cautioned that the NWC “must not sink the boat of the PDP in the South-West” by giving credence to the illegalities.

However, the party’s Publicity Secretary in the state, Mr Raphael Adeyanju, described the position of Oguntuwase as laughable and mischievous. Adeyanju stated that preparations were on top gear for the congress on Monday and advised the NWC to be fair to all groups in the congress. “In a contest like this, some people will be aggrieved after the election, but the NWC must quickly set in to reconcile everyone in the interest of the party and the winners should be magnanimous.

 

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