2015: When Oyo PDP leaders closed ranks…
Culled From Tribune
…adopted Adeojo as leader
Following the 2011 governorship election which cut open the belly of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, fresh efforts have been ongoing to stitch the wound and restore the party to winning ways. MOSES ALAO writes on the latest move by the party leaders. IF recent developments in the Oyo State chapter of the PDP are things to go by, the party might be set to put its past behind it, as Sunday Tribune findings revealed that all the interests within the party have decided to work together during a meeting held in Abuja penultimate week.
The meeting was attended by Chief Alao-Akala; Senator Folarin; Senator Balogun; Chief Akinjide; Elder Oyelese; Professor Soji Adejumo; House Leader, Honourable Mulikat Adeola-Akande; Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi; state chairman and secretary of the PDP, Yinka Taiwo and Alaba Adelabu, respectively; governorship aspirants, Mr Seyi Makinde and Mr Femi Babalola (JOGOR), with Deputy Senate Whip, Senator Hosea Agboola and former Sports Minister, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, taking official permissions to be absent because they were out of the country.
It will be recalled that the party had, in a move which political observers have described as a political hara-kiri, lost the 2011 governorship elections in the state after series of intractable internal wrangling ahead of the poll.
Beginning with the exit of former Governor Rashidi Ladoja from the party, after it became obvious that the then incumbent governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, was set to clinch the governorship ticket of the party to run for a second term and the palpable tension which had developed among party stakeholders and had pitched the governor against some party leaders, it was clear that the party would face an uphill task in retaining the state.
While those in the governor’s camp had continued to sound positive about the PDP’s chances to continue to control the state, the rumours of war between the governor and leaders, such as Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, Senator Lekan Balogun, Elder Wole Oyelese, former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin and the threats from the camps opposed to the second term ambition of Alao-Akala were also very deafening. Senator Folarin’s rumoured ambition to contest the party’s governorship ticket with Alao-Akala, which was seen as an ‘Ibadan agenda’ as well as allegation from the leaders that they were carried along by the governor was the keg of gunpowder —which the incumbent governor ignored— that later exploded to incinerate the party in the election.
Rather than close ranks ahead of the election, each camp stuck to its gun, working with different political calculations on how to win or sabotage the party’s chances of winning. Most of the leaders were alleged to have worked against the party in the governorship election. In the long run, not only did the party lose the governorship election by a relatively small margin, it also lost its hold on Ibadan and Oyo axes, which were the political bases of the ‘rebel’ leaders with the votes from Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun and Ibarapa regions, where Alao-Akala still garnered a sizeable amount of votes, proving inconsequential to the PDP’s ambition to extend its reign.
Even after losing to the ACN, the crevice within the party rather than closing up became a gulf, especially following the 2012 state congress which threw up a new executive and power balance. The camps of former Governor Alao-Akala and the aggrieved leaders maintained irreconcilable stance, even those hitherto seen as belonging to the former’s camp, such as Senator Agboola, also pitched his tent against the former governor. Alao-Akala and Agboola had both insisted on different candidates for the position of the chairman of the party, which was zoned to Oke Ogun area of the state, a development that took the interventions of party elders before they could both agree on the incumbent chairman, Alhaji Yinka Taiwo.
But while the Taiwo-led executive would have been seen as the bridge to end the party’s internal wrangling, that was not the case. On the date of the congress that produced the leadership, held at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, another camp with alleged allegiance to the Minister of State for the FCT, Chief Jumoke Akinjide and former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja, who is now Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jordan, also held a congress which produced a parallel executive. Though the Taiwo-led executive had since been recognised at the national level, because of factions, some of the leaders are feeling that Senators Folarin, Agboola and Honourable Muraina Ajibola, among others, had hijacked the party machinery.
Therefore, different efforts to foster peace within the party were kick-started, with the hitherto aggrieved party leaders, who worked with the ACN to win the state appeared to have seen the ‘errors’ of their actions, as many of them severally expressed regrets at working against the party. Senator Balogun was credited to have said recently, in an interview with Saturday Tribune that “there is a price we are paying for not being in power any longer.” Some of such efforts included meetings at the instance of Alhaji Adeojo in 2012 and another one held at Premier Hotel, Ibadan in September, 2013, which was boycotted by some of the key figures.
According to Sunday Tribune findings, lack of a recognised leader of the party in the state was a major reason for the continued division. “Our major problem is not about some people working against the party in 2011, it is more about our lack of a recognised leader who can galvanise all interests. Alao-Akala is seen in some quarters as the leader but many of the leaders just cannot submit to him.
So we need someone that will be respected by everyone and every interest,” a source said, pleading not to have his name in print.
According to an insider at the meeting held in Abuja, who spoke on a condition of anonymity “everyone at the meeting unanimously agreed that Seriki Adeojo should be the leader of the party in the state and we have all decided to work together to send the All Progressives Congress (APC) government packing because Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s government has not paid the people.”
The source noted that five representatives had been selected per Senatorial District to brief the meeting on happenings within their zones and how the party could return to winning ways in 2015, adding that a 15-man committee led by Alhaji Adeojo was appointed to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the party.
Sunday Tribune findings further revealed that the Alhaji Adeojo-led committee saddled another 5-man committee comprising Senator Folarin; Honourable Muraina; Elder Oyelese; Honourable Asimiyu Alarape and headed by Senator Hosea Agboola, who was said to have pleaded to be absent at the meeting because he was in Thailand, to look into how the Jumoke/Arapaja group which did not participate in the state congress, would be accommodated in the state executive. The latter committee, it was learnt, is expected to report to the Adeojo committee today, after which an enlarged meeting of the party will be called.
When Sunday Tribune contacted the party chairman, Yinka Taiwo, who was present at the Abuja meeting, he said he would neither confirm nor debunk what Sunday Tribune heard but said that party leaders from the state, indeed, met in Abuja to discuss the way forward for the party, adding that the leaders at the meeting declared support for the second term ambition of President Goodlcuk Jonathan based on the visible ongoing transformation projects in the country.
“All our leaders have put their differences behind them and we are determined to unite so that the people of the state will be liberated from the oppressive and anti-masses government of APC. About the leadership of the party and what transpired at the meeting, the press will be intimated with developments at the appropriate time,” the chairman said.
With the reported acceptance given to the choice of Alhaji Adeojo, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees and veteran politician, as the leader of the party in the state and the readiness to integrate all interests in the state executive, can it be said that the last has been heard of internal crisis and supremacy battle in the party? Will the umbrella bring together all the leaders who were once at dagger drawn and the vested interests ahead of the 2015 poll or will the song be “to your tents oh Israel” in yet a little while? These are the questions which time will answer as events unfold in the former ruling party in the state.