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All eyes are on the governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, as chieftains and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) within and outside the state awaits the outcome of last week’s reconciliation efforts championed by former Senate President Bukola Saraki and other members of the party’s National Reconciliation Committee, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assitant Editor.
The fate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State lies precariously on the actions and inactions of Governor Seyi Makinde in the next couple of weeks. Whether the crisis that has bedeviled the opposition party since 2019 will abate or escalate is now dependent on the governor’s next political moves, The Nation can authoritatively report. According to reliable party sources, the principal gladiators in the crisis, that has seen the Oyo State chapter of the PDP being factionalised and the Southwest zonal leadership of the same party troubled, have agreed to a ceasefire till the end of this month.
Saraki, who chairs the PDP National Reconciliation Committee, after meeting with factions of the party in the state as well as governor Makinde last week, stated that the aggrieved members of the party in Oyo State have agreed to put aside their differences as well as work toward the victory of the party in future elections. Briefing newsmen in Ibadan, Saraki said all chieftains and members of the PDP in Oyo are now ready to work closely together under the leadership of the Governor.
Recall that Saraki had led some members of the committee, including Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate President and Liyel Imoke, former Governor of Cross Rivers, former governor of Gombe state, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, among others, to Ibadan, for the reconciliation talks with Governor Makinde and all factional leaders of the party in the state. After meeting the governor and some aggrieved chieftains in the government house and meeting a group of others separately, Saraki announced that peace will soon return to the party in Oyo State.
Saraki commended the stakeholders for what he described as the beginning of a new chapter in Oyo State PDP, noting that Governor Makinde has been doing excellently well in terms of governance and that if the same mileage is achieved in the area of politics, then the PDP will become unbeatable in the state. He said: “As you know, we are here as part of the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee and we are very happy with what transpired this afternoon here with the PDP family.”
The former Senate President added that the efforts being made by his committee were aimed at consolidating on the formidability of the PDP in Oyo State. “These are not issues that are not surmountable. The governor has made the commitment and we all know him as a man that will deliver by his performance and antecedents. So, we are confident,” he added.
The crisis has been rocking the PDP in Oyo State since shortly after the 2019 governorship election when some leaders of the party accused the governor of abandoning those who labored for his victory and pandering more towards non-PDP individual and groups in appointment and patronages. While Makinde continued to deny the allegation, he insisted he will not abandon other groups and parties that contributed to his victory alongside with the PDP in the state.
A former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Alhaja Mulikat Akande-Adeola, explaining the situation recently, said: “I feel used, l feel dumped. I think this was the situation from day one but l didn’t see it, l was just like PDP must win, PDP must win. That was what l was saying.” She apologised to all those she said she led to work and vote for Governor Makinde. “I stepped on toes and a lot of people were not happy with me because l supported Governor Seyi Makinde. I was blinded by the success l wanted for PDP and nothing more, it was nothing personal,’ she lamented.
The crisis assumed another dimension last month as the faction of the party opposed to Governor Makinde opened its own state party secretariat office in Ibadan, the state capital. The parallel party secretariat is located at 2, Okunola Abass Street, Bodija estate in Ibadan. Pundits are saying the emergence of the parallel state secretariat may not be unconnected with plans for the PDP congresses expected to hold soon across the state.
Few days after the secretariat was opened, the crisis deepened as hoodlums suspected to be sponsored by members of the same party attacked and vandalised the building. Sources claimed the hoodlums, who wore masks, invaded the building and wreaked havoc on it after workers had closed in the evening. Residents of the areas were said to have alerted the police, who only arrived after the hoodlums had left.
Promptly, one of the aggrieved leaders of the PDP who opened the parallel secretariat, Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, while confirming the attack, accused another chieftain of the party as the sponsor of the attackers. “Even if they wore masks, we know who they are and who sent them. They have destroyed this party with the way their boss is behaving now. The police were even here before we came. We learnt that those living around here saw the hoodlums and called the police on the telephone,” he alleged.
But a former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Hosea Agboola, who is also the Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council in Oyo State, accused those fighting Makinde of insincerity. According to him, the governor is a huge asset to the PDP in the state and in the Southwest. “Many of them address the governor, who is also the PDP in the South-West in most uncharitable, and this in bad taste. Governor Makinde before venturing into the public service had made tremendous success as a businessman.
“He rose from there to win a landslide victory as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the 2019 election. And the 2019 electoral victory came at a time both the state and Federal Government were being controlled by the ‘almighty’ All Progressives Congress, yet Makinde triumphed and won to prove the bookmakers wrong”, Agboola said. According to him, Governor Makinde is achieving so much as Oyo State is witnessing turnaround in education, health, infrastructure and the economy. All along, the national leadership of the party urged chieftains and leaders of the party to refrain from taking sides in the crisis.
Surprisingly, in a move that further balkanized the PDP in Oyo state, the Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja-led leadership of the PDP in the South-West condemned the recent opening of a factional state secretariat of the party in Oyo state by some group of people, describing it as illegal and unconstitutional. “The leadership condemned in strong terms, the illegal opening of a factional PDP State Secretariat in Oyo State saying members should endeavour to toe the path of legality in a case where anyone feels discontented for any reason,” the zonal leadership said.
Determined to end the crisis in Oyo PDP before the congresses, Saraki led his men to meet the gladiators. One of the meetings was held at the Government House, Agodi in Ibadan. Saraki said some of the aggrieved members believed that there should be a need for more recognition to some of the party members that worked hard during the last election. He said the governor (Makinde) declared that he was doing his best; assuring that due recognition would be given to all. “And, they have all said once that is done by the governor, they are ready to work with him. So, it is just to start implementing that and roll it down the line,” Saraki said.
Among the aggrieved members that attended the meeting were Mulikat Akande, former Majority Leader, House of Representatives; Hazeem Gbolarumi, former Deputy Governor; and Michael Ogunlade, former House of Assembly member. Sources at the meeting told The Nation that the aggrieved PDP leaders were pointblank in their rejection of the leadership of the governor, accusing him of running the party and the state like his personal estates. “They told Saraki and others that it will be difficult for them to work with the governor.
“The governor denied all the allegations and in turn accused the leaders of teaming up with outsiders to undermine his authority and destabilize the party in Oyo state. He recalled how some of them joined hands with Fayose to cause crisis within the party at the zonal level. The governor however expressed his readiness to forget and forgive the past if they are ready to work with him. The committee, after listening to all parties, appealed for peace and urged the governor to make things work. They said as the leader, he is the one to make peace with his people,” our source said.
After the meetings, Makinde said he would address all grievances within the state chapter of the PDP with a view to making the party more formidable and well-positioned for victories in future elections. He maintained that stakeholders of the party in the state must never allow their grievances to get to the point of destroying the party, urging everyone to put their misgivings behind them.
The Governor added that he has been doing things that are fair and could promote brotherliness and strengthen the party in the state, noted that since the grievances within the party have persisted, it meant that the party must try again to solve the problem. He called on all sides to unite in the interest of the Oyo State PDP, stating that he has no personal animosity towards anyone and that his desire is to see the party produce more winners in the state in future elections.
Giving assurance that all is not well in Oyo PDP, Saraki said; “we have resolved that all the party members work closely together under the leadership of our performing governor, Seyi Makinde, and we have asked that all the areas of differences should be put aside. And they should work towards ensuring that the PDP is victorious, not only in the state but at the national level. I want to commend all our stakeholders who have agreed that today is the beginning of a new chapter in Oyo State.
“I also want to thank the governor as well for the statement that he made that he is a beneficiary of what the party is doing and that he hopes that when he finishes his term, people in the PDP will continue to benefit from it. So, everyone here is committed to ensuring that PDP continues to work and strive hard. Definitely, there is new dawn ahead of us here in Oyo State. We know that our governor is performing. In the area of governance, he is doing very well and we are proud to be associated with him.”
But one of the aggrieved members of the party, Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeyan, has said what the Saraki-led Committee did was to give Governor Makinde an ultimatum to run an all-inclusive government and make them happy. According to him, the return of peace to Oyo PDP is still dependent on how well the governor placates angry party leaders and members within the next one month. According to Olopoenia, who met with the Saraki committee separately in Ibadan last week, all is now left to the governor.
Olopoenia explained that for peace to reign in Oyo PDP, Governor Makinde must work by the demands of the aggrieved members of the party and stop listening to a few persons around him because “those one he listens to are not telling him the truth. Instead, they are pitching him against the real leaders and members who have the interest of the party at heart. I did not follow them to Government House. The Saraki-led committee and I met at Carlton Gate Hotel here in Ibadan, and they gave the governor till ending of this month to meet up with our demands.
“So, the governor needs to do the needful before we can work with him. They asked him to make aggrieved members happy; that he should run an all-inclusive government. So, the reconciliation committee has not done anything other than giving him the ultimatum of month-end to do the needful, and after that they will now come to discuss the way forward. So, I agree with the Saraki-led reconciliation committee in their resolution today; they are the party leaders and we have to respect them. They have tried.
But when asked if peace will now reign in the party and if the factional secretariat will soon cease to exist, Olopoenia insists that it all depends on how much the governor is willing to go in search of peace and genuine reconciliation. “Good enough, we have one whole month to see what happens. I can only talk about the issue when the reconciliation committee comes together again at the end of this month. So I don’t have anything to say for now,” Olopoeyan added.
Meanwhile, the state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, has reassured party leaders of the readiness of Governor Makinde to do everything that will foster unity within the party. “The world knows Makinde as a man with few words with greater actions therefore, I am very sure that without saying much, he will do a lot to bring peace to our party,’ he said.
“On behalf of the Oyo State PDP executives, we appeal to all party leaders who feel aggrieved for one reason or the other to sheath their sword and embrace peace because it is only a united house that can surmount the enemy. We are not unmindful that some grievances are legitimate while others are product of high hopes and over expectation within a very short time of regaining power in the state but we will all smile in shortest due time possible as the governor is daily busy creating opportunities,”
Addressing newsmen shortly before leaving Ibadan, Saraki expressed delight with the outcome of the meetings. Saraki commended the stakeholders for what he described as the beginning of a new chapter in Oyo State PDP, noting that Governor Makinde has been doing excellently well in terms of governance and that if the same mileage is achieved in the area of politics, then the PDP will become unbeatable in the state.
“We have resolved that all the party members work closely together under the leadership of our performing governor, Seyi Makinde, and we have asked that all the areas of differences should be put aside. And they should work towards ensuring that the PDP is victorious, not only in the state but at the national level. I want to commend all our stakeholders who have agreed that today is the beginning of a new chapter in Oyo State. So, everyone here is committed to ensuring that PDP continues to work and strive hard,” Saraki said as he departs the state.
As it seems, Saraki, Akande and Mustapha, the state chairman, like many other stakeholders within the party in the state and beyond, are eager to see an end to the lingering face-off. But, will peace return soon? Time will surely tell.
SOURCE: THE NATION