South West PDP Congress: Tension As Makinde, Fayose Know Fate Today
Barring any last-minute change, 756 delegates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will elect officials to lead the party in the South West zone.
The South West zonal congress is slated to take place in Osogbo, the Osun State capital on Monday.
However, there is tension, disquiet and anxiety in the region as contenders for various offices and their god-fathers intensified moves to achieve their political goal.
Pundits say the congress, which has witnessed postponement and change of venue in the past, is likely to deepen the feud between Governor of Oyo State Seyi Makinde and former governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose.
Although both are not on the ballot, they have anointed candidates for the poll. While Makinde is said to be backing a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, Fayose is said to be rooting for the return of the immediate past national vice chairman of the party in the zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, who is from Ondo.
All efforts to reconcile Makinde and Fayose by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, Senator Bukola Saraki-led National Reconciliation Committee and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have proved abortive.
The camp loyal to Fayose has petitioned the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus over “alleged release of over 150 ballot papers for the election of national vice chairman and zonal secretary to the group led by the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde.”
The petition dated April 10, was signed by the Chairman of Ogun State, Dr Sikirulai Ogundele, on behalf of the PDP Chairmen in Ekiti, Lagos and Osun states.
The chairmen, who demanded that all ballot papers to be used for the congress should be signed by Secondus, said they will resist any attempt to rig or hijack the process.
Mr. Lere Olayinka, the spokesman of Fayose said the camp loyal to the former governor would participate in the election.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, however, said his principal is dedicated to stabilising the PDP in the South West.
The PDP top echelon has also assured that it would do everything transparently possible to ensure what happened in the North West Zonal congress did not reoccur in the South West.
A former National Publicity Secretary of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Prince Adelaja Adeoye, who recently rejoined PDP said the congress would hold as those he alleged were sponsored by external forces could not procure an order from the court to stop the congress.
Daily Trust reports that delegates started arriving in Osogbo as early as Saturday, ahead of today’s congress.
Some chieftains of the party hinted to one of our correspondents yesterday that the party was in dilemma over the issue.
A delegate, Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, who spoke with Daily Trust however said, “I don’t see why the contest will polarize the party. All I know is that the leader of the party in the South West is Governor Seyi Makinde.”
Another chieftain of the party loyal to Fayose who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity said, “The current tension in the party was caused by Makinde’s struggle to control the South West PDP.”
Meanwhile, a former presidential aide, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has said the outcome of the election could be negative due to supremacy battle between Fayose and Makinde.