The decision of the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and Senator Biodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti South Senatorial Districts to resolve the internal crisis in the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may brighten the chances of the party ahead of the 2022 governorship election in the state. ANAYO EZUGWU reports
Ahead of the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State, some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state have commenced alignment and realignment of political forces. To this end, a former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose and the senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, Senator Biodun Olujimi, have decided to put their differences aside and work for the party in the forthcoming election. The duo have been locked in a lingering battle over who controls the structure of the PDP in the state, leading to polarization of the party along loyalists of the two leaders.
They have also been in and out of courts over which faction is legally in control of the party’s structure in the state. But Fayose and Olujimi have resolved to close ranks ahead of the governorship election in 2022, saying they would no longer allow PDP to be compromised in the state. The warring factions met earlier this month in Lagos where they agreed to work together for the benefit of the party.
A statement by Fayose’s media aide, Lere Olayinka, stated that the resolution was made at the meeting attended by Fayose, Olujimi and other leaders in a renewed bid to restore peace and unity to the party. According to him, the resolution of the meeting was in furtherance to the truce the party held in Abuja.
He said the leaders agreed that the unity of the party in the state was sacrosanct, uncompromisable and long-needed. Olayinka added that the two groups also resolved that the journey to lasting and genuine reconciliation has begun, “and in the light of the above, all party followers of the two groups are hereby requested to sheath their sword forthwith and desist from any attack on all the leaders in the party.” Other resolutions, he said, were that the stakeholders unanimously agreed that only with true dialogue that the party can achieve victory in the coming elective elections in Ekiti State and to continue to seek all avenues for peace and resolutions of all crises in the party within the ambit of the law. Likewise, a political aide to the former governor of the state, Adebisi Adeola, said the reconciliation was much overdue. He applauded the move and called for more inclusive and genuine interactions between leaders to strategize way forward, so as to actualize the return of PDP to the government in 2022.
According to Adeola, all hands must be on deck for PDP to reclaim Ekiti State in 2022. He, therefore, called all stakeholders to find solace in uniting party members for the task ahead. His words: “It was a great shock for members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to see Olujimi and Fayose together, discussing the interest of the party. No doubt, APC has performed badly in Ekiti within the space of three years. Apart from the fact that Ekiti recorded tremendous achievements under the PDP’s government since 1996, the state is predominantly PDP state.”
The former commissioner also called on the party to begin massive mobilization of new members. He also appealed to stakeholders to reconsider Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka for the party’s ticket in the coming governorship primary election.
Adeola said despite the obvious irregularities and manipulation during the 2018 governorship election, APC could only win with less than 20,000 votes. On why Eleka should be presented by the party again, he said: “There is no crime if PDP presents Eleka again giving his wide acceptability across the 16 local government areas in the last election. What is needed now is to do a postmortem analysis of the 2018 election and work on some shortcomings. The APC has nothing to offer Ekiti people.” The truce, notwithstanding, the party leaders failed to address the issue of court cases involving the factions.
Since the party lost the governorship election in 2018, it has not known peace. The current crisis in the party started following the controversial ward executives elections held on March 7, 2020, which the Olujimi faction claimed was conducted to favour Fayose’s camp. After the elections, the Olujimi faction approached a Federal High Court and sought for an order to restrain the party from acting on or making use of the names of winners of the congresses for the purpose of the local government, state and zonal congresses.
However, the court dismissed the suit on the ground that the congresses that produced the leadership were an intra-party affair. Not satisfied with the ruling of the Federal High Court, Olujimi and her camp approached the Court of Appeal, which on January 27, dismissed the appeal. Delivering judgment in the case with suit number: CA /EK/57/2020, Justice T. N Orji -Abadua upheld the decision of the trial court and held that the appellant’s case was not justifiable on the ground that it was a matter that emanated from intra-party affairs. Despite the ruling, the Olujimi’s group maintained that the outcome of the party’s ward congress election was manipulated to favour Fayose’s faction. The camp filed a motion ex-parte, seeking an order of the court to restrain the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) from announcing, publishing, and recognising any list as a result of the election of Ward Executives from the ad-hoc delegates that conducted the controversial election.
Following the ruling of the Appeal Court, the faction in a communiqué signed by its publicity secretary, Sanya Adesua, urged its members to remain calm, while assuring them that the ruling would be appealed. “All governorship aspirants are encouraged to go ahead with their consultation and mobilisation of the generality of Ekiti people, who are anxiously waiting for a PDP governor in 2022. However, such sensitization must be devoid of rancour. The meeting commended all our party members for their steadfastness and beliefs in the eventual triumph of Justice over injustice, and truth over falsehood. Forward ever, backward never,” the faction said.
Fayose, on his part, urged party members to see the court ruling as victory for all. He assured that he would not relent in his efforts to reconcile the party in the state. “No victor no vanquished. We are in deep talks to reconcile all. We should refrain from provocative languages. These issues will be resolved as a family,” he said.
Before the recent reconciliation, the crisis defied all moves by the PDP NWC to reconcile the warring factions. Even the seven- man caretaker committee set-up by the NWC failed to resolve the issues. For instance, in August last year, the crisis escalated following the conduct of parallel state congresses for the state working committee of the party. From the controversial congresses, a former commissioner for environment, Bisi Kolawole emerged chairman from the Fayose’s camp, while the Olujimi group elected a former member of the House of Representatives, Kehinde Odebunmi, as the state chairman of the opposition party in the state. Fayose’s group is said to have the support of the NWC because the national body recognised the Kolawole-led state working committee, while the Odebunmi-led factional committee is being supported by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. The divided support from NWC and Governor Makinde further aggravated the crisis in the Ekiti PDP.
The supremacy battle also turned into a zonal crisis with Fayose and Makinde fighting for the control of the party in the South-West, with the former governor of Ekiti State insisting that the Oyo State governor should honour an agreement reached before the 2020 Ondo State governorship primaries that Eddy Olafeso would retain his position as the National Vice-Chairman of PDP in the zone if he loses the governorship ticket. But Makinde maintained that Olafeso cannot return to the position he vacated in 2020.
The governor is rooting for a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Amb. Taofeek Arapaja as the next national vice chairman of the party. Be that as it may, with the recent reconciliation, many political watchers are waiting to see how Fayose and Olujimi will handle their personal interest ahead of the 2022 governorship election in the state.