By Ernest Nwokolo
The crisis rocking the Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still lingering, 13 months after the April 2011 election. Correspondent Ernest Nwokolo reviews the contending issues and the efforts being made by party stalwarts to keep members under one umbrella.
The crisis within the Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is far from being over. The more party leaders try to unite the house, the more it falls apart.
Many party members and supporters who had thought the crisis should have been over after the April 2011 general elections have since realised they have been dreaming.
The latest signal that the party, rather than get over its internal problems, is sinking deeper into crisis was underscored by the new National Vice – Chairman of the party (Southwest) Mr. Segun Oni, who dismissed the congresses conducted in the state by Bashorun Dayo Soremi-led executives.
In Oni’s estimation, the outcome of the PDP congress in Ogun State is not recognised because all the forces at play, particularly the interest of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, were not accommodated. The former Ekiti State governor had during his visit to Chief Obasanjo in Abeokuta said: “There are no congresses yet in Ogun State.”
But Mr Bayo Dayo, the new state party chairman, advised Oni to stop living in the past and to face the reality as the era when a few people would foist themselves on the majority by hand-picking the lackeys as party executives is over.
According to Dayo, what is in vogue now and which should be embraced, is the enthronement of “internal democracy” in the PDP and not the imposition of one’s will on the others.
He said: “We are opposed to a fresh congress. We can’t continue to allow some elders to go into their room and write out names of executives, what we have done is to ensure internal democracy because we all agreed the Dayo Soremi-led executive is authentic.
“The National Working Committee approved congresses in all the states and Ogun was not excluded. We did not get any letter stopping us from conducting the congresses and our congresses were monitored by Abuja, the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) and the security.”
He said the new PDP executives in the Gateway State are poised to employ legitimate means, including the judiciary, to establish the authenticity of the executives as well as resist the imposition of persons as members of the executive committee.
Dayo said there was no notice to the effect that there should be no congress in the state when it was conducted. Besides, it was monitored by the representatives from the PDP National Working Committee, the INEC and security operatives.
The continued to engender bitterness, if not a fierce battle amongst the contending stakeholders like Chief Obasanjo, billionaire hotelier – Prince Buruji Kashamu, former Commerce and Industry Minister, Alhaji Jubril Martins-Kuye and former governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
It is understandable why the battle for the soul of Ogun PDP rages on, defying every solution.. Until the April 2011 general polls that saw the party being flushed out of Ogun by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), it had held sway in the state for eight years, clinching all elective offices and boastfully dominating politics of the state with enormous backing from the PDP-controlled government at the centre.
With a mindset that the party would continue to win every election in the state by all means, the stage was set for dirty political intrigues and desperation among the quartet of Obasanjo, Kashamu, Kuye and Daniel over who controls the party as well as share party positions to loyalists in the state.
The crisis over who controls the party began during the build-up to the April 14, 2007 elections with Daniel showing his dictatorial tendency, using the party structure to broach his will over others.
But the crisis became a full-blown political war among the dramatis personae during the preparation to the April 2011 election, with each either fighting directly or through proxies to execute personal interests.
The former governor, who had his mind fixated on having former Managing Director of Gateway Holdings, Mr Gboyega Isiaka as his successor at all cost, was using the party structure, headed by Elder Joju Fadairo, to undermine the interest of others and advance his will.
But there was an initial alliance among the trio of Obasanjo, Martins-Kuye and Kashamu, to wrest the party structure from Daniel and thus stall the plot to have his cronies run for elective offices.
While the federal might and PDP national apparatchik were mobilised against Daniel by Obasanjo and Martins-Kuye, Kashamu doggedly tackled him in another direction, fighting him to a stand still through the judiciary.
Although, the National Executive Committee of the party waded into the crisis at this stage and recommended dissolution of the Fadairo-led executive committee and the harmonisation of the factional committees to accommodate all shades of interest. The implementation of this led to the emergence of Soremi-led committee.
Unfortunately for the party, rather than solve the problem, the harmonisation worsened the crisis as Daniel and his faction rejected the arrangement and did not only stick to the Fadairo-led committee, but also persistently used the platform for his political interest.
The logjam within state chapter of the party took a turn for the worse with the emergence of a parallel party executive, leading to parallel congresses for the 2011 polls. Many who could not bear this contradiction, defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Labour Party (LP), among other political partiesd.
Analysts watched as national secretariat of the PDP and the court recognised the congresses conducted by the Obasanjo faction. Determined to protect his political future, Daniel encouraged his supporters to defect to a relatively unknown Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN). Many saw the PPN as the former governor’s ‘Plan B’ arrangement.
The PDP paraded General Tunji Idowu (rtd) as its governorship candidate. Thus it went into the 2011 elections as a divided house. The party was trounced by the ACN at the polls.
Despite this, efforts were made to resolve the crisis that brought defeat and odium to the party. The party at the national level and its former National Vice-Chairman, Southwest, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, raised a Transition, Reconciliation and Congress Committee (TRCC), chaired by Chief Bode Mustapha to re-unite all aggrieved persons and also conduct congresses in the state.
Oladipo said: “The reason for TRCC includes the need to unite the party before the congresses. The need to provide a level playing ground for all interests within the party to be able to fulfil their aspiration, to midwife the congresses so that the executives to be produced in the congresses are acceptable to the generality of the party faithful.”
The move did not go well with the actors and it succeeded in shredding the initial alliance of Obasanjo, Kashamu and Martins-Kuye.
The Kashamu group vehemently opposed the arrangement, which it described as a ploy by the Obasanjo minority group to undermine the function of the Dayo Soremi-led committee to pave the way for the imposition of ‘loyal’ officials. The group got a court injunction declaring the TRCC illegal.
According to the Kashamu group, Obasanjo is pursuing a separate political agenda best known to him in the state.
The group argued that if the over-bearing influence of the former chair of the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) is not challenged, it could spell doom for the party in future elections. It went ahead to conduct its congresses in the state, despite directives to the contrary by the party’s NWC.
Today, the new executive officers of PDP led by Dayo do not enjoy the recognition of all and this much was conveyed by Oni, who spoke of plans to organise another congress that would accommodate all interests.
But the Kashamu group insists it would resist such move at the appropriate time. Who is cahrge of the PDP in Ogun State, only time will tell.
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