Fresh trouble is looming for the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the southwest zone of the country allegedly over suspected efforts by handlers of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to curry the favour of embattled Senator Buruji Kashamu and the Bayo Dayo-led state executive committee of the PDP in Ogun State, reports, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan.
Barely three months to the 2019 general election, and with its poor showing in two governorship elections held in Ekiti and Osun states still affecting its popularity in the zone, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West is faced with a fresh crisis with many of its chieftains threatening to dump the party any moment from now. Although the new disquiet in the opposition party is yet to become a full blown crisis, findings revealed that it is capable of tearing the party apart in the region if not properly managed.
The Nation gathered that former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, embattled factional governorship candidate of the party in Ogun State, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, and majority of the party’s chieftains who are Board of Trustee members in the zone, may give cold shoulders to both the PDP and its presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, if the situation is not addressed as they desire.
Findings within the party indicated that an alleged move by the Atiku camp to accommodate embattled Senator Buruji Kashamu and his camp in the PDP, contrary to the position of the National Working Committee (NWC) and most of the party’s leaders in the southwest that he remains expelled from the party, is at the root of the brewing crisis threatening to pitch many PDP leaders in the zone against Atiku.
“Even the blossoming rapport between Atiku and former President Olusegun Obasanjo may be truncated if those urging the former vice president on to support Kashamu succeeds. Like Obasanjo, many PDP leaders in the southwest don’t want to have anything to do with Kashamu. It is important for Atiku to look beyond the acclaimed popularity of the Senator and consider the effect of forcing him on the PDP at this crucial time,” our source claimed.
The Nation gathered that following the failure of the national leadership of the PDP to amicably resolve the fictionalisation of the party in Kashamu’s Ogun State and the continuous victory of the Senator and his faction in court despite the insistence of the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC that the Sikirulai Ogundele-led state executive committee, loyal to Adebutu, is the authentic leadership of the party in the state, may have prompted Atiku’s camp to seek a political solution to the crisis.
Sources within the camp of the former vice president, while confirming alleged ongoing discussion between the group and Kashamu’s men in Ogun State, said it has become very important for PDP to address the division within the party in Ogun State if it is serious about winning the 2019 general elections. Our source added that the ongoing talks between the two camps are not aimed at rubbishing any of the warring factions in the state.
It was also gathered that the rapport with Kashamu by Atiku’s men may be without the consent of the national leadership of the party which is still insisting that the Bayo Dayo-led faction of the party in the state is illegal. The Secondus-led NWC of the party is still in court seeking a judgement that will dislodge the faction and enthrone the Sikirulai Ogundele-led state executive committee in its place before the 2019 elections.
“We are prosecuting a presidential election. Elections are won and lost through votes; Ogun State is one state we need to win if we want to give APC a good fight in the next presidential election. And the state is ours to take if only we can put our house in order. The APC in the state is in disarray and the people have turned to the PDP. But our people there too are not united.
“The leadership of the party took a decision and we all respected it. But the courts have been saying no to that same decision, given the Kashamu faction the right to call the shots in Ogun PDP instead of the people our NWC supports. The Kashamu they expelled is now the gubernatorial candidate of our party in the state courtesy of the same court judgements we are talking about. Can we continue to look the other way?
“It is upon considering all these that a group of party elders, with strong commitments to Alhaji Atiku’s aspiration, opened a channel of discussion with the distinguish Senator with a view to finding a way the crisis can be politically resolved. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) window is still open and a lot of concessions can still be made here and there to accommodate everybody. The party leadership, because of the court cases, may no longer be in the best position to do this, but it has to be done,” our source explained.
Testing the waters?
Confirming the alleged moves to bring the Kashamu camp into the Atiku train to The Nation on Wednesday, a chieftain of the party in Lagos State, Adeyemi Kola-Daisi, who is also the coordinator of SouthWest Coalition for Atiku (SWCA), said the major interest of the PDP currently is to win the next presidential election. “The party is doing everything possible to liberate Nigerians from the stronghold of Buhari and his people.
“Senator Kashamu, in spite of his face-off with the party at a time, has shown that he is a loyal party member. He had all the reasons and time to dump the PDP and move his structure into another party. But he stayed and fought his case in the courts. He has won major victories and it is in the interest of the party to consider his usefulness and loyalty especially at a time like this.
“So, all these talks about people opposing moves to bring him back into the party are not true. Yes, many of us in the Atiku support groups have been going to him and he has been showing readiness to support both the PDP and Atiku. So, it is a good thing talks are ongoing to bring him back home. Those saying Fayose, Adebutu and others will leave should wait and see if they will not open their arms and welcome Kashamu,” he said.
And in a move many analysts have described as the first step towards the coming realignment within the party, the PDP in Ogun State on Wednesday inaugurated a 42-man committee to be in charge of the campaign organisation of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the state. Senator Kashamu was named the chairman of the committee and the party chairman in the state, Bayo Dayo as vice chairman.
Dayo who addressed party members at the party’s secretariat in Abeokuta, on Wednesday, charged them to work hard in every ward to ensure victory for PDP. He said PDP was set to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state. “The power of incumbency will not work for Amosun again since he’s not contesting. “There is still room for the aggrieved. Those parading themselves as candidates of the party are doing so to promote PDP in Ogun State.”
The state party chairman did not say whether the committee has the blessing of either the national leadership of the party or the Atiku Campaign Organisation. But reliable party sources claimed the committee is the first fruit of the looming political solution expected to end the fictionalisation of the party in Ogun state, being midwives by prominent supporters of the Atiku presidential aspiration.
“As I told you earlier, we are making progress. The PDP in Ogun State is obviously the party to beat in 2019 in all the elections, not just the presidential election. All we need to do is put our house in order. And you can see signs that that is being done. The APC in Ogun State, and indeed in many parts of the southwest, is not united. Go to Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti and you will understand what I am saying.
“With Kashamu heading Atiku’s campaign in Ogun State, you don’t need to be told that he is back in the PDP. What remains now is for all other issues to be resolved, especially the issue of who flies the governorship banner of the PDP in Ogun State. All these will be thrashed out and everybody, including Adebutu and his people, will be happy in the end. No loyal party member will leave the PDP at this stage,” our source said.
But a chieftain of the PDP in the state and a former ally of the embattled Senator, Chief Kole Ogunjobi, warned the PDP presidential candidate and his supporters against worsening the situation within the party ahead of the 2019 general elections. According to the PDP stalwart, Kashamu’s return to the PDP will chase away numerous other party leaders, not only in Ogun State, but across the southwest.
“We are daily hearing and seeing things that point to the fact that the Atiku camp feels without Kashamu, PDP cannot win in Ogun State. We have made efforts to warn those thinking like this to desist from harming the party more before the election, but one can only hope common sense will prevail. With Kashamu back in PDP, the party will lose numerous other strong stalwarts in quick succession.
“This will not happen only in Ogun State, but across the states of the southwest because many of you can still recall what party members and leaders suffered in the hand of Kashamu and his gang before we succeeded in getting him out of the party. He is not a team player. His type of politics is strange and he has a penchant to want to lord it over everyone else. These were the major reasons the party was so troubled for many years,” he said.
The current face-off between Kashamu and the PDP started when INEC formally adopted the list of PDP candidates for Ogun State, submitted to it by the Dayo-led State Executive Committee of the party, which is loyal to Senator Kashamu, stating clearly that its decision to adopt the list is based on the various Federal High Court verdicts on cases between the two factions of the party in the state.
The commission, in a letter dated October 25, 2018 signed by its acting secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, and addressed to the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said it would only recognise the governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly candidates from Kashamu’s camp until the judgements in his favour are set aside by superior courts.
This is in spite of the fact that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party had earlier expelled Kashamu, Adedayo Dayo and two members of the Ogun State chapter of the party over alleged anti-party activities. But their expulsion was later overturned by the court. Nonetheless, the PDP and the Adebutu faction in the state continued to seek his ouster from the opposition party.
But in spite of endless efforts to shove him aside in the scheme of thing within the party in his home state of Ogun, Kashamu had continued to have the upper hand. Just last Monday again, the hope of the national leadership that it will get INEC to reverse his decision concerning the list of PDP candidates in Ogun State was dashed as the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, struck out the motion for stay of execution of the orders given in favour of the Dayo-led Ogun State Executive.
This followed the withdrawal of the appellants’ newly filed motion for stay of execution, among others. The court also awarded a N20,000 cost against the appellants – the PDP, its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri. Represented by Emeka Etiaba, the appellants withdrew all their previously filed applications which included motions for stay of execution, abridgment of time and amendment of appeal following which the court struck out the said applications having been withdrawn.
Following the mutual consent of parties’ counsel, the court gave the appellants one day from Monday to file their brief of argument, 14 days for the 1st – 9th respondents to file their brief from the date of service and one day for the appellants to file a reply brief. In their amended and newly filed Notice of Appeal, the appellants’ are asking the court for an order setting aside the orders of the lower court and reassignment of the suit at the Federal High Court, Abeokuta.
A date for hearing of the appeal will be communicated to parties upon the conclusion of exchange of briefs. It would be recalled that the pro-Ladi Adebutu national leadership of the PDP filed an appeal against the orders of the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, which directed the PDP and INEC to “accept, process and publish” only the list of candidates that emerged from congresses/primaries endorsed by Dayo-led Exco.
The suit is an appeal against a judgment enforcement proceedings. The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, had on the 24th of June, 2016 delivered a judgment in favour of the Dayo-led Exco as the only Ogun State PDP structure that is known to law. The judgment is yet to set aside and is no pending appeal against it. The three-man panel of judges of the Court of Appeal included the Hon. Justice H.S. Tsammani, JCA, (Presiding), Hon. Justice N. Okoronkwo, JCA, and Hon. Justice F.A. Ojo, JCA.
Culled from the Nationonline