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Resolving self-inflicted crises in South-West PDP

The recent decision of the national secretariat of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to dissolve the national officers from the South West geo-political zone led by Chief Segun Oni has undoubtedly shown that all is not well with the party’s national leadership in its relationship with members in the zone. 

This is more evident because the scenario is coming up on the heels of the sacking of the party’s National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who is also from the zone.  It is believed that the sacking of the party officers is a veiled vengeance against loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo ahead of 2015 general elections and an effort to weaken his (Obasanjo’s) influence in the South-West.
Obasanjo, Sunday Trust gathered, is being checkmated having been considered as potential threat to purported controversial ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.  
Just as Bamanga Tukur-led PDP National Working Committee (NWC) announced the constitution of a 17-member caretaker committee to take over the party’s affairs in the South-West, one of the sacked national officers, Chief Bode Mustapha, who until his removal was the National Auditor, also threatened to sue the National Chairman for criminal contempt if he failed to reinstate him.
Chief Mustapaha, who wrote Tukur through his lawyer to reverse the dissolution order on zonal executive, also asked the party to rescind its decisions to recognise Adebayo Dayo-faction of the PDP in Ogun State.
In the letter, Mustapha’s lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, said that a criminal contempt would be initiated against Tukur, if he failed to reverse the decisions.
“It is our fervent hope that the reversal will be effected to avoid the unpleasant consequences of proceeding in criminal contempt, which will be instituted against your good self before the Court of Appeal among several other options open to our client,” the letter read in part.
In their letter to Tukur-led NWC, Mustapha’s lawyers had stated that the action of the PDP was in disregard of an order of stay of execution by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on June 25, 2012 as, according to the legal counsel, the Court of Appeal had ordered a stay of execution of the Federal High Court judgment of January 27, 2011 which the party relied upon to sack the officers penultimate Friday.
Despite receiving the letter dated February 18, 2013 at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja on February 19, Tukur-led PDP NWC went ahead to inaugurate the caretaker committee for its South- West branch penultimate Wednesday. The caretaker committee is being led by Chief Ishola Filani, an aide to Tukur.  Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju was also sworn in to replace Mustapha as the National Auditor the same day.
Members of the committee are Chief Pegba Otemolu, secretary; Adedeji Doherty, organising secretary; Rasak Adekonla Akanni, auditor; Bolaji Jeje, youth leader;  Orimolade Olanrewaju, treasurer; Olawunmi Oshinmoluke Yuba, woman leader; Banji Obasanmi, financial secretary; Shola Oludipe, legal adviser and Lawal Waheed Olatunde, publicity secretary.  Others listed as ex-officio members are Emmanuel Oladejo, Olalekan Abubakar, Seun Adesanya, Samiu Babatunde, Prince Tope Ademiluyi, Tunde Olowofoyeku and Prince Omoniyi Alo.
Following this development, Dipo Odujirin-led factional leadership of Ogun State chapter of the PDP met to discuss the decision of the party’s NWC to sack them with a pledge to take the case to the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for final resolution.
The faction was protesting the recognition given to Soremi-led factional party executive in Ogun State that produced Alhaji Fatai Adewole Adeyanju as a valid elected National Auditor.
After an emergency meeting held at Bode Mustapha’s office in Abeokuta, the dissolved factional PDP chairman Odujirin vowed to challenge the decision.
Odujirin, who spoke with newsmen after the meeting, said the party was shocked by the dissolution news and hoped that the NEC will do the right thing so that it would not affect the fortune of the party in future elections.
Speaking with Sunday Trust on the crises in the South-West zonal chapter of the PDP, the Oyo State Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign in 2011, Mr Dare Adeleke, expressed grave concern, saying “it happened because the party’s national chairman was not properly briefed.”
“I think the national chairman was not properly briefed about the happenings in the South West.  It is very unfortunate that Segun Oni-led zonal executive will be disbanded despite the court order.  Our party should be very careful.  There are wolves with the sheep’s skin. 
“If Oni claims that he has stay of execution, there is nowhere within the Constitution of our party that says you should go through the zonal congress before you are elected to national executive. And I think that has been proved in the court.  Yet, they dissolved it. 
“But, unfortunately, Mr Chairman was not well briefed.  It is not his fault.  I cannot blame him.  But I think the leadership of the party is still going to talk about it at the highest level, where I am sure the wrongs would be corrected.  It is a family problem which I believe would be resolved.  I believe the national chairman would not want the house to collapse on his head,” he added.
However, the newly appointed national vice chairman, caretaker committee of the PDP in the South West zone Mr Ishola Filani, while trying to justify the current events, said the committee was constituted to resolve all the differences among the members in order to reclaim the zone in 2015.
Speaking last Wednesday, while formally taking over the party’s zonal secretariat in Ibadan, Filani declared that the Yoruba nation will soon be brought back to the mainstream of Nigeria politics by aligning with the PDP.
Addressing journalists in company of 16 other members of the caretaker committee, he said the move was to correct the imbalance the Yoruba is currently experiencing in the polity.
Filani assured that the committee would not intimidate anybody as it focused on how to proffer solution and bring sanity into the party, saying that the task of reconciling aggrieved members was achievable.
“The committee is a child of circumstance and was put in place to address South-West issues. This is the best time to solve all problems in the region. I want to assure you that our committee will succeed and PDP will win South-West back. We are ready for the fight and we are prepared for it,” he added.
With what presently looks like hard-line posture of the PDP to the South West, it is too early to conclude on what the power brokers within the party in the zone are likely to do. For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed and watch as events unfold in a zone where the party lost its grip during the 2011 general elections to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) largely due to internal strife.

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