BY JAMIU YISA
Crisis rocks PDP in Adamawa, Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti states
The power struggle within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Adamawa State, has persisted since president Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure. Obasanjo was said to have mandated Professor Jibril Aminu to seize the party structures from one-time vice-president, Atiku Abubakar and former governor, Boni Haruna.
The two warring groups involved in the party’s current crisis are the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Governor Murtala Nyako factions. Nyako is not on good terms with Tukur, the National Chairman of the party. Sources say the two are positioning their sons as the next governor of the state when the incumbent completes his term.
The governor is said to be openly working hard to place his son, Abdul-Aziz, in an advantaged position to succeed him as governor in 2016, while Tukur is also said to be highly interested in positioning one of his sons, Hassan, the Personal Private Secretary to President Goodluck Jonathan, or Senator Silas Zwingina as the next PDP governorship candidate.
Adamawa residents, it was gathered, were recently shocked when Abdul-Aziz undertook a tour of the state with the full protocol of a governor. The governor’s opponents said his son went to the extent of making promises of what the government would and would not do.
The current fight between Nyako and Tukur is all about control of local politics by four political bigwigs – Tukur, Nyako, Atiku and Aminu.
Interestingly, each was, one time or the other, a beneficiary or a victim of the PDP’s style of using “Abuja power” to have one’s way. The fight would also have a serious effect on the PDP and would produce some casualties.
From the way events are unfolding, Tukur seems determined to use the same political manoeuvre that brought Nyako to power to flush him out. His goal was to have a firm control of the state’s party executive. The opportunity to seize the party structure came when the state chapter of the PDP conducted primary elections for councillorship positions for the local council elections without approval from the PDP national headquarters.
The headquarters, apparently with instructions from Tukur, voided the elections and stopped the primaries for chairmanship positions. Nyako, desperate to keep the party structures under his armpit, went on with the chairmanship primaries – in his sitting room.
The Atiku group can also alter the political equation within the PDP. Whichever way the pendulum swings, this group would try to take advantage of the situation to establish a strong home support for Atiku’s presidential ambition, as well as for the group’s governorship hopeful, Adamu Mua’azu Modibbo.
Already, the senator representing Adamawa Central has pitched his tent with the Tukur camp, but the Nyako camp said it is not bothered, describing the senator as a gold-digger. The senator was once deputy to Haruna when Atiku was in control. Then he jumped to Aminu’s camp, later to Nyako’s and now to Tukur’s. One major implication of this in-house scuffle on the entire PDP structure is that in future, most PDP governors would strongly avoid having the national chairman from their state.
The crisis rocking the Ekiti State chapter of PDP is said to have been caused by two different camps – one loyal to Caleb Olubolade, Minister for Police Affairs and the other loyal to former governor, Segun Oni, the party’s Vice-Chairman in the South-west.
When the party held its congress on 18 March 2012, the group loyal to Olubolade and Fayose polled 318 votes to produce Makanjuola Ogundipe as the chairman, and all other party executive members, while the group believed to be loyal to Oni scored 310. Its chairmanship candidate, Akin Omole, declared himself as the factional chairman.
It was gathered that the Olubolade group wanted Fayose back as governor, a position Oni is vehemently opposed to. Even with the recognition of the Ogundipe-led executive by the national secretariat of the party, all efforts to bring the group of 310 to the mainstream of the party have not yielded any positive result. While the executive, in line with the directives of the national leadership, is harping on reconciliation, Oni’s group is canvassing for harmonisation.
In the last two months, about 15 members of the PDP have expressed their intentions to contest the governorship position in 2014. Among those who have signified their intention to contest are former managing director of Wema Bank plc, Mr. Bisi Omoyeni; former deputy governor of the state, Chief Abiodun Aluko, who made a formal declaration at a colourful and well-attended rally at Ikere Ekiti recently; the immediate past senator representing Ekiti North, Mr. Ayo Arise; former member of the House of Representatives who represented Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1, Mr. Wale Aribisala; and a former senator from Ekiti South district, Mr. Gbenga Aluko.
Other contenders are Mr. Ropo Ogunbolude, National Democratic Party, NDP, candidate in the 2007 governorship election, who was a Special Adviser to Oni; a former governorship aspirant Mr. Yinka Akerele; a former chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, in the administration of Oni, Chief Dayo Adeyeye and Second Republic Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Bode Olowoporoku who is contesting for the third time.
Oni in a recent interview, said that reconciliation would be difficult without harmonisation, adding that the bone of contention was the refusal of the group of 310 to accept the “winner takes all” attitude of the group of 318. He said the gap was too close for the 318 party members to think they could go it all without harmonising with the 310 members.
The Ogundipe-led executive, strongly condemned the position of the 310 members, which he believed was meant to continue to divide the party. He said they are open to reconciliation and ready to readmit those they called “disgruntled members” to the fold and that whoever is still thinking of harmonisation should stop dreaming.
While some members believe that one reason the crisis has refused to die is the belief that former president, Obasanjo is solidly behind Oni’s group, while the Ogundipe-led executive has Tukur’s blessing.
It is no longer news that the Lagos State chapter of PDP, has always been engulfed in leadership crisis that continues to affect its electoral fortunes in the state since the inception of democracy in 1999. For 14 years, the party has coveted the seat of government, but has been playing second fiddle to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, formerly Alliance for Democracy, AD, in the battle for the soul of Lagos State.
Recurrent personality clashes among party chieftains have deepened the disunity in the party, making it to go into periodic elections as a divided house. The groups or camps are always locked in the battle of supremacy. At a reconciliation meeting held at the party secretariat and chaired by Pa Aderibigbe Shitta, armed thugs invaded the venue and dispersed the party faithful.
The crisis of leadership has always been escalating and the party leaders have been in disarray. Between 1999 and 2013, the AD and ACN have produced only three chairmen – the late Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Prince Ogunleye and Otunba Oladele Ajomale. But PDP has produced six – Basorun, Asorobi, Rasheed Williams, Bayo Williams, Setonji Koshoedo and Shelle.
The Lagos PDP started with a very solid foundation. Its first chairman, Basorun, had a short tenure. When he handed over to Asorobi, the party started to move at snail’s speed. Asorobi was rusticated but his followers kicked and the party broke into several camps.
He was subsequently readmitted by the Ajiroba Williams leadership. Many believed that had Williams been able to implement his reconciliation programme fully, the Lagos PDP would have been better for it. The former BoT member was abroad when he was abruptly replaced with a caretaker chairman.
After the 2007 general elections, there was disenchantment towards the leadership of Bode George. The party leader had backed Funso Williams’ widow, Hilda, against Musiliu Obanikoro. The primaries were deadlock during the re-run. A national leader of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, who observed the congress in Lagos, declared that Obanikoro carried the day.
The result of the governorship primaries was later announced in Abuja, to the consternation of George’s group. The party went into the general election as a divided entity. It was alleged that the campaign structure already in place was suddenly dissolved by George and a new one set up.
As the party prepared for the 2011 polls, it was engulfed in more crises. Obanikoro’s camp installed a former state legislator, Hamid Olorunoje, as a parallel chairman. In a swift reaction, the national leadership set up a reconciliation committee headed by Chief Tunde Oshunrinde, a party chieftain from Ogun State. The committee proposed a sharing formula for the composition of the state executive committee, which was jettisoned. Thus, when Koshoedo was in the saddle as chairman, there were allegations of marginalisation against Ogunlewe/Dosunmu/Sasore Camp, Olorunoje Group and Jafojo Group. Few weeks to the 2011 general elections, notable chieftains, including Chief Lanre Rasak, Demola Seriki, Wale Ahmed and Tunde Salau, deserted the PDP train and joined forces with the ACN at a campaign rally held in Lekki.
There was a lull in party activities until the emergence of Tunji Shelle as the chairman. He has boasted that he would become the first chairman to produce a governor in Lagos State. The party chairman has held series of meetings with aggrieved leaders. During the last Christmas, he and other members of his team visited some leaders, including Ogunlewe, at home to pacify them and elicit their cooperation. Shelle also led the party to a rally in Ikoyi, where he unfolded plans to take the party to greater heights. PDP is contesting the results of the local government elections in some Local Council Development Areas.
The internal wrangling in Ogun State chaper of the PDP started in 2008 when some members faulted the process that led to the emergence of the then Joju Fadairo-led state executive committee.
The party became factionalised as majority of its members maintained that no state congress was held in the state. It was reported that the process through which Fadairo emerged was undemocratic. Reports also have it that there were no congresses at both ward and local government levels prior to the state congress. This development led some aggrieved members of the party who, at that time, did not enjoy the backing of the state government, to form a parallel state executive.
The party went into the last general election in tatters, with many of its members contesting on the platform of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN, a party sponsored by the erstwhile governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Obasanjo pitched his tent with the remaining members of the PDP and fielded former ECOMOG-Commander, General Adetunji Olurin as its gubernatorial candidate and The party performed woefully at the election. Irked by this development and in its bid to resolve the crisis, the National Executive Committee, NEC, directed the state chapter to dissolve the Fadairo executive so as to give room for peace.
It dissolved the executive on 30 July 2012 and instructed the erstwhile National Vice-Chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, to harmonise the two groups, which paved way for the Dayo Soremi-led harmonised state executive on 8 August 2010. This step led to the second phase of the crisis. The Soremi-harmonised executive sought for relief at a Federal High Court to ensure that INEC and the Police recognised it as the authentic PDP in the state.
Efforts by the embattled party to restrategise ahead of the 2015 general elections in the state have not yielded positive results. Despite the efforts to bring its members under one umbrella, the crisis remains unsettled as Obasanjo refused to be swayed as he holds on tight to the leadership of the party to the dislike of other factions.
It was not quite long after the peace meeting which produced Daniel as the new leader of the party that his faction and the Odunjinrin-led faction seized the party secretariat located at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta in gangster fashion. The Obasanjo group not only seized the secretariat, it also insisted it remains the only and authentic state executive of the party.
It was gathered that the embattled factional group relied on a letter signed by the National Secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to the Inspector-General of Police, introducing the Odunjinrin-led group as the new state executive in the state.
As the various factions of the party edged towards reconciliation, a chieftain of the party and bosom friend of Obasanjo, Chief Sule Onabiyi, hosted a meeting of members in Abeokuta. Onabiyi, who spoke in the presence of other top leaders of the party in the state, like Chief Niyi Adegbenro and ex-minister Sarafa Tunji Isola, said Obasanjo, as “an international statesman”, had no faction in the state. Adegbenro urged Obasanjo as a matter of urgency to forgive Otunba Daniel of any misdeeds to him if the party would move ahead. Aside from Daniel, there are many chieftains of the party that appeared not to be on “talking terms” with Obasanjo.
.This article originally appeared in TheNEWS magazine of 28 January 2013