New developments in the Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have temporarily laid to rest the prolonged crisis that had engulfed the party over who is the authentic chairman between (Akogun) Iyiola Oyedepo and Prince Sunday Fagbemi. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM in this pieces examines whether the temporary peace in the party will sustain it to challenge the governorship seat come 2019 or not?
For the opposition Kwara state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last week was a significant milestone in the affairs of the party as its National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi authenticated the election of (Akogun) Iyiola Oyedepo as the bona fide chairman of the party.
The endorsement, which had heighten tension within the camps of the two gladiators in the arena saw supporters of both Oyedepo and his arch opponent, Prince Sunday Fagbemi raised hope on the eventual emergence of their principals.
Following the last congress of the party held at Arca Santa hall along Ajase-Ipo road Ilorin in November, both Oyedepo and Fagbemi had gone to the Appeal Panel set up by panel to look at the complaints arising from the exercise that was midwifed by the former governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
Oyedepo polled 220 votes to defeat Fagbemi, who got 217 in the contest which also saw former Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Alhaji Babatunde Mohammed and Engineer Usman Jide Alabi come a distant third and fourth with four and five votes respectively.
Fagbemi had alleged over voting and irregularities during the exercise and called for cancellation of the results.
To give weight to his allegation, Fagbemi’s supporters allegedly leaked a report in one of the party’s social media platforms that the panel set up to look into the various petitions arising from the Congress, headed by former National Chairman of the party, Chief Ekwesili Nwodo has recommended an annulment of the election to the party leadership.
The report quoted Nwodo saying that “impunity and manipulation at the party level should be discouraged; hence the recommendation of annulment became necessary to restore sanity”.
It said the secretary of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ben Obi also confirmed that there were clear evidence of over voting into most of the offices contested, particularly that of the chairman and secretary and recommended a fresh Congress to be monitored by at least a member of the National Caretaker Committee.
It added that Obi assured that the recommendations would be considered and a final decision of the NCC will be announced latest by Tuesday 28, November 2017.
Reacting to the development, both Fagbemi and Oyedepo differed on the outcome of the alleged report.
While Oyedepo told Pilot Politics that the report was concocted, adding that “there was nothing like that. In fact, we’ve outgrown that level because the party has moved on for better repositioning and we have commenced moves to ensure reconciliation with Fagbemi and his cohort back to the party, Fagbemi warned against swearing-in Oyedepo and his executives, noting that it is a wrong exercise since the national body of the party has not declared the congress valid.
“We heard that the congress has been annulled but we’ve not been officially told. We know party leadership will soon make a pronouncement either ways; we know there were petitions laid before it, of facts and figures. But it became an aberration hearing that some people are swearing them in, it is against the party norms when we are yet to hear from the party over the results. It’s like taking law into one’s hand. We are waiting to hear from the party leadership anyway,” Fagbemi noted.
It was based on this premise that camps of both leaders, supporters of the party and political analysts in the state where waiting for eagerly for the pronouncement of the NCC. However the national leadership of the party affirmed Oyedepo’s emergence.
The prelude to that development first became apparent when its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, while featuring on Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’ which was monitored by this medium, threw its weight behind the leadership of Iyiola Oyedepo just as it has declared that the crisis brewing in the Kwara state chapter of the party since its last year botched convention has been put to rest.
While acknowledging that there was crisis in the Osun state chapter of the party and that party members should employ all mean of amicable dialogue to settle its crisis before heading for litigation because court litigations will never aid the growth of the party, Adeyeye noted that the crisis has been resolved in Kwara, adding that no member of the party would drum beats of war any longer.
He stressed that the congress held in the state that produced its executives was successful and devoid of biases.
“As for Kwara state, the crisis is resolved, I can confidently say that. The allegation that the party will not have a successful convention is just an imagination of some people”, he added.
After the party’s affirmation, Oyedepo and his supporters took to the street in jubilation and accorded their principal a rousing welcome on his arrival in Ilorin International Airport on Saturday amidst dance and singing with a motorcade that escorted him to the party secretariat at Asa-Dam road, Ilorin.
As the euphoria that greeted the announcement continues to reverberates, analysts and concerned players in the affairs of the party have began to ask whether the party has finally amended its broken umbrella and broken its crises jinx that seemed to have defiled all possible solutions before now.
This is about the third time that the two rivals will be challenging each other to know who owns the soul of the party and lead it to a major governorship election, but the tunes seem to be different this time around.
With the Fagbemi group having as many executive members in the new arrangement just like Oyedepo, the talk is for both camps to come together for once and unite to provided a robust opposition to the ruling party going to 2019 which will see the electorates the better for it away from the radio politicking that it has confined itself to.
Hitherto, the question in the minds of some analysts is whether the Kwara State chapter of the PDP can ever pick up the pieces after 2015 defeat or perhaps just what will the political gods accept as sacrifices for the party to redeem itself following the crisis that has decimated the party along factional lines from its last two state congresses.
While the party had before now found it absolutely difficult, if not impossible, to chart a common cause at the national level, its states’ chapters, Kwara inclusive, found the political waters too salty a refuge place. But that in the light of the new development may have been laid to rest in Kwara, especially if Fagbemi decided not to roar anymore for the party to forge ahead as a united force.
According to the immediate caretaker committee chairman of the party in the state, Chief Tunde Akindehin, “We have followed due process in our job in Kwara State. We never went to Kwara to destroy the party but to consolidate it and we have done our best. We should learn to accept defeat and if the members and elders bring themselves together, Kwara will be a beautiful story to write about” (come 2019).
It however remains to be seen whether the ‘oracle’ has spoken or the gladiators will continue to give themselves to bricking and manoeuvrings that has suggested that some people are being used as mole by the ruling party to destroy the affairs of the PDP in the state and ensure it never gets its act together for any electoral contest. And just like Oyedepo acknowledged while addressing party members at the secretariat, “If people are saying we are being hypnotised, charmed or jinxed never to get it right, should we also be the architect of our own failure”. The best bet for the party is to prove the naysayers wrong and show that is has got some sense by bridging the wide gulf among its leaders and mopping up scarce resources needed to challenge for honours come 2019.