THE crisis rocking the Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) seems intractable as it has defied solutions proffered by stakeholders, particularly at the national level. For the past three years, the embattled state chapter has not known peace, the cracks have been widening as if the party was destined for self-destruction. Some of its prominent leaders and their supporters have left and joined other parties. The logjam took its toll on the former ruling party in the state when it was defeated by the opposition All Progressives Congress in the July 14, 2018 governorship poll.
Analysts have identified three major issues that are responsible for the lingering crisis. They were the imposition of the 2018 governorship candidate by the ex-governor Ayodele Fayose; the disagreement over the composition of the Atiku/Obi Presidential Campaign Council for Ekiti State; and the fight over the soul of the party that led to parallel ward congresses conducted by the two factions.
The crisis dated back to September 2017, when the former governor picked his deputy, Professor Kolapo Olusola as the party’s candidate for the July 14, 2018 ahead of the primary. Other aspirants cried foul and mobilised to kick against what they perceived as Fayose’s imposition. The aggrieved aspirants included former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi; former Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye; former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseni Ajayi; former Deputy Governor, Mr Bisi Omoyeni; and former Ambassador to Canada, Mr Dare Bejide.
They teamed up with their supporters across the 16 local governments to battle what they perceived as the unjust and unilateral decision of the former governor.
Sensing that Fayose would eventually have his way, some aspirants left the party to realise their ambition in other political parties. For instance, Bejide moved to the Peoples’ Party of Nigeria (PPN) and picked the party’s ticket for the governorship poll. Omoyeni also defected to Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and became the party’s flag bearer.
However, Olujimi and Adeyeye remained to battle Fayose to a standstill. The duo joined forces and demanded the intervention of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC). Indeed, the NWC set up a reconciliation committee, led by the former Senate President Senator David Mark. Olujimi and Adeyeye insisted that there must be a free, fair and transparent primary election for peace to reign in the chapter. The party leadership acceded to their demands. Thereafter, an electoral committee, headed by Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was mandated to conduct the primary.
Knowing what was at stake, the electoral committee was diligent in carrying out the assignment. To ensure transparency, the lists of delegates were made available to the aspirants days ahead to the primary. The committee went to the extent of publishing the delegates’ list in some national dailies.
Twenty-four hours to the election, the Olujimi and the Adeyeye camps struck a deal and presented Adeyeye as a consensus candidate, to slug it out with Olusola. Following the pact, Olujimi mobilised her supporters to vote for Adeyeye.
Nevertheless, Olusola emerged the winner. All contestants except Adeyeye adjudged the primary free and fair. Adeyeye cried foul and defected to the APC. But, Olujimi decided to remain in the party. But, Olusola later lost the governorship election to Kayode Fayemi of the APC.