There were strong indications that the immediate past Governor of Ekit State, Ayodele Fayose, and the National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, may have begun a subtle political battle ahead of 2019 general election in the state. Our correspondent gathered that the leadership tussle that broke out between factions of the party in Ekiti State may be the cause of the rift between the duo.
While Fayose is currently engaged in a fierce political battle for the control of the PDP in Ekiti State, there are feelers that Secondus may have thrown his weight behind those who plotted the alleged removal of the former governor as the leader of the party in the Southwest state following the loss of the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the gubernatorial election held last July.
Party sources say the national leadership of the party’s decision to support those moving against Fayose is being rationalized as the provision of the PDP constitution which allegedly prescribed the most senior elective office holder in a state as the ‘leader’ of the party in any state. “This is where Secondus recognized Senator Biodun Olujimi as the leader of the party in Ekiti State,” a source explained.
But ex-Governor Fayose is unfazed by such explanation. According to sources close to him, he is highly disappointed and embarrassed by what he reportedly described as the betrayal of trust meted out to him by Secondus. “Oga will ordinarily go to sleep and not worry himself over the circus show being led by Senator Olujimi. But when signs that the plotters may have the support of some people at the top started emerging, he saw a need to dig deep.
“While it is still not confirmed where all these is coming from so soon after we left office, it is sad that the national chairman’s body language is encouraging the political rascality going on in Ekiti PDP today. Fayose is no push over in politics, especially in PDP where he has been governor twice. We will not allow anybody to dictate for us in Ekiti. The party members know their leader and they will not follow any regent,” our source, a close associate of Fayose’s said.
Prominent chieftains of Ekiti PDP had last Saturday appointed the Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, as the leader of the party in Ekiti State and the Southwest. The PDP stakeholders also passed a vote of no-confidence on the Chief Gboyega Oguntuase-led State Working Committee of the party in Ekiti, calling on Secondus to dissolve the executive and set up a caretaker committee to pilot the party’s affairs. They cited alleged financial recklessness as reason for their call for the disbandment of the State executive.
The party leaders took the decision to install Olujimi as leader since she is the most top-ranking elected official in the state and the Southwest. A resolution, signed and read by the Protem Secretary of the PDP Stakeholders and former Assembly member, Bunmi Olugbade, also overruled the SWC on the suspension of former State Secretary of the party, Dr. Tope Aluko, saying he remains a bonafide member of the party. The leaders also resolved to back the candidacy of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
Reacting, Senator Olujimi said ex-Governor Fayose was excluded from the meeting because he had just been released from detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged financial fraud. “We knew what he might have passed through by staying in detention and we know it might not be easy for him to attend this meeting, so there is no faction at all in our party. My being appointed the Leader does not mean there is crisis,” she said.
A party leader, Titi Oluwatuyi, while commending the national chairman of the PDP for ‘standing firm on the side of the truth’ claimed that Section 30 of the PDP’s constitution allowed leadership change in the PDP, saying the leadership change was in order. The PDP chieftain who leads a group, Integrity Women in Politics, said Secondus has restated his support for the adoption of Senator Olujimi as the party’s leader in the state.
She applauded those who spearheaded the announcement of the change in leadership of the party, saying it would “serve as a morale booster for women’s participation in politics.” Oluwatuyi also commended the former Governor Fayose for allegedly “respecting and standing by the decision of the stakeholders”, saying this was “party supremacy in action.” She contended that Senator Olujimi’s adoption was “in consonance with the party’s constitution and the rule of law” and that the action didn’t breach any law of the land.
“We commend former Governor Fayose for standing by the party’s decision and he did this because he realised that the decision was in line with the party’s guidelines and constitution contrary to some disgruntled and faceless elements who are bent on fanning the ember of discord within the party. We charge the new leader, Senator Olujimi to, as a matter of urgency constitute a reconciliation committee that will further foster unity among party members with a view to presenting a formidable party that can guarantee victory for us in 2019.”
The Nation gathered that the Olujimi camp may have sought the understanding of Secondus and other party leaders before embarking on the move to change the status quo in Ekiti PDP. Reliable sources claimed that the move was initiated by a coalition of some prominent Abuja based Ekiti politicians and many more home based politicians, especially members of the Ekiti House of Assembly.
“The event where Olujimi was announced as the replacement for Fayose as the party leader in Ekiti was the final outcome of series of meetings in Abuja and Ado-Ekiti. The decision was not just taken without consultations. That is why it has not been easy for Fayose to reverse the situation in spite of all the threats. Ekiti people and the leadership of the PDP in Abuja know the right thing to do in the current situation if the party is to survive this trying time,” a party official said.
Speaking on the development, another aide of the ex-Governor flayed the silence of the national leadership of the party on the matter, saying those accusing Secondus of having a hand in the unfolding drama may not be totally wrong after all. “Why should anyone keep quiet while something like this is going on? This is not in the interest of the PDP in Ekiti, or even in the entire Southwest. Secondus better be told,” he said.
While dissociating themselves from the Saturday meeting that installed Olujimi as state leader, PDP’s five House of Representatives members from Ekiti State expressed confidence in the leadership of the Oguntuase-led state leadership of the party. Representatives Kehinde Agboola (Ekiti North I), Thaddeus Aina (Ekiti North II), Ayo Oladimeji (Ekiti Central I), Segun Adekola (Ekiti South I) and Akin Awodumila (Ekiti South II), in a joint statement, reiterated their loyalty to Fayose.
“There is no leadership vacuum in the PDP in Ekiti State those desperate for political leadership should wait for their time. While we agree that individuals or groups have rights to hold meetings, we are miffed that Senator Olujimi was taking her selfish agenda of collapsing the party structures to the extreme. We were not consulted before the meeting was held and most of those who attended the meeting were those who worked against our party in the July 14 governorship election,” they said.
But a source at the national secretariat of the PDP told The Nation that it is wrong for anybody to read meaning to the silence of the national chairman. He explained that the matter came to the notice of the PDP leadership during the week and necessary steps are being taken to look into it. “We will not encourage discord anywhere. We will not support tyranny of any sort. We will always do what will promote the party, not an individual,” our source said.