The Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party remains divided despite the decision of the Supreme Court, which resolved the party’s leadership crisis at the national level, writes Hammed Shittu
The seemingly intractable crisis among members and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State has shown no sign of waning despite the Supreme Court’s decision that declared the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee the authentic leader of the party.
As a fallout the crisis, the party failed to win any election in the state during the 2015 general elections. The party was factionalised then and remains so even today. Members are unable to work as a team. Rather, each group tries as much as it can to undermine the other. This simply explains the abysmal performances of the party during the last general elections.
One faction is being led by Chief Iyiola Oyedepo while Prince Sunday Fagbemi leads the other. The duo have been locked in an epic battle over who is the authentic chairman of the party before the last general elections in the state. The discord followed alleged anomalies that characterised the party’s state convention held at Stella Obasanjo Hall, Ilorin.
During the convention, some members of the party accused Oyedepo of adopting unconstitutional procedures in the conduct of the party’s convention of the party. The Fagbemi-led group rejected the procedures but Oyedepo, who then was the incumbent chairman, refused to budge.
The development eventually led to the disruption of the convention despite the heavy presence of security personnels. In the course of the confusion, Fagbemi organised a parallel convention at the Bekandims Hotel, in Ilorin and consequently elected another set of state officers for the party while the Oyedepo group also elected its own state executive council. This was how the PDP came to have to set of executives in Kwara.
The crisis was further deepened by the emergence of the former national chairman, Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff as some members and leaders of the party in Kwara followed pledged allegiance to Sheriff while others pitched their tent with Makarfi. The Oyedepo’s faction was allegedly loyal to Sheriff chairmanship while the Fagbemi’s faction supported the Makarfi-led national caretaker committee.
The ugly situation led to a break down of law and order as some members loyal to Makarfi early this year took over the state party’s secretariat in Ilorin while the other faction threatened to retaliate. It however, took the quick intervention of law enforcement agencies to prevent the crisis from blowing over.
The development also led to the arrest of some members and leaders of both factions. They were consequently arraigned in court and later freed after they signed a peace pact. The state’s police commissioner then, Mr. Olusola Amore, had to convene a peace meeting at the state police command to restore peace.
This remained the situation until the Supreme Court delivered judgment which affirmed the Makarfi-led national caretaker committee as the party’s leader at the national level. Since the court’s pronouncement, members of the party in Kwara have reignited their rivalry quarrel. While the Fagbemi-group parades party chieftains like former Minister of National Planning, Professor Suleiman Abubakar, Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrasaq, Barrister Kunle Sulyman, Senator Suleiman Ajadi, Alhaji Ilyas Abdulrahman among others, the Oyedepo group banks on the support of the youths, women and top chieftains of the PDP who are spread across the 16 local government councils of the state.
While addressing journalists in Ilorin shortly after the victory of Markafi at the Supreme Court, Fagbemi lauded the ruling of the court describing it as “a triumph over falsehood and application of the rule of law.”
According to him, the ruling has finally affirmed the true position of things as far as the control of PDP is concerned. He advised party members across the country to close ranks and work for the success of the party during the 2019 general elections in the country
He said: “We thank the judiciary for staying on the side of the truth and we urge its officials to continue in that direction, so that together we can build a country where there will be equal opportunities for all, regardless of class or status. With this landmark judgement, our great party, the PDP is now in a better stead to play its role as the leading opposition party in the country. It’s also a great opportunity to reposition the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.”
He also expressed confidence that the party under Makarfi would wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the next general elections.
Recently, the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee recognised Fagbemi as the state chairman of the party, thereby putting an end to the crisis in the state. That was expected because the Fagbemi-faction had always pledged allegiance to Makarfi.
It was therefore not surprising when Fagbemi was invited to attend the first national executive council called by Makarfi after the Supreme Court Judgment.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin after his return from the Abuja meeting, Fagbemi who is now recognised as the new Kwara State PDP chairman, said he was overwhelmed by the recognition accorded him by the party’s leadership in Abuja as well as the rousing welcome organised in his honour by the party’s supporters on his return to Ilorin.
He extended a hand of fellowship to Oyedepo and his team and asked thhem to join hands with him in rebuilding the party that once ruled the state for eight years. He also thanked the party supporters, urging them to continue to work hard for the victory of the party in future elections.
Despite the fact that the party’s leadership in Abuja had recognised the Fagbemi-led exco,some youths loyal to the Oyedepo-faction insisted that, Oyedepo remained the authentic chairman of the party in the state. The youths, under the auspices of the Concerned PDP Youths (CPY), at a press conference, appealed to the party leadership in Abuja not to impose anybody on the party in Kwara or violate the constitution of the party.
The spokesperson of the youths, Comrade Musibau Esinrogunjo, said: “Oyedepo, as the state chairman of the party, has provided sound leadership since he was elected”.
According to him, Oyedepo was duly elected as the chairman in 2016 at a convention attended by every members of the party.
The youth leader also expressed the support of PDP youths in the state for Makarfi and rejoiced with him and the party on his success at the Supreme Court.
“We congratulate the national leadership of our party under the stewardship of Senator Ahmad Makarfi over our victory at the Supreme Court against those who did not mean well for the progress of our party. It is indeed a feat worthy of celebration for all and sundry. The victory has provided an avenue for us to put our house in order to take over the mantle of leadership in the country come 2019,” Esinrogunjo added.
He also said that Oyedepo had never been found wanting in the discharge of his duty as the chairman of PDP in Kwara, even as he castigated Fagbemi and his followers saying “report reaching us indicates that some self-centred individuals, who did not mean well for our party, are now parading themselves at the national secretariat as leaders of the party in Kwara.
“As far as we are concerned, these individuals are not only mischief makers, but are agents of the ruling APC, hired to cause disunity in our party in order to weaken us,” he added.
Esinrogunjo maintained that there was no faction in Kwara PDP as the only chairman of the party was Oyedepo. He maintained that he remained the only authentic and legitimate chairman of PDP in the state.
He therefore called on the Makarfi-leadership to give recognition to Oyedepo as the genuine and authentic chairman of the party in Kwara, stressing that “Any attempt to do otherwise shall be met with decisive resistance. We shall remain calm, firm and resolute as party loyalists and wait for further directive from the party.”
Except this crisis is amicably resolved, the party should not except to make any gain in Kwara State. APC is waxing stronger in the state and it will take a united PDP to take back power from the ruling party.