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As Ondo PDP Embraces Peace...
The over two-year-old crisis rocking the Ondo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was resolved last week with the implementation of the resolution of the stakeholders’ forum and the inauguration of the transition committee of the party. YINKA OLADOYINBO, in this report, examines the development.
The Ondo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), last week, finally put behind it the crisis that rocked it since it lost the governorship seat in the state to the Labour Party (PDP) with the inauguration of a new transition committee to steer the ship of the party till next convention.
The committee members were drawn from the nine federal constituencies in the state, while the federal constituency that produced the chairman, Akure North/Akure South, was given another seat, thereby making it a 10-man committee. The development followed series of reconciliatory meetings held by the leaders and members of the party with a view to finding a lasting solution to the imbroglio.
The move was started by some leaders including Senator Bode Olajumoke, Mr. Jones Akinyugha and others who met several times to discuss the factors responsible for the crisis and proposed ways out of the deadlock. After meeting for about one month, the group, led by Olajumoke, came up with a proposal that would lead to the stepping down of the Dr. Omotayo Dairo-led executive and the dissolution of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) led by Professor Olu Agbi to pave way for the constitution of a completely new body that will run the secretariat of the party pending the next convention.
But the proposal of the group seems not to have gone down well with the state executive of the party and some other notable leaders, who believed that the group that made the proposal lacked the locus standi to come up with such. While the Dairo-led executive was not in tune with the proposal, the IMC considered it to be a welcome development and an impetus needed for salvaging the party.
Reacting to the development, Agbi had said, “The PDP in Ondo State is moving forward to arrive at an equitable resolution of our crisis. We met with the executive council of the party and the National Assembly caucus of the party and we took some vital decisions that will affect the structure of the party in the state and will prepare the party for the next gubernatorial election.
“We have said that the national secretariat should now wade into the crisis and we have said that the IMC would resign, the Dairo-led executive would resign and then we would withdraw our court case against the executive . The national secretariat of the party will now put together a caretaker committee for this party between now and January when we will go for our congress and convention.
“We believe that we are all men of honour, integrity and we are not expecting anybody to renege on the agreement. If they do renege on the agreement, then with due respect, the crisis is not in the interest of anybody. So, I’m not sure they will renege. It was a gentleman agreement; there was nothing written, but there would be a form of communiqué very soon and a statement would be made by Olajumoke because he is the arrow-head of this resolution and reconciliation,” Agbi stated.
But the resolution of the group could not be implemented as some leaders of the party were against such proposal and the crisis continued unabated. The two major groups retreated into their shells and continued to carry on at their different levels.
However, when it was obvious that the party that was the number one in the state prior to the coming of the Labour Party has now been relegated to the third position because of the moves being made by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the national secretariat of the party waded in and encouraged the national officer from the state, who is also the National Legal Adviser of the party, Chief Olusola Oke, to find a way of resolving the crisis without injuring any of the groups involved in the whole saga.
The efforts at bringing the different factions and groups within the party to a roundtable was not an easy one as Oke tried to encourage the people to sheath their swords and consider the interest of the party. The peace-move suffered initial setback as members were suspicious of one another and did not want to be fully committed to the move initiated by Oke. The argument of some of the groups was that Oke is believed to be a member of the group sympathetic to the former governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Agagu and as such, was skeptical about his ability to midwife a genuine and true reconciliation.
But after enlisting the confidence of the people that his moves were to bring back a united and virile PDP, many of them bought into it and started attending the meetings called at the instance of Oke.
The first meeting was attended by members of the different factions and groups in the party and leaders of the party including Agagu, Oke, Dairo, Chief Oyewole Fasawe, Oluwateru, Demola Ijabiyi, Taofeek Abdussalam, Mayowa Akinfolarin, Victor Olabimtan and Ola Mafo, among others. The meeting, which lasted several hours, was said to be open as those in attendance spoke their minds.
Oke said that the meeting was called as a follow-up to that of the Olajumoke initiative. He said that all the leaders bared their minds on several issues and resolved to lay aside personal ambition for the collective good of the party. “I conveyed this special meeting of the leadership of the party to look at the future of the party in relation to Ondo State; we can hear the call of the Ondo people for a new order and we know that the PDP is the alternative party. So, this meeting was conveyed at my instance to strategise on the way of strengthening the party, engender resurgence on vitality, unity and cohesion within the party in order to prepare it for the challenges ahead. We believe that the decay in the state must be arrested.
“There is need for a change. There has been a total lull; what we can see around are carcasses of broken promises and rubbles from destruction of the private property of our people without a conversion to public wealth. I personally believe that we will be failing in our responsibility if we do not provide alternative platform for the people of Ondo State to actualise their yearnings for a change. This meeting resolved to put in place strategies for this purpose. We have resolved on fundamentals that would make the party wear a new look and to have reinvigoration of energy towards providing alternative leadership. We have agreed on the need for the entire leadership to come together to form a formidable fulcrum for the realisation of the new agenda of the party,” Oke averred.
After meeting for about three times, the leaders of the party agreed on some steps to be taken to finally resolve the crisis in the party. However, a major point agreed upon by the leaders included the one that was proposed by the peace initiative made by Olajumoke, which asked the state executive of the party to step aside. Addressing newsmen after the last in the series of the meeting, Oke said,
“We agreed that all those things will have to be dismantled because they are products of disagreements and if we are going to agree, they have to give way. We have also resolved to bring about a resurgence of vitality into the secretariat so that we can have a completely new thing in the management of the party affairs and then, a reinvigorated body that will move the party forward.
He also disclosed that a committee was set up to work out the modalities for the implementation of the decisions.
“We have just set up a technical committee and I am the chairman and four other members will work with me like Isaac Kekemeke, Dr Iwaloye, Chief Tunde Akindehin and one other. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of coming out with the composition of a practical, tactical planning committee which will be made up of very few leadership of the party.
“The committee will also come up with the suggestion or framework for the various committees that we are going to put in place to re-energise the party. The committees will also interact with the members of the state executive committee over our new vision for the strengthening of the party at that level. We will interact with them and negotiate the modalities for infusing new blood into that secretariat,” he said.
The reconciliation moves, however, became a public knowledge when leaders and members of the party gathered at the Akure City Hall to ratify the proposals put forward by the leaders. Although the event was not without its ugly side as members from Ese-Odo Local Government Area publicly engaged in altercations and attacked themselves, the meeting was able to resolve to work together for the interest of the party.
A communiqué at the end of the meeting said the party had reached an agreement on the resolution of the crises that had been rocking the party as it ratified the setting up of a transition committee to run its affairs until the next congress of the party. The meeting also appointed two other committees, the reconciliation committee headed by Chief Oyewole Fasawe and the leaders’ caucus to be chaired by the former governor, Olusegun Agagu.
The communiqué signed by Oke said, “The unity of the party is not negotiable and as such is committed to achieving it at every cost. That in view of the development, the Stakeholders’ Forum accepts the decision of the State Executive Committee to step aside.
“The Stakeholders’ Forum also takes due cognizance of the recent roles of the Interim Management Committee led by Prof. Agbi, commends its commitment to the party and hereby dissolves it. All cases that are currently pending in court are hereby to be withdrawn forthwith.”
However, the peace efforts reached its climax with the inauguration of the transition committee headed by a former chairman of Akure North Local Government, Mr. Ebenezer Omotayo. Other members of the committee included Chief Sanyo Orungbemi, Major Femi Bobare, Mr. Femi Omosanya, Mr. Tunde Adegbonmire, Raphael Adebusuyi, Oyedele Ibine, Vincent Obadaya and Mrs. Dupe Arowosegbe.
It was at the inauguration that Dairo publicly agreed that the state executive committee headed by him had agreed to step down in the interest of the party. Dairo, who gave his handover note to Alabi, said he sacrificed his position as chairman for the unity and progress of the party just as he advised those nursing some grudges against other members to sheath their swords.
“The PDP is now united. We have met and told ourselves the plain truth. I urge every member of the party to team up with the new executive to win the next election,” he stated.