Ekiti PDP harvests fruits of disunity at gov poll

Ayu,Fayose and Kolawole

ABIODUN NEJO writes that the Peoples Democratic Party’s devastating defeat in the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti State has set tongues wagging within and outside the party in the state and beyond, raising concerns about the party’s fortunes

The Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress (formerly Alliance for Democracy, Action Congress, and the Action Congress of Nigeria) have swapped leading Ekiti State since 1999’s first elections, as neither has been able to successfully pass the governorship baton to a member of the ruling party.

However, after the June 18 governorship election, this changed. According to the results, the Social Democratic Party received more votes than the PDP, in addition to the fact that Biodun Oyebanji, the victor and governor-elect, will succeed the outgoing governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the APC.

The PDP candidate, Bisi Kolawole, came third having scored 67,457 votes while the SDP candidate, Chief Segun Oni, secured the second position with 82,211 votes and the APC candidate, Oyebanji, won with 187,057 votes.

However, observers who are concerned about the fate of the PDP in the upcoming elections are quick to blame former Governor Ayodele Fayose for allegedly allowing the party to disintegrate and the PDP national leadership for allegedly distancing itself from Kolawole by not travelling to Ekiti to campaign for him.

Road to defeat

The unsolved concerns in the circumstances surrounding the selection of the PDP’s governorship candidate in 2018 caused some disgruntled party members, including the former Works Minister, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, to defect.

Sen. Biodun Olujimi, a candidate for governor in 2018, and Fayose’s disagreements erupted in 2020 when the party had rival congresses, which resulted in parallel executives and polarisation into Fayose and Olujimi groups.

In the run-up to the 2022 governorship primary, the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led PDP National Working Committee’s efforts were in vain because the problems that split the party along partisan lines persisted.

Eventually, Olujimi pulled out of the governorship primaries complaining that the process was compromised, but former Governor Segun Oni dumped the party after the exercise, alleging irregularities and joined the SDP to contest for governor.

The gale of defection that hit PDP with members defecting daily to the SDP, which ought to bother PDP, was dismissed as inconsequential.

Despite the realities of discord and disenchantment, Fayose was confident that “we will do what is necessary.” The important thing is to show the good people of Ekiti State what we have done. There is no way you can look at a party that has accomplished so much and vote for another. Now is the time to win. It is now the turn of the PDP in Ekiti.”

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Anger over loss

Many see the PDP’s loss in Ekiti as a reversal of fortunes for the party, especially since members believe it is time for it to win the 2023 presidential election based on the APC s alleged failures in the economy and security sectors, among other things.

A former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi did not hide his emotions as he blamed the party’s loss in Ekiti State on Fayose, saying, “Our problem in Ekiti today has been caused by the past Governor Fayose. He ruined the place before leaving office. In Ekiti, the campaign for a candidate was a major struggle.

“There was no campaign council for Ekiti, no rallies there. Nothing happened there. The party at the national level must address this matter. If people should misbehave, there should be disciplinary actions. If that is not done, then it is a waste of time, we have a big battle ahead,” Ikimi said.

Meanwhile, Fayose said the PDP chieftain was only seeking relevance with the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Fayose stated via his Twitter handle, that “he (Ikimi) should also be reasonable enough to understand that the same PDP that lost election in Ekiti on Saturday (June 18) to various factors, had in the past, won elections and will still win elections in the future.”

A prominent PDP member, Omotoso Okeya, who said elections could be won or lost for many reasons, said the fact that the Ayu-led NWC, Atiku and other stalwarts did not come to Ekiti to campaign to boost the morale of members and the electorate played a part in the electoral loss.

He said, “The APC and the SDP had their mega rallies whereby their leaders came to campaign for their governorship candidates. That PDP did not have such contributed to the poor performance. It has never happened in the PDP history that national leaders would not come to campaign for the party.”

The PDP acting State Chairman, Lanre Omolase, said, “Definitely, not having a rally and the absence of the leaders to campaign in the state affected the performance of the party because that would have boosted our morale more.

“The national body asked us precisely on Tuesday of that week. Tuesday was already booked by the APC, they asked for Wednesday, there was no way we could prepare for a mega rally in one day and Thursday, being the last day for the campaign, was already booked by the SDP.”

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In support of the chairman, PDP state Publicity Secretary Raphael Adeyanju stated that the party’s mega rally for the June 18 governorship election was cancelled due to time constraints and a desire to avoid clashes between parties.

Adeyanju said, “We were already looking at Thursday, 16th June, but we got to know it clashed with the date for the SDP rally and that was the last day for campaigns, so we could not hold it again. There was no way the national leadership, Atiku and the governors could have come since we did not hold it.

The PDP spokesperson, who said the situation could have played role in the loss, said, “The fact that we did not hold the mega rally could send wrong signal that the party was not on ground, it can affect the result of the election because majority of voters like to vote for parties they believe would win in terms of crowds.”

However, a former PDP State Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, who said the June 18 election was a protest, traced the party’s defeat to lingering disunity, which led to the SDP situation, adding, “All of us have learnt bitterly from the governorship election.

“The golden lessons there are that in unity we stand, divided we fall and that nobody gains from any division within the party. Nobody can say he has gained anything in the division of the party either in PDP or SDP, we have all learnt that there is no need to be divided.

“It is so clear that a united PDP remains a party to beat in Nigeria and Ekiti State. There can be internal problems and it could have affected the result of the election, but the strength of the PDP lies in the fact that when there is a problem, there is always crisis resolution. We are back there and PDP will come out of all these problems stronger,” Oguntuwase said.

The PDP Board of trustee member from Ekiti State, Michael Oke, who hinged the loss on internal crisis, said, “So many things worked against PDP in the election. If any political party is not together, anything can happen to it.

“The SDP members are largely part of the PDP and soon, we will resolve and everybody will come together. After the election, we have been trying to constitute so many committees, so that we will be able to come together and work together as a team ahead of the general elections,” Oke said.

The PDP spokesperson, Adeyanju, added, “The election was a sort of protest vote against the party. We have learnt our lessons. The majority of our people felt disappointed that we allowed our crises to linger. We have begun to reorganise our party. We are looking forward to having a very bright future.”

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The PDP State Chairman, Omolase, who said the party was already recovering from the defeat, which he hinged on the crises that rocked it, assured of a bright future, saying, “We have already set up committees to review those shortcomings including one to pursue genuine reconciliation to strengthen the party, we are doing those things as a state executive.

“Already a lot of those who left PDP for SDP are already contemplating returning to PDP. Though the damage has been done, but notwithstanding, as a party, we will still look at the options, we will embrace them and see how we can forge ahead,” he said.

To former Ekiti State Governor Fayose’s media aide, Lere Olayinka, that PDP came third is immaterial, saying, “It is not the end of the road for the party. What is important is how do we take off from there and we are already taking off. There is hope for the PDP in Ekiti.”

Also, the PDP South-West Publicity Secretary, Chief Sanya Atofarati, hinted that, “Currently, PDP lawyers are understudying the outcome of the election. There were allegations of vote-buying and intimidation of voters. At the appropriate time, we will take action.”

However, APC State Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe said the PDP found itself in that situation because of crises, “The PDP will still continue to be a party, a force, it will still continue to be relevant.”

“The PDP did not show signs of preparedness for the election and it failed. The PDP did not hold any mega rally; it did not put up enough energy and zeal. It was already a divided house coming into the election. PDP was bedevilled by crises, but despite that, it still won a local That is commendable.”

However, the Media Director, Segun Oni Campaign Organisation of the SDP, who declined comment on the future of PDP, said, “We are still reviewing the election, it is only after the review that you can talk about any other subject.”

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