Raphael Adeyanju is the Publicity Secretary of Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this Interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, he speaks on the crisis rocking the party in the state and efforts to resolve it
What is your take on the crisis rocking the PDP in Ekiti State?
In any human organisation, there are bound to be disagreements and in most cases, such disagreements may lead to positive developments. So, what you people call crisis is a sort of disagreement within the party but we are going to resolve it.
What actually happened was that, immediately after we lost the last gubernatorial election, some of us felt that the campaign and election were not properly managed and there were some mistakes made by the party. So, we sat down and decided on the way forward.
One of the suggested solutions was that the party must be strengthened, repositioned and re-energized because the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Otunma Bisi Kolawole, happened to be the former chairman of the party. When he left the office, it was handed over to his deputy who took charge as acting chairman of the party.
So, after the election, some of us sat down and decided to have a substantive chairman, who should come from the same senatorial district that the former chairman came from. Some people were not happy with that. They wanted to retain Lanre Omolase as the acting chairman.
They also wanted to keep on subjecting members to unnecessary control and manipulation. Some of us resisted and insisted that Omolase should call for a State Executive Council (SEC) Meeting.
There is a difference between SEC and State Working Committee (SWC). SEC is made up of many members like party chairmen in the local government areas, party executives and some members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and other members of the party, whereas the SWC has limited number of executives. In a situation where chairman refuses to call for a meeting, the SEC has the power to hold a meeting and take the major decisions for the party.
So, since the chairman was not ready to call for a meeting, the SEC called for a meeting and it was during that those who felt we should not have a substantive chairman preempted us and went to announce somebody but SEC overruled the decision and we ended up having two factional chairmen. Though it was expected that the national body should make a pronouncement but while waiting for the national body, the group went to court.
They never wanted us to have a substantive chairman, so they took the advantage of that to get a court injunction, restricting the two factional chairmen from acting. So, by extension, Omolase was brought back to the table to continue to act as chairman of the party. So, as it is now, Omolase is still the recognized acting chairman of the party until the court makes a pronouncement that’s when we will know where we want to go.
So, the party is still functioning. From the look of things, it is obvious that leaders and stakeholders of the party in the state are not together and the crisis is seriously affecting the stability of the party? Yes, they have not really agreed on the approach to be adopted on how to resolve the little disagreement. We are together in PDP but we still have different approaches to issues.
For example, the normal practice then was that Ayodele Fayose, the former governor of Ekiti State was the one acting as the sole leader of the party. He was the only one giving command and directions. Some people have been resisting that, some of us supported him but we eventually discovered that our initial stand will not work in the interest of the party.
So, we embraced the system of leadership where all the leaders and stakeholders can come together to decide on where to go. That’s what they are doing now but as it is, some people may not want to support them. The former governors saw the development as a challenge to his authority but it is not a challenge. It is a welcome development, it is a way of redeeming him from the negative perception he has earned for himself and the party.
It is a very simple thing, what he needed to do is to agree with people, work with them and there will be no problem. Recently, there was a meeting of some leaders of Ekiti PDP where Fayose pronounced that he is behind the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, while he also maintained that he is in Governor Nyesom Wike’s camp.
What make of his position? We feel that it’s a big relief but we are still watching because his initial stand was that he was not going to support Atiku but his group later came out to say that they will support Atiku but on conditions. But some of us don’t agree that our support for Atiku must be on condition because as it is now, especially in Ekiti State, the party is an orphan. We just lost a gubernatorial election and we cannot afford to lose the presidential election, so we must give whatever it takes to win that election.
We can’t afford to give any condition now to be part of the winning team. That is the difference between us. So, when the former governor realized that we are not on the same page of giving condition to the presidential candidate, he traced his step, that was why he called that meeting. He called the meeting after we had called our own meeting, so we eventually had two meetings.
The joy of it is that the two groups agreed to work for Atiku but his meeting should rather be seen as an afterthought because he knew that nobody will follow him to challenge the candidature of Atiku. He flew that kite but it didn’t fly, so he has to come back home and give his support. So, we don’t want to say that the party belongs to any particular group; whatever group that insists on giving conditions to the presidential candidate before they support him is not a group that can be trusted.
He should come back home, come out with the group boldly and say that he is supporting Atiku. Looking at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), they also have their internal crisis but managing it, why is it difficult for the PDP to resolve its crisis at the state and national level, and what do you think is the implication? Every human organization has its weaknesses and strength.
So, every human organization is vulnerable to crisis but the strength is what makes the difference. The APC has strength over PDP because it has a sitting president, who is automatically the leader of the party. The sitting president can command, can give order and can manage the crisis within the party. But in PDP, we don’t have that figure who can whip people into line. So, as soon as we win the presidential election, there will be a leader who can control the party and bring the party together.
But as it is now, let us continue to work towards winning the election. Do you think that PDP has what it takes to win the presidential election? The prospect is very bright, though I said the joy of it all is that we have a common goal. Almost all the groups have one goal which is to win the presidential election for the party, so that the country can be saved from the present misgovernance of the APC. We have one ballot paper, so we have one candidate and one party. Even when we fight, we still have one goal.
Fayose is mobilizing his people and we are also doing the same thing. If we bring these people together, we are going to win the election. So, the future is very bright. How do you think your party can win Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State back to the party? Well, a good politician should know that he has two options, it is either he follows the party, do the deeds of the party and work with the party to achieve the goal, the aims and the aspirations of the party or leave the party to join the opposition and that is at a very great cost.
If Wike leaves PDP now and go to APC, he is going to be treated as a stranger in that party. So, it’s better to be in a party where he belongs to, where he is the landlord, and then try to resolve issues with members of the party. What makes you believe that Nigerians will vote for the presidential candidate of your party?
I don’t want to say that the presidential election is a forgone conclusion but PDP is going to win because people are not happy with the APC administration, so they are looking for someone who will come and rescue them from the monster called APC.
Nigerians cannot afford not to support PDP now because APC has really disappointed them, so they are yearning for a better change. The change they had then was regret and they are looking for authentic and better change. Do you see Ekiti PDP overcoming its problems and become one again? Let me say we are already one because the unifying factor is the presidential candidate and every PDP man is going to vote for Atiku. You see, there is a difference between disagreeing when we have aspirants and a candidate. When you have a candidate, you can disagree among yourselves but you have a single candidate you have to support for the presidential race.
So, as long as you are going to cast your vote for Atiku, I have no problem with you. We can disagree, have issues but if we are going to have the same goal by voting for Atiku, there is no problem with that, we are going to win the election. We can’t compare that to when some people broke away from the party to another party with a candidate. The difference between the issue we have now and during the last gubernatorial election is that Segun Oni was part of the party but he took a lot of people from the party along with him to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
So, PDP’s vote was divided into two as some people voted for Segun Oni, while some voted for Bisi Kolawole. That was why we lost the election but this time around, Segun Oni’s people, Fayose’s people and other groups within the party have one aim, which is to make sure that PDP wins the presidential election. So, if we disagree on how to go about it, there is no problem but the ultimate point is that nobody is leaving the party to go and support the opponent.