The outcome of last Saturday’s convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is already having effects on the political structure of the opposition party in the South-West.
New Telegraph gathered that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who is the sole governor of the party in South-West, may have taken full control of the party’s machinery in the six states making up the zone.
The governor, who initially had a torrid time to assert his influence as the leader of the party in the zone, finally reinforced his grip with the emergence of his ally and former deputy governor of Oyo State, Amb Taofeek Arapaja, as the deputy national chairman (South) of the party.
Arapaja, who got the backing of Makinde last April to emerge as South- West Zonal Vice-Chairman of PDP, defeated former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, last Saturday in Abuja.
It was learnt that the new power-brokers in the party at the national level prefer Makinde as the face of the South-West because of his calmness calculative moves and popularity, especially among the youths.
A source ,who prefers to be anonymous said the power-brokers, who are mostly governors, wanted to do away with some leaders of the party who had constituted themselves into serial election promoters in the zone, hence, the need for a change of recognition in the affairs of the party in the zone.
Arapaja, despite being the incumbent leader of the affairs of the party in the zone, was prevailed upon by Makinde to obtain the Deputy National Chairman’s nomination form, few days before the close of sales at the national headquarters. It was gathered that the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, and former member of the House of Representatives, Oladipupo Adebutu backed Oyinlola, but the Makinde camp had its way at the end of the convention.
On its part, the immediate past National Vice Chairman of the zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, lost out of the race before the convention as he was disqualified for elective offices by the screening committee.
Interestingly, Makinde had initially endorsed Oyinlola for the office before he beat a retreat and moved his support base to Arapaja. His decision was said to have been fuelled by the decision of his governor-colleagues who allegedly rejected the choice of Oyinlola for the job.
Meanwhile, a member of the South-West PDP Caretaker Committee, Chief Taiwo Kuye, allayed fears of any crisis in the zone, stating that all members of the party in the zone will always queue behind Oyo State Governor. Kuye said that constitutionally Makinde is the leader of the party, adding that the governor’s “boys” are now directly in-charge of the party in the South-West following the emergence of Arapaja. “How many blocs have they formed in the past? They always fail.
They formed a bloc again at the convention and they failed. The true story is this, Arapaja and Oyinlola are the best two close friends of Makinde and the emergence of Arapaja was conjoined by the governors. It was Oyinlola that was first presented as the convention deputy chairman and all these people forming blocs that you are referring to rose up against him, then they brought Oladipo.
“And Oladipo was disqualified because he has a case against the party: he sued the party immediately he left his position as the national secretary in order to stop the convention. It was the governors that rejected Oyinlola. “They told Makinde that they don’t want this man, and to be specific, they said they don’t want anyone with a military background.
At a point, Makinde was in a tight corner but they insisted that the man must be changed. And if you look at it, he took it in good faith,” he said.