Leaders of Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are worried over the continuous defection of close associates influential party leaders to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), reports Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan
SIGNS of panic and disappointment are visible within the circles of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, as chieftains and members of the troubled party continue to defect in droves into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), just as the two leading political parties in the state warm up to slug it out again at the 2019 general elections.
Sources within the national leadership of the party told Newsmen that there is widespread anxiety among leaders of the party on both sides of the faction over political events in the Gateway state. According to an aide to Senator Ali Modu Sherif, the factional National Chairman of the party is worried that should the spate of defection from the party into the APC in Ogun State continue, the PDP’s hope of regaining the state at the 2019 polls may remain a mere dream.
It was also gathered that the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction of the party recently summoned some of the party’s chieftains in Ogun state to a meeting in Lagos to discuss the incessant defection of its members into the ruling party. It was gathered that at the meeting, which was well attended by chieftains loyal to the camps of former Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole and Hon. Ladi Adebutu, the leadership of the party expressed worries over the fortunes of the party in the state.
“Senator Sherif is unhappy with happenings in the Ogun State chapter of our great party. This is because he has high hopes that the party in the state is capable of regaining the seat of government in 2019. His faith in the leaders of the party in Ogun State, especially in Senator Buruji Kashamu, is very high and he remains very optimistic about the PDP in Ogun State.
“Recent events, where we have seen many of our leading chieftains and members joining the ruling APC, are worrisome. The national chairman is unhappy about it and he has said so on many occasions. Recently, at a party function in Ijebu Igbo, he called on the leaders of the party within the state to do something about the way our members were joining other parties.
“Although he got assurance from Senator Kashamu and other leaders that efforts were on to arrest the situation, events of the last weeks have not shown much improvement in the situation. For this, the national chairman is unhappy and he is in the process of personally intervening in the matter with a view to identifying the immediate and remote causes of the defections,” our source, a chieftain of the party from Ekiti state, said.
Speaking to Newsmen on the state of the party in Ogun State, Chief Daniel Odutuyo, a former Secretary of the All Peoples Party (APP) in Ogun East Senatorial District and now a chieftain of the PDP, said the party is uncomfortable with the turn of events. According to the politician, the Senator Makarfi faction of the party is saddened by the defections and has advised that urgent steps be taken to halt such.
“Not too long ago, some of our leaders were invited to a meeting where the ugly incidents of defections were discussed. The meeting held in Lagos and the real and loyal leaders of our party were in attendance except for those pretending to be with us but working for other parties and candidates ahead of 2019. Senator Makarfi wasted no time in urging our leaders to act fast and reverse the situation.
“The meeting afforded PDP leaders in the camps of OGD, Bankole and Lado, the opportunity to brainstorm on how to move the party forward and stop our people from leaving the party to join other parties, especially the ruling APC. Many reasons were identified as the causes of the ugly trend and efforts are on to correct all identified causes,” he said.
It was also gathered during the week in Abeokuta that leading chieftains of the party in the state may have resolved to call an emergency stakeholders meeting next week with the aim of unfolding new plans and directions for the party. This, It was gathered, is aimed at meeting the members’ call on party leaders in the state to chart a new course for the troubled PDP in Ogun State.
Influx into the APC from the PDP climaxed during the week when almost the entire leadership of the PDP in Ogun Central declared their support for the 2019 governorship ambition of Senator Olamilekan Solomon. Solomon, the senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, is a chieftain of the ruling APC.
Before then, the opposition party in the Gateway state has lost a number of its top chieftains from the various factions, to the ruling party. On most occasions, the PDP defectors were attracted to the ruling party by the governorship dream of Senator Solomon, whose political family is all over the place in the state seeking support and collaboration of politicians across and beyond party lines.
Few weeks back, one of the closest aides of former Governor Daniel, Bukola Olopade, a PDP chieftain who served in OGD’s cabinet as the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, endorsed the gubernatorial aspiration of Solomon, and declared his readiness to work for the election of the APC aspirant in 2019. Not a few wondered why Olopade was dumping the PDP for APC.
Olopade, a die-hard lieutenant of OGD for many years, popularly known as Ozogula, had said on his Facebook page: “I stand firmly on equity, which means on Ogun 2019, I stand with Yewa/Awori for a third time. Therefore, I openly and proudly stand with Senator Olamilekan Areola (Yayi) for governor.”
According to him; “enough of sentimental voting. If you take time to find out more about Yayi, maybe we can talk more on what he can bring to the people. I have gone beyond the politics of supporting anyone along party lines alone. For example, I will support Attacker (Hon. Segun Adekoya) any time for the wonderful job he has done so far.”
Led by Aare Tunde Alabi, two time commissioner in Ogun State, the Ogun Central group included other frontline PDP leaders, including Engineer Akeem Adesina, three time chairman of Obafemi Owode LGA and chairman of PDP in Ogun Central Senatorial District; Alhaji Moruph Ajisegiri, two time chairman of Abeokuta North LGA and former majority leader of Ogun State House of Assembly and Chief Fohunola Abiola, a leader from Ewekoro LGA.
Others on the defection train with Aare Alabi are Alhaji Saula Makinde, one time assistant Treasurer of PDP, Ogun State; Chief Oluwole Adeyi , former Special Assistant to Ogun State governor and serving Assistant State PRO of the party; Alhaji Nurudeen Olaleye, Secretary to the Local Government at Abeokuta South LGA and Alhaji Lai Shobayo.
Speaking on behalf of the group after they met and discussed with Senator Adeola, Aare Alabi said their decision to dump the PDP is largely because of the unending crisis in the opposition party. According to him, the PDP crises of 2011 and 2015, as well as the unending legal tussles leading to frivolous judgments, accounted for the electoral failure of the party at the last general election.
“By the special grace of God, a Yewa man will be the governor of Ogun State in 2019 and we believe that the person is Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola aka Yayi. We are supporting him fully for the race on any platform he decides to run,” Aare Alabi stated while announcing the reediness of his group to move over to the APC and work for Solomon.
Among those present at the event to receive the defectors into the APC along with the Senator were Rt. Hon. Tunji Egbetokun, former Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Tunji Akinosi, former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ogun State, Hon. Tunde Olaotan, former Consultant to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, and several other APC chieftains.
The National Vice-Chairman /Zonal Chairman of PDP in the South West, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, however insists that the PDP can still rise above its current challenges to give the ruling party a run for its money come 2019. According to him, all hands must be on deck to move the PDP forward and put it in good stead for the task ahead.
He added that, “the greatest problem bedeviling our party is uncontrollable act of impunity exhibited by very few individuals entrusted with leadership and power.” While assuring that the party will survive the current difficulties and come out stronger, Ogundipe urged party chieftains to stay in the party and work towards the resolution of all crises.
“Posterity will not forgive us because no political party remains in circulation without electoral success. If our party leaders decided to pay just lip service to the current intra-party differences, then a period of damaging consequences will be unavoidable,” he said.
It was gathered that the proposed stakeholders meeting is expected to address some key issues bedeviling the party and find solutions to such. It is also expected that the meeting will discuss the leadership crisis troubling the PDP at the national level and taking a position on the thorny issue of which of the factions to follow.
“We have realized the need to sit down and talk and that is exactly what we intend to do. We are unhappy with the way people are leaving our party and we desire to put a stop to the exodus. But first, we need to look inward and address the issues dividing us. If it is true that people are leaving because of the crisis, then we must discuss the crisis,” a source added.
However, the State Publicity secretary of the PDP in Ogun State, Bolaji Adeniji, while reacting to the gale of defection that has rocked the party in recent times, said the party is not troubled by the departure of the defectors as, according to him, those leaving the PDP for the ruling party have never really been committed and loyal members of the party.
“Ordinarily, the decision by the few insignificant numbers of person to leave the party and identify with an opposition politician from another state entirely, Should be of no concern to us, after all, a political party is the gathering of like minds with shared philosophy and organizing principles; that come together for the purpose of forming government. However, it is pertinent we state unequivocally that, the departure of Aare Tunde Alabi, Engr. Akeem Adesina and Nuru Olaleye notably, alongside three other persons, does not in any manner equate a disruption of the party within Ogun central senatorial district alone, talk less of the State at large”.
We are confident that the party is now strong and well-assured of electoral success in the 2019 elections. Our platform is open to all Ogun state people and we shall continue to maintain discipline, openness, justice, fairness, equity and fair-play in all processes that leads to the next general elections; when the PDP shall reclaim government from the despotic regime of Ibikunle Amosun and return the dignity of our people”.
“The PDP in our state today is very strong and after the repositioning efforts that lasted the whole of 2016, we are now reaping the reward as attested to by the ongoing massive mobilization of new members into the party which has seen over 100 top leaders of opposition parties join us, alongside about 10,000 of their supporters. The last two months precisely have witnessed a huge hole in the camp of the APC as PDP continues to receive their members all over the State in an unprecedented recruitment drive,” he said.