Ogun PDP crisis: Why it’s refusing to heal

Ahmed Markafi


Former President Jonathan Is To Blame For Handing Party To Kashamu

The internal wrangling within the Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) still lingers. The state’s party Executive is among the nine dissolved by the National Executive Council (NEC) due to protracted internal strife. The decision was taken after the Supreme Court ruling, which declared Ahmed Makarfi as the party’s authentic interim National Chairman.

The state Executive, which supported Ali Modu Sheriff faction during the crisis, has rejected the Caretaker Committee arrangement. Their reason was that, “The party’s National Convention cannot repudiate a validly constituted state executive, which has been further legitimised by the judgment of a Federal High Court that has not been appealed as at now and cannot even be appealed again, due to the constitutional lapse of time allowed to do so.”

Investigation by The Guardian revealed that efforts by the Caretaker Committee to assume office in compliance with the party’s national leadership directive is yet to materialise because of resistance from the Adebayo Dayo-led Executive, which insists that it has a court judgment that legally ends its tenure in 2020.

The seed for the party’s internal crisis was sown in 2008, with the impeachment of Hon. Titi Oseni, which divided the party into two major factions. While one faction was loyal to the then governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), the other faction was loyal to the then House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

The party again broke into two factions just before the 2011 elections, resulting in two parallel congresses to select candidates for that exercise. One of the factions was loyal to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while the other was loyal to Daniel.

After a bitter quarrel, the Obasanjo faction presented General Tunji Olurin (Rtd.) as its candidate for the governorship election, while the Daniel faction left the party to form the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and presented Gboyega Nasir Isiaka. But both parties lost to incumbent Governor Ibikunle Amosun of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Bankole is also leading another faction within the party, with its own party chairman. And the polarisation has continued till now.

The current quarrel in the party is between factions loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District and Hon. Ladi Adebutu, who represents Remo Federal Constituency.Adebutu and Daniel factions have merged to challenge Kashamu’s party Executive. The bone of contention is which faction controls the party after the victory of Makarfi-led faction.The two factions told their stories to The Guardian.

How did it all start?
We give glory to the Almighty that the crisis did not consume any life. During the crisis, there was no record of death or serious attack. It is quite uncommon in political circles to have such crises with no bloodshed, but we were able to manage the crisis well.

The problem started in 2009, when Senator Buruji Kashamu came on board the party. He claimed to be a businessman and aligned with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was the crisis between Obasanjo and Gbenga Daniel that gave him prominence then. At the end of the day, through court proceedings, he got the state’s party structure. In 2011, we went to the poll and lost. So, we returned to the drawing board to analyse the reasons we lost that election, and we were able to identify the problems, though we were unable to resolve the problems between 2011 and 2014.

In 2015, we went to the poll again, and considering the poor management of our differences, we again lost that election to APC and the problems degenerated.

Before the 2015 election, so many aspirants came on board and I also ran for governorship. But the crisis degenerated to a level whereby people were being asked to go diabolical; they were diabolically committed to take oath for Kashamu. It also degenerated to the point, where Kashamu was asking them to pay for their tickets. The game was subjected to the highest bidder— if you had the money, nobody cared about your credibility to run at the poll. Aspirants were asked to pay certain amount and they were also committed to diabolical oath taking.

The sum demanded depended on the aspirant’s class. For instance, he requested that I paid N500m to contest the governorship seat and I told him I didn’t have such money. I didn’t even believe I should pay for the ticket. This led to a situation where there were two or more candidates on the same platform contesting for the same post.

Our loss at the poll was due to the fact that we didn’t field in credible candidates; rather, candidacy went to highest bidders. We also lost because there was no internal democracy in the party. They (Kashamu faction) didn’t allow the people to choose their candidates at the primaries, and they imposed people that were of no electoral value.

It was categorically established that Kashamu collected money from APC Senatorial candidate in Ogun East, so as not to allow OGD contest the election. We noticed he was working for the ruling party, and that he was just doing business with our party. We also noticed that he had turned himself to an evil tool of APC. So, now that we have identified all these and are moving towards the 2019 election, we have to put up measures to take back the party structure from him.

Fortunately for us, the tenure of his structure, led by Adebayo Dayo, expired in February, but they illegally extended it to April. We went to court to challenge this and a judgment was given that their tenure had expired and so, they shouldn’t continue to run the party. And the party constitution says in such a case, there must be no vacuum, that a body of stakeholders should be constituted, which we did. We brought on board Chief Mrs. Iyabode Apampa as the Chairman to run the congresses.
 
But they are displaying some documents that they have a court judgment to the effect that their tenure ends in 2020.We appealed the judgment and got a stay of execution on that, because their judgment was not properly procured. We got our own judgment to stop them from conducting congresses and set up a Caretaker Committee to conduct the congresses from local government level to state level.

After conducting the congresses, we went to Ogun State High Court in Abeokuta to get an order, which stated that our own congresses and Executive remain the authentic Executive in the state. In that suit, we didn’t join Bayo Dayo. It was Abuja PDP, the state and State Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) that we took to court and we got the judgment. They didn’t have the opportunity of appealing it, since they were not joined in the suit. They went to court that they wanted to join in the case. They went to Lagos to procure a judgment and we appealed that judgment.

We also got stay of execution on that same judgment. These are the documents we took to OGSIEC and after proper checks, we were the ones given the opportunity to present candidates during the Local Government and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) elections. 

Their faction aligned with the Ali Modu Sheriff side and Sheriff was helping them to do so many things. They got judgment from the Appeal Court, which allowed them to attend the NEC meeting under Sheriff. 

After the Supreme Court judgment, it was spelt out that all window-shopping court rulings and judgments were thereby nullified. It is now left for the Caretaker Committee’s political will to choose whomever they want to work with in various states.

Why is Kashamu’s faction still occupying party Secretariat?
When I became the chairman, I made a promise that I would run a decent administration, that I would run an all-inclusive administration. I promised that we would be decent about our affairs; because one of the reasons people voted against us at the general election was that we were accused of thuggery and such activities. I didn’t want to take over the Secretariat by force, when we have security operatives that can do their job at the appropriate time. That Secretariat is just a structure that has got no significant impact on election results.

When they were taking over the Secretariat from Joju Fadairo’s Executive, some people lost their lives, and since then, they have stationed their thugs there and we don’t want to engage in any thuggery. Again, if we go to the Secretariat with our own people now, there will be serious fight. But we have a peaceful system of getting all the appropriate papers and taking them to security operatives and leave them to do their work.

The party Constitution gives power to the national convention, and if the convention has decided to be so fair to all of us, by saying all the judgments and court rulings should be jettisoned and a caretaker committee should be set up, I think that is a better option. It is now the committee that will conduct fresh congresses from local to state level. The dissolution of both Excos has put the crisis to permanent rest. They (Bayo Dayo faction) should go to Abuja and fight them, or if they cannot abide by the Supreme Court judgment, I think the next place to go is a lawn tennis court.

Do they stand the risk of being expelled?
At the state level, where we have the power to suspend them, we have done so. We have also recommended national figures among them to the National Caretaker Committee for proper action to be taken on them. But we don’t have the power to expel anybody. At the state level, we set up a panel to investigate them and we invited them to come and answer some of the allegations. We have recommended their expulsion to the National Caretaker Committee, because we saw that they don’t have the party’s interest at heart. 

What is the relationship between his faction and Bankole’s?
We have extended a hand of goodwill to them, just like I promised, when I emerged the chairman to run an all-inclusive party. We have extended a hand of fellowship to them and over 60 percent of them are with us today. Bankole, their leader, attended the PDP meeting with us after the Supreme Court judgment and he said to everyone, who cared to listen that he is a PDP member.

I blame former President Goodluck Jonathan for compromising Obasanjo and others’ credibility for Kashamu. How could he have imposed somebody like Kashamu over Obasanjo as the leader of the party in Southwest, not even only in Ogun State? It was Jonathan that compromised credible people for miscreants. We cannot allow Kashamu to ruin the party with his attitude.That We Are Being Used By APC Is Total Falsehood— Bolaji Adeniji, Spokesman of Adebayo Dayo’s Executive (Kashamu’s faction)

When did the current face-off emerge?
THE genesis of the current impasse began in 2016, when we were to have the party Congresses at the local, state, zonal and up to the national level. There was a Congress committee sent from Abuja to each state, including Ogun to monitor the exercise.

They (the party’s NEC) sent Alhaji Mohammed Yakubu-led Congress Committee to Ogun State to conduct all congresses in the state. The Committee Secretary was Hon. Brenard Miko. We conducted the congresses and at the state level, Engineer Adebayo Dayo emerged as chairman of the party for the second time.

But later that day, we heard that this other group, now being championed by Hon. Ladi Adebutu, with the strong support of Otunba Gbenga Daniel also held their own parallel congress, which was illegal because INEC, Police, DSS and the Abuja Congress Committee were all present at our own congress. They all signed the results, which were taken to Abuja. So, how could there have been another congress? Who conducted that parallel congress? It was afterwards that we heard that this other group, led by Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, had been elected to run the party’s affairs.

We approached the Federal High Court, that we had followed due processes; we had conducted the congresses and had validly emerged, as the Executive of Ogun State PDP and therefore, the court should enforce our fundamental human rights.

We tabled some prayers before the court and in its final judgment; the court ruled that no other Executive was allowed to parade itself as the party’s Executive. The court also refrained the defendants (Adebutu, Ogundele and the PDP national leadership) from electing or appointing any other group of persons to act on behalf of the party, aside the Adebayo Dayo-led Executive, which emerged via the 2016 state Congress. The court affirmed that Adebayo Dayo should continue to act as PDP Chairman till 2020, when his four-year tenure would expire.

They didn’t appeal the judgment and unfortunately for them, the window period of appealing had elapsed, but until that judgment is appealed and repudiated, no other Executive can parade itself as valid Exco members.

But they also claim they have a court judgment…
The judgment they are parading came about sometime in 2016, when Ogun State wanted to hold the local government elections and Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) was confronted with two PDP Executives, with two sets of candidates. OGSIEC was initially at a loss as to what to do.

OGSIEC initially said it would be guided by whatever INEC says, because INEC is the only body recognised by law that can decide the authenticity of any party leadership. Even though they (INEC) said Adebayo Dayo’s Executive is the authentic one in the state, but surprisingly, rather than OGSIEC to follow that, it decided to play with the weaker group in PDP, the Ogundele group, which was not ready for election, as the group ran to the State High Court to collect an injunction compelling OGSIEC to accept their list of candidates for that local government election. And based on this, they claimed they were the authentic Executive in Ogun State and that is the judgment they have.

What is your next line of action?
As far as we are concerned, there can never be a caretaker committee for Ogun PDP at the moment and the reason is this: After the initial National Convention in May 21, 2016 in Port Harcourt, and with their not appealing the Federal High Court judgment, it meant we are the authentic Executive at that National Convention, which brought about the Sheriff National Working Committee (NWC). And if you recall, Makarfi Committee and Sheriff’s NWC fought for the party’s National leadership up to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of Makarfi. But that judgment is not a universal one, as it only resolved the National leadership tussle between Makarfi and Sheriff. Does it now mean that the Supreme Court judgment that resolved the National leadership tussle confirmed Sikirulai Ogundele as the Chairman of the party in Ogun State? No, because there is a judgment that already said the Adebayo Dayo Executive is the only authentic one in the state, which they are yet to appeal.

What would you say to accusation that Kashamu is trading with PDP?
Their accusation of lack of internal democracy and that Kashamu is just taking money from aspirants and imposing candidates on the people are false. A lot of these people like to act like ostriches and bury their heads in the sand, thinking nobody is seeing them. On the contrary, they are the ones acting illegally due to over-ambition and desire to take over control of the party structure through the back door without subjecting themselves to extant processes of the party and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

When will this crisis in Ogun PDP come to an end?
The solution to the crisis can only be found, if these characters are ready to start from the point of law. It is not always in the interest of any political party to perpetually be in court to solve its matters. We should be able to talk as a family and resolve our crisis, but when people are choosing to be unreasonable, and because of ambition now go behind to set up parallel Executive or divide the party, then those people who have decided to subject themselves to the law of the party through Congresses will have no choice than to go to court to enforce their fundamental human rights as protected, not just by the party’s Constitution, but also by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

One of the reasons we said Makarfi cannot set up a Caretaker Committee in Ogun State is because, whereas the PDP National Convention is the party’s highest body, which can do and undo, the party itself and its Constitution are still subject to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And the Federal High Court judgment is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which means the order of a Federal High Court is superior to the PDP’s National Convention.

Their allegation that Kashamu is allowing himself to be used by the APC is total falsehood. In politics, insinuations, innuendos, hearsays, propaganda and falsehood are part of the game. Not until they can prove with impeccable facts that Kashamu is working for APC, their allegation remains in the realm of conjecture, character assassination and smear campaign against Senator Buruji Kashamu. If he prefers to work for the APC, he will join the APC, but if the man decides to stay in PDP, supporting it with his time and money and even contested to win election on the platform of PDP, how does it now make sense that such a man is working for the APC? It is illogical, just calling a dog a bad name to hang it.



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