By DAUD OLATUNJI
RESPITE appears far from sight for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State ahead of the 2015 elections. Stakeholders and factions of the party have renewed hostilities in the battle for the soul of Ogun PDP.
An end to the trouble is far from sight as many factions have come up to challenge the current executive of the party.
The trouble, which started seven years ago, was worsened following the call by three factions of the party for the harmonisation of the state executive committee.
The crisis cost the PDP the state in 2011 and paved the way for the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN now All Progressives Congress (APC) to mount the saddle of leadership.
Findings showed that the trouble was ignited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) letter signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Abdullahi Kaugama, which recognized Bashorun Dayo Soremi as the state chairman of the PDP.
The letter read: ‘You will recall that the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/347/2012 and FHC/L/CS/535/2012 held that the Congresses conducted by the Bashorun Dayo Soremi Harmonised State Executive Committee and the Executive Committee that emerged therefrom are valid. The Commission as a law abiding institution has resolved to accept and relate with the said executive committee in obedience to the orders of the Federal High Court.”
The party as at the time of filing the report was being overseen by Buruji Kashamu whose loyalists have been positioned as executive members.
The three major factions in the party are those loyal to former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Minister of Commerce, Jubril Martins-Kuye; and immediate past governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, which jointly accused the INEC of bias in its handling of the matter.
The factions under the aegis of the Concerned Members and Stakeholders of the PDP in Ogun State, in a legal notice from their lawyers, Gani Bello and Co dated February 10, 2014 and sent to INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, argued that by its support for the Dayo-led state exco, the commission had failed in its responsibility as the “main referee and umpire for party primaries.”
They accused the INEC of compromise in its official duties by recognizing and dealing with only the Adebayo Dayo-led State Executive Committee backed by party financier, Prince Buruji Kashamu.
The factions were reacting to the reply written by the INEC Secretary, Abdullahi. A. Kaugama to the situation report on the state PDP crisis. The report was sent by the Ogun State Legal Officer of the electoral body, Mr. B.O. Ogunbona, to Professor Jega last August.
The lawyers, who said in a five-page notice to Jega to be solicitors to two chieftains of the Ogun PDP, Omotolu Ladega and Alhaji Kayode Mustapha who they identified as the “accredited representatives of the concerned members” of the party in the state, threatened to seek legal redress against the commission if it failed within 21 days to withdraw its recognition of the Kashamu-backed state exco.
They also demanded the recall and transfer of the Ogun INEC legal officer and “other officers who have openly compromised their official duties” over their alleged role in the state PDP crisis.
The Concerned Ogun PDP stakeholders also demanded an unreserved apology from the commission over its alleged bias in the party’s crisis.
The legal notice, which the office of the INEC chairman received on February 14 read in part: “Our clients by their instruction hereby employ this medium to register their objection and protest the seemingly ignoble and parochial robe that INEC has chosen to wear in Ogun State.
“The letter dated 31/08/12 (hereinafter called the attached letter) written to you by your own Ogun State INEC legal officer, if truly authored by your commission has in the opinion of our clients thoroughly broken your myth of unbiased arbiter.
“Our clients wonder how your commission has now come to know by names, particulars, personalities and activities of the different factions in Ogun State PDP. We understand that rather than bother yourself with the upcoming 2015 elections, your Commission is engaged in the old history of how in 2008 “Governor Gbenga Daniel (OGD) and his group circumvented the democratic process to keep his loyalists in the executive committee of the party so that only aspirants anointed by him emerged as party candidates.
“Your Commission has obviously embarked on a wondrous frolic and a journey of no return! We are instructed that what is embarrassing in your attached letter was the open adoration and embrace of a group or faction that installed the Bashorun Dayo Soremi-led Executive whilst pouring invectives, vituperation and condemnation on other groups, particularly the group that allegedly installed the Joju Fadairo-led Executive.
“The overall concern of our clients is that with the role being played by your Commission in Ogun State PDP as exemplified in the attached letter, it is almost certain that you have virtually abandoned your constitutional responsibility as the main referee and umpire for party primaries.
“Right now the Dayo Soremi/Adebayo Dayo group has been laying claim on your letter under reference as their authority for being the only group in Ogun State PDP recognized by INEC. This, in the opinion of our clients is not acceptable.
“In fact, the Ogun State INEC as presently constituted is not in a position to conduct or observe true and fair primaries in Ogun State PDP. The only way of redemption open to your commission is to assure our clients that the letter under reference has been discountenanced and consigned into dustbin.”
Allegation is laughable —Dayo
Reacting, the Adebayo Dayo-led PDP Exco described as laughable the allegation by the three factions against INEC.
The Dayo-led exco also described the three factions as faceless individuals, who called themselves concerned members and stakeholders of the PDP.
“Contrary to the false claims in the letter, the Adebayo Dayo-led Exco neither derives its strength from the 31st August, 2012 report nor the 18th September, 2012 letter by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As could be gleaned from the report and letter themselves, they were based on several judicial interventions and decisions, which INEC, as a law-abiding institution, could not but obey.
“It should be noted that these decisions were not appealed by the so-called concerned members and stakeholders of Ogun State PDP. Where have they been since 2012 when these decisions were taken? Both the court verdicts and the INEC letter were widely publicised yet they raised no eyebrows since 2012. The truth is they are just waking up from their slumber. They have missed their right of appeal and cannot now turn round to blame INEC for their own lapses. They have missed it on all fronts. It is too late to cry when the head is off.
“It is common knowledge that the former Governor Gbenga Daniel and some of his associates have since joined the Labour Party (LP) just like a good number of them have defected into the PDP. Over 80 percent of the members of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo group are with us in the PDP having turned down the directive of the former leader to join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Also, all members of the Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye (JMK) group are with us. Indeed, while mischief makers were churning out their lies, members of the group led by JMK himself were attending a meeting at the Lagos residence of Senator Ayo Otegbola. In attendance at the meeting were party bigwigs such as Chief Alani Bankole, Prince Buruji Kashamu and party chairman, Engr. Adebayo Dayo among others.”