By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA-The Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Prince Buruji Kashamu has faulted the choice of Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose as the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum.
Kashamu who stated this in a statement he issued in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State on Sunday said, “It was a misnormer that the governors of an opposition party that is in need of rebranding and repositioning could chose a liability, a loud mouth and an immature politician like Fayose as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
“It is not that his emergence as the Chairman of the Forum means anything to me. But as a committed and loyal party man, it gives me great concern that instead of taking steps that will foster peace and unity, we are doing things that will widen the gap and cause more unity.
“Those who chose him should have a rethink in the interest of the party that is striving hard to return to power. His brother-governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, whose tenure he purportedly continued as Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, is a cool-headed and balanced character.
” Even then, some of us pointed out that Governor Mimiko was slippery and sly, and a traitor who could not be relied upon. What happened at the end of the day? The party broke on his head when he overreached himself in the South West as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum at the behest of Governor Fayose. Instead of being a strong leader who would be fair to all, and do good to all manner of people, without fear or favour, he became more of a weather-beaten fowl, sullen and uninspiring. But, we thank God that we held our grounds and fought for our rights.
“Fayose had always wanted to be the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. That was why he had some resentment towards Mimiko upon his emergence as the Chairman of the Forum in 2015. While I concede to our Governors the right to choose whoever they want to lead them, my point is that they should have settled for a balanced, more experienced and mature person to lead the Forum, not a cantankerous, divisive and unstable character like Governor Fayose who snaps at the slightest provocation. I know that the Forum boasts of Governors who are true leaders, not pretenders.
“There are those who are better educated, well-cultured and better exposed who are not working against the interest of their people and country. We have Governors who have held public offices since the return to democracy in 1999 but who are untainted. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) does not have any case against them. Those are the kind of people that could have been chosen to lead the Forum, not one with a goodwill deficit whose hands have been found in the public till.”
Kashamu said the choice of Fayose as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum will further polarise the party and destroy it.
His words, “How many of the notable leaders of the party in Ekiti State and the South West are ready to work with Governor Fayose? He had the opportunity to fight for the interest of the good people of Ekiti State and Yoruba land but he flunked it, preferring to promote impunity and side with a tiny clique who will always do his bidding.
” How can our respected leaders stay aloof and allow this to happen when they are aware of the genesis of the crisis in the party – Fayose’s and Mimiko’s unbridled ambition to impose their will on the party and ride roughshod over all other stakeholders of the party in the South West.
” The other day, he lured our father, Chief Olabode George to Port Harcourt and sought to disgrace him at the rescheduled National Convention in August, 2016″.
The Senator recalled that Governor Fayose brought Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and sold his candidature to other stakeholders.
“But when he saw that Senator Sheriff would not be pliable in his inordinate ambition to arbitrarily hand him the critical structures of the party from the South West zone to the national level, he cooked up a lot of lies and sold them to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and others in order to discredit Sheriff.
“Even now, his utterances about the lingering national leadership are a pointer to the fact that he will exacerbate the crisis. Anyone who thinks that Sheriff is not needed in the efforts to restore peace to the party must be joking. I wager that Fayose’s conduct and utterances will widen the division in the party and more people will use it as an alibi to continue to defect to other parties.
“I am aware that more PDP Senators and members of the House of Representatives, including the three Senators from Ekiti State are consulting among themselves with a view to dumping the PDP very soon, all because of Fayose’s deception, divisive tendencies and arrogance.
“We must reject Governor Fayose now or strictly restrict him to running the affairs of the Governors’ Forum while well-meaning leaders and elders of the party who are not part of the crisis bedeviling the party are allowed to take charge of the affairs of the party and run it properly and legitimately,” he said.
The lawmaker went on, “Fayose keeps boasting that he is the oldest Governor in Nigeria and that he is the only one who has defeated two incumbents. The fact is: he did not do it alone. Some people pulled resources together to help him achieve those feats. But, the question is: where are they today? Most of them have left him when he showed them his true character. Even in Ekiti State, he cannot put members and leaders of the party together. He sees himself as the Alpha and Omega of the party in the state, shutting out any voice of dissent.
“It is important to remind Fayose that the true measure of success ‘is not how far but how well’. The Governors’ Forum is made up of seasoned, experienced and respected political leaders who have been consistent with the PDP since its foundation in 1998 unlike Fayose who could not manage his first term, went to exile and later abandoned the PDP for the Labour Party (LP), only to return in 2014 or thereabout.
“Now, we are aware he is in talks with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and those who want to float the so-called Mega Party. He has not been able to organise the party in Ekiti State, let alone the South West zone and the national level. In fact, he is on record as saying he does not know if the 2018 Governorship and House of Assembly election in Ekiti State would be contested on the platform of PDP.
“Therefore, if he has failed to bring the much-need leadership skills to bear on the party in Ekiti State, which superior and respectable South West zonal leader and elder will listen to him? Of course, I am not the leader of the party in the zone. But, I am one of the foot-soldiers and voices of the party in the zone. I interact with our leaders, elders and stakeholders across the zone. I know their feelings and views.
“If Fayose thinks that his emergence has conferred on him some advantage that he wants to use to perpetrate the illegalities that led the party to where it is today, some of us will continue to resist him vigorously. For, as they say, it is not over until it is over. Fayose had better restrict himself to brain-washing his colleagues in the Governors’ Forum. If he seeks to lord his wishes over the constitutionally recognized organs and structures of the party, trying to impose the minority over the majority, then peace will continue to elude party.”
Kashamu said Fayose has about 12 months before he will use his usual turban and attempt to escape through Benin Republic to Ghana because of all the messy things he has done with Ekiti State resources and ONSA funds and for which he would be held accountable.
He said it would be a long shot if anyone told Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his team as well as Senator Ahmed Makarfi and his team that the reserved judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt would resolve the national leadership crisis of the party, adding that, “it is pure deceit, self-delusion and a mere wishful thinking”.
He therefore urged the superior leaders and elders of the party in the Board of Trustees (BoT), the Governors Forum and the leadership of the PDP in the National Assembly as represented by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate and Reps Minority Leaders, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Hon. Leo Ogor, to prevail on Senators Sheriff and Makarfi to step down for the party to move forward.
The various blocs could then constitute a committee that would organise an all-embracing National Convention within 30 to 45 days, he added.
The lawmaker suggested that on the day such a meeting would be called, the National Executive Committee (NEC) should meet to ratify the decisions reached at the meeting.
He said any of the two leaders who refused to accept such a proposition would then be seen as the one who does not have the interest of the party at heart.
“If that is what they have to do for the party to survive, then they must do it if there is no hidden agenda. I love and cherish the two leaders but the party is bigger than any and all of us,” Kashamu said.
He noted that the problem with the PDP is that, “we talk too much, but without a strategy. No (financial) commitment, no action, no implementation and no finishing. How then does anyone expect the party to move forward or succeed? We envy the others but are not ready to pay the price of perseverance, selflessness and dedication that they paid to get them to where they are today.
“If we must get things right, we need to wake up from our slumber and be organized and proactive. You cannot give what you don’t have. A disorganized and tactless person cannot successfully lead a respected body like the PDP Governors’ Forum, let alone the party. If care is not taken, his so-called leadership of the Forum could sound the death knell on the party.”