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The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has urged Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose to table their differences before the party’s National Peace and Reconciliation Committee, led by former Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Makinde and Fayose have, in the past few months, locked horns in what sources described as the battle for the control of the party’s machinery in the Southwest.
The clash has polarised the PDP, in the zone into two factions, with one faction supporting the governor while the other is supporting the former governor.
Makinde had, a few weeks ago, set up a reconciliation committee to resolve the leadership crisis. The committee is chaired by a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
But, Fayose had disagreed with the composition of the committee, saying Oyinlola and other members of the committee were merely handpicked by the governor.
The former Ekiti governor set up a parallel committee as a counterforce to Oyinlola’s panel.
As the media war between the two factions continued to rage, a former Special Duties Minister, Elder Wole Oyelese, blamed Secondus for escalating the crisis between the two camps.
Oyelese said the party chairman had been obsessed with his alleged tenure extension, and scheming to the point of playing divisive roles.
But, Secondus rejected the accusation, saying the Southwest PDP crisis is as old as the party itself.
In a WhatsApp message yesterday by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi, the party chairman advised the two factions to approach the Saraki committee for resolution.
“The crisis in the Southwest PDP is as old as the PDP itself, whereas Secondus became National Chairman in December 2017.
“Let them channel their problems to the Saraki-led Peace and Reconciliation Committee set up by the same Secondus. If you put your house in order, outsiders can do nothing to its foundation,” he said.
Fayose had alleged that Makinde wanted to alter the agreement on zoning of party offices in the zone by micro-zoning the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) to Oyo State.
To the former governor, Southwest PDP leaders had previously agreed that the slot should be filled by the Ondo State chapter. In fact, a faction of the party in Ondo State wants the former occupant of the position, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, to fill the slot.
Although Fayose had sustained the media war, Makinde has demonstrated maturity by not joining issues with him.
The second leg of the rift is the fallout of the Ekiti State congress of the PDP.
The two factions, led by Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi, produced two Chairmen – Bisi Kolawole and Kehinde Odebunmi.
Efforts to reconcile Fayose and Olujimi, who is also a former deputy governor, has been futile. The protracted crisis is worrisome to the PDP leaders who wanted the zone to be in one accord as they prepare for future elections.
Instructively, Ekiti will hold governorship election next year and the leaders felt that the crisis would weaken the chapter ahead of the poll.
Makinde, who is the zonal leader, never wanted to take sides in the Ekiti PDP crisis.
But, to ensure cohesion, he proposed a parley between the Kolawole and Odebunmi factions that would lead to harmonisation of the parallel executives.
The Oyo governor reasoned that there is strength in unity, adding that neither of the two factions can confront future electoral hurdles without reconciliation and harmony.
His intervention, however, attracted criticism by the Fayose camp, which believed that the zonal leader should have just accorded recognition to the executive committee, led by Kolawole.
In its view, Makinde was indirectly taking sides with Olujimi in the plot to edge Fayose out of his sphere of influence.
In reaction, Fayose pointed out that the symbolic zonal leadership does not give the governor the latitude to interfere in the affairs of other states beyond Oyo, his domain.
He maintained that the levels of party power are the national and state leadership.
As the crisis festered, Secondus refrained from meddling in the affairs of Ekiti and Southwest PDP, believing that neutral zonal leaders will pacify the aggrieved and restore the peace.
Party chieftains who believe that the national chairman had abdicated his duty chided him for a shortfall in role fulfilment.
Following his advice on Tuesday that the warring zonal factions should approach the Saraki Committee for ventilation of grievances, Secondus conveyed the impression that the party is not aloof to the protracted crisis as it can be addressed by the party’s conflict resolution mechanism