Chief Ishola Filani
Following the breakdown of the plan to pick a consensus National Vice-Chairman for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west in the Saturday’s special zonal congress in the zone, the outgoing Chairman, PDP Caretaker Committee for the zone, Chief Ishola Filani, has emerged a top contender for the job.
Majority of the party leaders and delegates from the six states in the zone are rooting for Filani to continue the job he started as chairman caretaker committee given the tremendous achievements recorded by his committee within its short stay in office.
But this is as anxiety hung in the air last night over the fate of the zonal congress itself, as former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni, and former PDP Zonal Financial Secretary in the state, Ireti Oniyide, jointly filed a suit before an Ado-Ekiti High Court, seeking to stop the conduct of the zonal congress.
The court had fixed tomorrow for hearing and determination of the motion on notice, which seeks an order of interim injunction to restrain the party from going ahead with the exercise.
Oni and Oniyide had dragged the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, the Chairman of the Special Convention Planning and Organising Committee, Prof. Jerry Gana and PDP before the court presided over by Justice O.I.O Ogunyemi, seeking to halt the special zonal congress on the basis of their legal challenge of their removal from office as zonal officers of the party.
As at last night, however, there were a total of six candidates in the battle for PDP National Vice-Chairman position in the South-west.
They included former National Financial Secretary of the party, Ambassador Toye Olofintuyi; former Chairman of the party in Ekiti State and PDP ex-Zonal Secretary in the South-west, Chief Ropo Adesanya; another former Chairman of the party in the state Chief Bola Olu Ojo and Chief Dele Okeya, who though not a mainstream politician, was made a commissioner in the state when Mr. Ayo Fayose was governor of the state.
Chief Dipo Anisulowo, an in-law to former Minister of State Iyabo Anisulowo and senatorial district Chairman, when Oni as governor, and Filani, who was National Publicity Secretary of the Third Republic Social Democratic Party (SDP), Director of Publicity of Hope ’93, which handled the presidential campaign of late Chief MKO Abiola, and immediate-past Chairman Caretaker Committee of the party in the South-west.
Fayose, who was initially backing the aspiration of Olofintuyi was said to have withdrawn his support for tactical reasons. There was no visible support for the aspirant across the states except for his relationship with former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Agagau, which Olofintuyi was leveraging on in the race.
Adesanya was said to be relying on support from former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George, who was said to have made a failed move to make him a consensus candidate.
However, he was not known to have support from any of the executives of the six states in the zone as he was said to have obtained his nomination form late and submitted same late.
On his part, Okeya initially obtained nomination form for the position of national secretary but when he saw the implication as the aspiration would distort the zoning arrangement under which the position was ceded to Osun State, he decided to obtain nomination form for the national vice-chairmanship at a time collection and submission of nomination forms had closed.
Okeya was also relying on his relationship with the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, whose son recently married his daughter, and his closeness with the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Commodore Caleb Olubolade.
Filani, it was gathered, enjoys the support of at least four state executives of PDP in the zone, that of the main sponsor of PDP in the zone, Mr. Buruji Kashamu, and other prominent party leaders and stalwarts opposed George’s style of leadership and culture of imposition of candidates.
However, in Ekiti State, where all the six candidates in the race hail from, the party Chairman Ogundipe is vehemently opposed to Filani’s aspiration because of the stand of the South-west zonal executives on the consensus candidate proposal by him (Ogundipe).