Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The crisis surrounding the governorship tussle in Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to abate, as some party chieftains on Saturday accused Governor Ayodele Fayose of using the State Working Committee to persecute them over their political beliefs.
The party leaders, who were majorly from Ijero Local Government, said they had been on suspension since March 23, 2016 for supporting the deligitimised National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff against the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Fayoseâ€™s favourite.
They said they were still being sidelined by the State Working Committee in the running of the party in spite of the order by the PDP National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus and the Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee and Bayelsa State governor, Chief Seriake Dickson that Sheriffâ€™s faction should be reabsorbed unconditionally.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti at the weekend, former PDP Local Government Secretary in Ijero, Hon. Olurotimi Akande, alleged that 50 members were suspended in the council under the guise of anti-party activity.
He said the latest alleged victimisation was caused by their support for a PDP governorship aspirant, Otunba Olusegun Adewale against Fayoseâ€™s preferred candidate and deputy governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola.
Adewale had joined the governorship race, in a battle that has pitted Fayose against the former Minister of Works, Dayo Adeyeye, Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, Ambassador Dare Bejide and former commissioner for Justice, Barr. Owoseni Ajayi.
He said: â€œAfter the supreme court judgment on Senators Makarfi and Sheriff, which was an internal crisis and not about anti-party activity, Governor Fayose made a pronouncement that all of us must be reabsorbed. But the State working committee, led by Chief Gboyega Oguntuase never implemented that.
â€œThroughout that time, I was not called to any eldersâ€™ meeting in Ijero local government as guaranteed by the partyâ€™s constitution. They were treating us as outcasts despite that the NWC and the Board of Trustees had directed that we should be treated well.
â€œInternal crisis in a political party ends when the party or court resolves such issue. Members always fall in line, it is like when a candidate of a party emerges, others will queue behind him but the contrary was happening here in Ekiti PDP.
â€œI see no offence in anyone supporting a candidate of choice. Chief Adewale is our leader and we are backing him for the governorship fully but we will work for whoever wins the primary, even if it is Prof. Olusola, we will display that loyaltyâ€, he said.
Another PDP Chieftain in the council, who identified himself as Hon. Idowu, said the only way they can support the party in the July 14 poll is for the NWC to conduct free, fair and credible primaries. He expressed regret that his support for Adewale had deprived him of all benefits in the party.
â€œI was appointed a Special Adviser on IGR in my local government by Governor Fayose without receiving a kobo as salary and allowances. All they wanted is for all of us to support the candidate anointed by Fayose.
State Chairman of the party, Oguntuase said it was the responsibility of the party to conduct free and fair primary without supporting any candidate.
A statement by the partyâ€™s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, assured that nobody, particularly the governorship aspirant, would be victimised for pursuing his legitimate aspiration since it was guaranteed by the constitution.