PDP Meets over Venue of South-west Congress

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•Makinde, Fayose feud deepens

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Despite fixing April 10, 2021, for the South-west PDP zonal congress at Ibadan, Oyo State capital, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will still meet on Tuesday to agree on the venue.

THISDAY gathered that the decision of the NWC members to sit over the issue of the venue followed an opposition mounted by members of the party loyal to the former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, against the decision of the party to hold the congress at Ibadan.
But the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde has, in a statement, warned against any shift of venue for the congress.

Makinde commended the National Working Committee (NWC) for the decision to go ahead with the South-West Congress, saying he is the only serving PDP governor in the South-west.
He said he was glad that the PDP bowed to superior reasoning regarding the congress.

He also expressed happiness that the congress would be held in Ibadan, Oyo State, which he said was in line with the party’s constitution and as stipulated in paragraph 8 (1) (g) of the Guidelines for the Conduct of Ward, LGA, State, Zonal Congresses and National Convention for the purpose of electing Party Executive Committees at all levels which was issued and signed in January 2020.
“We look forward to hosting other members of the Southwest PDP come April 10.

“However, it has come to my notice that some divisive elements within the party are trying to unduly influence party decisions on the national level. It is shameful that while the peace and reconciliation committee is going about trying to bring the party together, some people are determined to factionalise it. The NWC must not reward these individuals who are working against the party’s overall interests,” he explained.
The PDP had on March 31, 2021 fixed April 10 for its postponed zonal congresses in the South-west, North-west and North Central zones.

The new date was communicated in a March 31 letter to INEC, signed by National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and the National Secretary, Senator Umar Tsauri.
According to the letter, the South-west congress would take place in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, while that of the North-west was scheduled for Kaduna and the North Central’s in Makurdi, Benue State.

But the decision to hold the South-west congress in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, has not gone down well with some PDP NWC members loyal to Fayose.
Fayose and Makinde have been at loggerheads over the leadership of the party in the South-west.

While Makinde is said to be sponsoring Mr. Taofeek Arapaja, a former Oyo State deputy governor, Fayose is said to be backing Mr. Eddy Olafeso, a former governorship aspirant in Ondo State and the immediate past chairman of the party in the zone.
The feud between Makinde and Fayose has prevented the party from holding the zonal congress till now.

This crisis has continued despite efforts by the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki-led PDP reconciliation and strategy committee to reconcile both chieftains of the party.
It was also gathered that the PDP governors had vowed not to allow one of their own to be humiliated as they were backing Makinde.

A source from the PDP secretariat told THISDAY yesterday in Abuja that the governors were insisting that as the only governor in the zone, Makinde deserves more respect from the national leadership of the party than he is getting.

THISDAY gathered that it was their intervention that forced the NWC to adhere to the constitution and make the current arrangement.

A member of the PDP NWC confided in THISDAY that a final position would be taken Tuesday, while another said that he doubted if the NWC would change its position after communicating INEC in the letter of March 31 2021.

Meanwhile, the NWC has approved the nomination of the following party members to serve on the screening of ward, local government electoral committees of the PDP in Yobe State.
The members of the committee are: Alhaji Abdulrahim Bobboi who will serve as Chairman; with Hassan Grema; Vincent Ogbulafor Alozie; and Bala Sada as members, while Dr. Nicholas Msheliza will serve as Secretary.

The mandate of the committee, according to the National Organising Secretary of PDP, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), is to conduct the Ward and LGA congresses for the purposes of electing the party executives at the appropriate level; and to Screen all the aspirants for the State Executive Committee positions.
The exercise is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7, to Saturday, April 10, 2021, in all the 178 Wards and 17 LGAs of Yobe State.