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By Segun Adeleye, Abeokuta
One Party that frittered away success and yet failed to come to the reality of the problems confronting it is the Ogun State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The party ruled the Gateway State between 2003 and 2011 when former governor, Gbenga Daniel, was its ‘Alpha and Omega’, politically speaking. But in between this time, intrigues, horse-trading and in-fighting were the lots of the party and its members.
Its problems actually started after the 2011 general election when the party was polarized among various factions and this has prevented it from being an effective opposition party. This, indeed, became multi-faceted that the National Working Committee (NWC) was forced to impose a state working committee on the party when it was crystal clear that the once-darling bride was ordained for self-destruction. That was July 30, 2010, few months to the 2011 general election.
Before the intervention of the PDP National Headquarters, not less than four groups had emerged in the power-play and struggle for the soul of the party, apparently for contrasting reasons. While the faction belonging to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and one-time Chairman of party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), could be said to be overtly fighting to wrestle the party from the Daniel’s faction, the Prince Buruji Kashamu faction was believed in some quarters to be working for the survival of the party.
At the current pace, the four factions have collapsed into two, Obasanjo/Kashamu factions, after much court injunctions and counter-injunctions, just as the latter has not ceased to accuse the Obasanjo group of destabilizing the party to create opportunity for the continued political success of the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Chairman of the Obasanjo faction is a Senator of the Second Republic, Dipo Odujinrin, who was campaign coordinator of the Obasanjo/Atiku Presidency in 2003 in the State, while Engineer Bayo Dayo is the Chairman of the Buruji/Kashamu faction. It is instructive that while the former faction drew its strength of recognition from the PDP National Secretariat and the Bureaucracy, the latter’s authority seems to emanate from the courtroom.
The party had played up all sorts of cards, with end in sight to its squabble even as the general elections approached. At one time or the other, another means of trying to gain legitimacy aside from court judgment was suspension of each other’s chieftains.
Odujinrin was Chairman of Obasanjo faction, that announced the expulsion of some chieftains in the other faction, forcing an immediate reaction from the Publicity Secretary of the other faction, Waliu Oladipupo, who described members of Obasanjo faction as ‘outlaws who have since been suspended by the only recognized and authentic State Working committee (SWC).
In a statement, it vowed to press contempt charges against Odujinrin and his people just as it urged party members to be focused and continue to work in the overall interest of the party.
Part of the statement read: “What is more, the Federal High Court in Lagos had in a judgment delivered on 16th November, 2012, nullified the purported congress that they conducted, ordered their arrest and prosecution for holding themselves out as officers of the party in Ogun State.
Court sitting in Ilaro which on 19th June and 3rd August, 2012 affirmed our Exco as the authentic management body for the party in the state and nullified the list of candidates submitted for the 21st July, 2012 council election in Ogun State by these impostors.
“It should be recalled that the authentic State Working Committee had on Thursday, 8th November 2012, suspended Maj.-Gen. Adetunji Olurin (rtd); Senator Dipo Odujinrin; one Dapo Adeyemi; Hon. Bode Mustapha and one Yahaya Ahmed, from the party for anti-party activities.
”The reactionary move of these dissidents was not totally unexpected since their godfather and points man have been cut to size.
“Naturally, it should be expected that they will not want to go down without a fight. It is just that their action is no more than political masturbation by some political Lilliputians.
”They have embarked on a mission that their godfathers could not achieve. The house built on the quick sand of illegalities, imposition and injustice will continue to crumble under the weight of truth and incontrovertible evidence.
“We have always been and will continue to be ahead of them. They failed before; they will fail this time and will continue to fail.”
At a point in the course of the power-play, Obasanjo controlled the party through the Chairman, Transition, Reconciliation and Congress Committee (TRCC), Chief Bode Mustapha, whose emergence was reported to have been facilitated by him.
The TRCC was set up by the former National Vice-Chairman of the party, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo to placate the three main factions known to the national secretariat, namely the Obasanjo, Daniel, Martins-Kuye and Buruji’s factions of the party.
Announcing the constitution of the TRCC, Oladipo had said: “I wish to state that the purpose of setting up the transition committees was not with the intention to witch-hunt anyone as is erroneously believed in some quarters.
“The reasons for our actions include, but not limited to the following, the need to unify the party before the congresses; the need to provide a level-playing ground for all interests within the party to be able to fulfill their aspirations in the forthcoming congresses; to midwife the congresses so that the executives to be produced in the congresses are acceptable to the generality of the party faithful,” he said.
Interestingly, the crisis rocking the Ogun State chapter of PDP may consume some chieftains of the party, including National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who has been forced to leave office by the court, the National Vice Chairman of the party (South-west), Mr. Segun Oni, as well as the National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha.
A chieftain of the party in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, said Oyinlola, Oni and Mustapha, risked being committed to prison soon for contempt of court.
Also at risk of being sent to jail, according to Kashamu, is the chairman of a parallel executive of the party in the state, Senator Dipo Odunjirin, who was sacked last November 16 by a Federal High Court which also nullified the ‘congresses’ that brought him into office.
Oyinlola, it was gathered, allegedly breached the said judgments last year by writing to the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission that Ireti Oniyide, Mr Fasiu Bakenne, and others were the caretaker committee members of PDP in the state.
Oyinlola also allegedly wrote letters to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies introducing Dipo Odujinrin as Ogun PDP executive officer.
Except ego, selfish interest and pursuit of personal gains are downplayed by the PDP leaders for the larger interest of the party, the needed peace and unity that could lead it to electoral success in the 2015 elections in the state may continue to be elusive.