2014: Fresh bickering rocks Osun PDP

As political interest groups initiate plans for the 2014 governorship election in Osun State, old time rivalries are poised to pose as a major threat for PPD’s success, reports Dare Odufowokan.

As the 2014 governorship election in Osun State draws nearer, there are indications that the internal crisis that has bedevilled the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is far from over, as fresh rancour may soon blow open between two leading factions within the party.

Sources within the PDP in Osun State said a former governor of the state, Senator Isiaka Adeleke and Senator Iyiola Omisore may soon be engaged in a bitter political rivalry that is likely to make nonsense of the recent peaceful resolution within the party.

At the centre of the unfolding scuffle, sources claim, is the quest for the gubernatorial ticket of the party in the 2014 governorship election. While Omisore has formally declared his intention to vie for the position, Adeleke is believed to be backing the candidature of a former Secretary to the Osun State Government, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade.

The duo of Omisore and Akinbade had in 2011 battled for the same ticket so fiercely that the party in the state was divided down the line. The gladiators only relented after Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s re-election on the platform of the PDP was nullified and Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was declared governor.

The renewed rivalry between the two PDP chieftains has once again raised fear of another showdown within the party ahead of the 2014 election. What is left to be seen is how the imminent crisis will affect the plan of the PDP to recapture the state they lost to the ACN in 2010.

The Nation learnt that following his lack of diposition towards Omisore’s gubernatorial ambition, Adeleke has thrown his weight behind the aspiration of the former SSG in furtherance of his belief that it is the turn of Osun West Senatorial District to produce the governor of the state.

While Omisore is from Ile-Ife in Osun East Senatorial District, Akinbade is from Iwo in Osun West Senatorial District of the state. Aside Adeleke, it is believed that former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola is also supporting the candidature of Akinbade.

Insiders within the party said the power tussle started during the last congress of the party in the state. During the much criticised exercise, Omisore allegedly outwitted the trio of Adeleke, Oyinlola and Akinbade and succesfully pulled through the emergence of his erstwhile aide, Mr. Gani Olaoluwa, as the state chairman of the PDP.

Back then, Adeleke had accused Omisore of forging the list of delegates from Osun East Senatorial District in order to rig the party election in favour of his candidate. The Oyinlola and Adeleke camps within the party refused to accept the results of the congress until they were prevailed upon by party elders to sheath their swords.

Olaoluwa, a former Chairman of Olorunda Local Government Council Area, emerged the state chairman of the party, having defeated Honourable Kayode Idowu, a former member of the House of Representatives with 575 votes to 490 votes.

Idowu’s candidature was backed by the likes of National Vice-Chairman of the party (Sout-West), Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, a member of Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Olu Alabi, Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, former Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Kazeem Adio, Adeleke, Akinbade and Oyinlola, among others.

“Omisore drew the first blood when he allegedly rigged his preferred candidate into office as state chairman of the party by flouting directives that all factions within the party should be accomodated in the delegates lists.

While his own men were represented on the lists that came from Osun West and Central senatorial districts, he edged out other factions in Osun East and brought only the names of his supporters as delegates.

That way, Olaoluwa, his candidate, emerged winner. But for the intervention of the elders, coupled with the maturity displayed by Adeleke, Akinbade and Oyinlola, the new executive would have been rejected by members of the party. But the development introduced yet another crack into our party,” Hon. Yomi Adeyemi, a foremr PDP executive member in Boripe Local Government Area, said.

But in spite of the resolution of the matter by the elders in favour of Omisore and Olaoluwa, the other groups did not give up on their decision to stop the former deputy governor from snatching the party’s guber ticket in 2014.

Harping on the need for the PDP to field a formidable and acceptable candidate for the governorship election, the aggrieved party chieftains returned to their bases to oil their campaign machineries ahead of the party primary in the countdown to 2014.

While it is not impossible that more aspirants will join the fray as the days go by, Omisore and Akinbade are now battle ready to slug it out for the PDP ticket. And given the tension generated within the party when the archrivals dragged the same ticket in 2010, there is apprehension within the party as the showdown approaches.

Aside from the fact that he is rumoured to be enjoying the support of majority of the party elders in the state, Akinbade, who was SSG during the seven years tenure of Oyinlola, and former chairman of the party in the state, is a party man with wide network of contacts and grassroots connections within the PDP.

And if indications that former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola is working round the clock to get the national leadership of the party to support Akinbade’s candidacy is anything to go by, then the contest promises to be a tough one given Omisore’s perceived hold on the party structure within the state at present.

The former chairman of Appropriation in the Senate boasts of structures in all the 30 local government chapters of the party aside from his firm control of the state executives under Olaoluwa.

And with the renewal of the age-long political rivalry between Omisore and Adeleke, analysts are of the opinion that the PDP in Osun state may be dogged by a serious intra-party crisis in its quest to unseat the ACN from the Government Lodge in 2014.

“The party really want to dislodge the ACN get back to power, but given this looming rivalry between Omisore, a formidable force in the party and others like Adeleke, Oyinlola and Akinbade, except something give way before or immediately after the primary, the party may be too rattled and divided into splinster groups to make any serious impact during the election.

“If you consider the current rating of Governor Aregbesola and his party in the state, you will agree with me that the PDP needs to enter the 2014 race with a very united and formidable front if it intends to defeat the ruling party.

But how that will be possible after a fight of so many political elephants is left to be seen,” Rafiu Olokooba of the Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (CDGG) said.

But former Minister of Transport and a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, is optimistic that the party is ready to make a bold dash for the governorship in 2014.

“2014 is very near, all leaders in the party have buried their differences, and our common goal is to chase the hyena that has taken over the government of the state out of power.

“The PDP in Osun State is very much alive. Those who thought the party’s popularity had waned following its ouster should now have a rethink. I commend members of the party for not wavering, despite being out of government in the state. It is their courage that makes the party thick. We will not put them to shame,” he said.

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