When internal crisis threatens PDP’s prospects in Kwara

Ahmed Makarfi

With the dismantling of the leadership structure in the Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the continued muscle-flexing by opposing factions, the party may be robbing itself of an opportunity to provide a credible alternative for an expectant electorate.

The hope of many people, especially politicians in Kwara State, to seek succour under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an alternative platform, may have been dashed with the recent dissolution of the executive machinery of the state’s chapter of the party.

As a fallout of the recently-resolved long-drawn leadership crisis that rocked the party, the national leadership of the PDP recently announced the dissolution of the executive of the state’s chapter, a development that many see as capable of decimating the chances of the platform to regain power.

By the dissolution, it appears the PDP, which should be an effective opposition platform to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, may have plunged itself into a messier situation ahead of the 2019 general elections by destroying an opportunity for a people yearning for an alternative governance.

It is not that the repositioning of the party, which the leadership claimed is the reason for the dissolution, is wrong but the motive behind it and its timing seemed out of place for a political party just finding its feet again on the nation’s political terrain.

Before the dissolution, there was palpable animosity among members of the two factions of the party in the state. The crisis was so deep that struggles for the control of the party secretariat along Asa Dam was the order of the day.

On one side was Chief Iyiola Oyedepo faction and on the other was Sunday Fagbemi’s group. According to Oyedepo, Fagbemi’s group was allegedly playing the scripts of the maverick Kwara political kingpin, Bukola Saraki, the Senate President who is being rumoured to be preparing the grounds for his purported plan to move back to the PDP if he failed to realise his presidential ambition in the APC.

Oyedepo further accused those in the faction of Fagbemi as acting the script of the APC chieftain, which he argued, will eventually be to the detriment of the main body of PDP supporters.

But Fagbemi denied the accusation saying Oyedepo “must be day dreaming,” to have stigmatized him as a stooge of Saraki. He leveled a counter accusation against Oyedepo for allegedly fronting for Saraki and towing the path of the upstaged former National Caretaker Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff saying, “Oyedepo knows nothing than taking trivial issues to court.”

But the Publicity Secretary of Oyedepo’s faction, Chief Rex Olawoye said, “It is very sad that some moles are causing dissatisfaction within our party. We have gone so far ready to give the APC a run for its money before the eruption of all these crises of leadership. With this dissolution thing we want to assure our numerous supporters of our joker in place. We will not hesitate to flash it when the time arises.”

Before the “warring factions” were summoned to the National Secretariat of the PDP in Abuja, they had turned some of the radio stations in Ilorin the Kwara State capital to battle fields dishing out invectives against each other just as they both laid claim to the party’s state leadership.

It was gathered that the Abuja peace talk initially favoured the Oyedepo group until the decision was later upturned due to Fagbemi faction’s disagreement leading to an option of dissolution.

Many eligible voters in the state are not happy with the situation, which they said had robbed the present political structure of a credible option. They warned that the situation should not be allowed to generate to a level that will threaten representative democracy in the state. At present, the APC controls all the elective posts in Kwara from ward to the governorship levels.

But putting the performances of the ruling party in perspective, a social critic, Alhaji AbdulKarim Olola-Kasum described the party as not meeting the basic yearnings of the common people.

He said, “I will not score the party high on many issues. The road network is not good enough, worker’s salaries are partly paid and water supply is still poor in many areas. So if what I am seeing is what others are seeing then it will not be too bad if we have a credible alternative come the year 2019.”

Many other critics who spoke to The Guardian towed the same line and argued that by the internal crisis in the PDP, the party is not only throwing away a great chance of coming back to power, they could be denying the voting population of the opportunity to have an alternative to a government that they said is not delivering the promised dividends of democracy.

But reacting to the criticisms, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, described the APC government as one of the best things that could happen to the 50-year old state.

According to Oba, “the state like many others, is not finding it easy with the on-going  global economic recession. It was this intelligent governor that revamped the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through the dissolution of the Board of Internal Revenue and the constitution of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Services (KWIRS). The new board headed by an academic per excellence, Dr Muritala Awodun has no doubt, done a yeoman’s job through effective revenue collections to complement the monthly allocations from the Federal purse.

“Besides, his background as a former banker has assisted the state in borrowing well especially through the stock with lesser interest rates. Today, everyone in the state can attest to the fact that the amiable governor is a prudent manager of the state’s resources.

“This is probably made possible due to his experience serving the state as its Commissioner of Finance for seven uninterrupted years before being voted to power as the governor. Tell me any other better person than him that could have been the best manager of the scarce resources?”

While disclosing that the state remained one of the few in the country that are not owing workers’ salary, also outlined some of the developmental projects already carried out or being carried out by the APC government. He further urged the people to be grateful always for “the kind of leader God has endowed them with at this moment.”

Putting a lie to Oba’s assertions, Oyedepo said most the “hurriedly packaged” projects of Ahmed’s administration are “misplaced priorities,” just as he criticised the government for allegedly foisting white elephants projects on the people instead of engaging in effective consultations with them before embarking on such projects.

“For instance what is the need for constructing a Diamond Under pass at Gerin Alimi Roundabout Ilorin at this present time of the history of the state when its workers are among the least paid in Nigeria? The project put at several billions of naira is too bogus for a population of a city like Ilorin where many people don’t have food on their table. What we need now are proper constructions of bye passes in Ilorin to open up any gridlock,” he said.

Although the national leadership of the PDP may have settled for the dissolution of the parallel executives in Kwara as the way forward, it is doubtful if the step taken would translate into effective reconciliation among the warring factions ahead of the 2019 polls. Besides, would the altercations between the dissolved factions cease especially when it is time for the party to elect its next substantive leaders?

Many political analysts believed that only a strong and united opposition party could upstage the ruling APC and not a party where members are unjustly jostling for positions at the expense of working together as a team ahead of the elections.

A political analyst from Omupo in Irepodun local council, Mallam Tajudeen Kareem described many political gladiators in Kwara PDP as egocentric and not true democrats. He warned of the dire consequences of the selfish attitude against a formidable APC being led by Saraki.

According to him, “if what the PDP leaders in Kwara State want is to present the party to the famished population of the people of the state as a credible alternative to the APC led government come the year 2019, then they should immediately stop the animosity among them and settle for the real battle ahead.

“Sometimes I am surprised at the way the so called leaders fight themselves over mere crumbs on the table. They are not sincere leaders but selfish individuals. If they fail to halt the trend, they will again fall like a pack of cards before the APC irrespective of the party’s perceived inadequacy in power. None of them fighting a selfish war can boast of any political status closer to that of Saraki, the acclaimed leader of the APC in the state.”

Another commentator, Ibrahim Ajakore, a youth leader of the PDP from Babanloma, proposed a complete overhauling of the leadership echelons of the party in the state saying, “Since the elders have failed us, it must be the turn of the youths to take over and hold their destinies in their own hand. We are more united at the youths’ wing than those claiming to be our leaders. We will chase them out if they are not ready to wave the proverbial olive branch.”

With the hurried step taken by the national hierarchy of the PDP in Kwara, the seeming lethargy of the dissolved leaders to embrace true reconciliation, and the threats by the youths wing to forcefully take over the leadership baton some few months to the elections, the people of Kwara may have to wait for a longer period of time to get an alternative party of their choice under the present political dispensation.

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