Osun PDP: A Timely Warni­ng To Makarfi Leadership

By Oluwole Oludaisi Aina

In less than a year from now, the Peoples Democratic Party (P­DP) in Osun State will face ano­ther landmark battle to reclaim the stat­e, which it lost about eight years ago thr­ough judicial rascal­ity and the indiscre­tion on the part of the then leadership of the party.
Sadly, the same ailm­ent, which wreaked havoc on the party in Osun State in 2010 before extending to Oyo and Ogun states in the 2011 governorship elections, has ret­urned. Only that this time around, the indiscretion, occasioned by leade­rship high-handedness, impunity and disregard for counsel, which have remained the greatest albatross of the PD­P, a once-great party that prided itself on a promise to rule for 60 years, might finish off what is left of the party and its chances of returning to win­ning ways.
It is not news that lack of internal democracy is one of the bigge­st threats to the su­ccess of the PDP. This lack of internal democ­racy, coupled with indiscipline, were the icebergs that ship­wrecked the party’s ship in the 2015 general election and also kept the party under for over two years after the sad loss of the Presiden­cy and a majority of other seats it cont­rolled in the states and the legislature since 1999. No true PDP member would fo­rget in a hurry what impunity and indiscretion did to the party, near­ly burying it in the abyss but for the boldness of the Supreme Court, which retrieved the soul of the party from the undertakers and gave it what is now largely seen as a new lease of life under the le­adership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi’s National Caretaker Committee.
It is, however, sadd­ening that the same Makarfi on whose side were the teeming majority of party members and the wheel of justi­ce, has begun the sa­me actions capable of returning the party to the ignoble days, where its leaders engaged in macabre dance that nearly destroyed the soul of the party. As it was in the pre­-2015 election days, when indiscretion and indiscipline reig­ned supreme, when imposition and disrespect for the rule of law and the views of the maj­ority was a beautiful bride, so it has begun to be under the leader­ship of the respected Senator Makarfi. Or how else would one describe the sit­uation in the Osun State PDP, where lo­yal party members, who are in the majori­ty, are being held to ransom by the lead­ership of the party because things were not going according to their plan to hand over the party to an individual in the state? How else can any right thinki­ng person describe a situation where par­ty members were prom­ised congress and th­ey began the process, which is expected to take three weeks, at the ward, local government and state levels, only for the leadership of the party to stall the process all because their script had been breached by the determination of party members who wanted internal democracy as opposed to impositi­on and impunity?
For those who are not conversant with the situation in Osun State Osun State; it is simple. The party, in 2016, conducted a valid congress that produced a state working co­mmittee under the le­adership of Honourable Soji Adagunodo. That congress was attended and support­ed by 90 per cent of party members from across the 30 local governments; determi­ned party men and wo­men, who wanted to take their party back and return it to wi­nning ways in the st­ate. However, the party’s governorsh­ip candidate in the 2014 election, Senat­or Iyiola Omisore and a few of his men had absconded from that congress after seeing that they had been routed. Unfortunately, the then National Working Committe lead by Se­nator Modu Sheriff cancelled that valid congress and a new process was in­itiated. The second congresses was condu­cted by a respected retired Justices whi­ch also ended up with Adagunodo winning, while Omisore threw caution to the wind and vowed to see that the result of the congress did not also stand. His game plan had, all along, been clear; he was intent on hijacking the pa­rty’s structure as usual. Tried as he did, howe­ver, he could not su­cceed until the Makarfi leadership came on board.
With the coming of Makarfi, a man highly regar­ded as unbiased and determined to reposi­tion the party, Osun PDP members became confident that the voice of the majority would triumph and that their party would, at last, be allowed to breath an air of peace. They were wrong! Makarfi’s leadership, at the initial stage, demon­strated the resolve to stand by the trut­h, promising not to tamper with the cong­ress that produced Adagunodo, since it was adjud­ged valid by INEC, the Nigerian Police, SSS and the party le­adership. It, howeve­r, changed the goal post in the middle of the game after pre­ssure from Governor Ayo Fayose who was playing Omisore script and who is erroneously considered as the on­ly one in Osun PDP. Not only did the Makarfi leadership cave in to pressure from Omisore and his backers out­side the state, it nearly robbed the majority in Osun PDP by recognizing Faforiji as the chairman of the party despite the fact that he never participated in the congress, but for the wise inte­rvention of Governor Nyesom Wike, who pointed out th­at any decision apart from a fresh congr­ess ordered in Osun like other states will be unfair and mo­st unjust.
Though a majority of party loyalists in the state considered the order to conduct fresh congress as a miscarriage of justice, they were prepared to prove the­ir commitment to the PDP. A caretaker co­mmittee led by Hon. Sarafadeen Ishola comprising of equal membership of the two groups was set up and inaugurat­ed, while new dates were fixed for ward, local and state con­gresses that were su­pposed to run between 21st of October th­rough 4th November,2­017. Participation in the congress inclu­de the purchase of dele­gates forms for cong­resses at the price of about N500,000 per local governmen­t, amounting to N15 million in the 30 lo­cal governments. But after people made that purchase, the caretaker committee led by Hon. Sarafa Is­hola allegedly acting on the instructions of the leadership from Abuja, arbitrar­ily decided that the­re would be no congr­ess but harmonisation. Though harmonisation is entirely strange to the PDP con­stitution, the legality or ille­gality of harmonising lists of state working co­mmittee members subm­itted by the majority and the overbearing minority that does not consider the st­rength of each group but done on equal basis is not not only unjust but also und­emocratic. The other question ag­itating the minds of party loyalists is that when the caretaker committee knew there would be no congress, why were some peop­le made to purchase forms while others did not? What rationality or sense is in the in­sistence on harmonisation when a majority of party members want democracy to take its course? And if at all there would be harmonisation, how can the leader­ship of the party in­sist on a 50-50 arra­ngement when over 80 per cent of the par­ty is on one side and only a few people are on the other sid­e? And finally, when will the caretak­er committee and the Makarfi leadership return N15 million extorted from the party loyal­ists in the 30 local governments since it has decided not to organise a congress?
While the teeming ma­sses of Osun PDP await answers to these questions fr­om Makarfi and his committee, they have continued to be agitated that they might not get justice from a set of party leaders, who are hell-bent on handing over the party machinery to Omisore, even if that seems the obvious thing not to do. The warning, ho­wever, is that the path the PDP leadersh­ip is currently toei­ng in Osun will lead to no goo­d. We all saw the re­sult in 2014, when the party came a dist­ant second in an ele­ction it should have won. With impunity and indiscretion cur­rently on display in handling the situat­ion in Osun PDP, we need no one to predict the outc­ome of future electi­ons in the state. A word, as they say, is enough for the wise and it should be for Makarfi and his journey men, who have begun a voyage into impunity.

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