Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West Zone held a zonal caucus meeting in Ibadan on Tuesday, where they stressed the need for a united front ahead of the zonal congress of the party slated for March 6.
The leaders, who spoke severally, including Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State, Senator Olu Alabi, Senator Abiodun Olujinmi, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, and former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, harped on the need for conciliation and unity of purpose ahead of the party’s zonal congress.
At the meeting, which had in attendance serving and former governors, serving and former members of the National and State Assemblies, members of the Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee, members of the national and state working committees of the PDP in the zone, as well as former appointees to the president from the zone, some modalities for the March 6 congress were also discussed.
In his speech, Governor Makinde stressed that the party must be united and reconciled and that the Prince Oyinlola reconciliation committee had been going about its responsibilities though overtures from it were being rebuffed by some individuals.
He stated that the zonal caucus meeting, which was held at the premises of the Presidential Lodge of the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, was history in the making, saying that the redemption of the country politically could not take place without the contributions of the South-West zone.
He stated that the meeting heralded a zonal congress that would help put in place a new PDP zonal executive in the South-West region, which, according to him, will help to install a new government at the federal, National Assembly and state levels in 2023.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank the reconciliation committee we set up, ably led by former Governor Oyinlola. He made sure that the necessary things were done to bring everyone together. At the end of the day, I believe we will have a reconciled and united party in Southwest PDP.
“We are on the verge of history. A lot of people may not know but I can give you the assurance that our coming together to put in our executives that will lead our party in the South-West zone is history in the making. This is because there cannot be redemption for our country without the participation of the South-West. And our party will provide right leadership for the country in 2023.
“The journey to install PDP in 2023 is starting now with this zonal congress. So, I can only pity those who are staying outside and throwing stones inside. I want to also state that history will record their position accurately. I will encourage us to urge them to come in. We have the reconciliation committee already. This committee has been trying to reach out to them and they have said they are not ready to participate.
“We will continue to reach out to them because if we are all united, we have the chance to redeem Nigeria,” the governor said.
He added the zone had during the last meeting, zoned out executive positions to the six states.
The governor equally used the occasion of the meeting to unveil a former Deputy Governor of Oyo State and Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Lebanon, Chief Arapaja, as Oyo State’s sole nominee for the chairmanship post in the zone, which he said had earlier been zoned to the state.
He noted that the name of Arapaja was arrived at after thorough consultations across the state, adding that he was also chosen as the state’s nominee because whoever would be zonal chairman should have depth and experience.
Makinde also called for inclusiveness in all the six states of the zone, urging leaders to go back home and arrive at amicable arrangement to fill posts zoned to their respective states. He said that his expectation and message to all leaders were that they should peacefully select the candidates for posts zoned to each state as well as the ex-officio members, as, according to him, the election of ex-officios would also take place during the congress.
The governor also urged leaders to pay attention to the party’s directive that 30 per cent of all posts should be conceded to women.
He said: “I want to also urge that, for each of our state, let us ensure there is inclusiveness. All the tendencies in our different states, let us all come together and agree on whoever we want to put in each of those positions so that by the time we get here by March 6th, the exercise will be funfair. That will be my expectation and message to everybody.
“I asked some of our members to go around to consult our leaders and they came back with a feedback message. They said in South-West, we need depth; we need experienced and honest person and the name they gave me was Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja to lead the charge. And I told them we will unveil him at this meeting.
“I also said he will go to all the states to meet with you and tell you his vision and some of the things he wants to do to ensure that South West plays a major and critical role in redeeming this country. I believe the way we have done in Oyo State is what we want replicated in other states of the zone.”
Speaking earlier, the caretaker zonal chairman, Hon. Dayo Ogungbenro, stressed that the zonal caucus was taking place in line with the stipulation of the party’s constitution, adding that the zone had earlier on November 12, 2020, zoned posts to each of the six states.
While also speaking on behalf of the PDP BOT members in the zone, Senator Olu Alabi stressed that the PDP is governed by a constitution and a tradition, stating that one of the traditions is that governors in the zone are the leaders of the party and that since Governor Makinde is the only PDP governor in the zone, he is the leader of the party.
Alabi, however, urged the governor and other leaders to stomach insults and reach out to all sides in order to forge a formidable and united PDP, adding that the governor should institute and strengthen the Elders’ Committee in each state.
Similarly, Senator Olujinmi, who spoke for National Assembly members, said the NASS members recognised that the PDP is one under the leadership of Governor Makinde, urging the reconciliation committee to continue its works.
In his speech, Oyinlola, the former Osun State governor, who spoke on behalf of former Governors, said only a united front could bring positive results to the party, stating that there would always be disagreements but that all sides must bury the hatchet and move forward in the interest of the party.
Other speakers, including the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ogundoyin; Hon. Dayo Ogunniyi from Ondo and Col. Roland Omowa (rtd), stressed the need for the South-West PDP to reconcile and speak with one voice.
In his submission, Ogundoyin equally urged that the party must bring more youths on board so that they could be trained and prepared for the future.
The meeting later went into a closed session.
While speaking shortly after the closed session, the caretaker zonal chairman, Ogungbenro, maintained that the meeting discussed modalities for the coming congress.
He added that each state was asked to discuss its challenges on the posts earlier zoned to it and that all states agreed to submit the names of their nominees for onward transmission to the party.
The meeting had in attendance Governor Makinde, former Governors and Deputy Governors, Board of Trustees members, National Executive Committee members, serving and former National Assembly members, former appointees in the Presidency and party chairmen from the zone.
Some of those in attendance were: former Governors Oyinlola and Segun Oni; former Deputy Governors of Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele, Erelu Olusola Obada, Amb. Arapaja, Dr. Sikiru Tae Lawal, Prof. Olusola Eleka and Ambassador Omolade Oluwateru; BOT members, including Senator Alabi, Dr. Saka Balogun, Chief Segun Adegoke, were present.
Others are serving and former National Assembly members including Senators Olujinmi, Kola Balogun, Duro Faseyi, Kamorudeen Adedibu, Hosea Agboola, Hon. Stanley Olajide, Hon. Tajudeen Obasa, Hon. Yemi Taiwo, Hon. Abass Adigun, Hon. Tunji Shoyinka, Hon. Rita Orji.
Also in attendance were three physically challenged persons in line with the stipulation of the PDP Constitution, 2017 as amended.