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How bickering over consensus candidacy for by-election led to crisis in Ondo PDP

With a month to the by-election into the vacant seat of the Akoko North East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, the Peoples Democratic Party…

With a month to the by-election into the vacant seat of the Akoko North East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state is currently engulfed in a crisis, which has led to the suspension of its State Chairman, Fatai Adams.

The suspension of Adams, over alleged anti-party activities by nine members of the State Working Committee has further polarised the opposition party, especially as the party leadership begins a fight to pick the candidate for the forthcoming bye-election.

On Tuesday, the internal crisis worsened as Adams, accused of anti-party activities, was suspended by SWC members of the party, who also accused him of engaging in activities likely to bring the party to disrepute. But the party’s National Working Committee has said the suspension was null and void.

Aside from the allegation of anti-party, a source in the opposition party had told Daily Trust that the suspension of Adams as the chairman of the party was linked to the attempt to impose a candidate on the party for bye-election already scheduled for February 1, 2024, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Adams in a swift reaction also corroborated the source, noting that his suspension by the SWC was “politically motivated” and hatched for the forthcoming Akoko North East/North East Federal Constituency bye-election.

“So, this will not stand, we know what they are trying to do, they plan to remove me so that they can execute their evil agenda for the Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency Bye election and we will not fall for that,” he said.

But the party’s SWC on Thursday said the suspension of the Adams as chairman remains and that “the Vice Chairman is now the acting Chairman of the party, so what we are saying now is that there is no crisis in PDP, we have the constitution that we follow and we have complied with the constitution.”

The Akoko North East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency of the state became vacant following the appointment of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who earlier held sway of the seat in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, as the Minister of Interior by President Bola Tinubu.

In a move to avoid a bitter primary that could lead to disaffection among gladiators and chieftains, or likely hurt the party ahead of the November 2024 governorship election, leaders of the party had resolved to push for a consensus candidate from among the crops of aspirants jostling for the ticket.

Findings by Daily Trust revealed that no fewer than six aspirants in the main opposition party showed interest in battling for the party’s ticket to contest the vacant stool in the next month’s bye-election exercise.

The aspirants include; Kadri Stephen, Rasheed Elegbeye, Olabomi Afolami, Obafemi Oladapo, Olalekan Bada and Johnson Olu Arowolo.

As the contenders were rolling their sleeves in preparation for the party’s primary, it was gathered that the members of the SWC of the party met with some of the aspirants in a move to have a sole candidate for the bye-election exercise.

The SWC, according to an impeccable source, had approved a 20-man committee, which included party chieftains and stalwarts in Akoko to scrutinise the profile and political antecedents of the aspirants before nominating a consensus candidate for the party.

After a meeting with the aspirants; one of them, Olalekan Bada, was reportedly rated higher by the committee and endorsed by the party as its consensus candidate for the bye-election.

But the decision to settle for Bada, who was a former Local Government Chairman of Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State, did not go down well with a few of the aspirants.

A chieftain of the party, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Daily Trust that the meeting where the decision to agree on the consensus candidate was reached was not in the interest of the majority of the aspirants who kicked against the idea.

One of the major contenders for the party’s ticket, Elegbeleye, a former minority leader in the State House of Assembly, said he had made up his mind to participate in the election by obtaining a form to contest the party’s ticket regardless of the decision of the SWC.

But reacting, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kennedy Peretei said that many of the party’s aspirants kicking against the decision of the SWC are allegedly being sponsored by a prominent chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the federal constituency. He told Daily Trust that there’s no going back on the adoption of a consensus candidate for the exercise.

Alleging that some of the aspirants kicking against the decision of the party do not even have voter cards in the federal constituency, the PDP spokesman said the agreement on the consensus candidate is a test run for the party ahead of the November 2024 governorship election in the state. 

However, a political analyst in the state, Adeola Omoyeni, believed that the bye-election would surely be a test run for all the political parties ahead of the governorship election.

 

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