Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have renewed their bitter rivalry —no thanks to the party’s loss of last Saturday’s Ondo State governorship election.
The Ahmed Makarfi faction yesterday rejected the results of the poll, won by the All Progressives Congress (APC), calling for the cancellation of the election. The Ali Modu Sheriff camp blamed the loss on the rival Makarfi camp.
In a statement yesterday by the spokesman of the Makarfi camp, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the party described the election as a charade, saying it did not reflect the will of the people.
But the Sheriff camp insisted that PDP lost the poll as a result of impunity, which manifested in the imposition of a candidate and lack of respect for the party’s constitution and the rule of law.
The Makarfi camp said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rigged the poll for the APC, which it accused of vote buying.
Adeyeye said: “It is common knowledge that the APC agents openly bought votes of the electorate in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the Electoral Law.
“It is not surprising that the electorates in Ondo State became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the harsh economic situation in the country, inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration, which has indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country.
“Nigerians will recall that we had persistently called for the postponement of the election before Saturday, for at least two weeks to enable our party campaign and prepare properly for this election as a result of the setback orchestrated by Justice Okon Abang and the charlatans in PDP who allowed themselves to be used by the APC to destroy our chances in the Ondo State election.
“The actions of INEC in collaboration with the APC led administration left us no time to campaign and sell our candidate and party manifesto to the electorates in Ondo State.
“Our persistent call for the postponement of the election, which was backed and supported by more than 20 other political parties were all rejected by INEC which was acting the script of the APC.
“It was a carefully planned and well orchestrated strategy to rig the election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the election. The APC has hereby introduced a new formula of rigging election in Nigeria.
“In view of the fact that the election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
“The election and all actions leading to it fell short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria. We have instructed our candidate and the Ondo State chapter of our party to proceed to the Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
“We call on the Judiciary to redeem Nigeria’s image on this matter as we request for the total cancellation of the election in Ondo State.
“Finally, we congratulate our candidate, Hon. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, and our party in the state for the gallant performance at the poll, despite the severe injuries inflicted on us before, during and after the election.
“We call on all our members and teeming supporters nationwide and Ondo State in particular to remain calm and continue to work with the leadership of the party to move the PDP forward.”
But the Sheriff camp insisted that it was the culture of impunity that caught up with the party in the just concluded election, citing similar trend in the 2015 general election, which cost the party victory in Benue, Kogi, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi and Adamawa states.
A text of the address signed by the faction’s National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and read by the faction’s Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, in Abuja yesterday, the camp blamed it all on the Makarfi faction.
“An analysis of the 2015 general election shows that the entire ten (10) states mentioned above are in the North. The South South would not have survived if President Goodluck Jonathan did not hail from the region. Of course the figures that emanated from the South East were abysmal.”
Oladipo said leaving the administration of the party to the whims and caprices of the governors could ruin the chances of the PDP in future elections, adding that the party was denied a say in the choice of the candidate for the Ondo election.
“In all these difficult times, only three Governors have been the architects of the destruction of the party. Some, like Governors of Taraba, Gombe, Bayelsa, Cross River and a few others have been very cooperative and are willing to let the party grow. They have shown maturity, understanding and sagacity in the affairs of the PDP.
“In Edo State, we told all who cared to listen that the party hierarchy was defective and that the leadership needed to be changed to allow the 60 stalwarts of the PDP who defected to APC to return to the fold. Of course the Governors refused. There was no surprise to the result.
“In Ondo State, the script was written in 2013 when Governor Mimiko returned to PDP. All members he met on the ground left the party for him and he took over the PDP. The structure was handed over to the Labour Party.
“If Olusola Oke had not gone to AD and Mimiko managed leadership sportsmanly, PDP would have won the election convincingly. In the election, APC scored 244,842 votes while PDP scored 150,380 and AD scored 126,889 votes. It is a fact that the AD votes belonged to PDP and the simple arithmetic shows why PDP lost; our votes went to Oke and AD.
“When Mimiko returned to the PDP his fellow Governors appealed to him to allow for harmonisation but he refused. All the PDP members led by Olusola Oke left the PDP for him. In choosing a candidate to succeed him, he did not allow the PDP members to buy forms. He mainly anointed Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) who was returned unopposed.
Party members cried to the high heavens that Jegede is from the Central zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears. On the other hand, the authentic primary was conducted where six (6) participants were involved and Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim OFR emerged.
“Jimoh hails from the South. He campaigned vigorously and convinced the people to vote for him. But alas, Mimiko will not allow him carry the party flag.
“Mimiko used the instrumentality of state government to overwhelm Jimoh but could not overwhelm the masses and voters. Of course the result is out there for all to see.
“It is of general knowledge that the Governors invited Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff to chair the PDP. When he assumed office, he put in place a committee to conduct a national convention to elect people of good character to run the affairs of the party.”
Quoting a former Vice President and an elder of the PDP, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Oladipo said until the people who champion impunity leave the PDP, the party cannot make progress.
The faction absolved the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari of any blame for PDP’s defeat.
“The question is was it President Buhari or the APC who sourced Sen. Sheriff for the PDP? Was it the APC who chaired the Zoning Committee that zoned the chairmanship to Sheriff?
“The answer is No. We therefore call on all Nigerians to discountenance the idea that Sheriff is working for the APC. Sheriff was offered the senatorial ticket in the last general election after he left the APC. Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff is a complete PDP faithful whose desire it is to reposition the party.”
Ojougbo also said the accusation that Mr. Sheriff was doing the bidding of Nigeria’s ruling APC is not tenable.
He said it was PDP governors who invited Mr. Sheriff to be the chairman of the party. He also said when he (Sheriff) assumed office, he put in place a committee to conduct a National Convention to “elect people of good character to run the affairs of the party”.
Ojougbo said although the faction does not comment on individuals, but “for the sake of the survival of the party we take exceptions to the utterances of Prince Adeyeye”.
He said Mr. Adeyeye, spokesperson of the Ahmed Makarfi PDP faction, is attacking Mr. Sheriff’s faction believing that he will be awarded the governorship ticket of Ekiti State.
The Sheriff faction, however, warned that if the PDP is not restructured, even if he ( Adeyeye) is awarded the ticket “which we know Fayose will not do, it will be an exercise in futility and a waste of time like Eyitayo Jegede’s”.
Mr. Ojougbo said Mr. Sheriff is the agent of change for the PDP and multiparty democracy in Nigeria.
“Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff remains the only and authentic National Chairman of the PDP and the NWC remains the only administrative body authorized by law to run the party.”
He concluded the briefing by calling on all party members to unite or the PDP will be dead forever.