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REPORT: S/W PDP Congress, Tension, Intrigues, Politricks, A-Z Of All That Happened

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• Fayose whisked away from venue

Makinde’s man Arapaja floors Olafeso

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Guns boomed and people scampered in different directions as pandemonium rocked the venue of the Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) congress on Monday in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.

The build up to the internal election was tension-soaked between Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose – both battling for the shoul of the party in the zone.

But after several interventions, yesterday’s congress started on a friendly note. Makinde and Fayose embraced each other and promised to respect the outcome of the election. The process began only to take violent mid-way into it.

At the end of the day, the candidate supported by the Oyo State Governor, Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja was elected the national vice chairman (Southwest).

He floored Dr. Eddy Olafeso, who was Fayose’s man and a former occupant of the position.

The were gunshots by suspected political thugs, who attempted to invade the WOCDIF Event Centre venue of the intra-party poll.

The thugs attempted to invade the premises around 6.45pm when Fayose was about to leave the venue.

However, policemen led by Osun State Commissioner of Police Olawale Olokode repelled the attempted invasion. Policemen shot sporadically into the air to scare away the hoodlums.

Fayose was whisked away by security operatives in a tinted black Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).

There was jubilation by supporters of Makinde after his candidate was declared winner.

Arapaja polled 343 votes to defeat Olafeso, who polled 330 votes. Ten votes were voided out of the 383 votes cast.

After the announcement of the result, Olafeso conceded defeat and promised to work with Arapaja.

He said: “The storm is over. There is a new beginning for our party. We have to thank God Almighty that despite the odds, there is a new beginning for our party. The time is now. I thank everybody who supported me.”

Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, said: “We thank Governor Makinde and former Governor Fayose. It’s our party. We will work together and move the party forward. We want to reposition the party. I will work with my brother, Olafeso, to achieve our aims.”

The journey to the congress was bumpy with several failed attempts to reconcile the two factions. It ended with a litigation, which stalled preparations for the congress last month.

While Makinde rejected Olafeso, Fayose maintained that he should be returned. Both stuck to their guns along with their followers and the party was factionalised in four of the six states in the zone.

At 11:14 am, Benue State Deputy Governor Benson Abounu brought the sensitive materials to the venue.

Abounu, who represented Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, the Chairman of the Congress, announced that 743 delegates were accredited.

Makinde, who arrived at 12:14 pm after he was accredited at the entrance, said: “I have to show them my driver’s license before I was allowed inside the venue.

“Accreditation is starting almost two hours behind schedule, but better late and thorough than for them to rush into it and then, they have challenges”.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials witnessed the exercise.

According to the list released by the PDP National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd.) Oyo State had 171 delegates; Osun, 130; Lagos, 101; Ogun, 112; Ondo, 114 and Ekiti, 115.

The congress was unprecedented in the history of the PDP in Southwest. In the past, the party would have produced consensus candidates for the positions in a way that would guarantee equal representation.

Makinde wanted the election to hold in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. But, Fayose objected. The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party then fixed the congress for Osogbo at its meeting last Thursday.

Shortly before the election, both Makinde and Fayose addressed the delegates. Fayose declared Makinde as leader of the party in Southwest in his capacity as the only governor and apologised for any perceived wrongdoing in the past.

Makinde said the election was meant to help the party to put its very best forward so that it could wax stronger in the region.

He said all the candidates belonged to him as the party leader in the Southwest, assuring that there would be no victor, no vanquished.

Prior to voting, Arapaja and Olafeso also expressed willingness to accept defeat once the process was credible.

On Sunday, hoodlums invaded the venue ahead of the election. But, they were dislodged by the police. Some of them were, however, arrested.

Olafeso and Arapaja claimed that the hoodlums were sponsored by the factions. The Osun State Police Command said the arrested hoodlums would be taken to court.

After the poll, Makinde said: “PDP is a democratic party. The two chairmanship candidates, both the winner and the loser, have made their speeches and they have congratulated one another because the process was open and transparent. This congress is a victory for democracy, our party and all the people of the Southwest.

“The southwest is going to be key in who will head Nigeria in 2023. This is a demonstration that internal democracy is thriving within the PDP and all the people are happy and committed. We are here to deepen democracy.”

At the congress were former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Senator Abiodun Olujimi; former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni; former Lagos State Deputy Governor Kofowolola Bucknor-Akerele; Fomer PDP National Secretary Prof. Wale Oladipo and a former Ambassador to Mozambique, Toye Olofintunyi, Wale Oke, Olusola Obada and Oladipo Adebutu.

THE NATION

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