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Olusola Fabiyi, FEMI MAKINDE, Samuel Awoyinfa, and Tony Okafor
There was crisis and confusion at the secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State on Saturday over the conduct of the ward congresses.
Delegates elected at the state congresses will eventually elect the state executives of the party.
One of the ward chairmanship aspirants of the PDP, Dr. Bayo Faforiji, and thousands of his supporters had stormed the party’s secretariat as early as 8:30am to protest the alleged hoarding of forms by the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Gani Olaoluwa.
Faforiji’s supporters almost lynched a supporter of Mr. Soji Adagunodo, who is also a chairmanship aspirant, but for the timely intervention of security men at the scene.
Faforiji, who is said to be supported by Sen. Iyiola Omisore, accused Olaoluwa of not giving forms to his supporters in order to disenfranchise them in the election despite that he paid the stipulated amount of money for the forms and fulfilled other requirements.
He said, “I and my people are saying today’s congress should be cancelled and rescheduled for another day because the chairman who should be neutral is not.
“We are also calling for the dissolution of Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa-led executives because the chairman decided to hoard the forms from our people. We can’t reach him on the telephone and he is not at the secretariat as you journalists can see. The state chairman is causing an unnecessary tension by hoarding the forms.”
But Adagunodo, who is said to be enjoying the backing of the National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Wale Oladipo, debunked the allegation against his camp, saying his opponent was not prepared for the congress.
Adagunodo said Faforiji’s camp paid late for the forms and decided to disrupt the congress because they knew defeat was staring them in the face.
He said, “This congress was supposed to have held last Saturday, April 23, but it was shifted. We paid for the forms and annual dues of everybody on April 18, whereas they paid just last night. This shows that they are not ready for the election.
“You journalists saw who came to the secretariat to disrupt the distribution of election materials. They are unruly and they should stop this.”
In Ogun, three different factions of the state chapter of the PDP on Saturday held parallel ward congresses in the 236 wards in the state.
The three factions are those led by the senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Mr. Buruji Kashamu; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole and a member of House Representatives, representing Remo Federal Constituency, Ladi Adebutu.
In a media briefing held on Friday in Abeokuta, nine members of the 14-man State Executive Council of the party had threatened to organise a parallel congress, alleging that both the state chairman and the secretary of the party, Bayo Dayo and Semiu Sodipo respectively, had sidelined other executives.
The nine members, led by the state Organising Secretary, PDP, Folashade Filani, alleged that Dayo and Sodipo did not carry them along in the affairs of the party.
The faction made real its threat by having their congresses separately alongside that of the Dayo-led executive.
Our correspondent, who monitored the process in Abeokuta North, Abeokuta South, Sagamu and Ikenne Local Government Areas, observed that different groups were at different areas within the same ward conducting their elections.
While speaking with journalists at the party’s secretariat, the Chairman of the Congress Committee, Muhammed El-Yakubu, said he was not aware of any other PDP faction other than the one recognised by the National Working Committee of the party.
He said he was satisfied with the conduct of the congresses having visited some wards in Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Ilaro and Ifo, among others.
El-Yakubu said, “I am not aware of any other group or faction. I was sent here to monitor the ward congresses. I am impressed with the turnout of the people. It shows that we have so many PDP members in Ogun State.”
Ogun PDP chairman, corroborated the congress committee chairman, stated that “there is only one recognised ward congress and that is the one recognised by the party at the national level.”
But Filani told our correspondent that the congress held by her group believed to be loyal to Adebutu was the valid exercise.
Filani said, “We have conducted a valid congress. The result will be put together and is being collated now and will be submitted to the national secretariat.
“Despite the fact that the National Secretary refused to give us forms we have paid for, we had officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and returning officers. Except the party is willing to go against the court orders, they have no other choice than to accept our result.”
Also, a former member of Ogun State House of Assembly, Johnson Olu-Fatoki, who is said to be loyal to the Bankole-led faction, told our correspondent that his group held the exercise at the designated venue by the PDP national leadership.
He said, “We held it at the designated venues where the PDP used to hold its congresses. It was under the supervision of delegates that came from Abuja.
“Security agents were on the ground and it was generally peaceful. The difference is that we involved other people from other groups into our exco. It is not a matter of winners-take-all.”
In Anambra State, the ward congress of the PDP commenced late. As of 4pm, materials for the congress were still being moved from the state secretariat of the party at Udoka, Awka State capital, to the 326 wards in the state.
The state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Ejike Oguebego, attributed the late movement of the materials to what he called minor logistics problems.
In another development, INEC has cancelled Saturday’s by-election in Kano State.
INEC, in a statement signed by its Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, in Abuja on Saturday, lamented the assault and intimidation experienced by voters and members of staff of the commission during the botched election for the Minjibir State Constituency.
Osaze-Uzzi alleged that card readers and other election materials were also snatched.
He said the commission was therefore “compelled to suspend the election in the Minjibir State Constituency of Kano State forthwith and withdraw all its personnel from the field.”
According to him, the action was taken in pursuant to its powers under Section 26 of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2015 and after consultation with the security agencies.
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Source: Punch News