Ekiti 2014: PDP and Divisive Campaign of New, Old Members

By Ebenezer Olaleye
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As political pundits continue to await the emergence of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the June 21 governorship election, gladiators in the party appear to have devised new means of swinging the governorship tickets to their sides. One of such new tactics is the “old and new PDP members” campaign.

Those who joined the PDP in Ekiti State at inception are being regarded as old PDP members while those who left the Action Congress (AC) in 2006 for the PDP are being branded as new PDP members.

The thinking of the proponents of the new campaign is that everything must be done to make sure that only aspirants who they feel are founding members of the party should be considered for the governorship ticket.

For instance, a text message that was circulated a few days ago reads; “The ambassador represents (sic) Ekiti state is from Alliance for Democracy (AD) before joining PDP, the present Minister represent (sic) Ekiti State is also from Alliance for Democracy AD/ACD before joining PDP, the next gubernatorial candidate of PDP must be chosen from among the founding/pioneer member of PDP in Ekiti State to balance the equation.”

In other words, any aspirant who is not a foundation/pioneer member of the PDP in Ekiti State should not be considered for the governorship ticket.

The question then is; “who is a new PDP member and who is a foundation/pioneer member of the party among the governorship aspirants in Ekiti?

Perhaps, a look into the governorship aspirants' political journeys from 1998 till date will provide answers to the question.

Senator Gbenga Aluko:
Gbenga Aluko was elected Senator for Ekiti South in 1999. Preparatory to the 2003 general elections, he decamped to the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), alongside former Senate President, Dr Chuba Okadigbo. After the 2003 elections, he did not play any active role in the politics of the State. In 2007, he contested the State Governorship election under the Labour Party (LP) and came fifth. Aluko returned to the PDP in 2010.

Ambassador Dare Bejide:
Dare Bejide was the PDP Deputy Governorship candidate in 1999. He was appointed Nigeria Ambassador to Canada by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led federal government. In 2005, Bejide joined the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and when the Alliance for Democracy (AD) merged with the ACD to form the Action Congress (AC), Bejide was appointed the AC Interim National Publicity Secretary. He returned to the PDP in 2007, and was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG) by the then Governor, Engr Segun Oni.

Surveyor Abiodun Aluko:
Aluko was the deputy governor of Ekiti State between 2003 and 2005. He fell out with Ayodele Fayose, the governor then and he was impeached. After his impeachment, Aluko left PDP for the National Democratic Party (NDP), and tried to pursue his governorship ambition under the party. He returned to the PDP before the 2007 general elections.

Chief Bisi Omoyeni:
Omoyeni was appointed as Deputy Governor to replace Abiodun Aluko in 2005, a position he held for less than three months before he resigned and returned to his banking job. Prior to his appointment as Fayose's deputy, Omoyeni was never known to be involved in politics. After being Deputy Governor for less than three months under the Fayose administration, Omoyeni returned to Wema Bank Plc and later became the Managing Director. He did not play any active role in the PDP until 2012 that he signified his intention to vie for the governorship.

Prince Dayo Adeyeye:
Adeyeye is a former Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere and former Publicity Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was among the 13 AC governorship aspirants that decamped to the PDP in 2006. He was appointed Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) by the then Governor Segun Oni. He was the Spokesman; Goodluck Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Council, Southwest (2010-2011).

Ayodele Fayose:
Fayose was elected Ekiti State governor in 2003 and was impeached in October 2006.

During the 2007 governorship election, he directed his supporters to team up with the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate, Yinka Akerele, who came third in the election. Fayose returned to the State and promoted the ANPP. He later moved to the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), then Labour Party. During the 2009 governorship, Fayose teamed up with the ACN. He openly campaigned against the PDP, using every available avenue to castigate the PDP and its candidate. Eventually, PDP won the rerun election, but lost at the Election Appeal Tribunal. In 2011, Fayose contested the Ekiti Central Senatorial election under LP, but lost. He came third behind the PDP candidate, Kayode Alufa. After the 2011 general election, Fayose returned to the PDP.

Ropo Ogunbolude:
In 1999, Ogunbolude was the PDP House of Reps candidate for Ekiti South Constituency I. He was appointed commissioner in the National Population Commission (NPC). In 2007, Ogunbolude was the National Democratic Party (NDP) governorship candidate. He returned to the PDP in 2009. He was appointed Special Adviser by the then Governor Segun Oni.

Navy Captain Olubolade:
Olubolade is the serving Minister of Police Affairs. He was among the 13 AC governorship aspirants that decamped to the PDP in 2006. Olubolade was appointed Chairman, Projects Monitoring Committee by the then Governor Segun Oni. He has remained in the PDP since he joined the party in 2006.

Hon. Femi Bamisile:
Bamisile is a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly. 18 of his colleagues impeached him. Bamisile started politics as a member of the AD and was the National Conscience Party (NCP) House of Reps candidate for the Ekiti South Federal Constituency II in 2003 and during the by-election in 2005. He joined the PDP in 2006. He is presently the State Deputy Chairman of the party.

Senator Ayo Arise:
Arise was among the 13 AC governorship aspirants that decamped to the PDP in 2006. He was elected as a Senator, representing Ekiti North in 2007 and was also the PDP senatorial candidate in 2011. He has been playing vital roles in the party since he joined in 2006.

Otunba Yinka Akerele:
Akerele was among the PDP governorship aspirants in 2007. He however decamped to the ANPP and contested the 2007 governorship election under the party. He came third in the election. Akerele returned to the PDP in 2008.

Senator Bode Olowoporoku:
Olowoporoku was the leader of the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999. He joined the PDP from APP, and was elected Senator in 2003. While still in the Senate, Olowoporoku decamped to the ANPP and later joined the AC. He was among the 13 AC governorship candidates that left the party for the PDP after the 2006 controversial primary election. During the 2009 rerun governorship election, he was among the PDP leaders, who signed a MoU with the AC and worked against the PDP.

Chief Reuben Famuyibo:
Famuyibo was a governorship aspirant in the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 and 2003. He left the AD in 2003 and contested the 2003 governorship election under the ANPP. He joined the PDP sometimes in 2004. He normally comes around whenever there are elective positions to be contested for.

Section 18 Chapter II (Part I) of the 2012 Constitution of PDP (as amended), provides that; “A person who has earlier decamped from the party, but later decides to return to the Party shall lose the seniority and privileges conferred on him by his previous status.” In other words, a founding/pioneer member of the PDP who earlier left the party, but later returned can no longer be regarded as a pioneer member of the party.

Therefore, can those who were foundation members of the PDP, but have at one time or the other left for another party before returning to the PDP still be regarded as founding/pioneer PDP members?

Can those who joined the PDP from the AC in 2006, and have held elective and appointive positions in PDP governments still be regarded as new PDP members seven years after they joined the party?

From the foregoing, none of the governorship aspirants can lay claim to being a pioneer member of the PDP in Ekiti State, and discriminating against those who joined the party in 2006 is an affront on the principle of fairness and equity, which has been the focal point of new National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu.

It is also important to note that it was those who joined the PDP from the AC in 2006 that made the party's victories in the 2007 governorship election and the 2009 rerun election possible. Then, most of the so-called old PDP members worked against the party.

Most importantly, if PDP leaders like Mrs Biodun Olujimi, who joined the PDP from the APP in 2003 could be picked as House of Representatives candidate in 2005, less than two years after she joined the party, and she could become the Deputy Governor under the Ayo Fayose administration in 2005, the campaign of some aspirants being founding/pioneer members of the PDP (which they are not) is no doubt childish.

Ekiti PDP is one. There should be no old or new members. Rather, what should be the priority of all true lovers of the party is how a candidate, whose integrity, credibility, pedigree and ability to provide effective governance cannot be questioned, will emerge.

Victory of the PDP in this governorship election should be paramount to all and that can only be achieved if all members of the party forge a common from, not by some going about promoting old and new PDP members' dichotomy just to secure the party's governorship ticket.

Comrade Ebenezer Olaleye is the President, Ekiti Progressive Youths