Fresh indications have emerged that the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, might this week step into the lingering political crisis in the Ogun State chapter of the party with a view to finding an acceptable solution to it ahead of the election.
According to The Guardian, sources said Atiku’s planned intervention is aimed at finding a ‘gentleman resolution’ for the face-off between Mr. Ladi Adebutu, the PDP gubernatorial candidate backed by the National Working Committee (NWC) and Senator Buruju Kashamu, who is recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate.
The differences between the two candidates came to the fore, when they emerged as parallel governorship candidates from separate primaries in Ogun State. But while PDP NWC backed Adebutu, INEC listed Kashamu as the authentic gubernatorial candidate, citing the ruling of an Abuja High Court.
The pioneer Lagos State PDP Publicity Secretary, Elder Willy Akinlude, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, disclosed that there is plan for Atiku to lead a team of eminent party stalwarts to resolve the Ogun PDP crisis not later than this week.
Akinlude explained that the PDP presidential candidate’s determination to ensure a speedy resolution of the Ogun PDP crisis was based on the realization that the party has a good chance of reclaiming the state from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming presidential and governorship polls “if the warring Kashamu and Adebutu factions could work as a team, considering the infighting currently ravaging APC.”
Also, in separate interactions with The Guardian, both Adebutu and Kashamu expressed their willingness to join forces for the party’s interest in the coming election.
While reiterating his readiness for amicable resolution of the differences in the interest of PDP, Adebutu stressed: “It is true that the party is facing serious challenges in Ogun ahead of the elections, but we are determined to stay in this course.
Remember that we had a similar situation as well, where there have been issues about the candidature in the case of a former governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, such that even after the election, the Supreme Court was able to affirm the rightful candidate.
We will not be distracted by the shenanigans of INEC; we will not be distracted by the interference of the APC; we will stay in PDP, vote PDP and vote out APC thoroughly and that will be part of the national resolve that will get President Muhammadu Buhari out of power. We shall stand our cause and vote for PDP.”
Although, Adebutu blamed current events in Ogun PDP on the ruling APC and INEC, whom it accused of deliberatelytrying to scuttle PDP’s return to power, he said his side would nevertheless remain focused and go into the governorship poll to ensure that PDP wins despite the situation.
On his part, Kashamu, while addressing a media parley in Lagos over the weakened, maintained that in spite of the shenanigans of the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC, “I am the lawful governorship candidate of the party in Ogun that is known to the law and majority of the party members.”
He declared: “I am God’s candidate and the candidate of the masses. In a case filled by Adebutu himself, the Federal Capital Territory High Court on January 14, 2019 held that although the national leadership of the PDP is the right body to conduct primaries, it was done in flagrant disobedience of subsisting court judgments.”
Kashamu noted that all along, he had been constrained by the commendable interventions of well-informed and worthy leaders of the party from responding to the antics of the Secondus-led NWC to openly challenge the supremacy of the rule of law in its handling of the Ogun State PDP matter, if not for the fallacy by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, that requires clarifications.
The Senator added that the imbroglio in Ogun would ordinarily have been an easy one to resolve if the NWC has been upright, law abiding and unbiased.
Similarly, Kashamu’s running mate, Dr. Reuben Abati, contended that Senator Kashamu is in the race to win the election contrary to insinuations that he was acting as a decoy for APC.
“Anyone acting or promoting any other candidate or list in Ogun PDP is only doing so in contempt of the ruling of the court,” Abati stated.
The gubernatorial running mate also highlighted plans of the party for Ogun State, stating that it won’t be business as usual in the Gateway State since, according him; Kashamu would eradicate the plight of the masses, especially those at the grassroots.
But PDP Vice National Chairman, South West zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, in a telephone conversation, said the party leadership was not resting on its oars to ensure peace returns to Ogun chapter as soon as possible before the election.
He noted that Atiku’s intervention is welcome any day, as long as it would bring peace, adding that other leaders, like former governors of Ogun and Ekiti States, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Ayo Fayose and himself were not relenting to resolve the crisis.
“What we need now is political solution and we are hoping to achieve that before the election,” he assured.
Olafeso said the major concern of PDP stakeholders in the Ogun situation was how to tame APC, adding: “You would recall that APC didn’t win Ogun in 2011 and 2015 due to hard work, but because of the infighting in PDP. We have seen our weaknesses and by the grace of God would not allow a similar scenario to occur this time most especially when the ruling party is in serious crisis and much more divided than we are.”
All said and done, it is likely that based on INEC’s position, Adebutu may not have the legal backing to continue parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of PDP in Ogun State, since appropriate security agencies have not only recognised Kashamu, but have also reached out to him for necessary security arrangements towards the election.