Mr Lere Olayinka, the media aide to the former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, tells about his thoughts on the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party in the state
Some PDP members loyal to Senator Abiodun Olujimi have said the ward executives inaugurated on April 30, 2020 has no basis in law, what is your response to this?
First, they were the ones who went to court to challenge the conduct and result of the congresses. Thank God that even the judge was very clear by saying that the congresses which they came to court over were not in dispute as the congresses had been conducted and concluded. When the process had been concluded, it means that there must be a result. It is like when a governorship election had been concluded, and somebody goes to the tribunal to challenge the result, will that stop the winner from assuming office? No, the person will assume office while you go on with your case. Again, from the letter dated April 25, 2020, sent by the National Working Committee, it was clearly stated who the new executive members are, based on the expiration of the tenure of the current executives, and (they) shall hold office for a period of four years pursuant to Section 47(1) of our party’s constitution as amended. That was on April 30, 2020. When the national body says that the tenure of the ward executive begins April 30, when will they (ward excos in Ekiti) be sworn in?
But there is a claim that the state PDP chairman did not receive such a letter nor worked on anything like that.
There is a letter dated April 25, 2020 directed to the PDP state chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase. The letter was sent online to him the same way it was sent to 23 other PDP state chapters in Nigeria over the ward executive members. I am aware that the excos of Cross River State was sworn-in on April 30 and the ward excos of other states were also sworn-in on that day. It was the same letter that was sent to them. If Oguntuwase is saying that he did not see the letter, he should be the one to tell us why he chose to abdicate his duty.
What would you say about the fact that the state chairman was not part of the inauguration?
Let me tell you, the party is not about an individual; the party is not about Oguntuwase. There is a state exco of the party comprising the chairman; deputy chairman, who can act in place of the chairman; secretary; legal adviser, whose duty is to look into legal issues concerning the party, and other officials. Will the running of the party stop because someone abdicates his responsibility? I sympathise with them, they don’t understand many things. When you are going into a political battle, weigh your strength and that of the opposition. In this case, they chose to go into a political battle with their master without first completing their political training and graduation. The master is still there. It was the master that made them what they are politically. It was that master, Ayo Fayose, that made the like of Olujimi what she is today. Will you say that this person who made you what you are will not be able to navigate the process he used in making you a leader against you when you choose to be rebellious?
While your group believes in the April 30 date, the Olujimi group is harping on May 1 date for the inauguration of ward executive members, why the discrepancies?
There can’t be any discrepancy, if INEC announced me as the winner of an election that I should be sworn in on April 30, then you can also choose to announce yourself as the winner of the same election and pronounce yourself without INEC or court seeing you as the winner; the constitution will know who to relate with. The party at the national level will know who to relate with. When some people say there is parallel excos, I say there is no parallel exco anywhere in Ekiti. There is only one ward exco team, where the people’s names were released by the party via a letter dated April 25, 2020. Those are the only ward executives that we have in the 155 wards. If you are now saying you have your own, announce the excos and let us see how the national body relates with you. Those excos they inaugurated will be answering the name of Olujimi repositioning group. The PDP ward excos were the ones whose names were published on April 25, 2020.
So, what do you have to say about the May 1 inauguration of the PDP ward excos in Ekiti?
There was no inauguration on May 1. You cannot build something on nothing. There was only one inauguration on April 30. That is the position of the party at the national level and that is the position of the party constitution. Whoever is saying otherwise is embarking on a journey of self-deceit.
But they are insisting that the congresses said to have been conducted by Haruna Manu did not hold.
That is the matter for the court to decide. When you win an election, do you go to the tribunal? Can an election produce two winners? You cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time.
Is it true that the crisis in the PDP is linked with former Governor Fayose’s choice of governorship candidate in the 2018 election and his intention to continue to lord himself over the party?
In every human organisation, there is leadership. What does Olujimi want to do? Did Olujimi’s activities as well not amount to trying to lord herself over the party? It is a battle for control. Olujimi wants to control the party. That is what she is doing. The truth is that it is the person who is more knowledgeable, grounded and loved by the people that has taken control of the party. The gulf between Fayose as a former governor and Olujimi as a serving senator is very wide going by PDP structure. Can you compare 100 serving senators with a former governor? Olujimi is the senator representing one of the senatorial districts in Ekiti State, Ekiti South. Is she my leader in the central senatorial district?
With the present situation in Ekiti PDP, what is the way forward?
There is no other way forward than when the leadership takes a position, the genuine members of the party must abide by the decision of the leadership unless you have other ulterior motive or other agenda. But, hopefully, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the party will elect a new state exco and we will have a fresh life, fresh ideas and this party will be able to run as it is supposed to.