The feud between Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, and a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, over the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West has caused division among the state chairmen and other top party chieftains in the region.
Fayose and Makinde have reportedly been at loggerheads over the latter’s role in the Ekiti PDP crisis as well as the leadership of the party in the South-West.
The strife, which has lingered for some months, had even recently seen the aides of the two engaging in a war of words on social media.
Fayose had on Monday in Lagos insisted that Makinde was not the PDP leader in the South-West, noting that leadership should be earned and not for anyone as a title.
The ex-governor spoke while receiving prominent members of the party who paid him a solidarity visit.
The delegation was led by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, representing Ondo South District in the National Assembly.
Fayose said an ex-Ondo State Information Commissioner, Dr Eddy Olafeso, should be the next PDP National Vice Chairman (West), saying this was the agreement made in Makinde’s house at Ibadan, Oyo State.
“Governor Makinde is not my leader. He is my follower. Respect should beget respect. I have been a warrior. They thought I will be with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission now. But, I am surviving,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ongoing feud between Makinde and Fayose has caused a division among the state party chairmen and chieftains in the South-West.
While some are in the Fayose camp, others cite that Makinde, being the only PDP governor in the South-West, ought to be the party leader in the region.
The Lagos State chapter of the party said Makinde would be the leader of the party in the South-West by virtue of his position as the only governor on the PDP platform in the region.
The PDP Chairman in Lagos State, Adedeji Doherty, further explained in an interview with told one of our correspondents that the tension in the party in the South-West, due mainly to the tension between Makinde and Fayose, was not a leadership tussle but one based on a previous agreement.
He recalled that before Olafeso resigned as the PDP Vice-Chairman in the South-West to contest the Ondo State governorship election, Makinde called state chairmen of the party in the South-West to a meeting in his personal house.
Doherty said it was at the meeting that Makinde said they should all support Olafeso to contest and that if he did not win the primary, he (Makinde) would like a situation where he (Olafeso) was allowed to return as the Vice-Chairman in the South-West.
“We all agreed because Olafeso has been a good man, and that was the consensus,” Doherty said. “After Olafeso lost the party’s primary, Makinde was no longer living up to the agreement. That created the issues among the majority of the South-West leaders of the party, because some of them don’t want Olafeso to return.
“When you have a gentleman’s agreement, it should be honoured. People, led by Chief Bode George, rose up to truncate that agreement. Instead of Makinde to call everybody like he did the first time, to discuss, he would rather keep quiet.”
Doherty said even though people could think Fayose was fighting to be the leader of the party in the region, he only wanted the honourable thing to be done.
He added, “It’s a fight to be honourable; that Eddy Olafeso should be reinstated as the party’s vice-chairman. There is no contention on who is the leader. Fayose cannot be the leader and he has never tried to convince us that he is the leader, but he is the one leading majority of us that want to stand by our word.
“You will realise that immediately after the congress that Eddy will emerge as a chairman, this whole tension will die down. Makinde would have no choice but to work with Olafeso if he wants a second term. Fayose would also have to work with Eddy Olafeso. So, the tension between Makinde and Fayose as you are seeing now is just based on interests and not on leadership tussle. Makinde is the leader, but one is fighting to be honourable while the other is trying to ignore the agreement.”
When contacted by Sunday PUNCH, the Osun State PDP Chairman, Soji Adagunodo, said there was no contention over who was the leader of the party in the region, also stressing that Fayose was not contesting the leadership of the party with Makinde.
Adagunodo said, “There are other issues causing friction between the two men that may later be known to members of the party.”
The Ondo State chapter of the party also threw its weight behind Makinde.
The state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr Kennedy Peretei, said Makinde, and not Fayose, was the only recognised leader of the party in the South-West.
“Fayose is just a rabble-rouser; how can he be our leader? Where was he when we were in the struggle of the election? He was just causing confusion in the party. Governor Seyi Makinde is our leader in the South-West. Those who are following Fayose are doing so for selfish reasons. He (Fayose) is not our leader in the South-West,” Peretei said.
In a similar manner, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said Makinde was the leader of the PDP in the region.
He said, “As far as some of us who are elders and who belong to the PDP Elders Group led by Chief Olabode George are concerned, we believe that there is no need for anybody to create a crisis within the party.
“The normal party convention in the PDP is that, like the South-West, where we are not in power, the governor there becomes the leader of the party in the region.”
Also, a former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Wole Oyelese, told one of our correspondents that Makinde was the leader of the party in the South-West by virtue of him being the only PDP governor in the region.
He said, “When Ayo Fayose was the governor in Ekiti State, he was the only governor and everybody deferred to him as the leader of the party, and it wasn’t a matter of age. We accepted his leadership and now that we have another person as the only PDP governor in the South-West, he deserves to be respected as the leader of the party.”
However, the Ogun State PDP Chairman, Sikirulahi Ogundele, said Makinde was not a sole leader of the party in the South-West, saying he could only be a co-leader with Fayose and others.
He described Makinde only as an “official” by virtue of his office, accusing him of causing trouble in the party in the region.
Ogundele said, “He is not a sole leader. He is a co-leader with former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose; former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and other leaders in the South-West.
“His leadership is faulty. You cannot say you can lead in isolation. You cannot say you are a leader and causing problems by constituting parallel structures.”
Meanwhile, the PDP in Ekiti State is divided along the lines of its two factions on the issue of party leadership between Fayose and Makinde.
While the faction chaired by Bisi Kolawole said Fayose was the leader, the faction which has Kehinde Odebunmi as its chairman said Makinde was their leader.
Kolawole said, “Fayose is the leader of the party in the South-West, and has been acknowledged by people in Oyo, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states. Being the governor does not confer on Makinde the authority to lord over everybody.”
But Odebunmi said, “There is no controversy about who the leader of the party is in the zone. Going by the PDP convention, any sitting governor in a zone automatically becomes the leader of that zone.”
In the meantime, siding with Fayose, a former Ekiti State party chairman, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo, said the ex-governor was the leader by virtue of his membership of the Osoko political family.
“Fayose is not acceptable to everybody. Likewise, Makinde is not acceptable to everybody. The leader must be acceptable to all either by fiat or through the PDP National Working Committee/National Executive, which is a higher organ than the zone,” Olu-Ojo added.
But another former Ekiti PDP Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, disagreed, saying Makinde was the leader, going by the traditions and convention of the party.
“It is always the sitting governor that is honoured with that position to coordinate, to preside and make sure that he aggregates opinions of members and leaders across the zone, and makes sure he summons people for regular meetings,” he said.