Internal wrangling that may unsettle Osun PDP

LATEEF IBRAHIM from Osogbo writes that one year after his assumption of office, Governor Ademola Adeleke’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is still enmeshed in an internal crisis that if not well managed, may cost the governor his second term bid in Osun state.

Pre-election wranglings within PDP

The PDP started having problems after the primary election that produced Adeleke as the party’s flag bearer. His co-contestant in the primary, Dotun Babayemi, went to the court to challenge the alleged misplacement in the primary claiming he was the authentic candidate of the party.

While the legal tussle was on, Babayemi directed his supporters from all the local governments to work for the victory of the PDP in the July 16, 2022 governorship election believing that his mandate would be returned by the court.

End of legal tussle 

The case finally ended at the Supreme Court and the court held that Adeleke was the authentic governorship candidate. Babayemi immediately congratulated Adeleke, giving the impression the fight was over and they would come together again. 

In his message, Babayemi said, “I want to wish the governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke, the PDP, and the good people of Osun the very best as a new administration under the PDP prepares to berth in Osun.

“I pray it will bring about the long-awaited turnaround to the state and its people. For us, the legal journey was a long walk and worthwhile with no iota of regret. The kernel of our case at the Supreme Court was not reviewed as it was decided on technical grounds. Above all, no regrets.”

The axe fell on Babayemi

Babayemi was furious that the promise made to him and his group to abandon the court case was not fulfilled but the party said his demand was too much.

The congratulatory letter did not make any impact except the shock received by Babayemi’s camp as his suspension was announced by the caretaker chairman, now Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr Adekunle Akindele. 

 Babayemi’s suspension justified

Some members loyal to Babayemi in his ward at Ayedaade Local Government Area like Mayowa Adegboye, Chief Segun Odekunmi, Munirudeen Adekunle, Ajayi Solomon, Adelani Ajanaku, Kamorudeen Elegunmeje, Kehinde Adesiyan and Aliyu Adeyanju, were not spared in the suspended by the party.

Justifying the suspension, the party explained that the position of its constitution is that “If you are having any issue with the party, the constitution stipulates that you must employ the internal organs of the party to settle any rift.

“He went to the high court, appeal court, and he even went as far as Supreme Court. When he knew that at that time Ademola Adeleke had been elected as the governor of a state, he still went ahead to the Supreme Court and at that point, if Ademola Adeleke was eventually disqualified, he would not be the beneficiary of that judgment.

“After the Supreme Court judgment then the party in its wisdom thought it wise that we cannot just continue like that. That was when he and a few others who were in that saddle were suspended from the party.

“So, it has nothing to do with the congress at all. It is not a matter of faction. It is just Babayemi and his group who were working seriously for APC then,” the PDP said.

Worries as Babayemi launches repositioning

However, the event turned around recently when Babayemi launched ‘Atunto’ to advocate repositioning to ensure good governance. Apart from the intimidating crowd gathered by Babayemi, his words at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, where his supporters gathered caused a seeming fear in the party and generated reactions.

Babayemi at the gathering said, “We once had a government in Osun that every household benefitted from its good governance, now is the time for us all in Osun to be apostles of repositioning of the state. Good governance is the prerequisite for economic development. The people of Osun state are hungry. We deserve a better life for our family.

“The people of Osun have come together and cried out that they want a better environment and society for themselves. This action of the people tells you that there is something that is left to be desired with the governance that they are experiencing. All I did was to give them the platform.

“People gathered here today from all local government, wards in Osun state. The people are speaking volumes that it is time for people who are supposed to take care of their welfare to have a shortfall of that,” Babayemi said.

His words generated reactions as the state government was quick to describe Babayemi as a frustrated politician, out to use the Osun people for a selfish agenda. 

The governor through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed said, “Only a terrible politician will attribute the current hardship in the whole of Nigeria to a PDP government in Osun state. It is public knowledge that fuel subsidy removal, naira devaluation, and high inflation are the critical factors responsible for the hardship in the country. 

“The question for Babayemi and his crew of jesters is, how many of the above-highlighted factors should be blamed on a sub-national government? It is obvious that Babayemi does not have any inkling of knowledge about the office he struggled so hard to occupy but failed or he is just mischievous as usual,” Adeleke said.

Adeleke’s ruling group and Babayemi’s edged group have engaged in accusations and counter-accusations with no end in sight to the crisis rocking the party. Some leaders of the party have been silent probably due to their disposition to the candidacy of Adeleke from the beginning.

Instead of finding solutions to unite the already polarized members, the two folds seem not to be ready to work together for the challenges ahead. The fight becomes deeper and the enmity becomes tougher day by day.

The feud rages

Recently, the state party chairman, Sunday Bisi, allegedly ordered an attack on the factional members led by Babayemi, as he vowed to lead the attack on any member of the faction whenever he sees them in his constituency. 

He said, “Those who gathered and called themselves Atunto, you will notice that you have not been hearing them again, you will never hear them again. The disgruntled elements that called themselves Atunto collected money from APC, those are agents of APC that took the party to the supreme court, they knew that even if the case was delivered in their favor they wouldn’t be the beneficiary, I said that they are not our party members. They have been expelled from the party and they stand expelled from the party.

“I am an Ijesa man and in fact, we Ijesas are known for war. So if you see these people (Babayemi’s group) who call themselves Atunto in this local government, drive them away until they become useless. At this point, I am saying unequivocally and publicly too, that in the Ijesa land where I come from, nobody dare call himself/herself Atunto. If I see any of such, I will personally lead the war to their camp and beat them thoroughly,” Bisi threatened.

Police invited

Meanwhile, Babayemi has urged the state police command and the Directorate of State Security Services to invite the state party chairman for questioning over the threat, saying “I’m for peace at all times; my teeming supporters across the state are known for their peaceful conduct. 

The Atunto in question is a cooperative society duly registered and protected by the law. It’s a society present in all the local governments in the state. On whose authority is Sunday Bisi speaking and threatening a lawful body?

He warned the state PDP chairman not to jeopardize the peace currently being enjoyed by the people of the state through his ‘recklessness,’ insisting that he would continue to ensure that the peaceful waters of the state were not unsettled through any undue provocation.

Babayemi disclosed that a petition has been forwarded to the IGP and other security agencies in Abuja for their interventions to avert the state from being plunged into turmoil as he urged the people of the state, especially his supporters and admirers across the state not to allow themselves to be provoked into taking laws into their hands.

Will Babayemi and supporters’ absence  affect PDP’s fortunes

The Senior Special Assistant to governor Ademola Adeleke on media and PDP spokesperson, Oladele Olabamiji, said the absence of Babayemi will not be felt, saying the claim that he worked for Adeleke during the 2022 governorship election was a lie. 

Speaking with the Blueprint, Olabamiji said, “Babayemi can only tell the gullible followers that he worked for Adeleke in the 2022 governorship election. We have a mechanism to monitor the actions of everyone, especially, during electioneering. 

“I can tell you authoritatively that he collected a substantial amount of money to work against the PDP and disbursed it across the local government to make sure that our governor did not win. So, Babayemi is not in the picture in the next election. We are not even considering him. He has done his worst in the past. He can not in any way affect us now. He does not have that capacity.”

In the video circulated where the PDP chairman spoke on Babayemi and his supporters, Olabamiji said “The allegations that the chairman of the PDP threatened some people with an attack is not true. I want the people to know that Hon Sunday Bisi is not the same as governor Adelola Adeleke. 

“The chairman as head of the party can involve in politicking in his role as the head of the party. He is expected to be proactive. It is not true that he threatened Babayemi or whoever. It is within his purview to make sure that the well-being of the PDP is protected. Only the governor is for all in Osun. The PDP chairman is for the PDP.”

Olamiji confirmed the statement made by the PDP chairman in the video that Babayemi is no longer a member of the PDP. He said, “It is true that Prince Dotun Babayemi remains suspended from the party. It is evident that he is no more in the party. We have every authority to know that he is already working for the APC. The APC wants to plant Babayemi as a tool of destruction.

 “They want to use him in a similar form as the aggrieved APC stalwart who formed The Osun Progressives but we were smarter. We saw that coming. We knew through the antics of Babayemi that his soul was no more in the PDP. So it is better for us to weed him off. After all, he was primarily from the APC. It will not be surprising to us if he returns to APC. 

“By record, by status, he is no longer a member of our party. The Atunto he launched was 90 percent of the APC. Despite the intervention of notable leaders of our party, he was hellbent on disrupting the mandate given to Senator Ademola Adeleke,” Olabamiji said.