From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Former Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, Mr Jackson Adebayo, has said the adoption of former House of Assembly member, Hon. Bisi Kolawole as the preferred governorship candidate of former Governor Ayodele Fayose is not binding on the party.
The ex-Spokesman said Fayose was merely expressing his personal opinion by adopting Kolawole saying “no individual can shut out other party members from vying for the governorship ticket in a free and fair primary.”
The PDP National Auditor and a governorship aspirant, Hon. Wale Aribisala, has said he would continue with his ambition despite the endorsement of Kolawole by the ex-governor.
Fayose’s spokesman, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said there was no cause for alarm on Kolawole’s adoption by Fayose and members of the Osoko Political Assembly (OPA) saying “everybody has a freedom of choice in a democracy.”
The trio spoke on the latest crisis in the Ekiti PDP sparked by the adoption of Kolawole by Fayose and his loyalists while featuring on SABENKO, a Yoruba current affairs programme on Voice 89.9 FM, Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday.
Adebayo admitted that the Ekiti PDP is facing challenges bordering on a factional leadership crisis on which of the two executives, one loyal to Fayose led by Kolawole and the other loyal to Senator Biodun Olujimi led by Hon. Kehinde Odebunmi is the authentic.
He expressed dismay that the logjam is yet to be resolved when Fayose announced Kolawole as his preferred PDP flag bearer for next year’s governorship poll warning the ex-governor to learn from a similar action that led to the defeat of the party in 2018.
Adebayo said: “While Fayose has the right to support any contestant of his choice, he is not speaking the mind of the PDP as a party because the party is yet to organise a primary election. Adopting Kolawole is Fayose’s personal opinion and is not binding on the party.
“Although Fayose did similar thing in 2018 because he was governor at the time but now, we don’t have a sitting governor. We now have equal rights in the party as automatic delegates.
“For our party to make progress, we are saying that an end must come to imposition of candidates, for our party to be attractive to the electorate, we must conduct credible primaries and put a stop to imposition of candidates.
“We have prominent party members who wish to run for the governorship seat, we should not allow an individual to unilaterally impose a candidate on us. Let them go into a free and fair primary.
“We want to appeal to the former Governor to stop instigating crisis in the party because he is the one causing crisis in the party. We are still looking for ways to resolve the factional crisis, he came up with this adoption which is sparking a fresh crisis.”
Adebayo dismissed belief in some quarters that Fayose controls the party structure claiming that 85 per cent of PDP members belong to the Repositioning Group led by Mrs. Olujimi “including OPA members” that subscribe to the leadership of the Ekiti South Senator.
He also used the forum to debunk an allegation that the Olujimi-led Repositioning Group is working in cahoots with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
But Aribisala, who was a House of Representatives member for Oye/Ikole Federal Constituency between 2007 and 2011, described the controversy on the adoption as a “family affair” which will be resolved very soon.
He said: “Bisi K is my brother and Fayose is my leader and boss. We will all sit down and resolve the matter. I am still contesting, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.
“The issue cannot affect PDP, PDP is a strong party and we are winning. It is not a problem but a mere controversy which is normal in a party as big as PDP. APC also has its own problems.
“We only have disagreement among us, our boss has spoken and we are 100 per cent loyal to him.”
Olayinka who said there was nothing wrong in what Fayose and his supporters have done in endorsing Kolawole stressed that other party members are free to sell their preferred candidates ahead of the primary.
He said: “For example if we have three candidates, I have the right to queue behind a candidate and you have the right to support any candidate of your choice because in democracy, there is freedom of choice.
“For example in 2018, when Fayose supported Eleka, that didn’t stop others from contesting in the primary. Adeyeye praised the primary saying it was free and fair.
“Some people are behind Segun Oni, they went to his house to meet him saying they have endorsed him. The Repositioning Group are queuing behind Olujimi and that is their right.”