Former Governor of Oyo state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja (Accord) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in the 2015 general election, Engr. Seyi Makinde, on Thursday said they were very close to going back to their former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They however gave conditions for their return.
The two politicians spoke on Thursday in Ibadan when the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, paid them a visit at their residences in Ibadan.
Makarfi was in Ibadan as part of his moves to woo former PDP members back to the party.
Makarfi was accompanied by former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Minister of Power and Special Duties, Elder Wole Oyelese; former Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide; former Leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, and Senator Ayo Adeseun.
Former Minister of Special Duties and Sports, Prof Taoheed Adedoja; the only PDP member in the House of Representatives from Oyo State, Segun Odebunmi, and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, were also among the dignitaries.
During the visit, both former governor Ladoja and Engr. Makinde gave conditions for their return to the party.
It would be recalled that shortly after the PDP governorship primaries in Oyo State ahead of the 2015 general elections that went in favour of Sen. Teslim Folarin, Alao-Akala and Makinde dumped the party for the Labour Party (LP) and SDP respectively. Alao-Akala later defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ladoja on the other hand dumped the PDP for Accord in 2010.
Speaking on the possibility of returning to the PDP, Ladoja told Makarfi that he and his followers left the party because of the lack of internal democracy and respect for members. He said that for him to return to the party, he needed the assurance that there would be a level playing field for every member including returnees.
His words: “It was only in the PDP that its governors were impeached wrongly. What is the essence of being in a group that cannot protect you? That is why I said that we got it wrong in the party. I have no problem with anybody in the party. We need the assurance that we will be equal in the party so that it will be known that we formed the party together in 1998. We are not asking for anything special. These are the areas we must look at.”
Ladoja also said that the whole Accord Party structure must be absorbed by PDP and that there would be waivers and probably amnesty for returning members.
Makinde said he left PDP in 2015 because the national leadership did not give the governorship aspirants a level playing field. He stated that he and his followers would return to PDP if the chairman would guarantee internal democracy.
He said: “I’ve been part of the reconciliation process by Prof Gana. We’ve been consulting, talking. I joined PDP in 2002. I worked for Sen. Ladoja then, he won. I singlehandedly financed the PDP in Oyo South till 2007. I left the party when things got worse.”
Speaking, Makarfi promised that the party was committed to creating level playing field for all members, including the returnees adding that registration log would be opened soon for everyone after which congresses would be held.
“We have put things on hold in Oyo in order to integrate right from beginning. So, let’s start together, let’s start altogether as one family. So, everything we’ll develop, we are going to develop it together. Also, it is important for your people to hear, but it is also important they hear from us.”, Makarfi stated
He added: “The only way forward politically in Nigeria is for the only party with national widespread, the PDP, to come back to its basis and bring all its members back, create a level playing field and entrench internal party democracy so that acronym of power to the people will become real.
“Ladoja is a great observer of things in Nigeria, he loves the country, the people of the state, and he always speak for them, either in power or when out of power. We are here to take you back to where you belong because the party needs you as well the people of Oyo State and Nigeria. I have the mandate of everybody in the party to bring you back.”
Makarfi also said that he was aware of the contribution of Makinde to the party, saying that he was amazed by the reception his team received from Makinde’s people, thanking him for being patient and for loving the party.
The PDP leader said that at the election convention of the party coming up in December, there would be constitution amendment that would address all the issue that Ladoja and Makinde raised.
Speaking more on his grievances and the conditions under which he and his Accord Party members would return to the umbrella party, Ladoja said: “Something pushed us out of PDP, we did not want to leave PDP at the time we left, though we suffered. We wanted to stay on with PDP, maybe we failed to manage our success.
“If we look back, it was only the PDP that was in power when PDP governors were impeached wrongly. The PDP governors that were impeached were Ayo Fayose in Ekiti State, Chris Ngige in Anambra State, Joshua Dariye in Plateau State and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in Bayelsa State. So, what is the essence of being in a group when you are not getting the protection of that group?
“The state chairman of Accord is there. All members of the executive of Accord are here, even the national executive of Accord is here. So, we do not take it lightly. We want to get that assurance that we will be equal in the party, that all the years we have been out will count for us.
“We should not look at it that Ladoja is coming to PDP. We should look at it that Ladoja and people, who have faith in him by going with him in Accord are coming to PDP. If the terms are right, and the terms being right is just a quality for everybody. So, I’m not asking for any special thing, it’s just I want to be considered as equal in the picture if you come.
“So, once we get those assurances, we’ll sit down in our caucus and I can assure you that within the next few days, or even the next few hours, we will come and raise our hands up that the people have come back to claim their rights in their party.”
Although Otunba Alao-Akala was out of the country as at the time of the visit, hundreds of his supporters were on ground to welcome and receive the visitors. Akala’s men were led by one Wale Ohu.
Markarfi was said to have also planned to visit former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, but the latter was said to be out of the country.
The PDP chairman also visited former Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide(SAN) and former member of Board of Trustees of the party, Alhaji Yekeen Adeojo, among others.