The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, on Saturday, held parallel ward congresses across major areas of the state.
Both factions of the party expressed satisfaction with the turnout of members at the congress, saying it is the beginning of the process that would ensure right people take charge of the party in the state.
However, Governor Seyi Makinde has called for unity among members of the party in the state, urging aggrieved members to give room for resolution.
The governor spoke at Ward 11, Ibadan North East Local Government, while addressing members who had turned out to participate in the election.
He expressed joy that residents of the state are excited about the ruling PDP.
“I see excitement with the people. They want to be participants in the democratic process to select their leaders to run the affairs of the party at the ward level. So, for me, it is democracy in action.
“And also with the fact that we have been in government slightly above two years now, the people are still excited about their party. It is something that calls for celebration for us.
“Well, the exercise today went peacefully. I expect other congresses to be peaceful as well. Everywhere around the state, the people are excited because they are getting dividends of democracy. So, I believe the excitement is all over the state,” Makinde said.
The congress which mostly was an affirmation exercise of officials as earlier agreed on, held peacefully across the state, despite fears and apprehensions.
Most of the wards visited saw the election being concluded as early as 11am, with members on ground to affirm the elected officials.
Also, in some wards, the parallel election held at the same venue, creating an atmosphere of fear and panic, but no crisis or violence was recorded across the wards.
The leaders of the factional group confirmed that parallel congresses held across the state.
While giving a situation report on the election from Isale Ora Ward 6, in Ogbomoso, former Leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola Akande, said: “Parallel across held across the state.
“We are on our side and they are on their side at the same venue. That’s the report we are getting in all the local government areas.
“We have told our people to be orderly and peaceful. We already concluded and results are ready. The security personnel have signed it too.”
Speaking, a former Chief of Staff to Makinde, Chief Bisi Ilaka, in his report of the conduct of the election at Afinni Compound, Ward 5, Oyo East, said the exercise was peaceful.
“My ward is peaceful. Material delivered on time. We used consensus in the four local governments and the stakeholders were called together to address the issue.
“All interests have been accommodated and so there is no parallel congress here. There is no violence in Oyo and I am not worried about the parallel congress,” he said.
Another aggrieved member who was contacted from Ward 6, Balogun, Oyo East, Hon Afolabi Saheed, said there was large turnout of the members who held a parallel congress.
Former Commissioner of Environment, Idowu Oyeleke, who is the Zonal Returning Officer for Oyo Federal Constituency, said the election was peaceful. He,however, noted that members have the right to hold election individually or generally.
“Parallel is not strange. It is allowed. Each group will submit their result, but we will resolve the matter and address the grievances,” he added.
Also, a former deputy speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Dr Musa Abdulwasih, who spoke from Kinnikinni, Ward 6, Saki West, said the congress was “peaceful as the party leaders in the local government have resolved in consensus.”
“No parallel here and the Abuja committee members have been here today to see for themselves,” the former deputy speaker added.
Another aggrieved member, Bola Akinyemi, said the faction resolved to avoid all forms of provocation the parallel congresses were held.
He said officials of INEC and security operatives all observed the congressed and also certified the results.
Akinyemi pointed out that some skirmishes were recorded in some areas, alleging that some yet to be identified persons chased his car and he had to make a detour to deceive them.
He said some suspected political thugs also deflated the tyres of cars belonging to aggrieved members around Molete.
Meanwhile, Makinde, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, tasked members of the party to stay united, adding that the time has come for the aggrieved members to bring their grievances to the table for amicable resolution.
“For the PDP members in Oyo State, I want to ask them to stay unified because we can do quite a lot in unity.
“And for some who are angry or aggrieved, let them bring their issues to the table, we will address them. Politics is about conflict and resolution of conflict within interaction of people,” he said.
The governor maintained that the PDP has come to stay in the state, adding that the party will soon take power at the federal level.
“So, we are not ruling out making overtures to them and getting them also to be a part of this process. This is because PDP is here to stay in Oyo State and the PDP is also poised to take over power at the federal level. So, you don’t leave a winning team,” Makinde said.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, PDP Ward Congress Committee, and the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, said the Committee did not notice any parallel congress in the state.
He described the ward congresses as “so peaceful”, saying “so far, so good, all the talks of having parallel election has not been noticed and what is key today is that the process has been peaceful.
“No report of any violence anywhere and that is one thing we have been afraid of since yesterday,” Shaibu said.
He assured that the party will settle all internal issues among its members amicably.
“Interestingly, all through the night, we were having discussions and phone calls to some of them that feel aggrieved. We will settle our internal issues and I am happy that we are already discussing.
“We are here to do the right thing and to conduct a free, fair and credible congress,” he added.