Ahead of the forthcoming zonal congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for March 6, the zonal caucus of the party loyal to Governor Seyi Makinde has nominated former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, for the position of the National Vice Chairman of the party in the South West.
Makinde, who announced the nomination of Arapaja at a PDP Zonal Caucus meeting held at Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, on Tuesday, said Arapaja was found worthy of the nomination owing to his depth, experience, honesty and acceptability by the party’s leaders.
“In Oyo State, many people have come to meet me on who should be nominated for the zonal chairmanship position of our party. Then, I asked some of our people to go and consult all our leaders, and the feedback they gave me is that the zonal chairman will be a member of the National Working Committee of the party. On this note, they said we need a person with depth and experience. We need somebody that is honest. They went around and the name they brought to me is Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja,” Makinde said.
The governor appealed to party members in each of the South West states to ensure inclusiveness and harmony such that the congress will be a fanfare devoid of rancour.
“All the tendencies in each of our states, let us all come together and agree on whoever we want to nominate for each of the positions. This will help us to have harmony so that when we come back here on March 6, 2021, it will be a funfair. We will not fight one another. We will only validate whatever each of our states has done. This will be my expectation and will be my message to everybody,”Makinde said.
Speaking on the PDP faction under the leadership of former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose and immediate past National Vice Chairman (South West) of the party, Dr Eddy Olafeso, Makinde said he expects the reconciliation committee under the chairmanship of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State to deal with the issue.
He added that the committee had gone to all parts of the South West to broker peace, but decried the adamant position of the Fayose faction.
The governor lamented that after he picked Oyinlola as chairman of the reconciliation committee in the zone, the other faction also picked his friend, Femi Babalola, an engineer, as chairman of its own reconciliation committee.
Makinde, however, said efforts to reach out to the Fayose faction for peace to reign in the party will be sustained.
Arapaja’s nomination came a few hours after the Fayose faction also nominated former National Vice Chairman (South West), Eddy Olafeso, as the zonal chairman which may culminate into the party holding parallel zonal congresses in the South West.
The meeting had in attendance former governors, Segun Oni (Ekiti) and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun); Senators Abiodun Olujinmi and Kola Balogun; former governorship candidates of the party in On do and Ekiti State, Eyitayo Jegede and Olusola Eleka respectively.
The roll call of attendees also include former deputy governors Erelu Olusola Obada (Osun), Omolade Oluwateru (Ondo), and Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor (Lagos); Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin; PDP caretaker National Vice Chairman in South West, Dayo Ogungbenro; a member of the parry’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Olu Alabi, and Dr Saka Balogun.
The meeting also saw members of the PDP BoT, National Assembly Caucus, ex-governors of the party, former deputy governors, serving and former members of state Houses of Assembly in the zone all affirmed Makinde as the undisputable leader of the party in the South West.
Alabi spoke on behalf of the BoT; Olujinmi spoke for serving National Assembly members; Oyinlola spoke for former governors; Arapaja spoke for ex-deputy governors; while the Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Ogundoyin, spoke for serving and former Houses of Assembly members in the South West, as well as the youth.
Alabi said: “This party belongs to all of us. We should not allow it to scatter. PDP is governed by certain mantras. We have two in PDP, which is the constitution and conventions. It is important for us to adhere to the constitution of the party and the conventions.
“Part of the conventions that we have been following in the party is that the governor in the zone that we have, will automatically be the leader of the party in the zone. Now in the South West, we have only one governor, and automatically he is the leader of the party in the zone.
“There are a lot of responsibilities attached to being the leader of the party in the zone. I remembered when we used to go to Akure, Ondo State when Olusegun Mimiko was the governor and Ado-Ekiti. Ekiti State when Ayodele Fayose was the governor. Then, Mimiko and Fayose were the only two governors PDP had in the South West. There was nothing they said that we did not agree with them. It should not be heard that it is now that things will change.”