Oyo 2019: Battle for soul of AD
There is disquiet in the Oyo State Alliance for Democracy (AD), following disagreement between old party members and intending defectors over which of the divide should produce the governorship candidate for next year’s election. EMMANUEL OLADESU reports.
There is disquiet in the Oyo State Alliance for Democracy (AD), amid alleged moves by supporters of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, to take over the party machinery.
The alleged hijack bid is being championed by a prominent governorship aspirant in the Ladoja camp, preparatory to their defection to the AD from the PDP, where power tussle between them and another faction, led by a governorship aspirant, Mr Seyi Makinde, has forced them to search for alternative platform to fight the 2019 election.
The group may have settled for the AD and initiated talks with some party leaders over the possibility of joining the party.
Also, a plot was hatched to sack the state executive of the AD to pave way for the control of the party machinery by the prospective defectors.
The move seemed to have succeeded with the recent dissolution of the state executive committee along with its Ogun and Osun state counterparts and its replacement with a caretaker committee, led by Joseph Avasi.
But, the state leadership faulted the NWC‘s action as illegal and a breach of article 15(2) of the AD Constitution, which provides for a four- year tenure.
According to party leaders, the NWC lacked the power to suspend or remove state officers from office or replace them with an interim caretaker committee their tenure has not expired.
The current exco‘s tenure is not expected to lapse until December next year, having been elected like the party‘s national executive at a national congress in December, 2015.
Sources alleged that the controversial sack of the party exco was orchestrated by two party chieftains who, allegedly went behind the party leadership to negotiate with the Ladoja group to come to the AD.
The duo, a former federal lawmaker and a stalwart from Lagelu local government, have allegedly promised to hand over the party to the Ladoja group. Both politicians were accused of working for selfish political gains.
But, a meeting of the stakeholders last week attended by the executive committee members, elders council, party officers and members from the 33 local governments AD Southwest chairman Otunba Tayo Onayemi and some governorship aspirants, including Dr. Akin Onigbinde (SAN), Akeem Alao; Opatoki and Comrade Sanyaolu, passed a vote of confidence on the Chief Michael Akinropo -led executive and rejected the appointment of the caretaker committee.
In a communique by the chairman, Akinropo, secretary, Wale Adebayo and AD Southwest chairman, Onayemi, the meeting resolved to keep its doors open for old and new members and “decampees” from other parties, provided they were willing to abide by the AD constitution.
It urged prospective members to join the party at the ward level and support the current leadership structure and programme of the party.
Tempers rose at the meeting, with members condemning the perceived treachery of the two stalwarts accused of instigating the crisis. The two men, however, did not attend the meeting.
Although the Oyo Central senatorial leader, Pastor Akin Alamu, who was appointed as the new caretaker chairman by the national leadership, allegedly tried to urge the meeting to support the NWC‘s decision, his view were opposed on the ground that it was self-serving and merely to justify his “illegal” appointment.
The composition of the caretaker was also rejected on the basis that it excluded representation from Oyo, Ogbomoso and Ibarapa zones. Three members were picked from Egbeda local government in Ibadan, where Alamu also hails from.
The letter of appointment signed by the AD National Secretary, Akin Fasogbon, listed other members as Yomi Alade (Secretary), Dauda Adams, Barrister Tajudeen Tijani, Mr. Akin Oke, Mr. Dayo Badmus and Mrs. Adegoke, and mandated them to organise a congress to elect new officers for the party within three months effective from May 1.
Ladoja has reportedly denied sponsoring the alleged attempt to old party members. A governorship aspirant and former Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr. Onigbinde, said Ladoja told him that he had no knowledge of acts of “impunity, strong arm tactics and dishonest means at seizing the structure of the party”, by some of his associates, when he objected to the planned invasion. He described Ladoja a a man of reputation, a democrat of impressive progressive credentials, former elected governor, who made significant impact on the lives of Oyo State citizens, and an astute politician who resisted the military, his illegal impeachment and impunity.
His denied the plan to hijack the party, stressing that he could not do what he was condemning in the PDP.
Ladoja‘s denial tend to lend credence to the view that the onslaught against the AD was being promoted by some in his camp to gain undue advantage to further their political ambitions ahead of 2019. The idea, said an AD chieftain, is to position the loyalists to take charge of the party to favour their emergence as candidates for the elections.
But, Chief Akinropo said the two AD chieftains lacked the consent or authority of the legitimate AD leadership to negotiate for the party or open talks with intending defectors.
A source said the duo also reportedly failed to report their discussions with the prospective defectors to the party leadership.
The Ladoja group also initially reached out to Onigbinde, who informed the leadership of the party on the former’s intention to join the AD. However, a meeting of AD stakeholders and the team nominated by Senator Ladoja, led by former Accord Party chairman, Nureni Adisa, scheduled for April 26, which was expected to brief the latter on the true situation in the party, was called off at the last minute through a phone call by one Olaoye, who said the meeting could not hold again, because the PDP faction team leader was unavailable.
The development has cast doubt on Ladoja’s claim that he was not aware of the plot to hijack the chapter. The AD chieftains were miffed by the group’s reluctance to discuss with the official party leadership. There are fears at the weekend of possible clash as the caretaker committee members may try to take over the party secretarial at Yemetu, Ibadan today.
The committee’s hands may have been strengthened by the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC)’s recognition and the endorsement of the AD NWC‘s meeting which sacked the state executive and appointed the interim body in its place. The Nation learnt that the AD national executive had, in line with the statues, invited INEC to observe the exercise, which was presided over by the National Chairman, Avasi who had earlier been suspended from office.
Although the dissolved state party executive has declared its purported sack as illegal, null and void, as the meeting that did it was incompetent, having been convened by the suspended chairman, among other reasons, INEC has upheld it as valid. The commission stated that it would continue to recognise Avasi as chairman, because the provision of the party‘s constitution for him to be replaced by his deputy in acting capacity after his purported suspension was not followed. Instead, the party’s National Auditor was designated as such to run the affairs of the party, a situation INEC said was unconstitutional and unacceptable.
There is, however, a twist to the whole drama. The Oyo AD party chairman, and his Osun and Ogun counterparts and Southwest chairman of the party has sued the NWC.
In a joint suit filed on their behalf at a Federal High Court in Abuja by Olusola Baiyeshea (SAN) on April 20, Chief Akinropo and his Ogun and Osun state counterparts Prince Dayo Adesina and Hon. Fakunle Olapade, as well as Otunba Tayo Onayemi the southwest chairman challenged the powers and validity of the NWC‘s meeting and its resolutions, based on the provisions of the AD constitution as amended on December 3, 2015. They also complained that they were excluded from the meeting of the NWC, which they also contended lacked the power to remove them from office.
The party leaders are asking the court to restrain the national AD from tampering with their office or tenure which are still subsisting and valid until December 2019.
They also seek, among others, declarations that: neither the “National Executive Committee” nor the “National Working Committee”, has powers to remove them from office, and/or appoint a caretaker committee in their stead, in contravention of the provision of Article 15 (5) of the AD constitution; the proposed meeting of the National Working committee of the 25th April, where they, who are principal members of the party were not invited was against the letters and spirits of Article 8 of the constitution of the AD.