PDP holds parallel ward congresses in Oyo State
Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in Oyo State, has conducted its Ward Congress as it held parallel congresses across major areas of the state on Saturday.
Both factions of the party expressed satisfaction with the turnout of members at the congresses, saying it is the beginning of the process that would ensure the right people are given charge of the party in the state.
The congress, which mostly was an affirmation exercise of officials earlier agreed on, held peacefully across the state despite fears and apprehensions.
Governor Seyi Makinde, who addressed the members who had turned out to participate in the election at Ward 11, Ibadan North East Local Government Area, confirmed that the exercise had gone peacefully and expressed the expectation that other congresses would be peaceful as well, noting that people are excited everywhere around the state because they are getting dividends of democracy.
He called for unity among members of the party in the state and expressed joy that the people of the state are excited about the ruling PDP in the state, urging aggrieved members to give room for resolution.
Makinde stated: “I see the 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.”
Most of the wards visited saw the election being concluded as early as 11 AM but with members on the ground to affirm the elected officials, while in some wards, parallel elections held at the same venue creating an atmosphere of fear and panic, but no crisis or violence was recorded across the wards.
Some leaders of the factional group confirmed that parallel congresses were held across the state.
Mulikat Akande, while giving a situation report on the election from Isale Ora Ward 6, affirmed that parallel congresses held across the state.
She said: “We are on our side and they are on their side at the same venue. That’s the report we are getting in all local government areas. We have told our people to be orderly and peaceful. We already concluded and the results are ready. The security personnel have signed it too.”
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A former Chief of Staff to Governor 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.
He stated: “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.”
Hon. Afolabi, another aggrieved member, who was contacted from Ward 6, Balogun, Oyo East, said there was a large turnout of the members who held parallel congresses.
Former Commissioner of Environment, Idowu Oyeleke, who is the Zonal Returning Officer for Oyo Federal Constituency in the camp of Governor Makinde, said the election was peaceful, noting however that members have the right to hold elections 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 State Assembly, Dr Musa Abdulwasi, who spoke from the Kinnikinni Ward 6, Saki West, said the congress was peaceful and there was no parallel congress as the party leaders in the local government area had resolved to have a consensus.
Another aggrieved member, Bola Akinyemi, said all the aggrieved members had resolved to avoid all forms of provocations as they held the parallel congresses, noting that officials of INEC and security operatives all observed the congress and also certified the results.
He pointed out some skirmishes where he accused some yet to be identified suspects of chasing his car and how he made to detour to deceive them, adding that some suspected political thugs also deflated the tyres of people’s cars around the Molete Bridge, thereby causing an initial scare for the aggrieved members.
Call for Unity
Meanwhile, Governor Makinde, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, tasked members of the party to stay united, adding that the time had come for the aggrieved members to bring their grievances to the table for an amicable resolution.
The governor maintained that the PDP has come to stay in the state, adding that the party would soon take power at the Federal level.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, PDP Ward Congress Committee, who is the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, noted that the Committee did not notice any parallel congress in the state, describing the exercise peaceful as there was no report of any violence anywhere in the state.
“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 them. We are here to do the right thing and to conduct a free, fair and credible congress,” he added.