Baring last-minute parley, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, and former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose, are for a final showdown over who is in control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Southwest Nigeria.
After months of failed reconciliation attempts and legal fireworks over seeming irreconcilable differences, both juggernauts will lead their followers to the Southwest zonal congress in Osogbo, the Osun State capital tomorrow (Monday).
The congress will serve as a test of strength for both leaders, and ultimately determine how the party may perform in the 2023 elections.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party fixed the congress for tomorrow after long hours of failed parley last Wednesday evening over agreements on who to select for the positions in the zonal executive. Zonal executive positions are usually shared among the states and power blocs to avoid a bitter election.
But the two major factions in the party failed this time to agree on candidates for the positions. While Makinde has presented those led by a former deputy governor of Oyo State Taofeek Arapaja, Fayose is backing those led by the immediate past zonal chairman Eddy Olafeso.
The Fayose faction had secured an injunction restraining the conduct of the election in March. It insisted that the election should not hold in Ibadan.
Though Makinde got a section of the national leadership to fix the congress for yesterday in Ibadan, the NWC ruled last Wednesday that the election could not hold as suggested because of the court injunction. It immediately directed the two factions to meet that night and agree on major considerations. The meeting was expected to end the rift but it failed as the two factions stuck to their gun. Consequently, the NWC fixed the congress for Osogbo tomorrow in what may serve as a litmus test, particularly for Makinde, who is the official leader of the party in the region.
Speaking on the development, a source within the Fayose faction confirmed that the congress would be tough for Makinde because Fayose enjoys the followership of the majority of delegates having being in power many years ago. According to the source, the Fayose faction worked for Makinde’s emergence as the governorship candidate of the party in 2018, using its strength and wide influence.
But a source within the Makinde faction said it was wrong for the Fayose faction to contest control of the party with Makinde since the PDP constitution recognizes the highest elected official as the PDP leader in the zone. The source argued that Fayose and his supporters should allow Makinde to call the shot during his tenure.