The National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyorchia Ayu, and the party’s presidential candidate for the Saturday, February 25, 2023 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have come under criticism by party members and chieftains for failing to attend and participate at the Ekiti State to campaign for the party’s governorship candidate in the Saturday, June 18 election.
The party stalwarts said their neglect of the candidate, Bisi Kolawole, contributed to the party’s loss at the poll as well as creating a bad impression about the party and its candidate.
Kolawole, who polled 67,457 votes, came third, while Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) came second with 82,211 votes, and the winner and now Governor-Elect Biodun Oyebanji (BAO), of the All Progressives Congress (APC), scored 187,057 votes in an election in which not less than 15 political parties participated.
Ahead of the election, the party on Thursday, June 9 constituted an 80-member National Campaign Council, but the council, like Ayu and Atiku, didn’t visit the state to campaign for the candidate.
The PDP campaign council was to be chaired by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State was named as the deputy chairman, while Adedamola Adegbite was to serve as the Administrative Secretary. Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja, and Samuel Anyanwu were among the members.
But, on the other hand, the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, led 14 APC governors to the state to campaign for Oyebanji. The party’s chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and its pioneer interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, were also present at the mega rally.
A PDP chieftain in Osun State expressed his displeasure over the matter and the immediate past Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi, said while speaking to journalists at Oshogbo the Osun State capital, southwest of Nigeria that Ayu and Atiku’s absence contributed significantly to the party’s loss in the election.
He added, “Atiku, Ayu and PDP governors left the people of Ekiti, majority of whom supported PDP in the cold. They looked up to these personalities but never showed up before or during the poll.
“The National Campaign Council constituted by Ayu was put in place just four days before the poll whereas Senator Bola Tinubu was in Ekiti with many APC governors, campaigning for Biodun Oyebanji.
“Now that the Ayu-led national leadership has thrown out the chances of PDP winning Ekiti, we need to remind Atiku, Ayu and other today’s leaders of the PDP that the fate of our party in the 2023 election now rests on the outcome of Osun State governorship poll.”
In another reaction to the party’s loss at the Saturday, June 18 poll, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees from Oyo State southwest Nigeria, Dr Saka Balogun, blamed the party’s loss in the election mainly on the leadership crisis in Ekiti State, noting that if all the leaders had worked together, the result would have been different.
Balogun argued that the former National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, committed some blunders, as applicable to the state by relating with individuals instead of leaders, but that Ayu ratified the blunders.
He said, “In Ekiti State, the problem has to do with leadership. With all the activities, dynamism, passion and courage which you can identify with former Governor Ayo Fayose, he appeared to be playing the role of a lodestar. Until we can resolve the leadership problem in Ekiti, I don’t think we are going anywhere.
“We are divided in Ekiti. How can PDP fail in Ekiti East Local Government Area, where Senator Biodun Olujimi comes from? We succeeded only in Efon Alaaye LGA (where Kolawole hails from). I think what happened was a collective tragedy for the PDP, including myself.”
Other southwest party leaders disagree on the matter sighting lack of funds like the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, who claimed the campaign council constituted for the election could not go to Ekiti due to paucity of funds.
He said, “It is quite true that the party constituted a campaign council that will go for the Ekiti election. However, there were no funds at the time that would take care of them; therefore, they were unable to go.”
On the preparations for the Osun governorship poll, he said, “The party is very prepared to go to Osun to support the party’s candidate, unlike in Ekiti.”