A former deputy governor of Ekiti State who is currently representing Ekiti South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Biodun Olujimi, speaks with SUNDAY ABORISADE on the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party in the state
You participated in the Peoples Democratic Party congress held in Ekiti State last Saturday and the exercise produced two parallel executives of the party with you leading a faction while a former governor, Ayo Fayose, is said to be leading the second faction. What really happened?
It is good to be leading a faction and I take it as a great compliment that people say that I’m leading a faction of a political party against a former governor in a cosmopolitan state like Ekiti. The truth of the matter is that I did not choose to lead a faction. Some people came together and said that they were against a particular way of handling the party. They were against violence, imposition, impunity and all forms that went against democratic tenets of the management of a political party, especially as it has been exhibited several times in Ekiti State.
How did you become a factional leader of the party in the state?
Those who came together said they needed a face to the movement; that was how I became the face of the movement. I am not the only one. It is a collection of leaders of the PDP of which so many people are a part of. One of them is my colleague, Senator Duro Faseyi. We are a team; we are about 10 to12 leaders, leading a movement. So, it is not about me, it is about the PDP in Ekiti. We are part of the movement and we are leading it.
What is the role of the national leadership of the party in all of these?
I believe that is the way the national body wants it because from day one, the congress was built to fail. A congress that happened and there was no delegates’ list; a congress that took place and there was no official of the Independent National Electoral Commission on the ground to supervise it. The police did not also give security backing and the people were not given sufficient information. How can you hold a state congress when there was a fault from beneath? The ward congress was not done but the national secretariat of the party gave the former governor, Fayose, the opportunity to write names and he compiled the list of delegates even in my senatorial district, where he did not support me as the candidate of the party in the 2019 National Assembly election. He wrote all the names on the list and the party took it from him. It is a long story but I will cut it short.
Unfortunately, because the people did not allow him into my local government area and one other local government area, the party was of the opinion that I should take those two local government areas and cede the entire thing to him when I was the only one up until Sunday who was managing the entire party with my colleagues. We agreed that what the party suggested was unethical and could not work. If the party had wanted to do a just and credible congress, they should have done the three ad hoc delegates because that was what our constitution allowed. There would be three ad hoc delegates from each ward who would do the election at the local government area level but that was not done. They forgot that fundamental constitutional provision when they were writing the list. So, the list did not go, yet they said they held a congress to fill in the positions. So, there was illegality and impunity and if those were what were required, the other group too decided they were going to hold a parallel congress and they did that. That also happened in Saturday’s election. The fault had come from the beneath and it was not rectified. Except they start rectifying it now, they can run and rectify it but we own the party; we would stand by what we have done and we will remain there until something concrete is done about it.
Why did you resolve to hold a parallel congress on Saturday when your group had approached the court to challenge what you called the illegality allegedly perpetrated during the ward congresses?
When it was time to hold the state congress, the party asked the caretaker committee chairman because there was an established caretaker committee whose tenure was extended a few days to the state congress. You can see the level of impunity. The life of the caretaker committee was extended less than a week ago. The caretaker committee chairman was asked to arrange for the congress but the man said his own mandate was to ensure peace in the party. He said it was agreed that until all the rancorous situations had been rectified, nobody would hold a congress in Ekiti. The national leadership of the party then directed the stooges of the former governor, Fayose, who is the secretary of the caretaker committee, to go ahead and conduct the congress. The man, who is an indigene of Osun State, decided to do it and destroy the peace we are managing in Ekiti. So, that is the impunity and illegality that warranted our group to hold a parallel congress.
What is the next step now?
We will continue as it is. Maybe that is what is required for all of us to come back as one. We must be able to make sense of all that is on the table right now.
What is the national executive of the party doing to address the situation?
It is the national executive of the party that is behind the former governor. If not, what would have happened at the ward congress that they would have allowed him to write every list, including from my senatorial district? I am the only one standing in Ekiti. The former governor did not leave us with a single councillor nor did he leave us with even his own councillor or House of Assembly member. He made sure that everything was lost to the All Progressives Congress. I made all the efforts to retrieve the only one standing for the PDP in Ekiti State. Now, they are dancing to his tune for whatever reason I do not know.
Why would the party still be in support of the former governor, considering the fact that his activities are allegedly causing further disunity in the party in your state?
I have the feeling that he has a hold on them but I don’t understand what’s actually happening.
What’s your reaction to the allegations that the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, is sponsoring your activities in order to destroy the PDP in the state?
I have never even spoken with him. But the truth is, I will continue to fight for justice. I don’t care what the people say; it doesn’t matter to me. Even if he (Fayemi) is talking to me, why not, when the party which I have made many sacrifices for did not see anything good in what we have done? So, if anybody else talks to me, it won’t negate anything. I am not being talked to but I am going to fight for justice, fairness and equity because the former governor left the party long ago. We kept the party until he returned and we gave him the ticket. This is the same thing he had done. He had abandoned the party after the last governorship election but now coming because they had allowed him to return and do the same thing he did earlier. We won’t take it.
A former governor of the state, Chief Segun Oni, was in the camp of Fayose in the state congress held Saturday. Is that not an indication that the heavyweights in the party in the state are in support of the other faction as against your own?
I think Chief Segun Oni is just desperate to be governor again. I don’t give tickets to candidates. The people of Ekiti give tickets. If he desperately wants it and he wants to pitch his tent with Fayose, so be it. We are not against him pitching his tent with Fayose, but we are the ones who have fought for the party, the ones who have held the party, we will not relent. They think because they could stifle me, believing that a woman would get fed up easily and abandon the course.
Do you think there would still be peace in the party?
Oh yes, we can still achieve peace when justice is entrenched and when we see that we could meet somewhere and we talk about justice in the party. When internal democracy is allowed to be the watchword of the party, of course, peace will return.
Do you think the national leaders of the party would initiate any peaceful move soon?
When you have elders who are intent on impunity, we must fight it. Why are we fighting other parties if we cannot fight within our party to ensure that things are done properly and correctly? That is what we are doing and God has been faithful to us. God has been good to us. If the elders of the party want to squander it, well it is left to them.
Specifically, what is the way forward?
The only way we can move forward is to caution Fayose but everybody is dodging it. Nobody wants to do it. Everybody wants to massage (his) ego. Until the elders are able to call a spade a spade, and say, as a former governor, Fayose must work with other people, we would be where we are because we must be able to do things properly. Everything cannot be by impunity and brigandage. Peace will continue to elude us until when the party is able to speak truth to power. We will be where we are because some of us have been helped by the party. We do not want the party to go to the dogs and we do not want anybody to take over the party and make pecuniary reasons for its survival. We would fight it out. Until the party is able sit up and say no, something is wrong and we must correct it, we will always be where we are now.
Will you consider defecting to any other party if the national leaders of your party continue to ignore your agitation?
At first, I thought when you put so much on something and some people don’t want you, you could leave but then, on a second thought, I felt, no. It won’t be a person who will chase me out of the PDP because I came into it on my own volition. I am going to stay in it on my own volition and on my terms.
Many Nigerians are still wondering why you are fighting a man whom you once served as a deputy governor. Is there something Nigerians don’t really know?
Somebody should talk to Fayose. I did not campaign against the party during the last governorship election in 2018 but when I was contesting the 2019 National Assembly election, he went on social media, radio and television stations to campaign against my candidature. The party has not for one day sat him down to ask him what happened. He campaigned for the sitting governor, Fayemi, when he was in the APC; he carried placards for him. The party has never asked him. He has campaigned for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party has not asked him why. He campaigned against the current governorship candidate of the party in Edo State, who is the current governor, but the party has not said a word on it. Where have I gone against the party rules? I need to be schooled. If Fayose is doing all those things, the leaders of the party should not condone him. This is the same person who stopped us from contesting the governorship primaries in the 2018 Ekiti governorship election. If we allow all these to continue and the party is given to him, you can imagine what will become of the party. Everything would be at his beck and call. There is no other leader in Ekiti State who can look at him in the face and talk to him, saying, you cannot do this. Not even former governor Oni who just joined him.