The crisis rocking the Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) worsened at the weekend with two factions producing their separate elected officials.
The two factions are backed by former governor Ayo Fayose, and a serving senator, Biodun Olujimi, respectively.
The National Working Committee of the party had given the caretaker committee the order to produce a state executive as the lifespan of the committee ends on September 3.
This directive is believed by the faction backed by Senator Olujimi as prejudicial as there is a pending case at the appeal court regarding the issue of state congresses.
With the insistence of the caretaker committee to hold the congresses, in line with the directive of the NWC, the Olujimi faction also organised its own congress producing officials for the state working committee.
The group loyal to Fayose, which also has the backing of the NWC, produced a former commissioner for environment, Bisi Kolawole, as chairman, while a former member of the House of Representatives, Kehinde Odebunmi, was elected from the splinter body loyal to Olujimi.
The former governor and the senator have been battling over who controls the party’s structure in the state since the close of the last governorship election.
The spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Diran Odeyemi, said the congress which his committee conducted was the only one approved by the NWC.
He said the congress was held with the notification of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), State Security Service (SSS) and the police and they were fully represented at the congress.
Odeyemi said the need to elect a state executive committee was informed by the fact that the tenure of the caretaker committee would expire on September 3 after an earlier extension as provided for by the party’s constitution.
Also, the spokesperson for the Olujimi faction, Jackson Adebayo, said the congresses should not have held because of the pending case at the Appeal Court.
He noted that no group for now can claim authenticity until the court case was determined.
Fayose and a former governor, Segun Oni, have used the congress to reunite after years of being political adversaries.
Speaking at the factional congress held at Petim Hotel, Ado Ekiti, Fayose called on members to be loyal and disciplined.
He also said those who want to leave the parry should be free to do so.
“Let me tell our members that loyalty pays over time. Let us continue to be loyal. All delegates, we welcome and salute you. You can all see all that are set here for this congress. There is no crack in Ekiti PDP. I would have been surprised if Engr Segun Oni has not been here today,” he said.
“Those with party positions, please, respect your leaders, because it will not be business as usual. We are prepared to support the new Exco for them to succeed.
“I am not looking for Senate or anything, but I am standing for the PDP in order not to get destroyed. If you are elected, please, be responsible and respectful to leaders.”
At the Lotus Hotel in Ado Ekiti, where the Olujimi group held its congress, Odebunmi said the task of repositioning Ekiti PDP had begun with his emergence as Chairman.
Odebunmi lambasted Fayose for trying to forcefully take over the party’s structures in flagrant violation of the existing statute and extant laws guiding the PDP.
“It is the majority that owns the party, not Fayose. Before you can hold a valid congress, INEC must be there. INEC was not present at the ward and local government congresses conducted by Fayose,” he said.
“Fayose is free to grand stand, but the final arbiter is the court of law and it will adjudicate on this crisis and tell us which faction is authentic.”