Though efforts are being made to manage the situation, Street Journal’s findings have revealed that the crisis rocking the Oyo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party is far from being over. With the next elections less than two years away, more chieftains of the party are moving out of the PDP fold to other parties. The defection of chieftains who could be counted on in some areas in the state might eventually affect the fortune of the PDP in the 2015 elections.
Recently, a former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Kehinde Ayoola announced that he was quitting as a member of the PDP. The likes of Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, Hon Jelili Agboola, a former Commissioner in the Akala administration and Hon Segun Taiwo, a former member of the House of Representatives have all left. In his analysis, Ayoola likened the party to a car with a bad engine, manned by a drunken driver. In a message he posted over the internet, the former Speaker pointed out that ”over the years, we have had the hope that the PDP, not being ethnically-based, like the other parties is the only one that can unite Nigerians. However this expectation has been misplaced”.
Ayoola went on to state that every political party operates on 3 levels which he gave as “Think tanks, Financiers and Foot soldiers”. Explaining further, he said “the think tank is a collection of intellectuals who conceptualize programs and policies for the party (and later government formed by the party) often after exhaustive debates and academic exertions. The financiers believe in the ideals of the party and therefore use their material endowments to support the cause of the party while the foot soldiers pound the streets, knock on doors and hold meetings canvassing support for the party. Thus Awolowo had the Hezekiah Oluwasanmis, Sanya Onabamiros, S.O. Awokoyas and Michael Ajasins as his think tank and financiers like Chief Afred Rewane a.k.a. Osibakoro and Alhaji S.O.G. Gbadamosi of Ragolis Water fame. In the East, Zik had the Mokwugo Okoyes, Prof Eni Njoku and Michael Okpara while Ahmadu Bello had the R.A.B. Dikkos and Iya Abubakars. This is no more the case”.
He also noted that “sadly, political office holders and other elected representatives in Nigeria have become richer than the Nigerian state itself thereby consigning the populace to poverty and a proclivity for going cap in hand to them and their friends. In this situation, our leaders have become puffed up, impervious to advice and easily given to arrogant predilections. Their word must be obeyed unquestioningly and this stifles intellectual exertions and encourages bootlicking and its attendant robotic coefficients i.e. people cannot think for themselves.
The party has sadly, in the last few years become the archetypal bus with good body, bad engine and a drunken driver. The leadership can no longer inspire the followers. Discussion of the various problems that bedevil our nation has taken the back seat. The hedonistic tendencies of our leaders at various levels have come forth. There is high level distrust and betrayal of trust where there seems to be even a modicum of it and the generality of the membership are like sheep without shepherd’.
“In Oyo State, my own Jerusalem, the party has been torn into about 4 factions”, Ayoola stated. He went on to give the factions as “The Dandaru Group powered by Sen Kola Folarin Teslim, The Yemetu Group actively encouraged by Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, The Akala Group which is self-recognizable and is currently negotiating a soft-landing with the Accord Party despite claims to the contrary and, The silent majority of party faithfuls who are in a quandary as to which way to go. They are tottering pitifully like a man inebriated with an uncontrollable quaffing of ogogoro”.
Ayoola who was the first Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly after the return to civil rule in 1999 pointed out that “every attempt made by rational minds to bring the ship of the party back on course has been rebuffed by the reactionaries who usually play I-too-know and who, unfortunately are closer than the rest to the powers-that-be. They behave and pose like they understand the magnitude and solutions to the problems but alas they are mainly men and women possessed of vacuous minds and ‘bolekaja’ intellect. They are clouds that carry no water but easily driven away by winds; persons about whom the words of Stephen Hawking ring true: “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge”
He told Street Journal that the decision to quit the PDP with immediate effect was taken after due consultation with his family, friends and political associates.
When asked where his next port of call would be, Hon Ayoola said “I have not taken a final decision on which party to join. In fact we have met with about 5 political parties, ACN, CPC, Labour, Accord and UPN.”
Incidentally, Street Journal’s call to Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, who was until recently the PDP’s Director of Media and Strategy in Oyo State, was all it took to confirm that he too had left the party. When Thomas was asked why he dumped the party, he said “the leadership has not shown the willingness to resolve the crisis within the party. The party lost the Governorship election in 2011 and two years after, the leaders have not found a common ground”.
“But several efforts have been made to reconcile the members and reconciliatory meetings are still going on”, our reporter chipped in. Dr Thomas replied that “I was the Secretary of the Reconciliation Committee, we had several meetings all to no avail. Many Local Government chapters of the PDP have 2 or 3 executive committees; many wards don’t even have excos at all.”
Thomas also told Street Journal that the cause could be traced to the fact that “leaders are not thinking of the party but themselves. They go to Abuja and flaunt credentials meanwhile the party in the state is in disarray.”
He said “Honourable Kehinde Ayoola, Jelili Agboola and Honourable Segun Taiwo have all left. We all have our roots in Alliance for Democracy and we have our followers. We felt our political careers would be jeopardized if we continue to remain in the PDP”.
On where the quartet will be heading, Thomas said “we are discussing with ACN, we have not finalised our discussion with them. Remember a portion of the PDP is discussing with (Senator) Ladoja and gradually, the party is being dismembered.”
“But with the decampee status that you are likely to have in your new party, how much relevance do you think you will have? “, the reporter asked. Thomas’ reply was “our antecedents will speak for us. We are not going to any party to look for position. In PDP we are not in the first eleven. We have a former Speaker, I was Commissioner in three different ministries, Segun Taiwo who was Otunba Alao-Akala’s SA on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs was in the House of Reps and Jelili Agboola was a Local Government Chairman before his appointment as Commissioner. We all have followers and when you look at it, we are all educated; none of us has lower than a Masters degree. So we have decided to go to a party that has respect for intellect and ability to contribute meaningfully to societal development. If we continue in PDP, we will be irrelevant to our society.”