The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State worsened on Monday as the two rivals for its governorship ticket, Buruji Kashamu, and Ladi Adebutu, launched separate campaigns for the 2019 election.
Mr Kashamu, who is recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), launched his campaign in Ijebu-Igbo town, while Mr Adebutu, who the national headquarters of the party has handed the party’s flag in the state, launched his in Abeokuta.
Both venues were thronged by thousands of their different sets of supporters who claimed each was the authentic PDP flagbearer.
Mr Kashamu’s supporters argued that his candidature has been affirmed by the electoral body. But Mr Adebutu’s supporters said the presentation of the party flag to him by the national leadership of the party affirmed his candidature, stressing that Mr Kashamu and his supporters were only wasting their time and resources.
The two factions in the state conducted parallel congresses, but INEC acting on a court judgement recognised Mr Kashamu as the party’s candidate.
PDP had earlier suspended Mr Kashamu and the Dayo Bayo-led executive in the state. But they went to court and obtained judgement.
At the zonal flag off of the PDP campaigns in the Southwest last week in Ibadan, the party presented its flag to Mr Adebutu as its governorship candidate for Ogun State, ignoring Mr Kashamu who was not at the event.
The National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, while presenting the party flags to the governorship candidates in the zone, including Seyi Makinde for Oyo State and Jimi Agbaje for Lagos State, who was represented by Oluwayemisi Busari, declared that those who want to contest against the party and its candidates in the South-West states should be ready.
He boasted that PDP would win the legal tussle on its governorship candidate in Ogun, emphasising that Mr Adebutu was duly elected in the primary.
Mr Secondus said the party’s primaries nationwide were monitored by INEC and the party submitted the names of its candidates to the commission in accordance with electoral guidelines.
He said, “You cannot come and bend the process. It is criminal for one person to print form and sell the form to himself, conduct congress by himself and submit names to INEC in his signature.”
Mr Adebutu, asked to speak on behalf of his colleagues at the event, said he was certain that PDP was “destined by God to deliver the nation from problems it was currently going through,” emphasising that the party had shown that it is able to administer itself and lead the nation. He said parties that cannot administer their affairs cannot administer a nation.
“PDP has shown clearly that we have the capacity to administer ourselves well. We have done so and we have had processes throughout the nation that everybody should be proud of.”
Mr Adebutu pledged that the candidates would do their best to provide good governance if elected in their various states, adding, “we will do our best to bring food and security to the masses of this country.
“We will also create an enabling environment that will make it easy for investors to stay here and help us prosper as a nation. Those are the things we believe in that will bring about good governance in all the states,” he said
Reacting, however, Mr Kashamu, a serving senator, declared that the handing over of party flag to Mr Adebutu by Mr Secondus was an exercise in futility.
He decried Mr Secondus calling him an agent of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressing that he was only fighting for his right and those of his teeming supporters in the PDP.
“As the National Chairman of an opposition and pan-Nigeria political party, Prince Secondus is supposed to be a leader and the alter ego of the PDP. Thus, there is a presupposition that he would project the best that PDP represents. It is not for him to continue to carry on as a serial contemnor through consistent disobedience of subsisting court judgments under the guise of party supremacy. He cannot continue to act as if the party is not guided by its own constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is surprising that while the leaders and elders of the party as well as its presidential candidate who believe in the Rule of Law have advised the national leadership of our party to toe the path of honour, Secondus and his co-travellers decided to go the inglorious way of impunity and disregard for constituted authorities – in a desperate bid to accomplish the mercenary job they have been paid to do.”
Mr Kashamu said with the conduct of Mr Secondus, the PDP was telling Nigerians and members of the party that the party belongs to them and they can do whatever pleases them.
“They are saying they are the Alpha and Omega of the party; and that they are more powerful than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They have always done this to people. But, I want to make it abundantly clear that, on behalf of all the cheated and oppressed members of the party, we will fight for our rights till the last.
“I urge the judiciary, the legislature and the executive arms of government to take cognizance of the happenings in the PDP as they relate to the Ogun State PDP issue. It is not about me or my supporters. It is about our democracy and respect for the Rule of Law which are being endangered by the activities of Secondus and his ilk.” he said.
Meanwhile, the case over the PDP flag in Ogun is still in court.