2023 presidency: Verbal war in Oyo PDP over Atiku Abubakar  

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BAYO AGBOOLA, from Ibadan, writes that the unfolding politicking in the Oyo state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has created a division in form of discordant voices in support and against the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The crux of the matter is the support or otherwise for the Peoples Democratic Party’s  presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, which has turned out to be cancerous, gradually eating up the party and threatening to reduce it to a second fiddle in the state.

This is amid efforts by the roaring  All Progressives Congress (APC) and the fast growing Accord respectively, both strategizing day and night on possible ways of sending the PDP out of Agodi Government House come May, 29, 2023.

Makinde’s refusal to support Atiku

The verbal war in the party arose from Governor Seyi Makinde recent pronouncement in a live programme when he alluded that his possible support for the PDP presidential candidate would be hinged on the readiness of the party’s national leadership to decide on the position of its National Chairman Dr Iyorcha Ayu, a northerner like the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Days after Governor Makinde’s statement, prominent leaders of the party in the state rose up to clear the air on the subject matter. They declared total support for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar contrary to the position of the governor who according to them is merely expressing his personal opinion and not speaking for the people of the state. 

However, to some others and groups within Oyo state PDP, the governor is speaking the minds of the people of Oyo state PDP.

Voices of dissent 

Former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and a PDP leader in Oyo state, Elder Wole Oyelese, while speaking on the Makinde’s pronouncement said PDP leaders and members across Oyo state are fully in support of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar presidential candidacy.

Oyelese said Governor Makinde cannot be speaking the minds of PDP members in the state, stressing that no good politician will ever commit such blunder at this crucial period in the nation’s democracy. 

“A good politician would not speak like that. For Makinde to say he would not work for Atiku doesn’t mean anything.  He is on his own! It is an empty threat! If he said we should not vote for Atiku, who are we voting for? We are too sophisticated for that in Oyo state. 

“Makinde is a new comer in Oyo state politics, but we shall continue to work for our party. However, we are working for Atiku in a special way. My advice for any politician who wants to win in Oyo state is to come to mainstream. Mainstream is the leadership of the party in the state”. 

To the PDP leader, “it will be wrong for Governor Makinde to be saying he may not support Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the Presidential election based on some reason and that he will be campaigning for his reelection alone. 

“That is nothing but an empty political threat which cannot stand. Even in his 2019 election, it was some PDP leaders that worked day and night for him to become the governor. 

“How can he be saying that, it is just am empty threat from him, The entire PDP members in Oyo state are determined to vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the February 2023 Presidential election and as well work for his victory in the general elections,” Oyelese said.

Another PDP leader in Oyo state, Engineer Femi Babalola, (popularly known as Jogor) on his part disclosed that Governor Makinde “is also guilty of what he is accusing the party national leadership of doing on sharing of elective posts, adding that Makinde as an Ibadan man did not see anything wrong in an Ibadan man succeeding another Ibadan man after spending 8 years in office as the Oyo state governor.

“He that comes to equity must come with clean hands. As an Engineer, I analyse issues. The first question I asked myself was is it good for a northerner to take over from a northerner? And another question is that is it good for an Ibadan man to take over from Ibadan man that spent eight years?So, for Makinde that benefited from such, why is he now antagonising another person? He didn’t see anything that is wrong in that but when it is Atiku, it is wrong.”

Also the Oyo state chapter of the National Mandate Group (NMG) under the flagship of Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, former  Minister of state FCT stressed, “NMG (Oyo state chapter) as PDP leaders and members hereby vehemently refute, disown and deny any suggestion that the Oyo State PDP will support any candidate other than Atiku Abubakar for the Presidency of Nigeria”.

“We give our wholehearted and unshakeable resolve and commitment to support the presidential candidate of our party, the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar GCON, and indeed, all other PDP candidates during the upcoming 2023 general elections.

“We are confident that Atiku Abubakar is the best qualified leader to rescue, reform and restore Nigeria to greatness. Once again, we reiterate our total support for our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the only candidate with the competence for the herculean task to fix Nigeria and

correct the disastrous 8 years of APC misrule. We urge the good people of Oyo state to vote for the PDP all the way down the Ballot.”

Pro- Makinde stakeholders speak

Conversely, a group in Oyo state, the National Equity Group (NEG) in a statement in Ibadan accused Elder Wole Oyelese and other elements within the PDP in Oyo state of “spreading unfounded, baseless and frivolous falsehood against the person of Governor Seyi Makinde, that the governor had declared during a live radio interview that the five aggrieved Governors have resolved not to work for the presidential candidate of the party in the forthcoming general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. 

NEG in a statement by its secretary, Samson Fredrick, said “it is a known fact that there is yet to be resolved conflict between the five governors in Wike’s faction and the group of Ayu/Atiku over the call for Ayu to step down for a southern National Chairman so as to create a balance within the polity of the party. It is therefore natural that the two warring groups will remain parallel until genuine reconciliation takes place.

“Makinde has never for once ruled out the possibility that there will be amicable resolution of the conflict. In fact, at a  media interview recently,  he called on all members of the party and the electorates to vote for all PDP candidates in the forthcoming election. 

“This does not exclude Atiku Abubakar as being insinuated by the dissidents. It is therefore nonsensical,  for Elder Wole Oyelese to refer to our God  chosen Governor as a new comer in Oyo politics. We therefore advise Oyelese and his co-travellers, to reach out and accept the olive branch extended to them by Governor Makinde in order to allow the peace to reign.” 

The group stressed, “Makinde remains the defacto leader of the South West of the PDP. He is agitating for the overall interest of the southern Nigeria alongside other four progressive governors. Southerners are not born slaves to the North,  and this evil agenda of the North to enslave us must be resisted. A lean freedom is better than a fat slavery. Makinde is God’s chosen, it is the Lord’s doing, and it is indeed marvellous in our sight.” 

Another PDP chieftain in Oyo state, Mogaji Abass Oloko, on his part insisted that “Governor Seyi Makinde remains the leader of the party in the South-West and reserves the right to speak for the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.”

Mogaji Oloko in a statement personally signed by him emphasized that Makinde has worked diligently to become a force to reckon with in PDP in the Southwest.

“Governor Makinde has resolved to, irrespective of any rancour, move the party forward and he will ensure that the party takes its better seat in 2023.A lot has been said, but like the governor has said many times, let me state it here expressly again that he will never work for APC presidential candidate for whatever reason.”

Oloko tasked Elder Wole Oyelese, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Engr. Femi Babalola and others to as a matter of fact “join forces with the governor to deliver landslide victory for the PDP from the presidential candidate, National Assembly candidate, our governorship candidate and state assembly candidates.”

Mogaji Oloko said, “Makinde has told everyone that Atiku Abubakar has emerged as our presidential candidate and he also declared on a radio interview last Saturday that Oyo state remains a PDP state. If our leader could say that, why the unnecessary rancour.”

It is expected that the ongoing verbal war in the Oyo state PDP would before too long fade away to allow the party hierarchy in the state get their bearing early enough for the challenges ahead of the party in the 2023 general elections.

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