At exactly 3:13 am at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the announcement of Taofeek Arapaja as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) completed take over of the control of the party structure by the Governors of the party.
Arapaja, the candidate of Governor Seyi Makinde, defeated Olagunsoye Oyinlola, an ally of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with over 1200 votes. Arajapa got 2004 votes against 705 by Oyinlola.
It would be recalled that in April, Governor Makinde had backed the same Arapaja during a supremacy battle with Ayodele Fayose over control of PDP in the southwest.
Mr Fayose and Gov Makinde were locked in a battle for the control of the region. In the election for Southwest PDP chairman, Arapaja defeated Eddy Olafeso, who was Fayose’s candidate.
As a form of message, Mr Olafeso was disqualified by the Mohammed Adoke led committee from contesting in the Saturday/Sunday’s convention. His crime was that he took the party to court.
To insiders at the party, the defeat of Olagunsoye is a strong message from the governors to the old guards, ‘we are in control’.
DAILY POST had in an analysis predicted the capturing of the structure of the party by the governors ahead of the 2023 general election.
“This election is the most important, the governors had to deliver Arapaja, not just for Governor Makinde, but to send a message to those old power brokers in the party. Olagunsoye is an ally of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and he is a former governor, who is going to control him?,” a source at the convention told DAILY POST.
The insider in the party said other old guards like Bukola Saraki, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliu, David Mark and others are losing grounds to the Governors who have strengthened their grip on the party.
“If the arrangement with Iyorchia Ayu should scale through and the PDP gets a Northern president, Arapaja is going to be Chairman, he owes everything to Makinde. You know that Samuel Ortom orchestrated the emergence of Iyorchia Ayu, despite interest from David Mark.”
Through consensus candidates, the governors and the party navigated the landmines that pundits had predicted would destroy the party. At the convention, only three seats were contested, Deputy Chairmen (North and South and youth leader.
As of Friday, the convention was still under the cloud of uncertainty as the Appeal Court had reserved judgement in the suit filed by the ex-PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus. The three-man panel had later dismissed Secondus case.
The Ahmadu Fintiri led planning committee was able to deliver a hitch-free convention at a time when the ruling All Progressives Congress is reeling with factional state executives in states.
The reoccurring word in the speeches delivered at the convention was “unity” and most of the speakers emphasised the need for everyone to shelve their personal ambition for the party. However, despite the success at the convention, the question of zone remains a critical factor.
The party appears to have abandoned the zoning formula and left the presidential ticket opened.
Atiku, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal making statement of popularity
While the convention lacked keen contest because of the consensus arrangement, supporters of most of the presidential candidates tried to show numerical strength at the convention.
The red cap-wearing Kwamkwasiyya movement and their leader, Rabiu Kwankwaso put up quite a show at the event. While former President Atiku Abubakar was perhaps the most popular at the convention. Bukola Saraki, a former Senate President also made a strong statement at the convention.
The development points to what awaits the party in the coming months as heavyweights slug it out for the ticket of the party.
Currently, Atiku, Saraki, Anyim Pius Ayim are those who have shown interest in the ticket. But many believe that Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Governor Bala Muhammed of Bauchi, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Peter Obi, Sule Lamido are also interested in the ticket.
APC in crisis
It is unknown if the governors would favour one of theirs for the ticket, but as it stands, the party has taken a step that the ruling party has been unable to recover from the exit of Adams Oshiomhole. The governor Mala Mai Buni led Caretaker National Committee has not been able to organise a convention.
The committee was supposed to be in office for 6 months, however, there have been three extensions to the tenure of the committee. Amid the inability to organise a convention, the party is besieged by crisis in the state chapters.
In Kano, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo and several other states, the ruling party has been struggling to close ranks, a development many believed would present a challenge for the ruling party at the National Convention.
The PDP convention seems to have closed any possibility of a southeast presidency in 2023. DAILY POST observed that unlike aspirants from the north, there was no southeast candidate wooing crowd at the convention ground.
Osita Chidoka, a former Aviation Minister, who has been calling for the shift of power to the Southeast zone, also noticed the development. In a Facebook post, he lamented the development.
Although former Senate President, Anyim has declared that he would run for the post even if its party is not sticking to zoning in 2023, little was seen from the former Senate President at the convention ground.
Jonathan missing at convention amid rumour of possible APC ticket
As it stands, the party machinery in Bayelsa State is in the firm control of Seriake Dickson and Governor Diri Douye’s camp, leaving the former president, Goodluck Jonathan in the cold.
The former president was not at the convention on Saturday. According to unverified reports, there is a plot by elements within the APC to give the ticket to Mr Jonathan.
The absence has further set tongue wagging on the possible decamping of the former president.
In December, Iyorchia Ayu-led National Working Committee will be inaugurated. Many have considered the development a great feat, considering that the APC appears to be in turmoil right now.