The conduct of the Peoples Democratic Party ward congresses in Ekiti State on Saturday widened the gulf between former governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi as they traded words over the conduct.
Olujimi said the Ward Congress Committee Chairman, the Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Haruna Manu, should uphold the result of the congress earlier held before his “late” arrival in Ekiti State or postpone a repeat of the congress to Sunday or Monday.
But Fayose, who spoke through his media aide, Lere Olayinka, said the congress held earlier was not conducted by the proper PDP assigned members for the congress, hence the exercise held later in the day was the only acceptable one.
Fayose and Olujimi have been at war over the leadership of the party. They saw the congress to elect party officials at the ward level an opportunity to capture the party machinery.
The senator, who addressed journalists in Ado Ekiti said, “At 8am, everybody was at the various wards, the electoral officers conducted the ward congresses. The Independent National Electoral Commission, police, Department of State Services and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were there and everybody signed and dispersed at about 12.30pm.
“When the chairman of the electoral committee came in rather late about 3.15pm, he had to do protocols in the Government House to show his presence. He came into the party office at about 4pm. Then, he said well, since he had just come, the congress had to be redone.
“We were wondering why the congresses would be redone because it had been done and everybody had signed. We suspected that some people had compromised.” She added that Manu was advised to either accept the result of the already conducted congress or postpone it to a proper date as against his insistence on Saturday evening.
Olujimi, who alleged ulterior motive, said soldiers had been mobilised to go in buses to hijack election materials and threaten people so that they could write results for the congress as she accused Fayose’s lieutenants of being responsible for the activities.
She said, “All we are asking for is simple, if you are cancelling, let us do it at a proper date and time appointed by the party. When people are struggling like this, it smacks of failure. When you have failed, that is when you start struggling for little things.
“But you find a set of people struggling to write results, we will not accept it. It will not happen. Except of course litigation and then we tear the party apart which I pray does not happen,” Olujimi said.
But Fayose’s media aide, Olayinka, who denied allegations of writing reports of the congress, said the exercise was properly conducted later in the day by the officially designated electoral officials.
Olayinka said, “It is the kind of normal complaints that you hear from people that are losing. People who are losing will always find something to blame. It is simple, conduct of congresses in the PDP is a function of the national body of the party.”
He said the purported congresses conducted before the arrival of the “real” electoral officers was a ruse. He said, “When the people from the state said they wanted to conduct the congress in the morning, we told them to wait for the officials assigned by the national headquarters.
“When the chairman came, he addressed the electoral officers for the 16 councils and gave them materials for their local government areas. They went ahead and conducted the congresses after that,” Olayinka said.