A former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, is under pressure by some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the northern part of Nigeria to join the race for the party’s national chairmanship.
A delegation of prominent party leaders from the northern caucus, including governors, National Assembly members, ex-governors and former Federal lawmakers, have visited the Lagos residence of the ex-governor twice within two weeks to join the race ahead of the party’s convention.
The visit to Fayose followed what a source called a “thorough deliberation by prominent PDP leaders who desire for a strong party leadership ahead of 2023 elections”.
Currently, the PDP Governors’ Forum is divided over succession, following the suspension of the embattled chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who is from Rivers State.
Although some governors want him to complete his term, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike is adamant that he should vacate office and a new chairman should come on board in October.
Also, there is scheming in the opposition party by certain chieftains who, as the source put it, “does not want the continuation of Wike’s control of the party leadership”.
But there is no consensus on the selection of a candidate for the slot in the Southwest PDP.
The South-West PDP appears to be bracing up to produce the party’s national chairman which it hasn’t occupied since the establishment of the party.
The zone is now more determined following the bickering between the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and the embattled chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who the former supported into office.
The term of the Secondus-led National Working Committee officially ends in December 2019.
When contacted, Fayose neither confirmed nor denied the development. He insisted that the position had yet to be zoned to the South-West.
Fayose said, “The position has yet been zoned to the South-West. Even if it’s zoned, for the benefits of our people in the South-West, we have to do due diligence. It’s not about contesting but making a success of the office.
“I understand there are other people interested in the position.
“They are also eligible and competent. But wherever the South-West goes is where I will go. I will follow the South-West.
“Wherever the Yoruba go when the chairmanship position of our party is zoned to the South-West is where I will go. It will not be a do-or-die affair. That’s all I can say for now. “
Earlier, a PDP group, Alliance for PDP South-West, has listed 11 aspirants from the zone for the position and the list included a former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, ex-Ondo State PDP governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), Fayose among others.
Although the party’s constitution allowed a national chairman to serve for four years, in the party’s history, none of its national chairmen has served four years.
According to the source, while prominent Northern PDP leaders are urging Fayose to run, other party leaders, led by Wike in the Southsouth, and Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, are looking beyond the former Ekiti governor.
Party insiders confided that Wike failed to elicit Fayose’s cooperation in his plot to oust Secondus while the friction between Makinde and Fayose over the control of Southwest machinery of the party persisted.
If the slot is zoned to the Southwest, Makinde and Fayose may lock horns, reminiscent of the zonal congresses.
The source said apart from Fayose, former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former Ondo State PDP governorship candidate Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) are also eyeing the position.
Oyinlola is a political disciple of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Makinde and Wike may be rooting for Jegede, now that former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
An associate of Fayose, who spoke in confidence, said Fayose was being considered because of his fanatical loyalty to the platform and contributions to its development since 2002.