Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, the preferred candidate of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, has emerged the new South-west Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in a poll that was almost marred by violence and horse trading.
Arapaja defeated Dr Eddy Olafeso, backed by the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose by 343 votes to 330 in a closely contested congress witnessed by party members and bigwigs of the PDP on Monday in Oshogbo, Osun State.
According to the result breakdown, out of 684 votes by delegates, 10 votes were voided while 674 votes were considered valid. Arapaja defeated Olafeso by only 13 votes, an indication that the election was too close to call until all votes were counted.
Going by pre-congress activities, many political analysts expected that the PDP zonal congress was going to be a tough challenge as both Governor Seyi Makinde and Ayo Fayose stormed Oshogbo, the venue of the congress to drum up support for their preferred candidates after classes by political thugs forced a change of venue from Ibadan in Oyo State to Osun State.
While Fayose displayed uncommon humility by publicly acknowledging Governor Makinde as his leader before the election, it remains to be seen whether the leader would be willing to return the favour now that he is in full control of the party structure in the South-west.
RovingNaija checks reveal that the truce brokered by the leadership of the party prior to the election may not stand the test of time going by the antecedents of Fayose and the bitterness and personality clash that trailed the Congress.
While Governor Makinde is considered a gentleman politician by many, a climate of political opinions posit the possible orchestration of a post congress vendetta mission to clip the wings of Fayose in the quest to take full control of the PDP structure in the South-west.
In his acceptance speech, Arapaja promised to close ranks and work with Olafeso to restore the dominance of the PDP in the South-west.
“We thank Governor Seyi Makinde and former Governor Ayo Fayose…its our party. We will work together and move the party forward. We want to reposition
Meanwhile, in a swift reaction to the poll, Olafeso has conceded defeat to Taofeek Arapaja, promising to work with him to move the PDP forward to further the objectives of the PDP in the South-west.
He thanked everyone who supported his candidature.
“The storm is over, there is a new beginning for our party. We have to thank God almighty that despite the odds there is a new beginning for our party.