He defeated an ex-chairman of the party in the zone, Eddy Olafeso, to win the contest.
Arapaja had the backing of Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and Olafeso was backed to the hilt by Ayo Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State.
Makinde and Fayose have been on a warpath for quite some time now and the election was always going to be a supremacy battle between both warring politicians; and a referendum on who pulls the most weight in the southwest geopolitical region.
Makinde who became governor in 2019, fancies himself the de facto leader of the PDP in the southwest as the sole governor of the party in the region, a position Fayose completely detests, abhors and has fought publicly.
Hours before the election however, Makinde and Fayose made peace and promised to respect the outcome of the contest.
Fayose also finally accepted that Makinde is the leader of the PDP in the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at the conclusion of voting, Arapaja scored 343 votes to defeat Olafeso, who secured 330 votes.
Benson Abounu, deputy governor of Benue who represented his principal, Governor Samuel Ortom, as chairman of the electoral panel, announced the result of the election.
Abounu commended the delegates and the candidates for the conduct of the election, while appreciating the stakeholders for ensuring a free and fair process.
Speaking after he was declared winner, Arapaja said he would work with Olafeso to move the party forward.
Makinde (L) and Arapaja (R) (TheCable)
“We thank Governor Seyi Makinde and Mr. Ayo Fayose. PDP is our party. We will work together to move the party forward,” he said.
“We want to reposition the party and I will work with my brother, Olafeso, to achieve our aims,” Arapaja added.
Olafeso also pledged to cooperate with Arapaja.
“The storm is over. We have to thank God almighty that despite odds, there is a new beginning for our party. The time is now. I thank everybody who supported me,” Olafeso said.
While Makinde waited until the last vote was counted and a winner declared, Fayose left the venue much earlier.
The PDP is Nigeria’s biggest opposition political party. It has set its sights on wresting back power from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.