RACE for the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has gathered steam with many aspirants in the South where the seat has been zoned to declaring their interests and making strategic moves to realise their aspiration.
For now, aspirants such as former Deputy National chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George; former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran; chairman of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; and a PDP chieftain, Mr Owolabi Salis have thrown their hats into the ring. Former Lagos State governorship candidate of the PDP, Mr Jimi Agbaje earlier considered to be interested has not confirmed his aspiration. Former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel had earlier shown interest but later rescinded his decision by throwing his weight behind Dokpesi.
So far, George and Dokpesi have been going round to meet with and woo the delegates. So far, the duo are the frontline aspirants who will slug it out at the convention and the contest is expected to be tough and interesting because the delegates may have a hard nut to crack over which aspirant to vote for.
Though George, a former naval officer, will be counting on his years of experience having risen through the ranks in the party from 1999; Dokpesi on the other hand, will be banking on the fact that he has the media network to sell his aspiration to the delegates.
The South-West push
Currently, South-West leaders of the party are angling to ensure that other zones in the South allow the West produce the chairman because the zone is the only one yet to produce a substantive chairman or even an acting chairman.
Perhaps this informed a gathering of the South West PDP where warring groups in the zone met in Lagos on July 22 to resolve their differences and harmonise delegates list ahead of the Convention scheduled to hold in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, this month.
The peace parley attracted leaders such as Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; Ekiti State Governor Mr Ayodele Fayose; former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe; former Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Mr Bello Adejare; former National Secretary of the PDP, Professor Olawale Oladipo; Senator Teslim Folarin; Professor Taoheed Adedoja; Senator Kashamu Buruji; Elder Wole Oyelese; former deputy governor of Osun State, Erelu Olusola Obada; Senator Felix Ogunwale; Dr Ade Dosunmu; former Lagos PDP chairman, Captain Tunji Shelle (red); and former deputy governor of Lagos State, Mrs Kofo Bucknor-Akerele among others.
Governor Mimiko of Ondo State and his Ekiti State counterpart, Mr Fayose, met behind closed doors with leaders of the party from Lagos, Oyo and Osun states to resolve the issues that have left the party in the region divided and to ensure that the zone did not lose out at the party’s convention.
At the parley, leaders representing the various groups took turns to hold meetings where Governors Mimiko and Fayose and the lawmaker representing Ogun East Senatorial district, Senator Buruji Kashamu brokered peace.
At the meeting, leaders from the state chapters took turns to hold meetings with the trio of Mimiko, Fayose and Kashamu behind closed doors on the need to sheathe their swords.
Interestingly, Senator Kashamu, who had been with the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, suddenly made a U-turn and joined forces with the Senator Ahmed Makarfi caretaker committee of the party.
No more infighting — Fayose
Briefing newsmen after a marathon closed door meeting with leaders from the three states, Governor Fayose expressed optimism that the infighting within the zone had finally been resolved.
On the outcome of the meeting, Fayose said: “It is progress made. The meeting is to reconcile and put together our house as a party, state by state. We were able to meet with three states, Oyo, Osun and Lagos and we had useful deliberations. We believe there are interested parties and groups but all we need is a united party.
“So, we have encouraged that they (groups) should come together to have one list for the convention as delegates. The list must not come from a group and where they do not have groups, all leaders must sit together to come up with a list so that they can have their names in the convention brochure, which is not an everyday affair. So, we are happy that we have made considerable progress.”
He stated that there were agitations that the next national chairman of the PDP should emerge from the South-West.
No more faction in Oyo PDP —Teslim Folarin
After the closed door meeting with the various groups in Oyo state PDP, Senator Teslim Folarin said: “We have been able to resolve our differences with the aim of working together as a team in the forthcoming congress and to reposition the party for the 2019 elections. The purpose of this meeting is to ratify all positions in the party.”
While asserting that the warring groups in the party had closed ranks, Folarin said “there is no more faction in Oyo PDP. Oyo PDP recognises the Makarfi-led PDP just as Senator Alli Modu Sheriff is a leader of the party.”
Oyo PDP is one—Taoheed Adedoja
Former Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Professor Taoheed Adedoja said “this meeting was aimed at consolidating the positions of the South-West PDP for it to work in unity and progress.”
We’re on the same page in Lagos—Ogunlewe
On his part, former Works Minister, Senator Ogunlewe said various grievances emanating from the zone has been laid to rest.
Osun PDP still divided
However, leaders of Osun PDP were divided as immediate past National Secretary of the party, Professor Wale Oladipo, insisted that he remained loyal to the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff group.
Oladipo argued that one of the problems of the PDP was its inability to abide by the rule of law.
Another leader of the party, whose name could not be ascertained, accused the governors of acting out the script of Senator Iyiola Omisore.