The battle for the state chairmanship of Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has begun in earnest, as the party continues to search for the magic wand that would catapult it into the Alausa House after 20 years of futile attempts. OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU in this report assesses the potential aspirants and how they stand in the race.
The race for the top job in the Lagos State chapter of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have become a storm that if proper care is not taken, may instead of bringing about the desired cohesion, tear the party apart the more.
The chairmanship of the party became contentious, following the defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the erstwhile chairman, Moshood Salvador, over some irreconcilable differences with some elements in the PDP.
Many leaders and members of the party had accused former National Deputy Chairman, South and Atona Oodua, Chief Olabode George, of being an arrowhead of the crisis and misfortune that had come the way of the party since the advent of the current democratic experiment in 1999. Rightly or wrongly, he had been accused of not allowing the party to develop to its full potential, and also alleged to be still using his network within the rank and file of the party to lobby for positions, despite the continued failure of the PDP in Lagos State.
The party had never had it so good as it did in the 2015 general elections, where it produced not less than six members of the House of Representatives and about eight members of the Lagos State Assembly. It however failed to build on the 2015 success in 2019, and not only almost all of their lawmakers defected to the ruling APC, it was not able to even produce a single member of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
A factional chairman of the party, Chief Segun Adewale, put the blame of the PDP’s dismal outing in Lagos in the 2019 election squarely on the doorstep of Chief George, who he accused of truncating the return bid of Hon Rita Orji in Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency allegedly “because of the struggle for who is the state leader of the party.”
Moving forward, PDP members in Lagos have been calling on national leadership of the party to allow the constitution of the party to take its effect for the first time in the Centre of Excellence in electing the state executive council members, and see if the party will quickly bounce back or not.
The PDP Constitution, in Section 47(6) clearly stipulated the criteria for filling vacancies in state executive council, but according to the Adewale camp, despite the constitutional provision, Chief George and some PDP leaders in the state have not relented on how to impose another chairman on members in Lagos PDP; a development which they said would “definitely have adverse effect on the party.”
Meanwhile, as the race to the Lagos State chairmanship of the party takes off, some interested candidates for the position have come out to express their desire to lead the party.
Based on a survey conducted by LEADERSHIP among some members of the party in the state, who pleaded anonymity for strategic reason, we take a look at how each of those angling to lead the party stands.
For sure, one name that has become a recurring decimal in Lagos PDP is that of Adewale, also known as Aeroland. Though he is not contesting for the chairmanship of the PDP in Lagos, from all indication, it is clear that Adewale holds a large chunk of the ace in determining who becomes the next chairman of the PDP in Lagos State, following his efforts, which eased out immediate past chairman of the party, Dr. Adegbola Dominic, out of office.
Adewale had opined that he would continue to lay claim to the state chairmanship of the party if “another candidate is imposed on Lagos PDP,” because his letter of appointment as Lagos PDP chairman still subsists till 2021. And from all indication, this is a thorny issue the party would have to contend with, unless the right thing is done. Adewale had claimed that he is not a trouble maker, but only “wants right things to be done in the party in order for it to have a good and victorious 2023 general elections in Lagos State.”
Reliably, the contestants for the office of the chairman of Lagos PDP had been narrowed down to three aspirants: a former gubernatorial aspirant of the party, Mr Deji Doherty, Mr Sunday Olaifa, chairman of the PDP local government chairmen and Alhaji Ajagbe Adejumo.
How They Stand
Engr. Deji Doherty
According to party sources, Doherty is said to be tied to the apron of Chief George because of his desperation to be the PDP governorship candidate in 2023, a dream he has been pursuing for about 12 years now.
Party sources claimed that his emergence as chairman of the party will allow him to put in place another set of local government and ward excos by sacking all the existing ones to pave the way for him to get the ticket without much hassle. This was what Dr Adegbola was alleged of and many believed that this is what Doherty will do, all in his bid to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 governorship election.
Also, party members accused Doherty of stinginess, saying that he hardly participates in financing the party in any way, “apart from financing George’s structure in the party, which many people are now drifting away from.
A member of the party who is in the know said that Doherty’s name appeared in Abuja as a decoy through Dr Eddy Olafeso, the National Vice Chairman, South West of the PDP, who is also alleged to be fronting for Chief George.
Another member piqued, “How can a very lazy fellow like Doherty with no good health represent the party? He cannot withstand the rigorous Lagos politics. Truth be told, except the party wants another round of massive failure, the party has three Reps members now, with him it will be reduced to nothing.”
To another party member who also pleaded anonymity, Doherty would not have the time to stabilize the party because of his 2023 governorship ambition. He said, “His actions will further divide Lagos PDP in advance because of his divisive narrative of fielding a ‘Lagosian’ which will also be another failed project.”
As it stands, the resentment going on in the Lagos PDP, which is still smarting from its defeat in the last governorship election will truncate Doherty’s ambition of becoming the next chairman of the party in the State of Aquatic Splendor.
Mr Sunday Olaifa
Olaifa’s case seems to be a bit different, because of the fact that he has no governorship ambition in 2023. Olaifa, who is the current chairman of all PDP chairmen in Lagos State, is said to have an easy relationship with his fellow local government chairmen, based on his political experience.
In 2015, Mr. Olaifa, as PDP chairman of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government was the first local government chairman to deliver for the PDP two members each of the House of Representatives and Lagos State House of Assembly respectively, a feat that looks impossible under a hostile environment charged to the brim because of the peculiarities in Oshodi-Isolo in Lagos West senatorial district.
Most PDP members spoken to opined that the party will do well to appoint a person with no ambition to avoid conflict of interest. Not only that, they opined that electing Olaifa as state chairman of the PDP will be tantamount to hiring an experienced hand, a development which many believed will accelerate a strong come back of the party ahead of the 2023 elections.
The consensus among party members accordi g to LEADERSHIP findings was that if he is not loved by the majority of Lagos PDP members, it would have been absolutely impossible for him to become the chairman of chairmen; even though he is not in the good books of some PDP leaders, because of his frankness and no nonsense stance on issues that bothers on the progress of the party.
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered from close associates that he has vowed not to step into George’s home, as a result of the serial failure of the party at elections.
Alhaji Ajagbe Adejumo
Ajagbe is currently the state Vice Chairman, who ought to have automatically stepped into the chairmanship seat following Salvador’s defection to the ruling APC, because all odds favors him; but the constitutional provision, which must be followed prevented him.
Said to be highly experienced, Ajagbe is one of the few foundation members of the PDP, who joined the PDP from the inception. He is also from Lagos West senatorial district, where the next state chairman is expected to emerge from.
From all indication, party members expect a two-horse race between Olaifa and Adejumo, as many do not see Doherty as the chairman that can push the party forward either as a chairman or candidate in 2023.
However, the days ahead would be an interesting one, as in politics, it is never say never. But it is generally agreed among members of the party in Lagos that the party needs the right candidate that will take the party out of the doldrums and prepare it for the task ahead, which no doubt is daunting.
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