Although intra-party conflicts have been part and parcel of Nigeria’s democratic journey, the Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has obviously become a metaphor for crisis. In this report, GEORGE OKOJIE takes a look at the chaotic crisis theory in the party that metamorphosed in the election of new executive members amid court injunction, and its negative implications for the party’s stability and consolidation in the state.
There is confusion in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State since the commencement of the party’s moves to elect new executive members in the state a few weeks ago.
The takeaway from present state of commotion the party has once again plunged itself is that if it is not immediately resolved, it would further polarise the party and its leaders will not be able to work together for a common purpose of securing victory for the party at any polls in the state.
It goes without saying that the inability of the party chieftains and powers that be in the state to resolve their differences and put the lingering feud and power tussle to rest had always been the bane of the party’s political success in the state, to the extent that the party has never ruled the state since the advent of present democratic disposition.
As usual the party’s problems in the state do assume a larger than life dimension whenever contest are close, the battle becomes a zero –sum game or in local parlance a ‘do-or -die’ that ends in ‘lose-lose’ outcomes for all sides.
Before now it has always been a battle for supremacy between one of the national leader of the party Chief Bode George, former minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe and Senator Musliu Obanikoro, a grass root political icon now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Overtime, the feud between the leaders and the emergence of factions dwindled the electoral fortune of the party and made it impossible to contemplate electoral victory in Lagos State, stronghold of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Going down the memory lane, in 2010, the supporters of George, Ogunlewe and Musliu Obanikoro, then the governorship candidate of the party in 2007 general elections agreed to sheathe the swords to allow peace reign in the party.
Unfortunately, midway into the meeting to reconcile all factions, some armed thugs invaded the venue and attempted to attack Obanikoro for daring to challenge George in some of the decisions of the party and the peace talk collapsed.
Another vista in the leadership crisis rocking the Lagos State chapter of the PDP surfaced when Mr. Segun Adewale, laid claims to the chairmanship of the party and was accused of breaking into the secretariat at some point to hold meetings with his followers.
Dr Adegbola Dominic, still laying claims to party chairmanship through court injunction restraining the party from filling his position had in a petition to the immediate past Commissioner of Police in the state, Mu’azu Zubairu, stated that Adewale, popularly known as Aeroland, burgled the secretariat on the pretext that he was holding a party meeting.
As the crisis lingered Adewale maintained that he was issued with a letter of appointment in 2016 by the Ali Modu-Sheriff-led administration, adding that the appointment would terminate in 2021, urging Dominic to stop parading himself as the chairman of the PDP in the state.
To the chagrin of all, the leadership of the party kept mum on the crisis and went into the 2019 general election and lost again to the ruling APC.
At a time observers felt that peace had returned to the party in the state with Dominic as chairman of the party, since Adewale contested the governorship election in Ekiti on the platform of the Action Democratic Party in 2018, the party is back to the trenches in the state.
The stakeholders of the party in Lagos State recently rose from an emergency meeting and affirmed Chief Olabode George as the undisputable leader of the party in the state; just as they also dismissed insinuation that the state chapter of the party has been factionalised.
Such declaration cannot be taken as child’s play given the caliber of PDP’s Board of Trustees, BoT, Dr. Akinremi Akitoye; former Deputy Governor, Kofo Buknor – Akerele and state chairman, Dr. Adegbola Dominic who were in the meeting.
They vehemently expressed their opposition to the congress being planned by some members of the party, in connivance with some young, ambitious elements within the Abuja PDP headquarters to elect new officers in the state and “get Chief Bode George out of the way,” against the existing PDP rules and regulations.
They disclosed that a court injunction had since been obtained, stopping the planned congress, with the PDP, Senator Ben Obi, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Hon. Jariga Agoro Jarigbe, Hon. Danladi Baidu Tuo and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, named as defendants.
As far as they were concerned the restrictive order delivered by Justice T. A. O. Oyekan-Abdullahi of the Lagos High Court was enough to stop the congress.
Dr. Dominic specifically said, “Today, we got the report that some people have been gathering to get Chief Olabode George out of the way. These people are saying they are going to have election and our leader, Chief Olabode George is not aware of it.”
He acknowledged the leadership qualities in Chief George to include his straight-forward ness, intelligence, openness, among others, saying it was unfortunate that some members, who he described as “bad eggs” were trying to betray George, in spite of having benefitted from his large heartedness.
He contended that the party had its rules and regulations and does not believe in groups and factions, saying that it was based on this that aggrieved members had to go to court to stop those planning to organize the said election.
The PDP’s Board of Trustees, BoT, Dr. Akinremi Akitoye decried the plan to hold congress by few members of the party, declaring that the status quo remained not only at the state level but also at the local and ward levels in the state.
Senator Buknor-Akerele also maintained that the party remained united under the leadership of Chief George, adding, “We are determined that the party remains vigorous in the state to enable it present a very strong opposition.”
Former minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a close ally of Chief George, said it is sad that the same plot to change party leadership in Lagos State was being attempted in Osun State to remove the party chairman, Mr. Soji Adagunodo.
He accused some party leaders, who he described as ambitious at the PDP headquarters in Abuja as behind the plots, disclosing that they had even scheduled a meeting for Osogbo, the Osun State capital, where they wanted to pick who would come to officiate the aborted election in Lagos.
He said, “I don’t want to wash our party’s dirty linen in the open, what they are planning in Lagos, they are also planning it in Osun State where I come from.
“Some over ambitious elements in PDP are trying to do this. They are also planning this same thing in other states.”
Alas, as expected the Lagos State chapter of PDP defied the court injunction restraining the party from filling the vacant positions and went ahead to elect Engineer Deji Doherty as chairman of the party under the supervision of three-man team of the party sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) and led by Senator Ben Obi, as chairman.
Other members of the three man committee included, Muktar Ahmed, as secretary and Senator Biodun Olujimi, member, who was unavoidably absent, because she was said to have been engaged with her swearing in ceremon at the Senate, having gotten Appeal Court judgement in her favour.
According to Senator Obi, the election was peaceful and had 68 delegates approved by NWC of the party, saying only 45 delegates voted at the election which took place at L’eola Hotel, Maryland.
The party explained that the election was conducted for the purpose of filing eight state vacant positions and two Local government chairmen positions.
To give credence to the process it was supervised by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and three candidates contested for the position of chairman, with Doherty garnering 27 votes to emerge winner.
Omotanwa Kudirat, who came second, scored 21 votes, while Adejumo Ajegbe was disqualified for failure to have resigned his position as Assistant State Vice- Chairman, Lagos West Senatorial Zone, seven days before the election.
Other positions contested for, included, vice chairman central senatorial district, State Organizing Secretary, Assistant State Organizing Secretary, State Legal Adviser, Assistant State Legal Adviser, Assistant State Secretary, Assistant State Publicity Secretary and chairmen for Apapa and Badagry Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Three positions including, State legal Adviser, Assistant State legal Adviser and Assistant State Organizing Secretary were contested by Muyideen Tejumade, Olalekan Akeem and Adeniyi Ademola Rotimi respective and were all unanimously returned elected.
Other winners at the election included Akojemu Bidemi Florence for chairman Badagry LGA, who scored 38 votes, Kolawole Mike, for Apapa LGA (41 votes), Amode Akeem for State Organizing Secretary (34 votes), Showole Olusegun Jubril, Vice Chairman Central Senatorial District (34 votes), Assistant State Secretary, Olayinka Dada (37 votes).
Obi while speaking urged every party member to give the new executive the needed support even though he said that it was possible for majority of the people to be on the same pedestal.
According to him, it was a beginning of a journey for those who had won, saying they should not undermine other contestants.
An elated Doherty on his part said with the new executive in place, it was a new beginning and a new chapter in the history of Lagos PDP, appealing to all members to roll up their sleeves for a work towards 2023.
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