PDP: As Bode George, Agbaje Battle Ex-ministers For National Chairmanship Seat

Barely four months to the December National Convention of the opposition PDP, MUYIWA OYINLOLA writes that contest for its National Chairmanship position will be among former ministers and political juggernauts.
Recent Supreme Court judgement that declared Senator Ahmed Makari National Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has breathed a new life into the party that was once in comatose.
The party has however rebounded to political activities since the historic court verdict of July 12, 2017, that stopped Senator Ali Modu Sheriff from further parading himself as the party’s national chairman.
With the extension of the Makarfi-led committee with another four months by the non-elective convention held August 12, 2017, at Eagles Square, Abuja, all eyes are now on those who will fill the party’s national offices at the forthcoming National Convention in December.
Already, the party has zoned Presidency to the North, and as its tradition, it has zoned National Chairmanship position to the South. Presidency and National chairmanship positions of the party are usually zoned to different zones.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, August 4, stakeholders at a meeting of the Southern zone of the party zoned (micro zoned) the national chairmanship position to the South-West.
But while the PDP constitution recognizes only North and South zoning arrangement, nothing disqualifies any qualified aspirant from the zone, not necessarily where it may have been micro zoned, from contesting for any office that might be zoned to such area. According to the party, this is to enlarge the political scope, and not to prevent anyone from exercising his franchise.
The race of who wants to run for the office of the national chairmanship of the party has however commenced among South West politicians. Recall that in the botched Port Harcourt national convention of the party last year, a number of aspirants signified their interest to lead the party; nothing has significantly changed among the list of the aspirants, except for the former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, who is a new entrant in the race. Others in the race are Chief Olabode George, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Prof. Taoheed Ladoja and Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
Recall that, considering the extent of damage the prolonged legal battle that engulfed the party’s leadership for over a year did to the party, the party is looking for a national chairman that would accelerate the party’s growth, reconcile members and prepare it for victory in the next general elections. Such an individual, according to EYES OF LAGOS  findings must be firm, acceptable to all and a committed party man.
Before the party’s last aborted convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the jostle for who becomes the national chairman of the PDP was a strong factor that pitched members of the zone against one another.
Some were of the view that the position should be reserved for old, knowledgeable and capable members of the party while others believed there was the need to introduce young, fresh and agile hands that would understand intrigues of modern day politics.
Chief Olabode George
Chief Olabode George was the party’s national vice chairman (South West) at a time nobody wanted to identify with the PDP in the south west zone and it was during his tenure in that capacity that the entire states in the geopolitical zone, except Lagos, was ‘captured’ by the party. It was also during that period that many household in the geopolitical zone embraced the party. Apart from being the party’s national vice chairman in the south west, he was also the leader of the party within the geographical location.
George later became PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), and then  National Deputy Chairman of the party
While speaking during an interview on why he wants to be the party’s national chairman, George said his main agenda was to stabilise the party. According to him, “It takes an experienced captain to stabilise a ship hit by tornado. And if you know the crisis in PDP, that is the position the party is facing right now. But I am happy that all is not lost, and the condition has been enhanced. “Zoning has gone extremely well. I have paid my dues in this party and I should not be afraid of anybody. Since 1999, I never left the party to anywhere. I met crisis and problem, I have been able to resolve that. I have risen meritoriously from Vice Chairman (South West) to Deputy Chairman (South) and Deputy Chairman overall. I have been able to resolve problems.”
While speaking further, he added:”If people vote for me, I look forward to stabilizing the party and putting it in right position. The ruling party should get ready for serious engagement because we have started a cohesive battle ahead of 2019. So this job requires commitment and determination; it requires justice and fairness. They know me, they know me for that in the secretariat here. Trying to come back it is like looking back, we are lucky we got a bloody nose not a technical knockout; we will rise again.
“Everybody will have to come on board even those of our friends who were angry and left for APC, they are tenants there because they were landlords in PDP. If we are lucky and we get the right leadership who is fair and just and committed in the party, they will come back.”
Accordingly, a chieftain of the party and former Transport minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, George is the “best man” that could pilot the affairs of the party “to a new and glorious beginning.”
According to him, George is a loyal, tested and a responsible party man with credentials to return the party to winning ways in 2019.
While speaking recently in Abuja, he disclosed that he was leading a mobilisation support team for George based on his conviction and other southwest leaders in the ability of the party chieftain to lead the PDP.
He called on party members in the zone to bury their hatchet and support the aspiration of George. In the same vein, former chairmen of the party in Ogun and Lagos states, Chief Fadairo and retired Capt. Tunji Shelle, have also given their support to George for the chairmanship race, saying he has the track record.
In the same vein, Lagos State Executive of the party has declared its support for George, to be the National Chairman. The State Chairman of the party,  Alhaji Moshood Salvador, made the declaration recently at a news conference in Ikeja, Lagos.
Prof. Taoheed Ladoja
Former Minister of Sports and Special Duties, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, is another aspirant for the party’s top job. He said that he is vying for the PDP’s plum office to bring about an era of sanity, justice and eq­uity where all aggrieved members will be fully reintegrated in the overall interest of the country.
One top agenda of Adedoja is reconciliation of all aggrieved PDP members by en­suring that those who had left the fold are brought back to the party.
Just like he said during his declaration last year, he recently stated that he had consulted widely with party leaders and members in the six geo-political zones of the country before openly making the declaration, adding that his consultation had received approval from most parts of the nation country.
Prof. Adedoja, who promised to use his wealth of experience as an academic and technocrat to rebrand the PDP, said that he would work “for the party’s huge um­brella to stand out in the air and under the bright sun as the new shade for Nigerian’s true democ­racy in 2019.”
The university don expressed delight at the new-found love in the party and prayed that God will heal the wounds left by the crisis that had hitherto polarised the PDP.
He insisted that he had the ca­pacity, the confidence, the experi­ence, the emotional stability and the required national overlook to contest for the position because of the desire to reposition the party.
His words: “If truly our party is desirous to win the 2019 presi­dential election, the South West has eminent and qualified per­sons to lead our party as chair­man of the party. I am one of them; I am the bridge builder, the unifying factor that will rebuild the confidence of the founding fathers of our party.
“The party needs a chairman who has never been a factional leader either at the local or na­tional level; a chairman who will be acceptable to all parts of the country; a chairman who has the ca-pacity to reach out to all mem­bers of the party across the coun­try,” he said.

Prof Tunde Adeniran
Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former Minister of Education is another aspirant to watch in the race for the party’s national chairmanship seat. His priority, if he is able to defeat others to win the race  is to return the party to its lost glory.
Prof Adeniran was chairman of the Electoral Panel for the party’s 2011 National Convention and Deputy Director General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation last year.
Apart from being a loyal and consistent party man all the way through, he has devoted himself to the service of the party as Chairman of the Presidential Inauguration Committee in 1999 and member of various Electoral Panels and Reconciliation Committees of the party between 1999 and 2001.
He was also member of the Presidential Campaign Council (2010 – 11) and Chairman of the Screening Committee of the Edo State PDP 2016 Governorship Primary, among other key positions.
Prof Adeniran was Minister of Education from June 1999 to January 2001, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany between May 2004 and January 2007, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) between 2009 and 2011, and Chairman and Director of the Directorate for Social Mobilisation (MAMSER) from 1987 to 1993.
According to his media aide, Yemi Akinbode, Prof. Adeniran, who was Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, said he would like the delegates and leaders of the party to entrust him with the responsibility of being the National Chairman in order to ensure its rebirth and the enthronement of good governance in the country.
Prof Adeniran is a founding member of the PDP, and has remained with the party in thick and thin and served in various frontline capacities,. He is of the opinion that the task ahead of the PDP and Nigeria required “fortitude and experience to help the party achieve its objectives.”
He believes that his wealth of experience serving the party and the country meritoriously over the years,would be an advantage over other contestants.
“You do appreciate the great need of the party for the wealth of experience and the dedication that I represent. We will work together and leave a legacy of honour, excellent party administration and good governance”, he said recently.

Fani Kayode
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, is the only new person in the race. His Media Adviser, Jude Ndukwe, in a recent statement said his principal would be among those to contest, even as he disclosed that Fani-Kayode was under pressure to run for the position.
Ndukwe further stated that whereas consultations were still ongoing, he did not rule out the possibility of the former minister running for the position.
He said, “It is far too early to make this decision but I can tell you that there is a lot of pressure on him from various quarters to run for a key position on the National Working Committee of the party.
“One thing is clear though and that is that our party needs strong leadership to take on the APC Federal Government. He has that strength and passion and he has worked very hard for the party.
“He has also been defending democratic values for the last two years. Meetings and consultations are still going on so let us wait and see how it all goes.”
Jimi Agabje
Former governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State during the last general elections, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, is another contestant for the seat.
Jimi Agbaje is about the only aspirant that is a new member of the party, but he is not without his own followers. He was said to have joined PDP on the persuasion of Bode George prior to the 2015 election.
He was during the botched Port Harcourt convention of the party last year accused by a co-aspirant, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, of being allegedly sponsored by some governors elected on the party’s platform.
Dokpesi alleged that governors of the party were planning to impose Agbaje on the party as the national chairman before the convention ran into a hitch.
He stated this in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Mr. Omor Bazuaye in Abuja.
He said shifting the convention in Port Harcourt following the closure of the convention ground by soldiers and police would afford members of the party the opportunity to resolve the leadership crisis in the party.

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