Beg South-South governors, others to abandon quest for slot
•Fresh fears over push for ex-Governor Ladoja to join race
•Cracks in S/West widen ahead of December convention
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders are mounting pressure on South-South governors of the party and other stakeholders to concede the national chairmanship slot of the party to the Southwest ahead of the December convention.
The party has already agreed to pick its next chairman from the south and its 2019 presidential candidate from the north.
The South-South leaders of the party are believed to be rooting for Prince Uche Secondus to occupy the post.
Secondus was, until recently, a deputy national chairman of the party.
The Southwest has no fewer than five aspirants vying for the post.
They are a former deputy national chairman, Chief Bode George, ex-Governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel, ex-Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, ex-Minister of Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja and ex-governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
It was gathered that some leaders of the party from the South have reneged on the under-the-table agreement to concede the position to the Southwest.
But some respected leaders of the party fear that development is capable of alienating the geo-political zone and have stepped in, pleading for the Southwest to have the position.
They want to avoid a repeat of the loss of votes in the zone by PDP in 2019.
However, party sources said the aspirants from the Southwest are not helping matters with none of them willing to step down for the other.
It was gathered that some stakeholders were even contemplating bringing in ex-Governor Rashidi Ladoja to join the race.
Ladoja recently rejoined the PDP from the Accord Party.
A top party source said: “The party is still trying to resolve the intrigues surrounding the choice of a new National Chairman. The race is between the Southwest and the Southsouth.
“Ordinarily, if the contest is left to the Southwest and the Southsouth, the latter will produce the next chairman.
“If you look at the composition of delegates, the Southsouth with many PDP Governors will have more delegates with enough number to defeat any candidate from the Southwest.
“The Southsouth has already zeroed in on Prince Uche Secondus as its candidate for the chairmanship.
“The Southsouth is seeking the office of the national chairman in case of a probable working alliance or coalition with the Southwest for the presidential elections.”
Another source said all the aspirants from the Southwest are in dire straits because their chances are very slim with fewer delegates from their zone.
“Unless the Southsouth is being magnanimous, all the aspirants from the Southwest, namely Bode George, Gbenga Daniel, Tunde Adeniran, Taoheed Adedoja, are walking a tight rope. The bulk of the votes at the convention will come from the Southsouth and the Southeast.
“But some respected leaders of the party are now begging the Southsouth and Southeast governors to concede the slot to the Southwest to avoid a repeat of the PDP’s defeat in the Southwest in 2019.
“There is no sign yet that the governors and leaders from the Southsouth and the Southeast have agreed on giving the slot to the Southwest.
“This is why some leaders have been prevailing on ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and other stakeholders to beg these governors.
“Some of these governors however described all the aspirants from the Southwest as lighter weight who cannot win significant votes for PDP in 2019.
“They said PDP cannot secure Southwest votes without an alliance or a coalition.”
Party sources said the refusal of the aspirants from the Southwest to step down for each other has compounded the logjam.
It was learnt that some of the aspirants were invited to a meeting by members of the Concerned PDP Forum on how to “agree on a candidate for the Southwest” but they refused to step down.
“Already, some of our leaders are pushing for the choice of ex-Governor Rashidi Ladoja in order to break the tie among the previous aspirants. It is unclear if Ladoja will accept the offer or not.”
“If these aspirants do not agree, the North might also swing its votes for a Southsouth candidate.”
Jonathan had on Tuesday warned PDP members against choosing a wrong candidate to lead the party.
He said: “This time around we need a very courageous and vocal person to be the chairman. There are two positions that we must not make mistake on – the positions of the national chairman and that of the national publicity secretary, because I have worn the shoes before and I know where it pinches.
“If we make a mistake as a party and elect wrong chairman and publicity secretary, we are finished.”
Besides the rivalry sparked by the chairmanship contest, a fresh crisis is brewing in the Southwest PDP ahead of the national convention billed for December.
A faction led by Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe is at war with that led by Chief Eddy Olafeso over delegates to the convention.
The Ahmed Makarfi led Caretaker Committee recognises the Olafeso group as the authentic leadership of the Southwest zone, a development that has forced the Ogundipe group to run to the courts.
In July this year, the party’s national leadership had warned the various groups and individuals against dragging the leadership to court over matters that could be resolved through existing conflict resolution channels.
Ogundipe and his group had approached a Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti to obtain an injunction retraining the national leadership from recognising Olafeso.
The court granted the request of the Ogundipe faction that it be given as the authentic leadership to represent the zone at the convention.
The suit, No. FHC/AD/CS/18/2017, which was filed by Ogundipe also had Chief Adepegba Otemolu, Lanre Orimoloye, Supo Ijabadeniyi and Femi Carena as the plaintiffs.
Defendants in the suit include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Sen. Ben Obi, Eddy Olafeso, Wunmi Jenyo, Adeola Ogunrinde and Femi Adetola.
Others joined in the suit are Ojo Williams, Fasiu Bakenne, Philip Aivohji, Mrs. Oluwawumi Oshinroluke, Biliaminu Ogundele, Femi, Makinde, the Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Osogbo, Commissioner of Police, Ondo State, Department of State Services and State Security Service, Ondo State.
Justice Taiwo O.Taiwo restrained the Makarfi-led executives or their agents from preventing the plaintiffs and other Southwest delegates to the PDP national convention listed in the schedule attached to the originating summons.
Beneficiaries of the order, as listed in the originating summons, also include Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju and Senator Buruji Kashamu, who the court said should not be barred from the convention.
Justice Taiwo also said that the national leadership of the party should not take any disciplinary actions against the plaintiffs and other delegates in their camp, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Bandying a copy of the court order at the party’s Abuja secretariat at the weekend, Ogundipe warned that non-compliance with the court order could have adverse effects on the outcome of the convention.
Urging the national leadership of the PDP to uphold the rule of law, Ogundipe said having been a beneficiary of the rule of law by virtue of the July ruling of the Supreme Court, Makarfi is the least person expected to shun a valid order of the court.