The crisis brewing in the Lagos chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) may take a dangerous turn if urgent steps are not taken by the party leadership to wade into the matter.
It is no news that a new comer into the party, Mr. Jimi Agbaje was announced winner of the governorship primary of the party held last week Monday in Oregun, Lagos.
A governorship aspirant of the PDP, who is also the immediate minister of state for defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro had rejected the outcome of the keenly contested primary, claiming that chieftains of the party, Chief Bode George and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe worked against him at the primary, which was marred by violence.
Shortly after the primary, Obanikoro granted interview to TVC, a television station believed to be run by the National Leader of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where he claimed he was robbed of victory by Bode George and Ogunlewe.
Obanikoro alleged in the interview that Chief Bode George sent some thugs to the primary to harm his (Obanikoro) supporters.
The former minster said that he would not accept the outcome of the election because he was cheated, and called for a rerun.
He questioned how the number of votes exceeded the number of accredited number of delegates for the primary.
Obanikoro, who was the flagbearer of the PDP in the governorship election of 2007 in Lagos State, said that 806 delegates were accredited for the election, but that the number of votes cast was 868. He called for an investigation into the matter and cancellation of the primary.
“The entire primary was a sham. I still cannot comprehend how accredited delegates of 806 would turn out to be 868. To be honest with you, with the benefit of hindsight, you can tell that the outcome was predetermined,” Obanikoro said in the interview.
“The path of fraudulent election success is condemnable and we intend to fight this. There is an opportunity to appeal and I hope the party will do the right thing. Bode George has been the major problem as far as this party is concerned and there is no doubt in my mind that he supervised this electoral malpractice,” he added.
Furthermore, the former Senator asked, “How do you explain the panel chairman arriving in Lagos by 10am and not starting the election until about 5pm?”
“There are so many things that you can look at, like the pronouncement made by Bode George, Ogunlewe and others. One of the reasons why this party has failed in Lagos is because it is being led by the likes of Bode George and Ogunlewe,” he pointed out.
“In 2006 during the primary, Bode George manipulated the same way to produce the widow of the slain politician, Mr. Funsho Williams, Hilda as winner until common sense prevailed. We submitted ourselves to a process that we thought would be free and fair, but unfortunately, they decided to play religious politics and manipulation of electoral process particularly on the election day.
“Bode George brought thugs to come and harass and intimidate delegates at the primary. I was not even at the primary, when violence started, but it was Bode George’s people. One of them even stabbed a nephew of mine during the selection of delegates. This is known to the police. One of them was arrested at the Mainland. He shot at people. They perpetrate violence and then run to him for cover,” he said.
Some tale-bearers however informed First Weekly last week that Obanikoro is poised for a showdown with Bode George.
They said that the former chairman of Lagos Island Local Government wants to wrestle power of the party’s structure from Bode George and Ogunlewe once and for all.
According to our source, Obanikoro believes that the excesses of Bode George and Ogunlewe and their grip on the party in Lagos are too much.
“What Koro (as Obanikoro is fondly called) is angry about is the way Bode George and Ogunlewe see themselves as gods in Lagos PDP. The two party chieftains believe they can choose who to be what in Lagos PDP.
“Look at the way they planned Jimi Agbaje’s victory, not minding the fact that Koro has been a very loyal party member for a long time.
“How can you make someone that joined the party few months ago as PDP governorship candidate in Lagos when Koro is there,” our source asked.
It was further gathered that Obanikoro is not resting on his oars in achieving his aim of becoming the flag-bearer of the party for the 2015 and that if he does not succeed, he might seek an alternative and work against the PDP in 2015.
“If Koro fails in his bid to get the party’s slot for the guber election, he might have no choice than to dump the PDP for another party. His return to Tinubu may look slim, but joining Labour Party like a former governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala seems more like a reality,” a source who claimed to be in the know, exclusively informed us.
It was revealed that for now, Obanikoro has decided to take his case to President Goodluck Jonathan for him to persuade the party leaders in the state to handover the party’s flag to him for the gubernatorial election in Lagos State in 2015.
“Koro has been talking to President Jonathan on the matter and he might likely meet physically with him soon,” one of those who claimed to be in the know, divulged to First Weekly.
We further learnt that Obanikoro resigned his appointment as the minister of state for defence in the cabinet of President Jonathan some months ago, when he allegedly got assurances from the President that he would be handed the PDP guber slot in Lagos State.
“Koro was assured by the President that he would fly the PDP’s flag in Lagos in 2015, which was why he resigned as a minister. But unknown to him, Bode George and Ogunlewe had different plans. They were rooting for Agbaje and kept it away from Jonathan,” one of our sources alleged.
“You see, Koro is not in the good books of Bode George and Ogunlewe. You will recall that Koro recently spoke against Chief Bode George, when he claimed that Lagos PDP enjoyed peace and stability when Bode George was in prison over corruption issues.
“Do you think Koro would be happy to have lost to Agbaje having worked hard for the PDP to win in Ekiti State and fought hard for the party in the Osun State election? Where were Bode George and Ogunlewe when Koro was in Ekiti and Osun with Kashamu (Buruji) and the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan?
“Even if Koro had wronged Bode George, I think he should think of the party first, not his personal gains. Koro is the man that can match the candidate of the APC in the 2015 guber election in Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and not Agbaje who is relatively new in the party.
“What has he (Agbaje) done to warrant his emergence as PDP flag-bearer in Lagos? Apart from being a Pharmacist, what else has he done?
“You see, Bode George is taking things too far and I think it is high time the national party leaders called him to order before he gives APC an easy coast to victory in 2015,” our aggrieved source said.
However, Bode George had carpeted Obanikoro in a report last week.
“I don’t want to lose my anger, but I hate it when people don’t have respect for elders, no respect for others and think they alone have the right to be there. The day he lobbied to be Minister, he brought Adebayo Ala-Akala to my office to prostrate and beg me because they did election here in my compound and he was not selected. He had just one vote.
“Humility and civility are the tenets of growth. How can he say the election was a fight between him and myself? This was a boy that was born in 1960. If I did not go to school, I would have had him as my son. He has the nerves to say he is fighting me.
“I brought him (Obanikoro). He joined the party here. If he has many types of apparels, he will never have as many rags as us. That experience is in-born. The Bible and the Quran say ‘respect your parents so that your days may be long,” Bode George said.
Many political watchers in Nigeria never believed that Obanikoro would lose the primary to relatively unknown Agbaje due to the former’s experience in governance.
Obanikoro once served as the chairman of Lagos Island Local Government, he was also a senator before contesting the 2007 governorship election against the incumbent governor of the state, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). He was subsequently appointed as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana before he was later made a Minister last year.
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