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PDP leadership: South West favoured to produce chairman

By Sunny Ogefere and Seye Olumide
26 July 2016   |   4:04 am
As the August 17 date for the re-scheduled national convention for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) draws near, more persons are being thrown up for the chairmanship position.


Governors to choose between Daniels and Agbaje

As the August 17 date for the re-scheduled national convention for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) draws near, more persons are being thrown up for the chairmanship position.

Besides, available information showed that though the zoning committee was yet to come out with where the various offices were zoned to, the governors and other stakeholders favoured the South West to produce the next chairman of the party.

The names that have propped up so far include; former chairman of Daar Communications Plc., parent body of African Independent Television (AIT), Chief Raymond Dokpesi; a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Bode George; former deputy national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

Also on the block, are, former minister, Prof. Tunde Adenran; Chief Shuaibu Oyedokun; as well as the party’s governorship candidate for Lagos State in the 2015 general elections, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; and former Governor of Ogun State, Otumba Gbenga Daniels whom The Guardian learnt yesterday was being rooted for by some PDP Governors.

Dokpesi has already flagged off his campaign with jingles and other promotional materials on radio and television while George has commenced consultations and meetings.

“The Governors and other stakeholders are actually looking for a young and vibrant person, not persons like Bode George … the governors are not disposed to Bode George,” one of the sources close to the PDP hierarchy claimed.

Furthermore, the source argued the tussle presently, was between Agbaje and Daniels and that the Governors particularly those from South West would have to make up their minds who out of the two, would be best suited for the job of the party chairman.

However, when contacted to clear the air on his ambition to run for the national chairmanship position, Agbaje said the whole news remained a rumour because nobody has approached him and neither has he approached anybody over such ambition.

According to him, “In politics, people throw up a lot of kites, this was probably one of it because the zoning committee is still at work and the position has not been narrowed to the South West zone.”

He said all that matters most for now was the repositioning of the party to make it stronger and viable ahead of the 2019 elections.

The 82-member zoning committee chaired by the governor of Enugu state, David Umahi, with former governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswam as deputy chairman secretary, was inaugurated last week and given one week to complete their assignment.

Sources asserted that that though the zoning formula was yet to be released, majority of the stakeholders including the governors were convinced that the South West geo-political zone should produce the next chairman.

So far only two aspirants have indicated interest for the position of chairman that are not from the South West zone – Dokpesi and Secondus. They are from South South, while no one has aspired from the South East and the entire north.

The chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi had, during the inauguration of the committee said that it was “senseless for the party to zone both the presidency and chairmanship to the same region.”

“So far, the sentiments within us and even among the governors are that the office of the chairman should berth in the South West and I think they deserve it,” another source volunteered.

This may have informed the hurried reconciliation meeting at the Ondo Governors Lodge at Abuja, convened to close the different ranks of PDP members in the South West. This was followed up with another parley in Lagos at the weekend apparently to ensure that the zone present a formidable front in the bid for the chairmanship at the rescheduled national convention in Port Harcourt.

Meanwhile as efforts to reconcile the warring factions in the PDP South West zone continued, which were aimed at enabling the zone produce a harmonised list of delegates for the planned national convention, a group, Democratic Youth Vanguard has called on the national leadership of the party to narrow the zoning of the national chairmanship position to the zone.

In demanding for this, the vanguard also urged the PDP key players in the region to consider the experience, age and position of the former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, above any other thing, in choosing its candidate.

This, however, runs contrary to the alleged preference of the South West PDP governors and Senator Buruji Kashamu, (who represents Ogun West) for the Lagos PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.

The Guardian authoritatively gathered that while some youths, which include the Youth Vanguard and other influential groups have shown interest in Chief George’s aspiration for the job, the governors and other prominent members of the region were said to be tipping Agbaje.

While addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, the Coordinator of the Democratic Youth Vanguard, Mr. Kola Salau stated that Chief George has what it takes in terms of experience, integrity, maturity, boldness and knowledge to stir the ship of the party.

According to him, “The vast knowledge of Chief George of the party’s constitution is key attributes that must be considered in the selection of the topmost position in the party. We strongly believe that he adequately possesses these enumerated qualities.

“We believe that only a man with experience and candour like him could take the party to the height it should be. He has credibility, temperament, the gravitas, the discipline, national network and vast pool of connections across the ethnic divide of the nation.”

On why it was imperative of the national headquarters to narrow the position to the South West, Salau said, “ For the records, it is important to state that out of the three zones that constitute the South, the east has severally produced the chairman and so has the South South in acting capacity until recently, leaving only the South west geopolitical zone without ever having a stint at the seat despite how strategic it was to the history and success of the party.”

He noted that only fairness, fairplay and collective interest could return the PDP to its days of lost glory “and this should begin with choosing the South West to produce the next national chairman of the party.”

Salau further narrowed his argument to the South West states, saying: “Furthermore, it is important to note that some states in the region deserves the shots more than the others. As things stand, the chairman of the party in the zone is currently from Ondo State as well as the zonal publicity secretary while Osun currently occupies the position of the zonal secretary. Obviously, the Lagos axis hasn’t got a fair deal.”