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Lagos 2023 guber election: PDP’s strength, weakness on the slab

By Seye Olumide (Southwest Bureau Chief)
17 July 2022   |   2:43 am
The 2023 governorship election in Lagos State might be the worst, in terms of performance, for the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if development within the party is anything to go by.

[FILES] Funke Akindele-Bello | Image: Instagram/funkejenifaakindele

As Akindele’s Dep Gov Candidacy Splits Opposition Party

The 2023 governorship election in Lagos State might be the worst, in terms of performance, for the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if development within the party is anything to go by.

 
The Guardian learnt that many party faithful has made up their minds to either adopt a sit-down-look approach to the elections or pull out of the party at the appropriate time, especially before the general election next year.
 
In fact, some major stakeholders are so livid that they don’t simply want to share their thoughts about the fortune of Lagos PDP in the coming governorship poll based on the conviction that even if the heavens fall, the party cannot oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
 
A major bitterness within the party rank is that the party’s structure and mechanism have been hijacked by people they described as strangers in the person of Dr Abdul Azeez Olajide Adediran, who is the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election and his running mate, Funke Akindele, a Nollywood actress.
 
In interactions with several members, they said that Adediran aka Jandor and Akindele are both alien to the party and are alleged to be carrying on their activities with impunity without giving any modicum of respect to original members of the party in the last few days.
  
Some of the aggrieved members accused the former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George, as the one who brought Adediran into the party and allegedly orchestrated how he emerged as flag bearer with the hope that he (George) would nominate the running mate.
 
Jandor allegedly played along with George while he kept the script of the Nollywood actress to his chest. The Guardian learnt that Chief George immediately travelled out of the country when he realised that the flag bearer was going to settle for Akindele.
 
But other aggrieved members exonerated Chief George. They blamed some PDP governors, especially Seyi Makinde for foisting Jandor on Chief George and Lagos PDP with the hope of using Adediran to take over the state from the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu in 2023.
 
The former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, erstwhile Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, Governor Nyesom Wike and a host of others were accused of being part of the plot. A source said, “It was when Chief George realised that his influence had been reduced at the national level that he was forced to play along with the governors on the Jandor’s script, which has now boomeranged. All those who endorsed him before the primary are as guilty as Chief George.”

Akindele’s Nomination As Running Mate
PRIOR to the unveiling of Funke Akindele as running mate to Adediran on Wednesday, July 13, 2023, there had been rumours that Jandor had singlehandedly nominated her without carrying the party members along. The insinuation was initially denied until it was confirmed.
 
Aside from the fact that Jandor himself announced the actress as his running mate, Akindele, in a video on her Instagram page, also announced that she is the running mate to Adediran. She said it was an opportunity for her to help liberate and improve the wellbeing of the people, particularly the deprived youth, women and the girl child.
  
The state chairman of the party, Philip Aivoji, confirmed the choice of Akindele to The Guardian on the telephone yesterday, saying, “All I can say is that Funke Akindele has been chosen and confirmed as running mate to our candidate for the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State. And as we speak, we are showcasing her as our running mate in the Ikorodu division to our members.”

 
When prompted further on how the party arrived at the decision and whether critical stakeholders were carried along, Aivoji said, “That is all I can tell you now.”
  
Since the announcement was made, there appears to be uneasy calm among party members, the majority of whom said there are better and more serious personalities in the party than Akindele.
  
When called for his reaction, a former state chairman of the party, Captain Tunji Shelle (rtd), said, “I don’t want to comment on that matter at all. Please leave me out of it.”
   
Another chieftain of the party, Dr Adetokunbo Pearse, also excused himself when he was called to react. “Please I am in a meeting. I will call you back.”
   
In like manner, two erstwhile governorship candidates of PDP, Dr Ade Dosunmu (2011) and Mr Jimi Agbaje (2015 and 2019) did not pick up their calls.
 
Immediate past Publicity Secretary of the party, Taofik Gani appealed to members of the party who reacted sharply to Akindele’s choice to exercise patience and allow leaders of the party to handle the situation.
 
According to him, “Those who are angry have the right to but if we fail to manage this situation well, we can as well mismanage it and destroy our chances.”
 
But a very senior member of the party, who does not want his name in print said, “All I can tell you is l lost interest and trust in Jandor the day I found out that he had written the list of three Ad-hoc delegates for the party primaries instead of conducting an open democratic election.
    
“With that singular act, Jandor demonstrated a penchant for political autocracy. He has hijacked Lagos PDP and he can choose whomever he wants as his deputy.
   
“Most members of PDP do not trust Jandor and couldn’t care less what he does since even the delegates who elected him as governorship candidate were essentially his own Lagos4Lagos supporters and not PDP delegates.
   
“If by some miracle Jandor wins in 2023, it will be a victory for him and his Lagos4Lagos and not a victory for PDP. And if he loses, he will be compelled to leave PDP and return to his roots, or move to another party.”
 
But refuting the claim above, Director of Communication and Strategy of Lagos4Lagos Movement, Mr. Seun Soyinka, said, “It’s dicey to take people who ask not to be quoted hook-line and sinker. If he stops hiding, the party will probably know how best to resolve his issues.
 
“Truth is all the leaders in the party advised Jandor to go look for his deputy elsewhere, aside from Chief Bode George who had a preference which many wouldn’t have accepted as a result of the factions in the party. It’s the same way Chief George’s group couldn’t have accepted anyone from the other factions. Before Jandor unveiled Funke Akindele, he took her to all the leaders, including Chief George and other party elders. So there’s no party leader that wasn’t carried along about his choice.
 
“Secondly, Jandor didn’t write all the adhoc delegates, Lagos4Lagos members that came with Jandor into the party are only in about eight local councils from the 20 and even in those eight, they only have total control in about five while the rest were just between 20 to 30 per cent.
 
“Jandor enjoys the support of the majority of PDP leaders, hence he was able to win the primaries. So the Lagos4Lagos Movement never had all of the delegates.”
 
MEANWHILE, Spokesman of the Lagos chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Seye Oladejo ‘boasted’ that the choice of Akindele, who has never lived for any other purpose in Lagos other than being a comedian, as running mate to Jandor, has made the next governorship election a walkover for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.
  
According to Oladejo, “The choice of Akindele as running mate to Jandor has further exposed the lack of seriousness on the part of Lagos PDP to win the election. Assuming there is a debate, I wonder what Akindele will say before Dr Hamzat? This is why there is voters’ apathy in Lagos because the opposition is never serious. Jandor, who left APC a few months ago to hijack PDP’s structure, is now pairing with a comedian, who is even surrounded with a lot of controversies.”
 
Responding to APC, Jandor mocked the ruling party. He said APC and its cohorts are pleased with the current systemic rot and governance deficit in the state and would go to any ludicrous length to protect their pots of soup.
 
Jandor said PDP recognises the importance of the 2023 elections in Lagos and had carefully conducted its internal business with the sole objective of giving the electorate reasons to cheer.
 
“The PDP does not and will not trivialise the forthcoming polls, contrary to the negative portrayal by the ruling party. If the emergence of Funke Akindele had been a non-issue, the APC would certainly not have responded. But since the Lagos PDP has made a very popular decision, the ruling party had become jittery and the attendant excruciating pains and lacerating discomfort of their vuvuzelas are quite understandable.
 
“For clarity, the choice of Akindele as the running mate of Lagos PDP governorship candidate, Dr Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran (Jandor), was well founded on several positive factors. Professional excellence, leadership skills, managerial capacity, gender mainstreaming, youth inclusiveness as well as religious balancing are part of the underlying considerations, which, of course, have been widely applauded by millions of Nigerians.
 
“Beyond the foregoing determinants, Akindele’s pick as deputy governorship candidate also reinforces the narrative that only the PDP can truly give everyone a sense of belonging and provide all citizens with the veritable platform to actualise individual political aspirations. The APC is pretentious and offers no hope for ordinary Nigerians.
 
It is glaring that no youth can take up any position or contest for office purely on merit except through crooked anointing by a rapacious godfather.”
   
But a chieftain of APC, Fouad Oki expressed displeasure over Akindele’s choice, saying it would weaken the 2023 governorship contest in Lagos.
  
According to him, “It has become very glaring that this choice of a running mate will not add any value to the PDP’s ticket. The young and vibrant Rhodes-Vivour, who has been consistent in Lagos PDP would have greatly assisted, apart from being a long term PDP member, Vivour has political followership as can be gleaned in his last performance.
  
Oki who also rejected the Lagos APC congresses last year along with Jandor but didn’t leave the party added: “More so, PDP needs an in-road in Ikeja division where Rhodes-Vivour is more popular than Jandor himself. Funke is not close to anything other than her job. She doesn’t have any electoral value. She is also not an influencer that can drive electoral victory.”
 
With the development, the possibility that PDP will use Jandor to oust APC remains uncertain. Many PDP members are already saying that even if Tinubu stops practising politics today, the ruling party has a solid structure to retain Lagos for another 16 years.
 
Some members of the party disclosed to The Guardian that they couldn’t afford to stay another eight years out of government.
 
Recall that in 2011, Chief George was accused of foisting Dosunmu as the candidate of the party and he lost to former Governor Babajide Fashola. In 2015, the former deputy national chairman was also alleged to be part of those that brought Agbaje, who also lost to former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. In 2019, some forces beyond George supported Agbaje to again emerge as PDP candidate but he lost to the incumbent governor.