Lagos PDP renews strategy to dislodge APC
As the countdown to the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State gets intense, there is renewed optimism in the camp of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as to the possibility of breaking the 23-year-old grip of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But this would only be achievable if the party’s stakeholders put their house in order and get their strategy right.
One of the major factors, which has always caused PDP’s woeful performance and defeat in previous governorship elections from 1999 to 2019 is internal wrangling.
The best chances opened to the PDP to oust the ruling party in 2007 and 2015. In 2007, the major opposition party got federal backing and massive funding from former President Olusegun Obasanjo when it presented former envoy to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obaniko as its governorship candidate.
The PDP would have capitalised on the internal crisis in the ruling Action Congress (AC), now APC, when about 11 commissioners and the then Deputy Governor, Mr. Femi Pedro, revolted against Tinubu on the ground that the National Leader allegedly imposed his anointed candidate, Babatunde Fashola on others. But Fashola, who is currently Minister of Works and Housing, eventually defeated Obanikoro in the 2007 governorship race with 599,300 votes to 383, 956 votes.
Political observers believed that the results would have been different if all stakeholders in the PDP had united to support Obanikoro.
A similar scenario played out in 2015, under erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, who put the Federal structure behind the Lagos PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, Mr Jimi Agbaje.
Agbaje was popular and well-accepted among indigenes of Lagos and it was expected that his charisma with the PDP platform and the federal support would have been massive enough to dismantle the APC stronghold.
Just like the party failed to seize the opportunity of internal disagreement in APC in 2007, PDP could also not capitalise on the resentment among members of the ruling party over the choice of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was believed to have been imposed like Fashola by Tinubu. Again, Ambode went ahead to dust Agbaje by 811, 994 thousand votes to 659, 788.
Reviewing the election outcomes over the years, some observers have continued to say that no serious governorship elections has ever taken place in Lagos since 1999 except the one fought, won and lost to manipulations and lack of internal cohesion among the opposition parties, especially PDP.
The recent defection of Dr. Abdulazeez Adediran, the convener of Lagos4Lagos Movement, a splinter group in APC to the PDP, was witnessed and backed by 10 PDP governors, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, erstwhile Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, incumbent National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, along with other notable members of the party, has, however, engendered renewed optimism within the rank of party faithful that the narrative may change in 2023.
Specifically, political observers have said that the recent show of solidarity across the country among PDP leaders and the fanfare created to receive Adediran in Lagos portends some seriousness on the part of the party and a strong indication of intent to win the governorship in Lagos come 2023.
“The fanfare and determination displayed by PDP big wigs, including those obviously bitter and those playing the normal politics, indicated how serious PDP may be in wresting power from APC in Lagos.”
Adediran As Symbol Of Unity Ahead 2023
CONTRARY to the strategy the managers of Obanikoro and Agbaje adopted in 2007 and 2015, that the duo was brought into the party by some elements to take the governorship ticket without necessarily giving consideration to the interest of those that have worked assiduously to build the party, Adediran aka Jandor, came with the understanding that he cannot perpetuate what he kicked against in his former party. Rather, he stated that he was ready to submit to a level playing ground in a free, fair and credible governorship primary.
Jandor is also said to be going around, meeting with all necessary stakeholders in the PDP to preach unity. As a matter of fact, some members of the PDP have named him “the Apostle of Peace” in Lagos PDP. The Guardian gathered that Adediran has met with almost everyone who matters in Lagos PDP and across the country to strengthen the bond of unity in the party ahead of 2023.
Although some of them are still suspicious of the motive behind his (Jandor) crusade, he has, however, not attracted open criticisms as Obanikoro and Agbaje did in 2007 and 2015.
To his credit is also the fact that he brought in his strong and viable Lagos4Lagos Movement, which according to claims, had over a million followers.
Those who spoke with The Guardian in separate telephone conversations include a former PDP state chairman, Navy Captain Tunji Shelle; Jimi Agbaje; a chieftain of the party, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse and former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George.
They called on members of the party and citizens of Lagos to encourage the boldness and determination of Jandor to win Lagos for PDP this time around.
Pearse said: “Jandor actually represents what the citizens and the PDP need to rescue Lagos from the claws of APC since 1999. It is obvious that the ruling party has nothing more to offer. And its handlers are now like Goliath, terrorising it.
“This young man is coming up with a lot of courage, like David, whom we all need to support. For instance, we have another courageous group, Global Mandate, which will leave APC, to join our party. What is important for PDP is to manage the coming of Jandor better than how we managed the coming of Jimi Agbaje in 2015.”
Shelle, on his part, said Jandor has been a symbol of unity since he joined PDP. He pleaded with all PDP members to join forces with the new entrant to win Lagos.
Agbaje said: “This is another big opportunity coming to PDP, to win Lagos. I hope to see a stronger PDP, well-positioned to take over Lagos State in 2023.”
George said there is hope for the future of the state, as “all that matters is Lagos and its population.”
Immediate past Publicity Secretary of the party, Barrister Taofik Gani expressed optimism that PDP is currently well-positioned to takeover Lagos, especially as all stakeholders in and outside the party have now come to realise that the 23-year-old APC rule in Lagos has done nothing of benefit to the state in terms of progress and development.
There is, however, a caveat to the nature of support Lagos PDP will get this time. The question pundits are asking is the significant impact the PDP governors could make in Lagos 2023 governorship election by planting Jandor or whoever as governor; what two former presidents, Obasanjo and Jonathan failed to achieve?
The PDP governors behind the development are Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Nyesom Wike (River); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); and Duoye Diri (Bayelsa).
Ironically, Makinde, who is now perceived as PDP’s emerging strong force in Southwest, will have his hands full as from this year following his deep involvement in the coming 2022 governorship contests in Ekiti and Osun states. He is also preparing for his re-election in Oyo where the PDP is in crisis.
Speaking at the official defection of Jandor, Makinde said the event signalled the beginning of a new dawn for the PDP in Lagos State.
According to the governor, the South-West PDP is now ready to lead the charge to rescue the zone and the country from the hands of the APC, which promised too much but did so little to justify the trust Nigerians had in it.
In his response shortly after being presented with the PDP membership card by the chairman of the party in Ojoo Local Council and the chairman of the Lagos State PDP Caretaker Committee, Julius Akinsola, Adediran said he and his followers were joining the PDP to add value to the party.
Adediran, who stated that he drew inspiration from Governor Makinde, who took on a task that seemed unachievable and came out victorious in the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, noted that he and his followers would put their numerical strength to test in Lagos.