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Wike’s endorsement, growing dissent and Lagos PDP’s quest for power

By Seye Olumide (Southwest Bureau Chief)
23 October 2022   |   3:11 am
On Tuesday, October 18 2022, when Governor Nyesom Wike, a critical stakeholder in the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) endorsed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the second term

Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran aka Jandor

On Tuesday, October 18 2022, when Governor Nyesom Wike, a critical stakeholder in the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) endorsed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the second term in office as Lagos State governor, some analysts said the Rivers State governor had, by his position, conducted the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State, counted the votes and declared the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, winner of the exercise.

Although what Wike did may sound strange to many, given that the PDP has its gubernatorial candidate in Lagos, in the person of Dr. Abdul Azez Olajide Adediran aka Jandor, who is also the Convener, Lagos4Lagos Movement, those who understand the history of Lagos politics right from 1999 when the Fourth Republic took off, would recall that former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, once did a similar thing in 2003 when he endorsed former governor of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu for a second term.
 
Atiku was the then vice presidential candidate to erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo on the platform of PDP at a time when the then ruling party was on a mission of ‘operation capture Southwest’ that was pronounced by Obasanjo.
 
But with the perceived support of Atiku, Tinubu, who is now the presidential candidate of the ruling APC for the 2023 election, went ahead to win a second term as the only governor of the region who survived Obasanjo’s ‘Operation Capture Southwest’ onslaught at the time.

  
In 2018, when Atiku emerged as the presidential candidate of PDP for the 2019 general election, the former vice president apologised openly at the party’s secretariat in Lagos for being the one responsible for Tinubu’s victory in the 2003 governorship election. But now, about 20 years later, Governor Wike seems to be playing the game Atiku played against his former boss with the Turaki of Adamawa.
 
Interestingly, Atiku and Tinubu are the candidates of the two major political parties while Wike is playing the spoiler, and Adediran or Sanwo-Olu is the likely grass that may bear the consequences of the skirmish depending on where the pendulum swings next year.
 
While endorsing Sanwo-Olu during the National Women’s Conference organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Wike said Sanwo-Olu had performed well and he had no regrets supporting him. He, however, remained silent on the PDP candidate, Adediran.
 
Against the interest of PDP and Atiku, the Rivers State governor said he supported Sanwo-Olu because the Lagos State governor has performed very well, adding that if Sanwo-Olu was not doing well and invited him over he would not come, but that the Lagos governor was doing well.
    
This is despite the fact that Wike, alongside seven PDP governors, led by the incumbent National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, Atiku, who was represented, and immediate past President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, among others, besieged the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos in January this year, to endorse Adediran as the best among the governorship aspirants to fly PDP’s flag in the 2023 election.
 
Although not all the members of the PDP approved of the endorsement of Adeniran by the party’s national leadership, especially when the primaries for the 2023 selections of candidates were yet to take place, the national leadership believed there was no stronger person in the Lagos chapter of PDP, who could be used to challenge Tinubu’s political hegemony and structure.
 
Adediran and his Lagos4Lagos Movement left the ruling APC for PDP when it was clear to him that he would not realise his governorship ambition on the platform of his erstwhile party.
 
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George and many others spearheaded the campaign that threw him up, even when other aspirants cried foul that equal opportunities were not given to all the governorship hopefuls.
 
They contended that caution must not be thrown to the winds again in the party as it happened when the party “surrendered” its platform to Mr Jimi Agbaje both in 2015 and 2019 without achieving results. The warnings were disregarded and the “newfound bride” emerged as the party’s flag bearer even though the State Chairman of the party, Philip Aivoji, who also was said to have emerged in spite of Chief George, claimed that the primary that produced Adediran was free, fair and credible.
 
But beyond the governors’ support, there were others, like Agbaje, former state chairman of the party, Captain Tunji Shelle and a host of others, who believed that Adediran had what PDP needed to oust Tinubu in Lagos. They all keyed into the Jandor project.
  
But soon as Jandor got the ticket, their perception of him began to change. It started from the subtle disposition that Jandor was allegedly positioning members of his Lagos4Lagos Movement above members of the PDP. It was also said that Jandor refused to assist the party financially when it had problems with the payment of the rent of its secretariat building, which was situated at PWD along Agege Motorways. Eventually, the party had to vacate the building but Jandor was said to have preferred organising the event at his own campaign office situated along Adeniyi Jones Ikeja.
 
It was also alleged that Jandor, after getting the ticket, began to perceive himself as the automatic leader of Lagos PDP and was playing some smart games. For instance, when the state chapter prepared the list of national delegates for the party’s national convention, some members grumbled that the party’s gubernatorial candidate had made some smart moves. Beyond that, the women folk in the party also alleged that they were being rendered inferior to the women folks that came with Jandor in Lagos4Lagos Movement.
 
There was also the allegation of pride, and high-handedness, among others, which some of the leaders in Lagos PDP could no longer tolerate and many of them began to stand aloof.

HOWEVER, one of the actions that triggered reactions was Jandor’s choice of running mate. There was an initial agreement that he would pick Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, as his running mate. Recall that Rhodes-Vivour had been in the party and also contested the Lagos West senatorial ticket election, which he narrowly lost to APC.
    
Rhodes-Vivour is said to be the preferred candidate of Chief George as running mate. The former Deputy National Chairman later confirmed that there was discussion that the party’s flag bearer would choose Rhodes-Vivour, whom he said the party had to convince to drop his governorship ambition for Jandor. But to Chief George’s and several other party members’ astonishment, Jandor announced the name of the popular actress, Funke Akindele from Ikorodu in Lagos East, as his running mate.
 


The implications of not picking Rhodes-Vivour as allegedly agreed is one of the reasons Rhodes-Vivour defected to the Labour Party (LP), where he is now the governorship candidate. Obviously, this will eat deep into the votes of PDP in Lagos. Rhodes-Vivour is considered to be very strong in the Lagos West axis and especially Ikeja, compared with Akindele, who is just making her way into politics.
 
But those who defended Adediran claimed that the choice of Akindele was to create a sense of equity among the three senatorial districts. For instance, Jandor and Rhodes-Vivour are from Lagos West just like the party’s state chairman, Philip Aivoji.
   
But the choice of Akindele was challenged on the ground that there are other strong PDP women leaders from Lagos East like Princess Oyefusi who has contested the Lagos East senatorial elections many times.
 
Beyond that, Akindele’s PDP membership is not also clear to many of the party members. Many members of the party perceive Akindele more of an APC person than a PDP. They are unhappy that two strangers were flying the party’s ticket for the 2023 governorship election.
 
It was also alleged that Jandor traded off the party’s Lagos East senatorial ticket for the incumbent Senator Tokunbo Abiru of APC by foisting a weaker candidate of PDP to contest in the zone against Abiru. Another seeming fear expressed by PDP members is that if Jandor eventually wins the governorship race next year, original PDP members will be subjugated or he (Jandor) may defect back to APC.
 
The cumulation of these developments must have led some of the governors, who initially endorsed Jandor to a rethink, as demonstrated by Wike.
 
Before Wike’s endorsement of Sanwo-Olu, The Guardian reliably gathered that Makinde and other PDP governors have stylishly distanced themselves from Lagos politics and especially Jandor for some obvious reasons and none of them were willing to support financially.
 
A foremost leader in the party confided in The Guardian that nobody would raise money for the gubernatorial candidate to prosecute the election

The source further said, “Go and find out, Makinde doesn’t talk to Jandor anymore.”
 
It was also gathered that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State is one of the first persons to express doubt about the bogus political popularity and claims of the Lagos PDP gubernatorial candidate during the January 21, 2022 rally held to endorse him at the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos.
 
The Enugu State governor was said to have asked in disbelief, “Where is the crowd this man boasted that he would bring here?”
 
Inside sources also said the PDP presidential candidate is no longer favourably disposed to issues surrounding the Lagos PDP. It was also discovered that some members of the NWC of PDP are still baffled as to how Lagos PDP degenerated to what it is at present, especially the kind of candidates the party is projecting for the 2023 elections.

BUT a party chieftain in Lagos said whatever Wike might have done by endorsing Sanwo-Olu was not a new thing. According to the chieftain, “There are two ways to view Wike’s endorsement of Sanwo-Olu. First, the Rivers State governor might have done it deliberately to spite Atiku, whom he is currently fighting. Secondly, he could as well have done it as an indication of the insinuation that he may eventually defect to APC, otherwise Wike cannot import voters from his state to Lagos to vote for Sanwo-Olu. Therefore his endorsement is meaningless.”
 
When also contacted to react on Wike’s support for Sanwo-Olu instead of Jandor, Chief George declined to comment. Aivoji said there are more serious things to report than for the media to dissipate its energy on what Wike said. The former state chairman, Shelle simply smiled and promised to call back when called.   
 
But Jandor has continued to justify his choice of Akindele just as he continues to express confidence that he has what it takes to defeat APC and rescue Lagos.

 
Jandor said he was not surprised by the endorsement of Governor Sanwo-Olu by Wike. “What I’m going to say is first, to apologise to Nigerians on behalf of my party in Lagos, because I saw the statement issued by my party and felt we shouldn’t have behaved like him, but unfortunately we did.”
 
He wondered how Wike, who didn’t support him while he was seeking the ticket, thinks he got the magic wand to make decisions for the generality of Lagosians.
 
Adediran stated that he has not done anything wrong to deserve the Wike treatment of the PDP in Lagos.
  
SPOKESMAN of Lagos APC, Seye Oladejo said Wike didn’t say anything out of character but he confirmed the reality. “PDP is not really in this election other than the road fanfare and the drama side of it.”

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