Factors That Will Determine Winner Of PDP Lagos Guber Flagbearer Today

The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has told all aggrieved governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress that its doors are open to them if they are truly dissatisfied with how the APC conducted its primaries last week. Ironically, however, all is not well in the buildup to the PDP governorship primary in the state. The governorship ambitions of a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and that of another top contender for the ticket, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, appear to be too big for the ‘umbrella’ to shelter.
Other aspirants who will take part in the contest are Nigeria’s immediate past High Commissioner to Jamaica, Ambassador Tokunbo Kamson; Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, Mr. Adebayo Doherty and Mrs. Modupe Chukwuneke, the only female in the contest.
Obanikoro was instrumental to the victory of Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who emerged winner of the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State. Prior to the election, Obanikoro, who was still a minister, not only campaigned rigorously for Fayose but also defended the deployment of soldiers for the election. The deployment of soldiers, no doubt, gave Fayose the upper hand in the election. It was while Obanikoro was in Ekiti that leaders of the APC were barred by soldiers from entering the state to campaign for former Governor Kayode Fayemi, who later lost the election.
During the Osun State election, Obanikoro was also on the ground, where he campaigned for the PDP candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who lost to Governor Rauf Aregbesola on August 9.
While Obanikoro was on duty for the PDP, Agbaje was in Lagos where he embarked on a tour of all the 20 local government councils in the state to consult with PDP leaders. Agbaje, who has the backing of the PDP leader in the state, Chief Olabode George; as well as a former Minister of Works, Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe, shot into an early popularity lead in the buildup as he was able to acquaint himself with the party’s leaders in the state and used the party structure put in place by George to gain the advantage.
The APC had zoned the party’s ticket to Lagos-East senatorial district comprising Ikorodu, Epe, Kosofe, Somolu and adjoining communities. Also, the APC had also hinted that it was searching for a Christian to be the next governor and to this end, a former Accountant General of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, who hails from Epe, was favoured by the leadership of the party.
The decision of the APC became a reference point for the PDP and Agbaje was favoured.
Agbaje, who also hails from Lagos-East, is a prince from Ikorodu, a densely populated division of Lagos State which has never produced a governor in the state before. Like Ambode, Agbaje is also a Christian.
Apart from being favoured by the PDP leadership, several political parties in the state, including the state leadership of the Labour Party, Citizen Peoples Party and People for Democratic Change, all endorsed Agbaje as their consensus candidate. As the PDP leadership in the state believed that it would finally be able to wrest power from the APC through the candidature of Agbaje, the unexpected occurred in October when Obanikoro formally resigned his appointment and declared his intention to contest the governorship election.
The political atmosphere became charged upon Obanikoro’s entry but this has also come with its attendant issues as the party became factionalised. George, who is the state leader of the party, reportedly tried to push out Obanikoro from the race but many South-West PDP leaders quickly rallied round Obanikoro who had helped the party to gain some ground in the South-West.
Statements were issued by groups loyal to both Agbaje’s camp and Obanikoro’s camp attacking one another. Soon after, it degenerated into a legal issue as a group suspected to be loyal to Agbaje’s camp asked a court to disqualify Obanikoro, accusing him of having a dual citizenship. However, the case was immediately struck out.
Soon after, a group suspected to be loyal to Obanikoro’s camp, took Agbaje to a Lagos High court on the grounds that he was a newcomer in the party.
The plaintiff, one Nurudeen Balogun, filed a suit at the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court, seeking to prevent the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission from accepting Agbaje as an aspirant or a candidate of the party. But Agbaje was quick to respond that he had been a member of the party since 2011.
As campaigns continued, Agbaje and Obanikoro continued to fire indirect shots at each other.
Obanikoro, while declaring his intention to contest at the PDP secretariat in November, said party delegates should not vote for any person that had never held a political office before. Obanikoro, who has been a minister, an ambassador, a senator, a commissioner and a local government chairman, is one of the most experienced politicians in Lagos PDP. Incidentally, Agbaje has never held a political office before.
Obanikoro further stated that it would be unjust for Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, to be run by ‘an apprentice governor’. However, Agbaje later fired back during a meeting with delegates in which he said they should not vote for anyone who was too domineering and would want to hijack the party.
Agbaje told the delegates that selecting a dictator as the candidate of the party would be like handing the governorship to the APC.
He said, “As delegates, you own the party. If you elect someone unsuitable and overbearing, he will simply take the party from you and exclude you from making input into the government. He will become another dictator, like the one in Lagos, who monopolises the appointment of councillors, local government chairmen, senators, commissioners and even market women leaders.”
The PDP Organising Secretary, South-West, Mr. Femi Carrena, accused some elders in the party of “smuggling” Agbaje into the party to contest in the party’s primary.
He said, “These are elders who, rather than preach peace among party loyalists and spread unity, love and justice to all members and stakeholders, now chose to divide the party by inciting the electorate against an aspirant who equally has the moral and constitutional right to contest the governorship seat of Lagos.
“The fact on the ground is that a couple of leaders in the state recently smuggled Mr. Jimi Agbaje into the Lagos PDP for the sole purpose of contesting the Lagos State governorship election. It was also arranged that Agbaje will pick the party’s ticket on a consensus arrangement. Unfortunately, this did not fly in Abuja, hence the forthcoming primaries.”
According to him, if the leaders of Lagos PDP truly want to win an election that had been lost four consecutive times, the tactics should be changed, which he said includes style and leadership.
He said, “It is uncharitable and un-African for elders in the party to undemocratically foist a new and unpopular aspirant in the party on the members, and then blackmail a particular candidate. I strongly believe these elders are afraid of their shadows, at the detriment of other qualified members.
“If you claimed your candidate is the most favoured by party members and Lagosians, the only sincere thing you can do, especially as elders, is to create an enabling environment and a level playing field to set the stage for a free and fair primary and let the best candidate win. Senator Obanikoro is the candidate to beat.”
However, Ogunlewe, while speaking with our correspondent during an interview, said Obanikoro was not a saleable candidate. He said Obanikoro was too controversial and it would be in the best interest of the party if Obanikoro was not given the ticket.
He recalled that Obanikoro had been accused of setting the Lagos City Hall ablaze and also accused of complicity in administering funds meant for Muslim pilgrims when he was Commissioner for Home Affairs during the administration of former Governor Bola Tinubu.
He said, “In 2015, people will not vote for party but the candidate, that is our fear in the PDP. Perception is very important in politics. We must do what is expedient, what people will be happy about. The party will play a very little role in who will win the election.
“It is the candidate that will be able to convince the people and they must be able to appreciate the person. The time is too short and the person will not have time to be answering questions about allegations. Questions like what happened in City Hall, what happened to the pilgrimage funds, what is your date of birth? Is it 1960 or 1954? Where is your school certificate? What is your proper name, is it Obanikoro or Onikoro? All those things we don’t have time to be answering them anymore and these are the questions we will be answering like we did in 2007 and it took so much of our energy because Obanikoro is from the stable of the Alliance of Democracy.
“And the same chairman of the APC, Henry Ajomale, who wrote a letter against Obanikoro in 2007 outlining so many allegations against Obanikoro, is still the chairman of the APC. So, he still has all the information, correct or otherwise, which has not been answered. Somebody attended a university in America but with which name? Nobody is saying the allegations are true but they are questions that are unanswered and a political party should not spend too much of its time answering questions that are already in possession of the opposition.”
While addressing journalists at his home on Saturday, Obanikoro said events had shown that he was contesting against George and Ogunlewe and not Agbaje.
He said it was unfortunate that the party leaders would try to impose a candidate on the party but said he was confident that he would win. He had earlier told journalists that he would have to fight two godfathers in order to become governor of Lagos. One in the PDP (George) and one in the APC (Tinubu).
Although it seems too close to call, George might have his way today as the party structure in Lagos is loyal to him while Obanikoro’s allies, mostly outside of Lagos, are not state delegates and thus would not be allowed to vote.
Also, at Obanikoro’s formal declaration last week, top executive members of the party were conspicuously absent. Ironically, the chairman of the South-West PDP, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, openly declared support for Obanikoro.
However, Obanikoro could also win. In what could be described as a pre-governorship primary victory, Obanikoro’s candidate in the Lagos-Central senatorial election, Mr. Ade Dosunmu, beat George’s candidate, Mr. Ade Dosunmu, to clinch the ticket of the party.
Obanikoro and George are from the same senatorial district – Lagos-Central. If Obanikoro could convince 130 out of 230 delegates to vote against George’s candidate, it could imply that Obanikoro would be able to convince the 1, 000 delegates that will be voting today to once again vote against George’s candidate, Agbaje, bearing in mind that in Lagos-East and Lagos-West senatorial districts, Obanikoro’s men defeated George’s candidates at the primaries on Sunday.
As the PDP continues to reposition itself in a bid to break the 16-year jinx of failure at the polls in Lagos, the conduct and outcome of today’s primary would produce an umbrella that would vie against the broom next year February.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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