Having scaled through the protracted crisis that almost led to its extinction in the leadership tussle between Senators Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi , the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may likely find itself in another troubled water over the same National Chairmanship position.
The party had, at its last national convention in Abuja, zoned the office of the National Chairman to the South while it also zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the North.
Shortly after the zoning, political leaders from the South met and ceded the office to the South-West.
It was gathered that the political leaders had reasoned that it was only the South-West that had yet to produce the party’s national chairman out of the three zones in the South.
However, the Southwest to which the slot has been technically zoned does not seem to understand how to possess what has been given to it. The tussle for the position has pitched members from the zone against one another.
Altercations over age, experience and capacity have led to a lot of cracks and consequently factions within the party in the zone. The contest, Bounce News gathered has now polarised the party into different camps.
At the last count seven aspirants have indicated interest in the plum job. The aspirants are a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; a former Minister of Youths, Prof, Taoheed Adedoja; a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Olabode George; a former National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
From their body language, former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode and the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State during the 2015 elections, Jimi Agbaje may have been enlisted amongst those who aspire to the topmost PDP position.
Out of the lot, only four of them have so far set up clear campaign structures with foot soldiers deployed across the country.
Since the Supreme Court verdict of July 12 restored peace to the party, George has indicated interest to vie for the position at the coming national convention, which is slated for December 9 in Abuja.
Some of the party faithful who spoke on George’s aspiration believed that the likes of George should, for the sake of unity, progress and posterity, leave the stage for fresh blood to handle the party while they continue to play the advisory role in the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT).
They said George should leave the stage for younger and more vibrant men to stir the ship of the party to the promise land.
They believed what the party needed most at this critical period is a leader who is untainted and whose past will not come back to hunt him and by extension the party.
It is on record that George was convicted of corruption by a Lagos High Court. However, his conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court.
For Daniel, his current ordeal with Senator Buruji Kasahamu, who represents Ogun East on the platform of the PDP, may pose serious challenge to his ambition.
The former governor’s allegation and counter allegations of threat to his life by the senator is likely to affect his chances to emerge as the zone candidate for the position.
Daniel has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris over an alleged “assassination attempt” on his life . He blamed Kashamu for the incident.
But Kashamu has since denied the allegation, saying, Daniel’s allegation was a “hoax” and also described him as the accuser, the investigator, prosecutor and judge in his case against him.
For Adeniran, the former education minister has also been categorized among old folks who were expected to have taken the back seat and allow the younger generation to thrive. Aside this, he is said to have all other credentials and the required experience to lead the PDP ahead of the 2019 election.
Also within the Southwest zone, there have been a disagreement over which of the six states should produce the candidate. Some in an argument had said that George, who had served as Deputy National Chairman of the party in the past is from Lagos and by virtue of that, should allow other states from the zone to produce the chairman.
However, it is being insinuated that the South-South is also making move to contest for the position with the hope of not only taking advantage of the fact that it is presently the zone with the largest supporters of the party in the country, but also to reap maximally from internal disputes that could follow the large number of aspirants in the Southwest.
Already, it was gathered that the South-South zone of the party is making moves to present a consensus candidate for the position at the party’s national convention
Three aspirants from the zone are said to be under consideration for the position.
The aspirants are a former acting National Chairman for the party, Uche Secondus; a former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke; and a media mogul, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.
Out of the three aspirants, only Dokpesi has openly shown interest in the race.
A source close to the party said the aspirants from the South-South would step down for the one that was acceptable to the party and its members from the other zones.
If this happens, aspirants from the South-West, who have all vowed not to step down for each other, would split their votes at the convention.
It was gathered that some governors of the party from the South-south have allegedly commenced moves to impose Secondus as the party’s next national chairman.
Secondus was deputy national chairman during the reign of Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, and became acting national chairman when his then embattle principal threw in the towel on May 20, 2015.
Secondus choice is said to have divided the party’s National Caretaker Committee, who are said to be handling the situation carefully to avoid crisis.