PDP chieftains in thug of war over national chairmanship position

PDP chieftains in thug of war over national chairmanship position

By Yemi Esho, Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party is gradually roaring back to life after the Supreme Court judgment of July 12, 2017 led by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour declared Senator Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi as the authentic chairman of the party. The party was in comatose because of power struggle between Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Makarfi.

Findings reveals that the PDP has zoned the presidency to the North to counter the APC in what has been termed ‘the battle to finish’ by political analysts.

AljazirahNigeria investigation evince that Chief Olabode George, former ministers like Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, amongst others have all signified their intention to vie for the plum job.

There has been thug of war among the chairmanship aspirants as none is ready to step down for the other, and expectedly massive mobilization in that respect has commenced.

The comment by Chief Ebenezer Babatope, that George, a former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP will not step down for anybody, has clearly shown how the battle will be lost and won for the most powerful position in the PDP.

According to Babatope, “How can anyone say George should step down for a more youthful candidate? No, that is wrong, George will never step down for anybody. What the party need is someone with maturity, experience, and passion to reposition the party, and return it to winning ways.

“I can tell you that Chief Bode George is an embodiment of all that. He is experienced, tested and trusted. He is a stickler to the philosophies of the party and he will deliver. You see, the elders can’t be governors but they give directions to the youths based on their experience. The issue of youthfulness does not come in here; George is the best to lead the party,’’ he said.

 

Chief Bode George

The former military governor of old Ondo State has come a long way in Nigeria politics. He has dined and wined with Presidents and who is who in the country and his influence and charismatic nature appeals to his followers. Between 2007 and 2011, he was the most powerful PDP chieftain in the Southwest as he has the listening ears of the governors.

He was also close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and became the PDP national vice-chairman in the southwest zone. He was a force to reckon with during President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan governments and commanded a lot of respect. He was at different times the PDP Deputy National Chairman, South, and National Deputy Chairman of the PDP.

Despite holding these very prominent posts, George has not been able to make headway in Lagos where he has been living under the shadows of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. Tinubu has been George’s greatest albatross in Lagos. It remains to be seen if party delegates will find him worthy to lead them to 2019 especially those from Lagos. His biggest minus could be his conviction for embezzling a whopping sum of N100billion while he held sway as chairman of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and his incarceration. Although he was eventually cleared of the allegation by a court of law, the allegation will remain with him for life. The question is; will the PDP be comfortable having George as its national chairman?

See Also: REVEALED: APC candidate for Anambra election set to pick IPOB spiritual leader as deputy

Professor Taoheed Adedoja

The former minister of sports and special duties has not hidden his ambition to lead the PDP. He is well loved in Oyo State where he has contested the governorship election twice. A former Provost of Federal College of Education, Oyo, Oyo State, he left some indelible marks in the school and his students still hold him in high esteem. He was reported to have said in an interview last year that the PDP lost the 2015 general elections because it did not respect zoning arrangements.

“One of the reasons why the PDP lost the elections was because it did not fulfill the calculation that it chose in terms of zoning arrangements. The PDP has learnt its lessons because it wants to get back to government in 2019. Political calculations, and reality on ground dictates that the presidency, naturally, should go to the north. Therefore, if the presidency should go to the north, it is natural that the position of national chairman should go to the south because there are two major appointments in a political structure; the highest elective position of president and that of the party chairman. It is natural that it should be the turn of the south-west. South-west is adequately prepared for the coveted seat of national chairman of the PDP. The zone has never produced a candidate for the national chairman of the party,” Adedoja had said.

Chief Femi Fani-Kayode

Femi Fani-Kayode comes from a prominent Nigerian family. His grandfather, Victor Adedapo Kayode, studied law at Cambridge University and became a lawyer and a judge. His father Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode, who was also at Cambridge was a prominent lawyer and political figure in Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s. He was leader of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons Opposition in the Western House of Assembly from 1960 to 1963 and successfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1958 in the Nigerian Parliament.

With this rich background, you will expect that the Osun-state born politician will have a roller coaster ride to become the national chairman of the PDP. He still must slug out with his co-contestants and test his popularity among the delegates. The lawyer turn politician played a very active role in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought Abacha regime to standstill. In 1990 at age 30, he became the Chief Press Secretary to Chief Tom Ikimi, the first national chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and a year after served as special assistant to the late Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi.

Read Also: 3 years of impressive, splendid performance of CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele

He has stood up to challenge the policy of the ruling APC. He has thread where angels shiver and his is a loud voice from the opposition. As a former minister of the Federal Republic, first as Minister of Culture and Tourism and later Minister of Aviation, he still commands great respect among some PDP faithful whom are ready to lay down their lives for his ambition.

His Achilles heel may however be the allegation of money laundering against him. Although he has been discharged and acquitted by the court, it may hunt him for a long time to come as the leadership of the PDP may not be comfortable with him as their national chairman en route 2019. In addition, most Northerners see him as enemy of the region with his constant criticisms about anything north.

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