PDP chairmanship: Between Sheriff and other contenders

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In this piece, OLUSOLA FABIYI writes on the
members of the Peoples Democratic Party seeking
the party’s leadership positions at the August 17
national convention and the Senator Ali Modu
Sheriff’s factor

The leadership crisis rocking the Peoples
Democratic Party appears to be getting messier.
Justice Okon Abang’s ruling, which described the
Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of
the party as illegal, may serve as a potential threat
to aspirants for the party’s chairmanship position,
unless Makarfi faction appeals the judgment.
The Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee had fixed its
national convention for next month to elect the
party’s new executive members. But Senator Ali
Modu Sheriff, who still sees himself as the PDP
national chairman, said that by the virtue of the
party’s constitution, he must remain in office till
2018.
He therefore urged the court to declare moves
aimed at removing, replacing or conducting fresh
elections into the PDP national offices as illegal,
unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void, a prayer
Justice Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja
granted.

In spite of the judgment, some members of the
PDP see the next national convention of the party
as an opportunity to realise their ambition. They
have therefore thrown their hats into the ring to
lead the opposition.
Raymond Dokpesi
He has never hidden his desire to play an active
role in the PDP. In the last days of Goodluck
Jonathan presidency, Dokpesi had been touted as
the next Chief of Staff to the ex-President. But that
did not materialise.
He was said to have played a huge role in the
sacking of the factional National Chairman of the
PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, by joining hands
with the former ministers, members of the BoT of
the party and some former legislators in organising
a parallel national convention in Abuja on May 21
when the governors and some other members of
the party were in Port Harcourt for another national
convention.
To achieve his ambition, Dokpesi has commenced
his nationwide campaign by meeting delegates,
leaders of the party and in some cases, traditional
rulers.
Dokpesi told his party members that he was vying
for the coveted seat to unite the party.
“I want to unite the party. I want to rebrand the
PDP, I want us to return to the principles of our
founding fathers,” he had said.
Prof. Tunde Adeniran
Adeniran was a former Minister of Education. He
was a front runner for the post of the national
secretary of the PDP during one of the party’s
national convention held in Abuja. However, the
governors moved against him and rallied round
their former colleague, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola,
who was a former governor of Osun State.
His demeanour at the Eagles Square, where the
convention held indicated that he was not happy
with the decision of the party, which forced all
aspirants to step down for the Okuku-born Prince.
But as a loyal party man, Adeniran, like many
others, could only grumble. He stomached his
anger.
Adeniran isn’t a money bag, but he is said to have
integrity and the support of majority of the
members of the BoT of the party. Apart from that,
he is also said to be enjoying the support of a
money bag from the South-West.
However, it is not clear if the former minister, who
is from Ekiti State, has the support of his state
governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose. This is because the
governor was said to have looked the other way
when Adeniran indicated interest during the last
national convention where he (Fayose) became the
number one supporter of the now rejected Ali
Modu Sheriff.
With or without Fayose’s support, Adeniran has
promised to lead the party with integrity. He also
urged the PDP members from the South-West to
unite ahead of the convention.
Gbenga Daniel
His political sojourn had taken him to two political
parties since his foray into the politics. Daniel is a
former Ogun State governor on the platform of the
PDP. But when he found heat in the party too hot
to contain him and his supporters, Daniel led them
to the Peoples Party of Nigeria in 2011 where he
fielded his preferred candidate, Gboyega Isiaka, as
the governorship candidate of his new party. He
was angry that as the governor of the state, he
was not allowed to produce the PDP’s
governorship candidate.
He and his supporters were blamed for the defeat
the PDP suffered in the state because of their
alleged betrayal. Ironically, Daniel is back on the
political turf and is said to be warming up to lead
the PDP he once hated with passion. The
factionalisation of the party in the state maybe his
bane. It is not sure that he has the command of
any of the factions. This may be his albatross
Olabode George
A former military administrator of the old Ondo
State and a former Deputy National Chairman of
the party, Chief Olabode George, is a political
warlord. When it was almost a political
miscalculation to belong to the PDP in the South-
West, George moved around with his party’s
umbrella with relish. He was a rally-point to
members of the party in his zone.
He was one of those who showed interest in the
chairmanship race early. He was said to have
sought the support of the two governors from the
South-West, Fayose and the Governor of Ondo
State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, to enable him to
realise his ambition. Despite his experience in
management of political party, the retired naval
officer is being accused of belonging to a faction of
the party in his home state, Lagos.
Taoheed Adedoja
The former provost of a college of education and
former Minister of Youths and Sports is one of the
two aspirants from Oyo State eying the conveted
seat of the national chairman of the PDP. But
unlike others, he has yet to openly begin his
campaign for the position. He was a former
commissioner and a former governorship aspirant
on the platform of different political parties in the
state.
Rashidi Ladoja
The name of Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja is also being
mentioned as one of those interested in becoming
the next national chairman of the PDP. The former
governor of Oyo State has contested to return to
office twice after his first tenure on the platform of
the Accord Party, but lost. Some people are saying
he has yet to rejoin the PDP, which he left about
nine years ago.
Uche Secondus
Prince Uche Secondus was part of the last National
Working Committee of the PDP where he served as
the deputy national chairman. He also acted as
acting national chairman when the then National
Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, resigned after
leading the party to a disastrous outing during the
last general election. Popularly known as “Total”
because of his alleged loyalty to the party,
Secondus is said to be enjoying the support of the
five governors from his geo-political zone. His
loyalty to the party is also said to be working for
him.
Jimi Agbaje
A pharmacist by training, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, is a
new entrant into the party. However, his
impressive outing for the party during the last
governorship election in Lagos State came as a
surprise to many, who saw it as acceptability of
his leadership qualities.
It is, however, not clear if Agbaje will muscle
enough courage to come out openly because of the
interest of his political father, Bode George, in the
race.
Austin Okpara
Like Secondus, Austin Okpara, hails from Rivers
State. He was a former Deputy Speaker in the state
House of Assembly. It was gathered that Okpara
may be his governor’s joker in case his colleagues
insist on fresh set of officers to run the party at the
party’s national secretariat. Not much is however
known about his ability to run a big opposition
party like the PDP.
The chairman we want –Stakeholders
Members of the PDP have enumerated the qualities
that the next national chairman of their party must
possess.
For example, a former Minister of National
Planning, Prof. Suleiman Abubakar, said that the
party needs a leader that has integrity, capability,
experience and is universal in thinking. He said,
“We need a chairman that will be able to
command respect of the majority of members of
the party.
“Apart from this, we also need a chairman who is
well respected, who has charisma and has a
universal reach. With those qualities, he will
definitely unite all the factions within the PDP.”
A former member of the House of Representatives,
Mr. Bernard Miko, also shares similar thought, but
added that such a man “must be a person of
cognate political experience, courage and political
will to drive the party along the concept of rule of
law and constitutionality in the implementation of
the party policies programmes and manifesto.”
On how to curb governors’ perceived excesses,
Miko said, “Governors are products of political
parties and not otherwise. The next PDP chairman
must be electable. Governors are government
functionaries; political parties form government and
not otherwise. Are the governors’ fora organs of
the party? What is the percentage of 36 governors
or 12 governors to the total membership of one
political party in Nigeria?.”
The immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House
of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, also said
that the party needs someone who can unite all
factions and be a father figure to all.
He said the ruling All Progressives Congress also
needs a formidable opponent to enable it to find its
bearings and lead well. Ihedioha said, “Without a
formidable opposition, our democracy is in danger.
The APC provided that when we were in
government. We also need to check its excesses
now that the APC is in power.”
The immediate Deputy National Chairman of the
party in the South-South, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh,
posited that such a person must be free from
corruption allegations.
According to him, such a person must also be a
bold leader who can look at the governors eye to
eye and tell them where they are wrong.
But the spokesperson for the National Caretaker
Committee of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said
no member of the committee would vie for any
position at the convention.
He said, “So, there’s going to be a level-playing
field for all. We will also not print a single form for
any of the positions. They must all be contested
by interested and qualified persons.”

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