The national convention of the PDP, where new executives of the party will emerge is about 2 months away and expetedly, politicking has reached a peak among key members of the party across the country. The post of the national chairman of the party having been zoned to the southwest has however made the zone the centre of attraction, just as the the bigwigs in the zone have started an internal battle over who clinches the big post eventually. The biggest battle right now, City People has learnt, is between 2 former governors, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Before now, names of Chief Bode George, Jimi Agbaje and a few southwest PDP bigwigs have been mentioned, but the real battle we hear, has been narrowed to the two former governors. The camps of OGD and Ladoja have already sent their men to the trenches.
Gists about Otunba Daniel’s ambition has been flying around soon as the Supreme Court ruled on the leadership crisis that rocked the party recently. Senator Ladoja’s name came up in the race immediately after he announced his return to the PDP few weeks ago after the Markafi-led national caretaker committee visited him to bring him back into their fold.
OGD and Ladoja are giants within the party and they have their strong structures to pursue their ambitions. Meanwhile, at the moment, the ambition of these two political heavyweights has torn members of the party apart, especially in the southwest. While the two contenders will be battling for votes from delegates from across the country, the fight over who gets the nod of the southwest delegates is more fierce.
While OGD has started his campaign in earnest, Ladoja has been making his moves underground. Right now, the contenders are doing everything within their reach to strenghten their influence among the executives of the party in various states.
For instance, in 4 states in the southwest; Ogun (where OGD comes from), Oyo (Ladoja’s state), Osun and Lagos states, where the national leadership is currently appointing caretaker committees, the contenders for the national chaimanship position are working hard to ensure that their loyalists emerge as members so as to bolster their chances during the convention. This is also to be followed by them ensuring that their men clear out the executive positions in the party, when fresh ward, LG and state congresses are conducted in these affected states.
In Oyo state, Ladoja is well in charge, while the decision of the national leadership of the party to refer Senator Buruji Kashamu to the disciplinary committee has signaled that the structure of the PDP in ogun state is back under OGD’s control. Based on current calculations, sources say OGD has also been able to establish himself well among those who will decide the directions that the delegates from Osun and Lagos states at the national convention will go.
We also heard that there is a financial undertone to the battle, as the candidate with the bigger financial muscle is expected to have an edge. A reliable source however told City People that some influential elders of the party are making moves to ensure that the Southwest produces a consensus candidate for the Chairmansip position. “This, they believe will save the party from fresh disintegration, which can cause a major setback to the relative peace the party currently enjoys”, our source said. According to our source, the consensus candidacy idea may work in favour of OGD and because of this, the Ladoja camp is not buying the idea.
Both camps are now fighting the battle from different ends. Just 2 days ago, a group called South West PDP Integrity Group came public to kick against OGD’s ambition to become national chairman. The chairman of the group, Dr. Babafemi Latunde Odunaike, said at a press conference in Lagos that a person of integrity and principle must be made the party’s chairman. He said OGD was one of the PDP members who never believed the party could win the court case. He also claimed that OGD, who has been allegedly jumping ship from Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Labour Party (LP), did not possess the credentials.
Some people in OGD’s camp however believe that actions such as that of the group are part of the negative schemings of those who feel threatened by Otunba Daniel’s progress in achieving his ambition to become the next national chairman of the PDP.