7/18/2016

Lagos PDP On The Edge


The cloud over the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in Lagos State continues to get darker as two factions laying claim to the leadership of the party in the state engaged each other in a free- for- all last week. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
Recent happenings within the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) have shown that the party has similar colour of crises in both the national and state level.

Interestingly, the interests of the gladiators at the national level dovetailed to the state chapters where crisis persists . Having taken strides towards breaking the governorship election jinx in Lagos State at the 2015 general elections but lost out, the PDP is back to the trenches and if the intensity of the rancour is anything to go by , the party may be heading to its breaking point in the state.
Although the party put up its best performances in the state since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999 by winning a laudable five Federal House of Representatives seats and eight State Assembly ’ s seats , the feat, notwithstanding couldn’ t revoke the infighting , which has been the bane of the party before and after successive election years .
Regarded as the spine of the party in the state, the former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP , Chief Olabode George, has had it sweet and bitter in the running of the affairs of the party in state over the years . Over time , the crisis in the state has always been pitching him ( George ) against other factions in the state chapter .

At a time, his running battle with a former Minister of Works , Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe turned the party upside down before the duo reconciled . Also , the former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, had differences with George that set the party and its members apart.
After the 2015 elections and in anticipation of the new leadership at the party’ s congress , the ugly crisis plaguing the party in the state, expectedly, aligned with the leadership tussle at the national level. While a faction queued behind former Governor of Borno State , Senator Ali Modu Sheriff , the other, led by George, were in the camp of former Kaduna State governor , Senator Ahmed Makarfi .
With Obanikoro already out of the picture in the state, it was gathered that the senator representing Ogun East, Senator Buruji Kashamu , who is an ally of Sheriff , had settled for the Lagos West senatorial candidate of the PDP in the last election , Mr . Segun Adewale ( Aeroland ) as the next chairman of party and the choice was aimed at dwindling the influence of George in the state.

On the other hand , the George’ s camp , positioned a former House of Representatives member, Hon. Moshood Salvador , to become the party’ s chairman . With allegations and counterallegations flying between both factions prior to the May 13 state congress , several nocturnal meetings were held to reach a consensus on the power sharing formular , but at the end of the day , the moves failed .

A source within the party told New Telegraph that “ Shekarau was sent to Lagos to mediate between the Bode George and Kola Balogun groups , and they were directed to nominate four representatives each as members of the committee . A 60 to 40 per cent sharing formula was made but at the end of the day , the arrangement broke down because the group that wanted to take 60 percent also wants to produce the chairman . ”

However , the party organised a state congress and a former member of the House of Representatives , Mr . Moshood Salvador , was elected as chairman . Salvador , alongside other aspirants for various offices were unanimously elected at the state congress of the party held in GRA , Ikeja , Lagos .
Those elected alongside Salvador at the congress include Prince Muiz Shodipe ( Secretary ) , Chief Ola Apena ( Deputy chairman ) , Mr Taofik Gani ( publicity secretary ) , Taiwo Kuye ( Organising secretary ) , and Princess Olateru Olagbebi ( Woman leader ) . Not long after, the Adewale faction addressed a press conference in his office in the company of his publicity secretary , Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse ; vice chairman , Kamal Olorunoje and Secretary , Hon. Babajide Ladeinde , stating that he is the authentic chairman of the party and declaring that the Salvador -led exco , which currently occupies the PDP Secretariat , was “ a fictitious creation of Chief Olabode George and it has no recognition from any organ of the National PDP . ”

Adewale , who insisted that the party’ s congress held at Gbagada area of the state, returned him as chairman , adding : “ I would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to the media to avoid granting in-terviews to Mr . Moshood Salvador , Mr . Gani Taofik, or any member of their illegal Exco . ” “ By posing as officers of the party, these people are creating confusion among PDP members , causing disaffection for PDP in the community , and undermining our efforts to perform our role as a credible opposition party, ” the factional chairman said .

Speaking further, Adewale , who buttressed his claim to the leadership of the party with a letter written by former chairman of PDP, Sheriff , assured that the party under him was poised to rig itself of those he described as “ old PDP cabal who led the party astray for 16years . ”
However , in a swift response to Adewale ’ s claim , Salvador, said those who were not part of the state congress that produced his leadership at the PDP secretariat could not lay claim to leadership at all . While recalling that the congress that was held at the party secretariat last May , produced the executive he is leading, was attended by PDP delegates from across the state, Salvador described the group headed by Adewale as a ploy by former Governor Sheriff to stay in power as PDP national chairman .

“ I am not here to join issues with anybody. My own is that this is the secretariat of the PDP and that is where you come to meet me and tells you what you need to see and to know . The State congress of PDP was held here at this secretariat. ” The graveyard peace in the party was however punctured last week Wednesday when the two factions went for each other’ s jugular in a physical encounter at the party’ s secretariat.

It was gathered that both the Adewale and Salvador factions picked the same date and almost the same time for their general assembly meetings. While both camps supporters converged on the secretariat, all hell was let loose and dangerous freely used after a disagreement on who is the rightful owner of the secretariat.

According to an eyewitness, “ Both factions called their meetings on the same day at the same secretariat. They both attacked each other and no fewer than three members of the party are currently in the hospital . This is not helping our party at all , we are one and peace must be restored. ”

At the end of the melee which lasted for over two hours , security agents were drafted in and the party secretariat was sealed . Addressing newsmen on the issue , Adewale exonerated his faction from the fracas , stating that the general assembly called by him was hijacked by the loyalists of George .

“ Our members who met the gates of the state secretariat locked had to insist that it should be opened . The Civil Defence Corps officers succumbed to the pressure from the already angered members but unknowingly to them , other members of the party had positioned themselves with guns and dangerous weapons within the premises of the secretariat to assault the unsuspecting and unarmed members .

“ The attack left several of our leaders and members of the party seriously injured and most still receiving treatments . Realising the imminent danger, the meeting was called off immediately and all member were asked to immediately leave the party secretariat. ”

However , Salvador, denied that his faction was the one that unleashed mayhem on the Adewale ’ s faction , stating that his faction is law abiding . He feigned ignorance of the number of casualties that arose from the fracas . Also speaking from the George ’ s camp , the state vice chairman of the party, Chief Ola Apena , stated that Adewale’ s claim to chairmanship has no basis , adding that PDP is one family in the state.

He noted further that, “ I did not witness the scuffle, but I was told . We were to have a general assembly , it was a successful one . I was even standing in for the state chairman of the party. “ We have only one party recognised by law and that party is under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the caretaker chairman . As a founding member of this party, I belong to the establishment of my party lineage .

I think we should ask Segun Adewale , which of the PDP he belongs to because the only authentic PDP is under my party. There is a court pronouncement that confirms it, I don ’ t know which party he is. ” As the division within the party persists , the pertinent questions to ask are : When will the gladiators within the party come together and form a formidable opposition in the state? Or is there an external hand manipulating the course of event in the party? What is the position of the elected representatives of the party? Which of the factions do they belong or are they sitting on the fence? Is there a reconciliation move in the pipeline ? With the anticipated reconciliation at the national level of the party expected to trickle down to the state chapters , including Lagos , it is expected to see what the peace deal and harmonization would look like in the days to come .
Until then , the vertical split within the party still persist .