Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lagos 2015: How far can Jimi Agbaje go in PDP?

Ayodele Samuel in Lagos ex-rays the chances of Jimi Agbaje clinching the Lagos PDP ticket in the next election.
Since his entry into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos political permutations have taken a new dimension. Jimi Agbaje is not new to Lagos politics; he was a staunch member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Action Congress (AC) until 2007.
In 2007, Agbaje was touted to fly the ticket of the AC until the party under the control of the then Governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu decided to do otherwise. Incumbent Babatunde Fashola surprisingly emerged as the party flag bearer for that election.
Agbaje in his unrelenting desire to govern the center of excellence, took his interest to the Democratic People Alliance (DPA) where he contested the election and came second after Musiliu Obanikoro who flew the PDP kite at the 2007 poll.
Since then Agbaje has been the bride of all opposition parties in Lagos state.
Agbaje, finally decided to join the PDP after apparently being promised the party's governorship ticket by the leadership of the party at the national level.
Before finally deciding on the PDP, Agbaje had flirted with the Labour Party (LP) but apparently realizing that the party may not help his aspiration of governing Lagos state, decided on the PDP but not after serious politicking and negotiation with the leadership of the party.
Agbaje, disclosing why he chose to achieve his governorship ambition on the platform of the PDP, in 2015, described PDP as the most viable platform he needed to bring about the desired change by Lagosians.
"I decided to choose the PDP to realize my political ambition based on the common and aggregated opinion among the core of my supporters across the state that the party was the most viable platform interested in causing the change desired by Lagos people."
The decision to bring Agbaje to PDP was hatched by the trio of former National Deputy Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George; former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe; and the Chairman of the state chapter of the Subsidy Re-investment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Chief Bode Akindele. The trio was allegedly disturbed by the growing influence of the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Obanikoro.
With his position as the Minister, Obanikoro has automatically assumed leadership of the party in the state which has not gone down well with George, Ogunlewe and Akindele.
They therefore brought in Agbaje who they believed was the only aspirant that can face Obanikoro when the chips are down.
The trio might not be far from the truth, Agbaje, a pharmacist-turned politician since 2007 has maintained his cozy relationship with larger blocks of Afenifere, the pan Yoruba group, where he rose to prominence as an Afenifere foot soldier, serving the umbrella Yoruba socio-political group as treasurer.
Agbaje did not go into oblivion after the 2007 poll. He remains relevant in Lagos politics despite his decision not to contest against Fashola in 2011.
He was able to build a large support base among youths in the state who perceives him as a role model and mentor. Today he's seen by young people of the state as an actor without blemish and tainted pedigree. Agbaje maintained a good relationship with his supporters across the state.
Bode George and his political gladiators, several sources said; impressed it on President Goodluck Jonathan that only Agbaje can deliver Lagos for the PDP.
At the meeting with President Jonathan, Agbaje insisted that he would only join the PDP if assured of the party governorship ticket without having to go through the process of party primaries.
It was alleged that President Jonathan was not strictly positive on that but was reported to have promised a ministerial ticket even if the governorship ambition failed.
However, Bode George and his group reportedly came back to Lagos and informed the leadership that President Jonathan had approved that Agbaje be given the party's ticket on a platter of gold.
However, the party's leadership in the state smelt a rat and have thus insisted that a level playing ground primary will be organized for all aspirants to test their popularity.
The party chairman in the state, Olatunji Shelle, reportedly told Agbaje when he officially presented himself as a member of the party, that the party will organize a primary to pick its candidate.
Shelle was reported to have even sworn with a Bible on the occasion that the party will not reneged on conducting primary to pick all its candidates for the coming elections.
Also, all the aspirants of the party including Bode George's protégé, Ade Dosunmu, who was the party's candidate in the 2011 governorship election in the state, have vowed not to withdraw for Agbaje, saying he is ready to battle the new decampee.
Dosunmu, a former Director General of NIMASA said "We will all go to the field to test our popularity. Nobody will withdraw for any aspirant. Let us all go to the field.
"One thing I know clearly in this party is that there is no imposition. There is nothing like imposition in PDP. Everybody is welcome into our party. We received the news of Agbaje's defection to our party. He is welcome.
"If the present governor is ready to join the PDP, we will go and give him our membership card. In politics, I believe in the school of thought that the more the merrier. Joining a political party is one thing. Ambition is another thing. He must first join PDP. He must first belong to the party. He must first contribute to the building and development of the platform on which he wants to contest.
"But there is no discrimination in PDP. If you come in today and intend to contest, you are free as long as you meet the requirements in the constitution. So, we have no problem with anybody coming in. We will all go to the field. It is the field that will determine who wins at last.
"What the party basically needs is a credible candidate that will be able to win the governorship election. It is the primaries that will produce a candidate. It is not outside the primaries. It is the primaries that will produce a candidate just like what we all witnessed in Ekiti," he said.
Another aspirant, Adedeji Doherty, told confidants that there is no way he will step down for any aspirant as he has all it takes to win the party's ticket at a level playing primary.
The Obanikoro camp has remained quiet but it has perfected its plan to ensure that the Minister of State for Defence picks the party's ticket for the 2015 governorship election in Lagos state.
Although Agbaje's followers are skeptical about his alliance with the PDP, many of them believed it would amount to moving from frying pan to fire, if he is denied the ticket.
With these mounting oppositions on Agbaje's road to Alausa, Lagosians are waiting to see how far his passion for good governance in Lagos can go.

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