Monday, September 30, 2013

Furore in Lagos PDP over ministerial slot

Furore in Lagos PDP over ministerial slot As Lagos politicians jostle to clinch the ministerial slot vacated by the recently sacked Foreign Affairs Minister, Gbenga Ashiru,  the gulf among the stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has continued to widen and this threatens to tear the party apart ahead of 2015 general elections in the state.  Lagos Correspondent, Ayodele Samuel writes:
These are not best of time for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos state as the party might be derailing on its path of reconciliation following a fresh crisis over who takes over the ministerial position vacated by Ambassador Gbenga The slot, believed to be for the entire South-west, has been a subject disagreement within the party since President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly told the PDP leadership to nominate people for appointment as ministers to replace the nine cabinet members he recently sacked.
In Lagos state, prominent chieftains of the party have at loggerheads over who represents the state in President Jonathan's cabinet. The crisis even more critical last week when a stakeholders' meeting summoned by leader of the party in the state and former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George was shunned by key leaders of the party.
It was learnt that while Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states have forwarded the names of one nominee each for the vacant slot, three names were forwarded from Lagos state.
But the names forwarded from the state were alleged to have been rejected by the national leadership of the party following protests from prominent leaders that Bode George did not consult any of them in arriving at the names sent to the PDP leadership as ministerial nominees.
Bode George had convened a stakeholders' forum with nominating names for the
ministerial slot as the singular agenda. The meeting which was held at George's Laugard Avenue, Ikoyi home, has widened the crisis rocking Party in the region.
Prominent among party leaders who shunned the parley were Dr. Abayomi Finnih, Chief (Mrs.) Modupe Sasore, Chief (Mrs.) Remi Adiukwu Bakare, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Chief Deji Doherty, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro, Chief Rasheed Williams amongst others.
The decision of the leaders to stay away from George was based on their earlier position that since the slot in contention is not for Lagos State alone, the zonal leaders of the party in the southwest should be allowed to make the nomination.
"They shunned the meeting because they have aligned themselves with the two nominations already made by the southwest leadership of the party. They are not in support of George's insistence on nominating who will be minister representing the whole southwest. That is the reason why most of them stayed away. Although some of them may have other reasons. The meeting dispersed without any meaningful resolution as even iCal government party chairmen who attended in their numbers allegedly rejected Bode George's decision on the nomination," a source said.
Party sources said while George is championing the nominations of three of his associates namely Hon. Tunji Shelle, Mrs. Aduke Maina, and Dr. Segun Ogundimu. While other leaders of the party in Lagos State are is support of the nominations made by the zonal leadership of the party, another group is championing the nomination of Obanikoro's son, Ibrahim Babajide.
The southwest leadership of the party has nominated the duo of Chief (Mrs.) Remi Adiukwu-Bakare, a former commissioner and two-time gubernatorial candidate from Lagos state and Engineer Olajide Adeniji, Chairman, Board of Directors, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) from Osun State to the PDP national leadership for consideration.
Adieu-Bakare is believed to be well positioned, since the Presidency was said to be insisting on female ministerial nominees from Lagos state. However if the Presidency interest in a Female minster from the state remains, Adenike Jones and Tanwa Olusi still remains major ministerial hopefuls.
Although party members in the state remains divided on whether or not the directive came from the President and the ability of female ministers to help the PDP win the state in 2015, sources said Bode George might be losing his grip on the party structure in the state.
"Safe for few members of the state executive committee of the party and associates of the former Deputy National Chairman, most of the people expected at the meeting stayed away. They were all duly invited because the national leadership impressed it upon George and his men that all stakeholders must be part of the decision to be taken. But they refused to be at the meeting. This portends a lot of political danger for him" the source added.
Also a political group in the South West, Network For Justice, (NFJ), has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to consider appointing Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro as a Minister in his cabinet.
NFJ Coordinator, Dr. Adebisi Akinbinu said that the youthful vibrancy, resourcefulness and grassroots political clout of the younger Obanikoro stands him out, noting, however, that the realisation of the transformation agenda of the President in the zone can only come to fruition through the involvement of such young blood.
Akinbinu pointed out that the popularity of Obanikoro's son was evident in the fact that he defeated the National Leader of the All Progressive Party (APC) in his local government but was denied his victory through a jungle electoral system, noted further that the President may loose election in the state if he continue to rely on the strength of old war horses in the state who are divided.
"Most of these old-war horse, including his father, Senator Obanikoro, cannot be relied upon to deliver the state in 2015. President Jonathan should strongly consider nominating Babajide as a minister. He is better and adequately qualified. His father, Shelle, Coker, Maina and Dosunmu are products of factions in the state but he is an independent person as evident by his political approach and dynamism."
"Ibrahim is extremely skilled at mobilizing youths. He comes from a very popular family known in all circles in Lagos State. He is popularly known to have defeated Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his local government in the recent Local Council Elections.
Akinbinu believes junior Obanikoro will serve as positive neutral rallying point for the party to refocus and strengthen itself for the upcoming election. While the politicking continues, members of the party in state believe their representation at the federal cabinet would determine its chance of victory in the state come 2015.

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