With about six weeks to the conduct of the governorship elections, crisis is currently rocking the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, and the state executive members, led by Dr. Adegbola Dominic, are believed to be working at cross-purposes instead of uniting to forge a common front against the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A chieftain of the party, who spoke with Daily Independent on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, said since his emergence as the party’s flag bearer, Agbaje had been running a one-man show, believing that he could do without the leadership of the Lagos PDP or party elders in the state, such as Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party.
He said while Agbaje had been running his governorship campaign with the team he set up without carrying the state PDP along, he also picked his running mate, Mrs. Haleemat Busari, without consulting the party leaders.
According to him, many party leaders who only heard of Busari’s choice in the media were angry and made attempts to kick against the decision but were prevailed upon by the party’s leadership to refrain from doing so in order not to create the impression that the party was disunited.
The source said: “The reality is that there is no unity in Lagos PDP and this may mar our chances in the forthcoming governorship election. Jimi Agbaje and the state exco of the party are not working as a team.
“If you remember, majority of the state exco members are loyalists of Chief Bode George and, as such, they don’t like Agbaje whom they see as a traitor for daring to contest against his benefactor for the national chairmanship of the PDP.
“Agbaje himself has not helped matters. Since becoming the governorship candidate of the party, he has constituted his campaign team and neglected the leadership of the party who are the key drivers of the party.
“Can you imagine Agbaje never consulted the party before picking his running mate, Mrs. Busari? Many of our party members and leaders were shocked when they heard about the news in the media.
“You can imagine the anger of many party members on account of this. The issue would have gone out of hand but for the appeal by the leaders of the party such as Chief Bode George who implored them not to make the issue public so that the APC will not capitalise on it.”
When our correspondent contacted Adegbola Dominic, the state chairman, on the allegations that Jimi Agbaje was not carrying the party along in his campaigns, he said: “That is not exactly correct. It is true that there may be some intra-party differences, but we are resolving that. We are working together and we will achieve victory in 2019.”
Similarly, Agbaje denied the allegations, saying he enjoyed a harmonious working relationship with the Dominic-led executives.
Speaking through Felix Oboagwina, his spokesman, Agbaje said he notified all the party leaders before choosing his running mate but added that what some complained against was that she was not a prominent member of the party who was known to all.
“It is not true that party leaders and state exco have not been carried along. When the deputy governorship candidate, Haleema Busari, was chosen, all stakeholders were carried along.
“Before the announcement was made, everybody who was a chieftain of the party knew about her. All they can complain about is the fact that she is not a frontline member of the party.
“Before her announcement and final selection was made, several names had been bandied and then she was zeroed in upon. Of course, it is normal that it is only one person that will be picked at the end of the day.
“From the day she was picked, she became a product of the entire party. On the issue of party excos and leaders not being carried along, we don’t know where that is coming from.
“There is a structure that the national leadership of the party has put in place in all the states that are holding elections in 2019. The structure is called the Campaign Council and the instruction is that it should be headed by the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state while the state PDP chairman will serve as the vice-chairman.
“In Lagos, the PDP Chairman, Dr. Adegbola Dominic, fills that role and he is doing it very well. He is being carried along and they hold regular meetings.
“There are about 10 people in the Campaign Council in Lagos State and because of the structure that was in place somebody like Rahman Owokoniran, a very close lieutenant and confidant of Jimi Agbaje, who was the last Director-General of the campaign, had to drop from the council to accommodate every other member of the party who are part of the structure.
“According to the structure that PDP is using, the campaign structure is also duplicated at the local government area level where a prominent member of the party in the local government area heads the council in the local government area.
“The same is also replicated at the ward level. At all these levels, the candidates for Senate, House of Reps, and House of Assembly are part of these structures. So, all these talk about disunity is the handiwork of mischief makers who want a divided party before the elections,” he said.
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