By Kolade Larewaju and Okey Ndiribe
ABEOKUTA – GOVERNOR Olugbenga Daniel of Ogun State yesterday admitted that things were no longer rosy for the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in the South West saying that members of the party would have to be careful to prevent the total annihilation of the party in the area.
According to him, the loss of Ekiti State was the worst disaster to have ever happened to the party which he said has not been able to manage its successes very well.
Addressing members of the Presidential Campaign Council of Goodluck Jonathan for President in the South West Zone at his Asoludero Court in Sagamu, the Governor said members of the party would have drop their individual selfish aspirations for the common good of the party if it would regain its glory.
He said “in this room our expectation is that we should tell ourselves the truth and if the truth must be told; in the politics of the South west, we do have challenges. My worry is that when former President Obasanjo was there we could not take Lagos. I do not think we have managed our victory well.
“The worst disaster is losing Ekiti State. If we are not carful, and God forbid, it could be the end of our party in the South West. The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil. We are all endangered species.
“If we think deeply, we will know. We must forget this issue of I want to be Governor, Senator or anything. We must work together, otherwise we will look like jokers, and if we lose it; it will be terrible.
“In Ogun State, there is no other party. What we have is internal crisis. But we will not concede one inch of space to the rampaging machinery. What happened in Ekiti State is a big shame to all of us without exception. What we have in our hand is a major challenge.
“In Osun, what I am hearing is scary. If that kind of thing happen, it will be a disaster. I think people here should be able to go back home and tell the Governor some things. We must bury self interest.
“I was with the former Governor of Ekiti and some members of his exco yesterday and they are feeling bad. They feel unhappy. They feel a sense of abandonment and feel bad that their President even congratulated the new Governor a few hours after the court case; they feel he should have at least waited for 24 hours. But I explained to them that he is the president of all”
Daniel said that on the issue of Jonathan for President, the people said that they should at least be left alone to decide who to support for the Presidential race and that some of them complained that even the Speaker has congratulated Dr. Kayode Fayemi in a paid advert.
The Governor who was apparently ready to be brutally frank with the delegates was about going on before newsmen were asked out of the meeting.
There are indications that the former Governor of Ekiti State Engr. Segun Oni may leave the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for another political party in the country.
Sources at yesterday’s meeting revealed that Oni who was sacked by the Court of Appeal, Ilorin last week may resort to this option as a result of his frustration over the refusal of President Jonathan to intervene on his behalf over the Ekiti gubernatorial dispute.
The source further said that the Presidency bluntly refused to help Oni when his assistance was desperately needed before the Appeal Court judgement was delivered. Oni was conspicuously absent at the meeting even though his name was advertised in some national dailies as one of the facilitators of the gathering.
Although the assembly of PDP chieftains in the zone was for the purpose of setting up structures for the Jonathan Presidential Campaign Council, it also became an opportunity for reviewing the fortunes of the party in the zone, especially in the light of the loss of Ekiti State to the rival Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Indeed, the entire leadership of the party in the zone was engaged in a serious soul-searching as was reflected in the somber mood at the meeting which held inside the residence of the Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
In his effort to ensure that the mobilisation of the zone for President Jonathan is total, Daniel had reached out to many groups including those outside the PDP. One of such groups was the Coalition of Odua Self Determination Groups (COSEG) which made a presentation at the meeting.
The Secretary of the group Mr Razak Olokoba who spoke on behalf of COSEG expressed their reservations over the call of the Presidential Council for the people of the South-west zone to throw their weight behind President Jonathan in next year’s general elections.
He continued: “ The attitude of the people and leadership of the Ijaws toward we the Yorubas has been suspicious since President Jonathan assumed office”
Olokoba cited the recent flooding incident in Lagos and queried why the President should only pledge peanuts as financial assistance on behalf of the Federal Government.
“How can the peanuts he pledged to give the zone be enough to address the flood disaster which affected Lagos and Ogun States?” he asked.
He recalled that sometime ago when the militants of the Niger Delta wanted to blow up the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos but had to be stopped because of the intervention of COSEG. He expressed regret that the militants still went ahead to blow up Atlas Cove also located in Lagos last year.
He insisted that the position of the group is that the people of the South-West should be allowed to enjoy their lives in a true federation.
Olokoba lashed out at politicians who hail from the zone adding that the group was not impressed with the agenda of the PDP in the zone.
“In the last 10 years, Yorubas have experienced 43 percent economic depression” he said.
He urged the gathering to be cautious over recent political happenings in the country especially against the background of some people who have been beating the drums of war over the issue of power shift.
Said he: “ The threat of war in this country is real because there are two ethnic groups desperate to capture power; the two groups are the Ijaws of the Soutth-South and the Hausa-Fulani of the North”.
He therefore advocated that convening a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) was still essential for the survival of the nation.”
According to him: “ Our demands also include restructuring of the federation so that those who want Sharia law to be implemented in their zone could have their way while other zones in the country who want things like special security arrangements including police road-blocks may incorporate same into their security mechanism to check crime as this may not be necessary at the same time nation-wide”.
He observed that many
Igbos may have embraced crime as a response to the second class status the people of that zone have been reduced to since the end of the civil war.
In his own speech at the occasion while presenting the report of a Committee which was set up to articulate the interest of the people of the zone, a chieftain of the party Chief Victor Oladunni said there is need to present a paper to President Jonathan on how the mineral resources of the zone have to be exploited adding that if the Olokonla Free Trade Zone is established, it would boost the economy of the zone.
He also lamented over the dilapidated state of the federal roads in the zone adding that his committee had earmarked the Lagos-Ibadan Express road; the Shagamu-Benin Express road and the Ibadan-Ife roads among many others which are in a deplorable condition.
He also called on the Jonathan administration to allocate more revenue derived from VAT to Lagos since the former federal capital generates more than 70 percent of the fund.
Earlier before Daniel’s speech, 17 field officers for the Jonathan/Sambo campaign team from the states in the South West, South East and South South were presented by the Director of Planning and Strategy; Mr. Mike Omeri and were inaugurated by Governor Daniel.
Also inaugurated were 27 people from Ogun State with Prince Yanju Lipede as State Coordinator and the 26 others as coordinators in the 26 states constituencies in Ogun State.
The coordinators who are said would monitor delegates would each be given a vehicle by the state and would give weekly or bi monthly reports to the state coordinator.
Prominent members of the party in attendance included Senator Yinka Omilani, the Minister Youth Development; Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, former Minister of Defence; Chief Demola Seriki, Ambassador Musiliu Obaniko, former Deputy Governors of Lagos State; Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele, Femi Pedro and Rafiu Jafojo, Senator Femi Ogunlewe, Ambassador Adeniran, Senator Wahab Dosumu and Prince Dayo Adeyeye