By Dayo Johnson, Gbenga Olarinoye, Ola Ajayi & Gbenga Aribiyi
Denied the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives which they believed to be their entitlement leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the Southwest are now craving the office of National Chairman of the party to soothe their pains.
The party chieftains from the region in interviews with Vanguard bemoaned the present situation of the region within the PDP and the polity with some blaming erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo for the loss of the party”s stronghold in the region. Former Senate Lekan Balogun in an aside demanded the immediate resignation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the chairman of the party”s board of trustees for his failure in leading the party to a disastrous electoral outcome.
The office of national chairman is, however, not vacant and is held in acting capacity by Dr. Haliru Mohammed who succeeded Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo after the latter”s forced resignation last January. Mohammed is from Sokoto in the Northwest, the very zone that now has the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The PDP had originally zoned the office of national chairman to the Northeast, another zone like the Southwest that has been complaining of marginalization after the derailing of the zoning arrangement.
While the Northeast is still licking its wound after it failed to produce the deputy Speaker following Emeka Ihedioha”s emergence, Southwest political leaders are now canvassing that their own wound should be soothed with the office of national chairman.
While the National Vice-Chairman (Southwest) Alhaji Taju Ladipo was not forthcoming on the development, a number of other party leaders were forthright in their comments.
The Ondo State Chairman of the PDP Dr Tayo Dairo speaking through the state Publicity Secretary, Chief Adeyemi Adedipe said: ””To assuage the Yorubas the National Chairmanship of the party should be given to the South West zone. In a multi ethnic country as ours, it is important to carry every segment of the country along. There should be sense of belonging. Presently the Yoruba nation feels thoroughly annihilated and this is not the best.””
“The election of the Tambuwal is a signal that party supremacy has failed. That sort of thing can never happen in a parliamentary system where the party is the king. “A member of the PDP Elders” caucus in Osun state, Chief Abiola Ogundokun speaking in the same vein asked the national leadership of the party to reserve the post of the National Chairman of the party to the South West zone in order to pacify the zone from the perceived marginalization.
Ogundokun also said that the number of ministerial slots to the zone should also be increased as further compensation.
While blaming some of the leaders of the party from the zone for the present situation, Chief Ogundokun stated that the PDP should realize that no bird can fly with one arm.
“It is only best for the national body of the PDP to ensure that adequate provision is made to compensate the pople of the south west. The party should realize the contributions of the zone to the stability of the party in the past.”
Senator Lekan Balogun a major PDP stakeholder in Oyo State while demanding the position of national chairman for the zone blamed former President Obasanjo and the national leadership for the party”s miserable performance in the last election and said the best way forward was for Obasanjo to resign his as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party.
His words: ““the loss should be blamed on the national leadership of the party and the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who has turned the party into a personal property. He was holding meetings with very few people when the decision was taken instead of him to make it an open thing for all chieftains of the party.
“What the party can do now is to give the South west the position of the national chairmanship of the party. Anything less than that is unacceptable””. Remember, we voted massively for President Goodluck Jonathan, ““ he said.Dr. Dejo Raimi also a notable chieftain from Oyo State said that Oyo State should be the principal beneficiary of whatever patronage from the national party as he said the State did not follow the other Southwest States in totally uprooting the PDP.
“ “As things are now, since Oyo State was the only state that produced some members of Representatives for the party, I think the best thing is to compensate the state with any position they arrive at. I think, if they give us the position of the Chief Whip in the House of Representatives, it is still as powerful as that of the speaker. And the two that should be considered are Mulikat and Muraina.””, he stated.
The chairman of the party in Ekiti State, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo in hi own comment said the party was responding to the development and expressed confidence in the party”s readiness to find suitable positions to assuage the needs of the people of the zone.