The crisis rocking the Lagos chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be far from over following the report gathered from a leading member of the party.
A top chieftain of the party and former Chairman of the Party, Otunba Segun Adewale popularly known as Aeroland in an exclusive interview with this newspaper narrated what went down.
A fact-finding committee headed by Senator Ben Obi, Senator Biodun Olujimi and Engr. Mukhtar Ahmed as the Secretary, met with selected leaders and members at Radisson Blu Hotel in Ikeja on Wednesday, July 17th 2019, to find a way to settle the internal wrangling in the State Chapter of the party.
The main bone of contention is the stiff resistance by majority of members, saying they do not want the way Chairman, other executive members and candidates are imposed on the party instead of conducting proper congress to enable best hands to emerge amongst members to test their popularity, in fact they argued that since the party came to Lagos in 1999, the party has not been able to make any headway due to this ugly trend of imposition.
Many members want a change of style and leadership, as their effort seems not to be yielding positive results, Chief Bode George and other leaders who have been at the helms of affairs are reported to be responsible for the failure in the party because of perceived secret alliance with the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State, many of the victories recorded by the ruling APC were allegedly aided by these same set of leaders who are never interested in the winning for their own political party PDP.
Since Mr Moshood Salvador left for the APC, a new Acting Chairman, Mr Adegbola Dominic, was appointed for three (3) months to oversee the affairs of the party, his tenure expired in December 2018, although Dominic was said to be imposed through a back door on the party by Bode George.
The struggle to impose another Chairman, Mr Deji Doherty through some leaders such as Dr. Eddy Olafeso has now been met with serious opposition, an effort that has now been halted by members of the party who insisted that they would no longer accept any imposition, that whoever is interested in the post of the State Chairman must follow what the party’s constitution says, vowing that any attempt to impose will be an invitation to implosion.
The party’s constitution in section 47(6) captured how a new Chairman or vacant position can be replaced in case of any vacuum, to avert serious legal battle or lacuna.
Concluding the Lagos meeting, Senator Ben Obi led committee and members agreed to follow what the constitution stipulates to elect a new Chairman.
However, another meeting which was supposed to cap the peace process agreed in Lagos was called and selected leaders were invited to Abuja.
The meeting that was supposed to facilitate and fast track the return of peace to the party later turned out to be the beginning of another crisis.
Segun Adewale who spoke to our correspondent, narrated how the Abuja meeting ended without any resolution because of those who came to represent Bode George, are still hell-bent on using the same selection and imposition method that has brought the party to its knee in the state.
According to him, the meeting was called for the purpose of bringing all the principal actors to a round table, he said his own position has always been that the party should adhere to the constitution, which is what majority of party members are demanding for, to avoid further crack, that if not so, imposition will lead to another failure in 2023, Adewale was instrumental to the sacking of Adegbola Dominic, he stated it clearly that if another Chairman is imposed against the wishes of the loyal and hard-working members, such fellow will never be Chairman in Lagos PDP.
When the meeting commenced at the Legacy House in Abuja, Segun Adewale was in attendance, on Bode George’s group, he sent Alhaji Rahman Owokoniran, Tunji Shelle, Dr Ogunkelu and few others. Federal Representative member from Surulere Tunji Soyinka was also part of the meeting.
The meeting got to its crescendo, when it appeared that there has been a pre-planned arrangement to use the opportunity to attack Segun Adewale by the bulk of the Bode George men who dominated the meeting, they kept on insisting that he was no longer a member of the party in Lagos State, although Soyinka who spoke in defence of Adewale, said that Aeroland as fondly called is one of the prominent members of PDP in Lagos up to this moment, noting that questioning his membership should not be a subject of discussion as he was the Lagos West Director-General of Jimi Agbaje and Atiku/Obi campaign in the 2019 general elections, he was also a prominent face at the Presidential campaign flag-off at TBS Lagos, an event that attracted and was witnessed by thousands of party faithful across the local government areas in the State.
When the argument of his non-membership could not hold water, Alhaji Owokoniran from Bode George group agreed that even if he has returned from the party he used to contest the governorship election in Ekiti, he has not come back to pay homage to the leaders in Lagos State PDP.
The Chairman of the peace committee, Senator Ben Obi said for the sake of peace and for the meeting to move forward, Segun Adewale should only be allowed to observe the meeting and not make contributions, because his response may further escalate tension, since it appears that those on the other side tend to dwell more on issues rather than bringing lasting peace.
Adewale told the Ben Obi led committee that instead of not speaking at the meeting, he would rather excuse them but would wait to meet with the committee after they must have finished all deliberations so that they won’t say he was the reason the meeting could not hold.
Adewale said before he left the meeting, he was able to inform the committee that it was wrong for people to gang up against him and embark on personality attack, instead of looking for a way forward, he stressed further that the people speaking at the meeting are only struggling to position themselves for election money, not because they want to win any election in 2023, that it will be disastrous to hand over the party to them again.
Senator Ben Obi apologized to Adewale for the way some of the leaders were attacking him at the meeting, he said he only asked him to remain as an observer so that the people accusing him (Adewale) won’t say he is taking sides.
Aeroland expressed dismay at how Owokoniran who was the Director-General of Jimi Agbaje campaign in 2015 could attack him openly that he was no longer a member of PDP, According to him. the same Owokoniran who was the DG of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organization (BATCO), has now joined George’s group. He said such people cannot be trusted and be called leaders of the party because one way or the other, they still maintain a relationship with the people in APC.
Adewale stated further that, those accusing him of using another party’s platform, dumped PDP for Labour Party during the last council election two years ago, Chief Bode George led his followers including Salvador, Dominic and host of others to LP, when he (Aeroland) stood his ground and won six councillors for PDP as the State Chairman.
Adewale said he left the meeting to allow Ben Obi to moderate and avoid those who have planned to dent his reputation, despite leaving them to have a filled day, the meeting could not reach any conclusion.
He also said that those who are causing trouble in the party are free to leave PDP and go back to the Labour Party because their being members of Lagos PDP is of no significant use, other than wanting to corner the billions of party’s funds for personal use at every election cycle.
Ben Obi and other members of the committee agreed that the allegation that he was no longer a member of the party is false and such cannot stand, after Aeroland explained to them, how he returned all members who followed him to ADP back to PDP in Ekiti, upon returning to Lagos, he was properly re-integrated back to PDP in Alimosho local government, Lagos West Senatorial district.
Aeroland buttressed his points by saying that it was unfortunate that wrong information had been passed to the National leadership about him, that such is one of the major reasons they started the meeting by attacking because they knew that all the wrong information they had planted will be exposed due to his presence at the meeting.
Engr Mukhtar appealed to Adewale to be calm, assuring him that all issues will be properly channelled to the National Chairman and other key stakeholders in the party for immediate resolution.
Senator Ben Obi concluded by saying that the meeting could not reach any conclusion on Lagos PDP, but another meeting will be called which will have every stakeholder including him, Segun Adewale.
We gathered that since the sacking of Adegbola Dominic as the Acting State Chairman, Bode George group have lost their power base, because Dominic holds no authority to act on behalf of the party any longer, acting otherwise could be criminal impersonation, the other top members of the state executives have been piloting the affairs of the party skeletally pending when a new Chairman will emerge.