by Akan Ido
As the race for the 2015 elections hots up, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West, led by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, have begun strategising on the best way to wrest power from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which is currently in control.
Eminent politicians from the region reportedly met behind closed-doors on Sunday evening at the Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to brainstorm on how to defeat the ACN and also to reconcile members who might have felt alienated or marginalised by recent happenings within the party.
Read the Nigerian Tribune newspaper report below:
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Those who met included former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; former governors of Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states, Dr Olusegun Agagu, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Mr Segun Oni; two former governors of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, among others
Although details of the meeting were kept from journalists, Nigerian Tribune gathered that the meeting, held at the Presidential Library, Abeokuta, was at the instance of Obasanjo and centred on strategising for the 2015 polls.
It was learnt that Ladoja and Alao-Akala left Abeokuta for Sagamu at the residence of former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel, where they also held a closed-door meeting about the 2015 elections.
Incumbent Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Daniel and Senator Ladoja had been speculated as point men for President Goodluck Jonathan for his second term bid in 2015.
Ladoja, Alao-Akala inaugurate committee
Ladoja and Chief Alao-Akala, on Tuesday, inaugurated a joint committee of 14 members.
Members of the committee, which has one month to turn in its report, included Mr Bayo Lawal; Alhaji Abubakre Tawakalitu; Mrs Adeola Akintola; Honourable Adeolu Adeleke; Alhaji Wahab Oyelade; Honourable Ademola Ojo; Mr Yinka Adeniyi.
Others are Chief Jacob Adetoro; Mrs Kemi Olorunsogo; Mr Wahab Gbadeyero; Dr Nureni Adeniran; Mr Wale Ohu, Mr Wole Opaleye and Professor Soji Adejumo.
Nigerian Tribune further gathered that the committee, apart from working on who will contest for what position in 2015, would also be looking at the platform on which the permutations of the two leaders would be realised.
A source in the meeting hinted the Nigerian Tribune that Ladoja informed the gathering that he pointedly told a meeting of some leaders on Sunday that he would never join a crumbling house that the PDP had become.
To ensure victory in the next round of elections, it was scooped that Ladoja had begun moves to reconcile Alao- Akala with his estranged former deputy and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jordan, Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja.
Ladoja was also quoted to have said the need to bring everyone on board Accord Party necessitated the postponement of the registration exercise of the party, scheduled to commence on Tuesday.
Speaking with newsmen at his residence, shortly after the meeting held behind closed-doors, Ladoja said the committee had been charged with drawing a working document to consolidate the synergy between him and Alao-Akala.
Alao-Akala, while responding to a question on the condemnation by one of his “boys” against his alliance with Ladoja, described the condemnation as coming from “uninformed and undisciplined,” saying “I don’t deal with undisciplined people; I don’t have them around me.”
He said “with the coming together of the two of us (himself and Ladoja), Ajimobi will not win a single local government in Oyo State in 2015. If they want to try our might, let them conduct council election. They dare not.”
Asked why he vowed not to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and yet teaming up with Ladoja, who is the national leader of the Accord Party, Alao-Akala said “when Bola Tinubu was relating with General Muhammadu Buhari, did he quit the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)? Or did Buhari change his party for the ACN? Do these statements answer your question?”
Pressed for comment on what the alliance would produce and whether the team was potent enough to dislodge Governor Ajimobi in 2015, Alao-Akala said “we shall be there (at the Government House). Go and calculate. Go and check our antecedents as core grass roots politicians and you know where we are coming from.
“By 2015, we shall see who is truly the grass-roots politician between us and the person you are referring to (Governor Ajimobi). They say their politics is hi-tech politics, but we are grass-roots political practitioners. Anybody can say anything. But can anybody better the two of us?”
Akinjide backs reconciliation of Ladoja, Alao-Akala
The Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Jumoke Akinjide, has expressed support for the ongoing rapprochement between Senator Ladoja and Chief Alao-Alaka, describing the development as “a step in the right direction.”
Akinjide, in a statement, said her position had consistently been to encourage the return of Senator Ladoja, a founding member and former PDP governor to the party.
According to the statement, “Akinjide’s view is that no one can hijack the party machinery; rather, every loyal party member must unite to form a cohesive and inclusive state party executive.”
She urged the PDP to unite and provide the Oyo State people with a more democratic and compassionate alternative to the ACN-led state government.
Gang-up shows Ajimobi is formidable —ACN
The Oyo State chapter of the ACN has said if it needed any other indicator that the party and Ajimobi’s ratings had risen to a formidable level, it was the political gang-up of his ex-co-aspirants in the April 2011 elections, who were former governors of the state.
The party made this known in a reaction issued by its state publicity secretary, Mr Dauda Kolawole.
According to the party, the gang-up had shown the political desperation of the two former governors and an admission of the fact that, individually, they could not face Ajimobi and the ACN in the 2015 elections.
“We are very happy about this gang-up. Wonders indeed can never end. That these two strange bed fellows, who had, a while ago, fought a titanic battle to destroy each other, one releasing details of the corruption of the other while in government and the other telling the world that his successor was crass illiterate, could come together to fight Ajimobi shows that our governor is now a mighty Iroko tree that these two gladiators needed to come together to fell. But, combined, the two cannot measure up,” the ACN said.
The party said against the thinking of the two former governors, politics in Oyo State had moved beyond brickbats, hatred, personal animosities and selfish ego gang-up.
“We are sorry for them. Our politics is no longer analog but digital. Oyo people now x-ray issues and take position. The level of governance and government in our state now is such that the two can no longer fit into them. We have taken governance beyond the brigandage, amala politics and bloodletting that they were both renowned for,” it added.
The party singled out Ladoja, whom it said was confused, stating that only about three months ago, the former governor praised Ajimobi as performing and implementing all the programmes he dreamt about, wondering why the same governor had become a man who should leave office, in his reckoning.
“Ladoja is not only desperate but confused. A few months ago, he condemned the PDP as a useless party. He praised Ajimobi to high heavens as a performer but today, after we sacked his younger brother and nominees from our cabinet, he began to sing a different tune. And here is a man who spends one month in Nigeria and three months in the United Kingdom (UK),” the ACN said.