PDP crisis: Obasanjo’s men may back opposition in 2015



The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party is set to take a turn for the worse as party stalwarts loyal to former President Olusegun Obasanjo have decided to have a showdown with the supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The latest development follows the party’s decision to sack senior party officials known to be loyal to the former President from its National Working Committee.

SUNDAY PUNCH’s investigations showed that the removal, announced on Friday, shocked the former President and his group.

The leadership of the PDP had on Friday sacked loyalists of Obasanjo in the National Working Committee. The Bamangar Tukur-led leadership is known to be loyal to President Jonathan.

Those sacked included the National Auditor, Mr. Bode Mustapha; and the National Vice-Chairman (South-West) Mr. Segun Oni.

The PDP also announced its recognition of an Ogun PDP faction bankrolled by a businessman, Mr. Buruji Kashamu. The Kashamu faction is led by Bayo Dayo. The party failed to recognise the faction led by Senator Dipo Odujinrin, which is backed by Obasanjo.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the consensus in the Obasanjo camp was that the recent actions of the PDP leadership were targeted at the former President.

On Saturday, the Obasanjo faction said it had concluded plans to write a petition to the highest organ of the PDP, the National Executive Committee over the matter.

Speaking at the end of a four-hour meeting of the members of the Obasanjo faction of the Ogun PDP in Abeokuta,  the sacked Odujinrin said the decision by the party’s NWC was also “shocking and predetermined.”

“We received with shock the pronouncement of the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, in the newspaper. I found it very disturbing because we saw the signs during the week when we observed that J.K Gadzama (SAN), issued a notice of discontinuance of the appeals against the court cases which Metuh referred to as reasons which the committee used to take their decision.

“It was very obvious that the appeals were going against the Kashamu group.  If the appeal had been heard, the whole situation would have been different but in order not to allow the appeal to be heard, that was why the NWC withdrew the appeal suddenly and was now able to use the ruling that was subsisting in taking their decision,” he said.

Odujinrin said the Obasanjo group had decided to take its case to the highest organ of the party, the National Executive Committee.

“The NWC is not the final authority. We are PDP bona fide members. That’s why we are appealing to the NEC. We are law-abiding people. We could have gone to court like some people. Our constitution requires us to explore all mechanisms internally before going to court. We are preparing a petition and an appeal to the NEC which will be tabled before their next meeting,” he said.

Odujinrin stressed that the NWC decision had further polarised the crisis-ridden party, warning that it could have negative effects on its electoral fortunes in future elections.

“I don’t think that this is how to ensure genuine reconciliation; this has further polarised the situation. The fact that the appeals were withdrawn smelt suspicious.”

He added that his group would “take another decision” if the NEC upholds the NWC decision sacking his executive.

A top member of the Obasanjo camp, who pleaded anonymity because the faction was not willing to reveal its strategy, told one of our correspondents that the ‘other decision’ Odujirin spoke about was for Obasanjo’s camp to support the opposition in 2015.

“We know all these are targeted at Obasanjo. But if the situation remains as it is now, the PDP should forget Baba’s support in 2015.

“In the months ahead, Obasanjo will intensify consultations across the country. If the President succeeds in getting the PDP presidential ticket with Baba’s rivals in control of the party, he (Obasanjo) will have no option but to back opposition candidates.”

Besides the sacking of his loyalists, the former President also lost out in the South-West caretaker committee constituted by the leadership of the party.

As a result of the changes and appointments, a former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George, and an ex-Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, have regained lost grounds in the South-West PDP. George and Daniel were estranged from Obasanjo, their godfather, while he was in power.

Our correspondents report that not one of Obasanjo’s loyalists is in the 17-man South-West caretaker committee constituted by the PDP NWC on Friday.

However, George, Daniel and Kashamu have at least one of their supporters in the committee.

For example, the Secretary, Mr. Pegba Otemolu, is a loyalist of Daniel, while the Organising Secretary, Mr. Adedeji Doherty, is said to be a strong ally of George. An ex-officio, Seun Adesanya, is a known supporter of Kashamu.

One of Obasanjo’s supporters, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH, on the grounds of anonymity, said when the group saw the list of the caretaker committee, it came to a conclusion that some people were bent on pushing Obasanjo out of the PDP.

However, the Senior Special Adviser on Political Affairs to President Jonathan, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, denied widespread speculation that the changes and appointments were targeted at Obasanjo.

Gulag said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, on Friday.

He said, “It is just natural that people are struggling to be party officials but not everybody can be a party official. So, there must be the principle of give and take in every given society.

“The right thing to say is that PDP is one united party and it will not lose sleep because of any of these merger talks. Action Congress of Nigeria plus Congress for Progressive Change, plus All Nigerian Peoples Party is equal to APC less than PDP.”

He insisted that there was no friction between the duo, adding that the size of the PDP made it impossible for every member to become a party official.

He said, “I don’t think there is any friction between Obasanjo and Mr. President. There is none. This is the handiwork of mischief makers and a section of the media that always wants to see the negative side of the PDP; that is my belief.

“There is no friction. The PDP is a very big united party and in a party as big as the PDP, there are bound to be challenges and divergent interests and we are working round the clock to see that we remain united.

“PDP has gone into much more crisis than what you are witnessing. It is because the party is the party to beat. It’s the party that everybody wants to belong.”

When contacted, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisah Metuh, dismissed the speculation that the party was after Obasanjo.

“It is a court decision. It has nothing to do with former President Obasanjo,” he said.

Source: Punch



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