Last week’s jailing of erstwhile Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one time chairman. board of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Olabode George is perhaps the worst news for the Lagos State chapter of the party this year. For the party, two years without George, is like playing Hamlet without the prince
George, who with five other directors of the NPA was sentenced to two years imprisonment by an lkeja High Court, presided by Justice Joseph Oyewole has been the leader of the party in the state for the past six years. Aside being a major financier of the party in the state. George’s closeness to former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and other top leaders of the PDP, also placed him head and shoulder above other chieftains of the party in the state and the South West zone.
The national leadership of the party had so much trust in George’s ability that it entrusted him with the responsibility of strategising and actualising the party’s futile attempt at taking over the Alausa Government House. Ikeja, Lagos in 2003 and 2007. He later served as the Director General of the President Umaru Yar’ Adua Campaign outfit during the 2007 electioneering.
But it appears none of George’s political credentials made sense to Justice Oyewole, while pronouncing him and five other directors of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) guilty and had them sentenced to two years imprisonment, last week Monday.
While many have hailed the judgment as a step forward in the quest to rid the country of corruption, the PDP believed the court ruling was not fair to George, who was a former military governor of the old Ondo State. The party’s National Vice Chairman (South West). Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo. said the party would appeal the ruling, even as he insisted that the judgment was very much against the ruling party. George has since applied for bail while his appeal is to be heard.
For the state chapter of the party, the judgment might have put a spanner in the on going works to reposition the PDP ahead of the 2011 election. The national leadership of the party in its calculation for the 2011 governorship election in Lagos, has since realised the importance of a total reconciliation of all contending groups within the party as a sine qua non to the party’s repositioning ahead of the election. But every reconciliatory moves initiated at the national and zonal levels of the party had been bedevilled by the inability of the various groups to fully embrace one another.
The major contending groups within the party are the Establishment Group. headed by George: the Solidarity Group, headed by the High Commissioner to Ghana. Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro and the Mandate Group, under the leadership of former Minister of Works and Housing, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe.
Other minor groups include, the Alagbon 14 Forum of Local Government Candidates and the Elders’ Forum.
The various groups are product of division of the party along factional lines. following the poor handling of the fallout of the 2007 governorship election. and the simmering politics that trailed the post election ministerial nomination from the state.
While many of the various reconciliatory committees set up by PDP leadership of the party, have made concerted efforts to unite the various interests within the party, the recognition of George as the de facto leader of the party in Lagos was never in contention. What was in contention was the extent to which other interest groups were prepared to accept him as leader of the party.
The George group is also said to have an upper hand in the power game. as he was responsible for the installation of the incumbent executive of the PDP in the state. And the leaders have continued to demonstrate their support for the embattled politician.
Observers believe that with George’s possible confinement to the four walls of the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison for the period of his sentence, other groups might try to position themselves for possible take over of leadership of the party in the state. This, as many believe, may likely worsen an already bad situation. It is believed that the state executive, which has demonstrated unalloyed loyalty to George may resist such a move.
Yet, as is custom in the PDP, any state where the party does not have a sitting governor, the leadership of the party in such state is usually ceeded to one of the national figures in most cases, a serving minister or a national leader with much clout.
Thus, the party cannot shy away for too long on the issue of a leader in the absence of George. This, again, may open another ‘power show’ between the other group leaders, notably, Obanikoro, Ogunlewe and the Minister of State for Interior, Mr. Demola Seriki.
A former Commissioner for Home Affairs in the Alliance for Democracy (AD) government between 1999 and 2003. Obanikoro later contested and won the Lagos Central Senatorial seat on the party’s platform in 2003. but later defected to the PDP while serving as senator. He emerged as the PDP’s governorship candidate for the 2007 election, without George’s support. George’s choice was the widow of the late Funsho Williams. Hilda. But. George in his capacity as the leader of the party, was also given the task of coordinating the strategies for the electioneering.
The actual battle started after the loss of the election when the state chapter was expected to forward its list of ministerial nominees to President Umaru Yar’ Adua. George had an edge in the show of strength that ensued, being the most senior leader in the state and a close ally of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, George showed preference for Bode Augusto above Obanikoro. but Augusto could not scale the Senate hurdle.
The new list became a tug of war and at a point Obasanjo had to wade in. Eventually, and in order to calm frayed nerves, the party settled for a middle of the road approach, by picking Seriki, who was not in the reckoning of the state leadership for the appointment.
Obanikoro was eventually appointed an Ambassador. But his attempt to use the office to reposition himself has proved difficult. A good number of the party members in the state felt that Obanikoro has sidelined them ever since losing the Lagos governorship bid and assuming his ambassadorial posting.
The animosity against him was brought to the fore recently when some members of the party protested against his presence at the high table during a forum called to resolve the factional differences in the-party. The development degenerated to a free for all, and Obanikoro was saved only by the intervention of the police and some chieftains of the party.
Owing to the grudge the party members have against him. many believe it may be difficult for the ambassador to assume leadership of the state chapter.
Like Obanikoro, Ogunlewe was also elected into the Senate on the platform of the AD in 1999 before he defected to the PDP. He later became the Minister of Works and had shown considerable interest in the 2007 governorship before Williams’ assassination truncated the ambition of a good number of the contestants.
It is believed that Ogunlewe’s sometimes bold and scathing criticisms of some of the party’s decisions has made many PDP members to doubt his loyalty to the party. It is said that some are not fully convinced that the former minister is 100 per cent PDP, as they fear he might still be fraternising with the Action Congress (AC) especially, with some of his followers back in the AC. In spite of this insinuation. Ogunlewe still commands respect among a large section of the members of the party. but he is not likely to get the support of the state executive.
The Minister of State for Interior had failed in the bid to get elected into the House of Representatives in 1999. His senatorial ambition on the PDP platform in 2007 also did not yield the desired result.
But Seriki turned out to be the main beneficiary of the feud between George and Obanikoro over the state’s ministerial nominee. He was eventually handed the Lagos slot. Whereas George was said to have played some roles in the appointment. there are also insinuations from some quarters that the main influence was from outside the party.
For now, Seriki is in the good books of members of the party who believe that he has identified with them since becoming a minister, Seriki is seen as a politician who though serving in Abuja, is always in touch with the state chapter of PDP. He is said to have used his poverty alleviation programmes to boost the fortune of some members and supported the party during the bye election for the Ibeju Lekki Federal Constituency seat earlier in the year.
But observers believe that the junior minister is yet to develop the clout and the political structure needed to take full control of the state chapter of the party.
Many people believe that George’s absence will be felt in many ways, especially, at a time the national leadership of the party has made public its intention to win Lagos State in the 2011 election. Analysts believe that such a huge ambition requires a formidable leadership.
The PDP is also mobilising its legal machinery to ensure that George gets the two years sentence quashed at the appeal court.
When viewed from the prism of the possible legal fire works that may drag the trial for a long period of time, analysts believe that the reprieve being sought for George, the exnaval officer turned politician, may not come early enough and this, may impact negatively on the party in the state.
Already, there are indications that the power show and the contest for relevance among the various groups has begun with each holding strategy meetings aimed at appraising the situation.
Whichever way it goes, it might just be a case of survival of the of the fittest an endless one indeed.
Culled from The Nation
2024: Kanye West Offers Trump Vice Presidential Ticket
Barely forty-eight hours after he declared his interest to run for the President of the United States in 2024, American rapper, Kanye West, has asked Donald Trump, the former President of the United States to be his running mate in the 2024 election.
The music icon made this known on his Twitter page on Wednesday saying he paid a visit to the ex-President at his resort residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
West said he kept Trump waiting, but he disclosed the clue of the topic of their conversation.
The 45-year-old artiste went further to ask his fans to guess how the former American leader would respond to the question.
West ran a Twitter poll on the difficult question he landed on Trump as he tweeted, “First time at Mar-a-Lago. Rain and traffic. Can’t believe I kept President Trump waiting. And I had on jeans. Yikes!
“What do you guys think his response was when I asked him to be my running mate in 2024?”
Meanwhile, Trump had also launched his campaign to run and win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Trump, who has been accused of supporting the mob invasion of the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, in protest of the victory of Joe Biden as the president, promised to make America “great and glorious again.”
INEC Vows To Clean Up Voters’ Register
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday, said it would dutifully clean up the voters’ register that will be used for the 2023 general elections.
The Commission, through its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said its decision to holistically scrutinize the voters’ register, followed several complaints it has received from Nigerians.
The INEC boss, who spoke at a national stakeholders forum on elections, organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, NCSSR, described the cleaning up of the voters’ register as very critical to the impending polls.
He said: “We have been transparent in making the register available both online and manual copies in 9,583 locations nationwide (8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas) for scrutiny by citizens as required by law.
“The voters’ register is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria. Like all databases of this size, it cannot be perfect. However, the Commission believes that Nigerians are the real owners of the voters’ register.
“They are therefore in a best position to point out ineligible persons on the register, including deceased persons, that will help the Commission to improve on this critical national asset.
“I want to reassure you that based on the observations made by Nigerians, we will dutifully clean up the register ahead of the election”.
Besides, Prof. Yakubu, said there was no truth in the insinuation that the Commission would not allow Nigerians to view election results uploaded from various polling units, in real-time.
He said the Electoral Act, 2022, required the Commission to deploy technology on election day for voter accreditation and the upload of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.
“These processes will be achieved through the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). I wish to reassure Nigerians that the BVAS has come to stay as the only means of voter accreditation.
“There will be no incident form on election day. Results from polling units will be uploaded to the IReV portal in real-time. Nigerians will view the results as they are uploaded.
“For the last two years, beginning from August 2020, the Commission has published results direct from polling units in 105 off-cycle Governorship and bye-elections in real-time and the results can still be viewed on the IReV portal.
“The 2023 General Election will not be different. There is no truth in any insinuation to the contrary. This should put to rest the erroneous notion that Nigerians will not have the opportunity to view polling unit results uploaded by Presiding Officers in real-time on Election Day”, he added.
On the collection of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, the INEC boss said the process was delayed to allow the Commission to conclude the process of identifying and removing ineligible registrants that may attempt to use them during the election.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will soon release the timelines and procedure for the collection of PVCs.
“We understand the anxiety of Nigerians to collect their PVCs and appeal for a little patience as we speedily conclude the necessary safeguards for a transparent process”.
More so, Prof. Yakubu stressed that INEC was determined to frontally tackle the issue of excessive campaign spendings by political parties and their candidates, as well as what he termed as “diabolical practice of vote buying at polling units on election day”.
He said the Commission will soon publish a summary of the guidelines on finances and election expenses of parties and candidates.
“Beyond that, we are mobilising every national institution with the responsibility for tracking and combating the illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies to confront the problem head-on. The details of this will be unveiled shortly”, the INEC Chairman added.
Meanwhile, in her remarks, the convener of the NCSSR, Ms Ene Obi, commended INEC for displaying the preliminary register of voters online for claims and objections.
She noted that though the Commission made improvements in the off-circle governorship elections it conducted since the 2019 general elections, “there are still several challenges of utmost concern”.
“Nigeria is currently grappling with multiple security challenges across the country. We also witnessed the most monetized political primaries ever in the just concluded political party primaries for the 2023 general elections.
“What do these all portend for the 2023 General election?”, Ms Obi queried.
She said the Situation Room will continue to work towards improving Nigeria’s elections so as to ensure that the process is free, fair and reflects the choice of citizens.
Wike Isn’t Asking For Too Much – Delta PDP Chieftain
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Delta State chapter, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, has said that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike is not asking for too much by demanding the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu.
Muoboghare, who stated this on Wednesday while reacting to the question on lingering crisis in the PDP in Asaba, advised Wike not to give up on Ayu’s resignation.
He said, “The party’s national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, has become the subject of contention
“Wike said the National championship should go to any political region in the South, is that asking for too much?
“Each time I hear Wike’s name, I laugh. Somebody said Wike is a man, and I said no, Wike is not a man, Wike is the plural of a man, he is men because he is a dogged fighter. I like dogged fighters.
“Wike is not saying make me the party chairman, he is not saying make someone from Rivers State or the South-South the party chairman, but any political region from the south, is that asking for too much?
“Wike has tried and I encourage him. I pray for him everyday, do not give up on this party chairman fight. You see, if PDP had agreed that the party chairman should resign and indeed he resigned, these problems won’t be there.
“How can you be having PDP presidential rallies and Gov Wike is not there, these other governors won’t be there,” he added.
Muoboghare who was the immediate past commissioner for higher education and a ranking PDP chieftain in Delta State, described Wike’s fight as an honest battle.
Ict/Telecom3 days ago
Firm Launches Citizens’ Demand Website To Deepen OGP
Rivers3 days ago
APC Planning To Cause Unrest In Rivers, RSG Raises Alarm
News1 day ago
Rivers CJ Laments High Number Of Inmates In PHCC …Releases Additional 22
Nation1 day ago
Kogi Oil Community Demands 13% Derivatives
Nation3 days ago
Non-Oil Exports: FG Inaugurates ‘Export4Survival’ Campaign As Booster
Business3 days ago
Nigeria’s Cash Payment System Due For Disruption – CBN
News3 days ago
Nigeria’s Rising Poverty’ll Increase Crime, Experts Warn
City Crime1 day ago
1.6m Nigerians With HIV On Treatment, NACA Confirms