The Lagos Chapter of the Democratic Party of the Peoples (PDP) says it will sweep the polls in the state in next year’s general election despite the internal crisis rocking the main opposition party.
The party’s state publicity secretary, Hakeem Amode, said this in response to a PREMIUM TIMES query on Tuesday about a meeting held on Sunday by the party’s aggrieved group of five governors (G5) in the state.
The G5 are southern governors led by Nyeson Wike of Rivers State, and include Samuel Ortom from Benue, Seyi Makinde from Oyo, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from Enugu and Okezie Ikpeazu from Abia.
At their meeting in Lagos, the governors announced the formation of the ‘Integrity Group’, consisting of other party leaders who share their grievances about problems in the main opposition party.
They also reiterated that they would only support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, if the party’s national chairman, Iyorchai Ayu, resigns before the election.
The group said it was demanding Ayu’s resignation to correct the regional imbalance in the party’s leadership, as both Atiku and Ayu are from the northern region.
Shortly after the governors’ meeting in the Ikoyi area of Lagos, they moved to the office of a former national vice president of the party, Bode Goerge, on Lugard Avenue, where a crowd of party loyalists in Lagos awaited them.
However, the event turned into a riot when Mr. Wike rose to his feet to address the crowd who were eager to hear the outcome of the previous G5 meeting.
As captured on video seen by this newspaper, Wike told party members to support party candidates running for “House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate”, before adding, “we will all support him. This period is a period of action.”
The event eventually turned chaotic when some supporters began to question why the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was not specifically mentioned.
According to a journalist who was at the event, many of the members expected the governors to declare their support for Atiku and the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Olajide ‘Jandor’ Adediran, at the event.
Since Atiku’s emergence as a presidential candidate, aggrieved governors had called for zoning the seat of the presidency to the south.
Also in October, Wike endorsed the governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling APC, for a second term over his party’s gubernatorial candidate.
The PPD spokesman in the state, Mr. Amode, said that regardless of the outcome of the G5 meeting in Lagos, the party’s candidates at all levels would win their elections in Lagos.
He added that the “unfortunate incident” that occurred in Mr. George’s office would not deter the gubernatorial candidate either.
“The unfortunate incident cannot and will not in any way affect or hinder the preparation to overthrow the current empowered government in the state that has long oppressed and intimidated the people of Lagos State who are now yearning for a breath of fresh air offered by our candidates Dr. Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran-JANDOR and his deputy, Funke Akindele,” he said.
Speaking about Mr Adediran’s absence from the meeting, his spokesperson, Gbenga Ogunleye, told this newspaper that it was because he had just “scored his gubernatorial campaign in 245 districts in Lagos State. On Sunday he was in the local government of Epe ”.
He also said that those attending the meeting knew that Mr. Adediran had another commitment.
However, it is common knowledge in the state that Mr George, who hosted the G5 meeting, has some reservations about the choice of Mr Adediran’s running mate.
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Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who is now the Labor Party’s gubernatorial candidate, was his choice, but Adediran scrapped him in favor of Akindele, an award-winning lawyer and actress.
But Mr. Ogunleye further said that his principal chose Ms. Akindele for the sake of balance.
“Mr. Rhodes-Viviour and Dr. Abdulazeez Olajide Adediran Jandor are from the same senatorial district: Lagos West,” he said.
He disputed claims that the G5 was against the PDP standard-bearer for Lagos, saying Wike did not mention his name while rallying support for PDP candidates because Adediran was not at the meeting.
“If I had been physically there for that meeting, I would have mentioned it,” he said.
Speaking later about the crisis in the party during an interview with Jimi Disu in Nigeria’s Daily Digest Info, Mr. George said the party was still “struggling to organise, manage (and) resolve our crisis, so we are undivided because a divided house is a defeated house.”
He said that “we will continue to manage ourselves, solving the problems because if we have the ability to solve our problems, we can convince the Nigerians.”