The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been plagued with divisions since its formation. Even at the nadir of the party’s political power at the federal level, the state chapter was a hotbed of factions and constant bickering. With the catastrophic loss of the governorship, House of Assembly and National Assembly elections in the recent general election, the simmering tensions that have plagued the party for over a decade has burst out in the open again and is likely to bring about drastic change. Whether the change will be positive or negative can only be ascertained as events unfold.
For 20 years, 65 percent of the state structure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been under the control of Chief Bode George, former Deputy National Chairman of the party, while 35 percent was shared among other chieftains of the party. When he was part of the national leadership, those in search of federal appointments and contracts kept vigil at his residence to curry his favour because he had great influence over who was appointed from Lagos State.
One recurrent factor however was that throughout the party’s control at the federal level, Lagos PDP hardly won elections at the state and local government levels. As the years went by, the divisions deepened and the fortunes of the party dwindled. Many prominent members began leaving and even among those who remained, there was no unity of purpose.
There were also speculations that the ruling party in Lagos had infiltrated the state chapter. But the only proof to that was an incident that played out during one of its meetings, a source said.
A long time member of the party recalled that during one of the party’s meetings in the state, someone mentioned the name of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, while an issue was being discussed, and one of the high ranking leaders present immediately shouted him down saying it was disrespectful to mention Tinubu’s name without his title.
“Many of us at the meeting were surprised when one of our leaders shouted a member down for mentioning Tinubu’s name without including his title, which is Asiwaju. It then dawned on us that some of our leaders may have sold out,” the PDP member said.
In the build up to 2015
Segun Adewale emerged the factional chairman of Lagos State chapter during the leadership tussle between the former acting national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff and the national caretaker chairman, Ahmed Makarfi. Sheriff’s faction organised state congresses and Adewale emerged Lagos chairman while Moshood Salvador was the chairman of Makarfi’s faction.
Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled that Makarfi was the authentic chairman and he immediately dissolved all the state executives. In Lagos, Adewale had to ‘step aside’ for Salvador who then took total control of the state secretariat. Salvador eventually defected to the APC after falling out with Bode George. After his exit, Adegbola Dominic, with the full support of George, emerged interim chairman as the general election drew closer.
Prior to the governorship primary, George publicly supported Deji Doherty against Jimi Agbaje because according to some of his allies, he felt slighted that Agbaje had contested for the national chairmanship of the party against him during the botched national convention in Port-Harcourt. Even though Agbaje eventually won the primary, George never forgave Agbaje for daring to challenge him for the party’s highest leadership position.
Daily Sun gathered that the grouse extended to the governorship election as George and his allies were not fully involved in Agbaje’s campaign, even though the latter was accused by some members of party of sidelining them. The outcome of the elections was disastrous. The PDP was badly defeated especially at the governorship and state assembly elections. George blamed Agbaje for the defeat of the party, while Agbaje’s camp insisted that the party leadership did not offer the needed support for the campaign.
Adewale, Dominic lay claim to leadership of the party
With the elections over, Adewale who was the Lagos West coordinator of Agbaje’s campaign immediately assembled “his boys” and took over the state secretariat, declaring himself the state chairman of the party.
Daily Sun reached out to Dominic to react to the development, he dismissed Adewale, while insisting that he remains the state chairman.
“I do not want to join issues with anybody over such nonsense. I have never been an acting chairman. You can call the national chairman to find out the status of the leadership of Lagos chapter. Adewale is not even a member of our party anymore. He left our party to join the ADP and contested on its platform for Ekiti governorship. After he joined the ADP, he has not been readmitted into the PDP, so if anyone wants to know who the authentic chairman is, you can verify from the national leadership or even visit the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is the supervisory body for all political parties.
“He dares not go to the state secretariat because I am still in charge. There is law and order in this country and I have zero tolerance for thuggery. If he thinks that he has thugs, we have the Police and other law enforcement agencies on our side. I do not go about with thugs to intimidate members; what I do is to call the Police to deal with such people,” Adegbola said.
Also speaking on the development, Special Adviser on Political Matters to Chief George, Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu, described Adewale, as an “ungrateful interloper”.
He further said “it is rather disturbing, sickening and sad when one reads the illiterate diatribes emanating from one Segun Adewale against Chief Olabode George.
“Adewale, who calls himself Aeroland, is not a member of PDP. He is a bona fide member of ADP, on whose platform he campaigned in a pitiable and disastrous governorship campaign in Ekiti in the recent election.
“This character called Aeroland, who now shoots his mouth in banal idiocy, remains the greatest beneficiary of Chief Bode George’s large heartedness. I am a witness of how BG (Bode George) liberated this ungrateful character from the clutches of SARS when he was already stripped to his birthday suit, chained and hurled into a Black Maria and perhaps set for unknown fate in 2011.
“BG equally gave him well over 25,000 dollars from his personal resources when this same Adewale campaigned for a Senate seat.
“I was also there this year when this same Adewale crawled and prostrated in Lugard before BG and acknowledged that he not only contested for a governorship seat in Ekiti on the platform of ADP but that he actually collected money from (one of governorship candidates) when his deputy jumped ship and went to APC.
“Now, is this the kind of character that should be locking up PDP secretariat in Lagos, talk less of claiming to be a PDP member! Quite sad, indeed.
“The only person I will blame on this issue is Chief Bode George for being too tolerant and accommodating while idiotic characters blackmail him. Well, maybe that is the price of statesmanship and selflessness,” he said.
But a very credible source within the party exclusively told Daily Sun that George and Dominic should be blamed for Adewale’s hostile takeover of the secretariat. The source narrated what transpired before and during the recent elections and concluded that unless there is a drastic change in how the state chapter is run, the party will continue losing elections.
“Adewale’s claim is that he never officially joined the ADP but that the party adopted him as a candidate for the Ekiti election and that it was not that he ever left PDP. What actually happened is that all of them are claiming that you cannot build something on nothing. Even the chairmanship of Dominic was an ad hoc arrangement. In Lagos State, there was an arrangement of convenience that as the election was drawing closer, they needed a chairman to lead the party after the exit of Moshood Salvador. Adegbola was not an exco member but he was quickly brought in to fill the void left by Salvador and his tenure was supposed to last for only three months and that time has lapsed. Adewale believes that he is the last lawfully recognised chairman who stepped aside as chairman for peace to reign and now that Dominic’s three months has elapsed, he should take over.
“What is playing out now is the bitterness generated from the way Dominic and Bode George mishandled the governorship election. Both of them publicly went to support the candidate of the ADP, Babatunde Gbadamosi, against their own party’s candidate, Jimi Agbaje. After the elections, they began accusing Agbaje of not utilising the campaign funds for the purpose it was meant. But the truth is that two days to the election, when the news filtered in that they had gone to endorse Gbadamosi, Adewale felt bad.
“Bode George and Dominic were seated at the meeting where CUPP endorsed Gbadamosi while Agbaje was still in the race. That is the root of the problem and it is what caused the bitterness that is playing out, and that is what Adewale is riding on. He felt that if the chairman of the party could work against his own candidate, then why should he still be leading the party? You know him well, he has his boys and he has taken control of the party secretariat. Even if we had lost and Dominic had stood firm with Agbaje, Adewale would not have done what he did.
“The style of PDP in Lagos State is that every four years, they want to be given money to share but this time around when the money came from Abuja, because of the many factions within the party, there was an instruction that it should be shared 65, 35 percent. Everybody had been going to Abuja from Lagos to complain that is why when the money came, there was an instruction to share it 65, 35 percent. In other states, the governorship candidate is usually the chairman of the presidential campaign council, so in all the states, as soon as the lump sum for elections came, it was given to the chairmen of the campaign council to disburse.
“There was an instruction that senatorial candidates across the states should be given N10 million each while House of Representatives candidates should be given N5 million but when it came to Lagos, because of the factions, they were all told to come. Money was given to the House of Representative candidates to work for themselves and for Atiku. Some people collected 120 million, some collected N140 million, some collected N80 million depending on the size of your constituency. When the money came, Dominic was present when Agbaje shared out the money to the House of Representatives candidates as instructed by the national leadership of the party. But the leaders wanted the lump sum to be given to them and shared as usual but Agbaje did as he was instructed by the party and at the end, he did not leave the venue with a penny. That is the truth. Dominic left the place with N10 million and the senatorial candidates left with N10 million each. But because of the instruction that said the money should be given to the House of Representatives members, the bulk money was given to them. This money was for the presidential and National Assembly elections; his own election was in two weeks” the source added.
Daily Sun however gathered that Agbaje did not get money from Abuja to prosecute the governorship.
Corroborating the above fact, the source further said “when it was time for Agbaje’s election, we were reliably told that no money came from Abuja after the initial money that was given to the national assembly candidates. In fact, we learnt that till now Agbaje is still struggling to pay the agents that manned the polling booths. We were also told that he gave each House of Assembly candidate one million from his personal funds for their campaigns and they are still very bitter because they know how much the national assembly candidates got. Adewale knows where the problem of Lagos came from and that is probably why he is doing what he is doing. If Agbaje was the chairman of the presidential campaign in Lagos like other state governorship candidates, the story would have been different.
“Many of the national assembly candidates, who had probably not handled such amount before, got the money and went to sleep. For them, it was a windfall. They had gotten huge capital and their mentality was that since APC is in charge, they are likely to lose the election so there was no need campaigning, so they locked up shop. Many of them took the money, disappeared and switched off their phones. They deliberately sabotaged themselves because they felt that they didn’t want to lose the money they were given.
“There is still a lot of bitterness; people are hurt on all sides, so the party needs time to heal. If PDP wants to survive in Lagos, they must go back to the basics. There should be a proper congress where recognised leaders will emerge. Let the members of the party, not godfathers, take charge of the party again. The 65, 35 percent sharing formula for leadership positions at the ward, local government and state levels which they have always used has shown that it is a recipe for failure. Bode George usually is the one who produces 65 percent of the leadership positions while the remaining 35 were usually shared by people like Adewale, Mrs. Maina, Agbaje, Ogunlewe. Bode George has always had the mentality of ownership of the party because he is the one that produces 65 percent of those who occupy leadership positions.”
Lagos PDP speaks
Daily Sun reached out to the state publicity secretary, Taofeek Gani, who said the zonal leadership has declared Dominic as the authentic chairman. He said: “that issue has been resolved because the South West PDP has issued a statement on that. If something is happening at the Local Government level, it is the state that clarifies it but if something is happening at the state level, it is the zonal leaders that clarify it and the issue has been resolved. The South West zonal chairman has said the person that the party recognises is Dr. Adegbola Dominic. On the strength of what the South West zonal chairman has said, anyone who is not Adegbola Dominic still laying claim to the chairmanship of the party is an agent who wants to destroy the party. Anybody who is ambitious to be the state chairman should wait for the appropriate time.
“People who have sincere interest in contesting for leadership positions in the party should not make it look like they are carrying out a hatchet job. Everybody should let peace reign because we have been politically haemorrhaged by the result of the governorship election and what we need now is to come together and make concerted efforts to keep the party going. Very soon, we will have congresses and people can contest. But when people are laying claim to the office that is not theirs, it means they are carrying out a hatchet job. Edy Olafeso, the South West zonal chairman said it publicly that Adewale joined the ADP and he has not been formally welcomed back to the PDP, so as far as we are concerned, he is not a member of the party.
“However I cannot deny that our governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, gave Adewale a role in his campaign as the Lagos West coordinator. But what I can tell you is that the South West zonal leadership is the superior body and they have clarified all that needs to be clarified,” the party’s spokesman insisted.
When Daily Sun contacted Adewale, he said that his mission is to free the state chapter from the stranglehold of godfathers. He says the removal of Sheriff as the acting national chairman does not invalidate his election as chairman and also insists that unless a proper congress is held, he will not give up control of the secretariat.
“The South West PDP is led by a politician who works hand in hand with Chief Bode George and has jettisoned the constitution. Section 46 and 47 of the constitution states clearly the procedure for the appointment of a chairman after the demise or resignation of a chairman. The procedure is for the state council to come together and select or vote to produce a new chairman. It is either that is done or a new congress is held. Neither of the two was done. But what the zonal chairman did was to come to Lagos and appointed Dominic. We did not fight because elections were very close and if I had done anything at that time, they will say that I made them lose the elections.
“I won election as chairman during the 2016 congress. The end of Ali Modu Sheriff’s leadership has nothing to do with the election of the state chairmen. That is why Buruji Kashamu took the case to court and won. The court judgment that kept the executive of Kashamu’s faction in Ogun is the same judgment that keeps me in Lagos. Ali Modu Sheriff was sacked but the structure remained.
“We want to win elections in Lagos and Bode George cannot be the only won to continue giving us a state chairman as he has been doing since 1999 and we will be losing elections. This is a man who has never won election in his polling unit. How can a man who has never won election be the one to always produce a chairman? I am the new leader of PDP in Lagos because I have won elections in my polling unit, ward and local government without receiving money from anyone. But Bode George has been receiving money but has never won in his polling unit.
“If the national leadership will issue a directive, it has to be in line with the party’s constitution not according to what Bode George wants. We cannot continue like this because if I do not fight now, it means we will lose elections again in 2023 and 2027. I am waiting for the national leadership to give a directive because I am not listening to the South West zonal chairman at all. The national leadership has to either conduct a fresh congress or mandate the state executive to come together and vote for a new chairman from that same senatorial district where the former chairman came from.
“The issue is very straightforward. If Bode George can come out and say that Dominic is the chairman, why can’t I also claim the chairmanship? If it is constitutionally done like how we did it for Salvador, the former chairman, where I had to step down, then, I would not mind. I am not saying that I have to be the chairman.
“A problem has to be created for a problem to be solved. You cannot make peace with someone like Bode George. He was the vice chairman of the PDP for eight years, so there is no way you can defeat him if you are trying to always negotiate with him. He has his people everywhere. We need an election and if he wins, fine. PDP has always written the names of executive members from Bode George’s house since 1999 and that is why people are leaving the party. We cannot continue like this. I am not going to leave PDP for Bode George; he’s the one that will leave for me.”
As at the time of publication, the national leadership of the party has not waded into the crisis. When Daily Sun contacted Kola Ologbodiyan, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, he said it is the responsibility of the Organising Secretary of the party to handle such issues.
But when Daily Sun contacted the party’s Organising Secretary, Colonel Austin Akobundu (retd), he simply said “we are doing something about it. Talk to the publicity secretary. He is the person that speaks for the party.”