By Ndubuisi Orji and Anthony Obi
“THERE is time for everything. A time for war and a time for peace.” So says the holy bible. Apparently in keeping with this biblical injunction, the members of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Lagos State gathered at the party’s secretariat in Ikeja, the state capital, recently, for what observers described as a soul searching session by the opposition.
The gathering, tagged General Assembly of all the party stalwarts in the state, was massively attended by members of the party from across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas in Lagos State. That would be the first time members of the party would be meeting after the 2015 general election.
The assembly, which was well attended by leadership of the party and stakeholders, have in attendance former PDP Deputy National Chairman and leader of the party in the state, Chief Bode George; Lagos State PDP Chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle (retd.), former gubernatorial flag bearer of the party in last governorship election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, former minister of works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, members of the House of Assembly, amongst others.
The party had recorded some level of success in the last general election, winning a total of 16 legislative seats, which included six seats at the House of Representatives and eight seats at the Lagos State House of Assembly. However, unfortunately, few weeks after the last general election, some members of the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party, led by the Vice Chairman (Lagos Central), Mr. Kamal Olorunoje, moved against the state chairman of the party, Captain Tunji Shelle(retd.). The Olorunoje’s group purportedly sacked Shelle, as party chairman and replaced him with the former. Since then, the party has been divided with the aggrieved party leaders, staying away from the party secretariat where Shelle still calls the shots.
Expectedly, for the Lagos PDP, the General Assembly was an opportunity for introspection, stock taking and seeking ways to close ranks among party members, especially those who nurse one grievance or the other against the party, for the challenges ahead. The party is warming up for its congresses and the next local government election in the state, which may hold soon.
Addressing party members, George stated that the main problem of the party was indiscipline within its fold and blacklegs, who has continuously undermined the party from within. Therefore, he said if the party must make progress and build on its successes, there was need to stem out indiscipline from and get rid of the enemies within. He said anything short of that would be counter-productive.
According to him, it was acts of indiscipline by members of the party and internal sabotaged that had always militated against the electoral victory of the party since 1998.
“This cannot continue. Nobody is above the constitution of the party. We must either conform with the strict adherence to the normative pattern of party rules or we ship out. There will be no exemptions. The party is supreme,” he said.
The PDP leader, who was peeved by the lost of the party in the last gubernatorial election in the state, lamented that the party lost a golden opportunity to produce a governor for Lagos noted that: “We were defeated by the agent provocateurs within our ranks. We were defeated by political renegades who merely invested in their own greedy and selfish interests. Our victory was scuttled by evil characters who preferred the narrow position of the ministerial office than the collective esteem and honour of winning Lagos State gubernatorial election,” he said.
George expressed delight that despite back-stabbing and deliberate treachery, the party recorded its best performance in the last general elections, since inception of the party in 1998.
In his words: “This party has come to stay. Despite all that is happening in the party, the party is still waxing stronger. But even with this back-stabbing we performed well. The party did better than the previous elections since the inception of the party. We must never give up.”
He urged leaders and members to always respect the rules and regulations of the party, adding that whatever the party must have all agreed upon must be binding on everyone regardless of status or rank.
Also speaking, the Lagos State PDP flag bearer at the governorship election, Jimi Agbaje, appealed to aggrieved party members to bury the hatchet in the overall interest of the party. The former gubernatorial candidate said it is imperative for Lagos PDP to be united, if it must make headway in the politics of the state.
He said it is okay for members of the party to express misgivings, when they feel things had not gone well. However, Agbaje said that is not enough reason to bring down the party.
The former governorship hopeful urged party stalwarts to take note of those leaders, who has betrayed the party in time past, and ensure that such leaders are not given fresh responsibilities in the
“I tell my people that to be upset does not mean we should bring the house down. People that are upset should know that the best way to fight is to say we have learnt our lessons and correct our mistakes. People that we gave money and they made use of the money for another thing, we know them next we will not delegate such responsibilities to them and we will vote such people out in our congresses if they are vie for any post,” Agbaje stated.
The state chairman, who also stressed the need for unity in the party, said the battle ahead is enormous and as such required every hand to be on deck. He said the people of the state are looking onto the PDP to give them succour from the present ruling party, the All Progressives Congress(APC).
Shelle, scored the Lagos State government low, noting that the government has failed to keep its campaign promises to the electorates. He said PDP must bounce back to correct the anomalies.
“The only thing I know is that he (Governor Akinwumi Ambode) only added to BRT buses. We know the task here in Lagos, by 2019 we are going to take back Lagos State.”
George said the party would give every member a sense of belonging in the running of its affair. Therefore, he called on party leaders at various levels in the state shun imposition of party officials during the forthcoming congresses of the party. He said as the leader of the party in Lagos State, he is committed to creating a level playing field for all those seeking for various offices in the party, as well allowing the members a say in the choice of those who lead them.
However, he stated that caucuses and groupings would no longer be tolerated in the party, stating that it is one of the factors militating against the progress of the party.
“ Enough of all these so called groupings, it is unhealthy. It is divisive. It does not build a healthy and strong national party. It is parochial and destructive. Henceforth, all the so called alliances from the Isale-Eko mandate to Idumota Initiative, from Global Mandate to Surulere Parapo – they should all be disbanded, dissolved, dismantled immediately.”
“Let all of them pack up forthwith, and fuse into the integral body of our party. PDP is our truly uniting body. It is our unifying strength and our great beacon of solidarity. Together, with the same vision, with the same attitude, with the same spirit and the same resolve, we will start anew with a sense of renewal and a sense of reinvigorated mission. Let us be honest with ourselves. Let us be genuine and sincere in whatever we do. Let us raise the banner of our party high with pride and with faithfulness and confidence,” he said.