Key power brokers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have scaled the contest for the party’s national chairman down to a former Deputy National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus and a former Education Minister Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the power brokers may have arrived at the decision for strategic political reasons, particularly the influence and contributions of the backers of the two contestants to the party.
The attraction to the two contestants lies in the general perception that they appear “supple and flexible” and that they are likely to be adaptable to testy situations.
Secondus enjoys the backing of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike. He also hails from the state, while Adeniran has the support of a sizable number of elders of the party, particularly from the North.
Investigation further revealed that Wike has been rallying support for Secondus among his colleague governors in the South-South and the South East which are expected to produce the highest number of delegates for the December 9 national convention.
A former Information Minister Prof Jerry Gana, is the arrow head of contact and Mobilisation outreach for Adeniran in the North, particularly in Gombe and Taraba States which are under the control of the PDP.
However, if Wike eventually yields to pressure being mounted on him by some interest groups to allow the position go to the South West, then the Adeniran candidacy may have a smooth sail.
The PDP is fragmented in many of the states in the South West, a situation that may have compounded issues for Adeniran who requires enough delegate votes from the zone.
Also at issue is the opposition to the aspiration of the former Education Minister by Ekiti State Governor. Ayo Fayose. Fayose’s calculation is that if Adeniran emerges chairman, it would have blocked his chance of picking the vice presidential ticket of the party in the 2019 election. Ademniran hails from Ekiti.
Fayose a few weeks ago declared his interest to run for president even when the party leadership had zoned the ticket to the North.
Many interpreted his declaration to run for president as a veiled attempt to bargain for the vice presidential ticket, which may have been quietly zoned to the South East.
The only prominent position zoned to the South East zone in the coming convention is that of the National Organising Secretray, which cannot stop the zone from picking the vice presidential ticket.
The fate of a former Deputy National Chairman (South West), Chief Olabode George who is the most experienced of all the chairmanship aspirants, having served at the national secretariat for 10 unbroken years, is hanging in the balance.
Although George is favoured by a large number of radical elements in the party across the geopolitical zones, the major power brokers however consider him too hot to handle.
Tough and highly independent minded, the former navy officer and ex-military governor, George does not trike the right chord among the conservative elements and key power brokers in the party.
Our correspondent gathered that one of the major reasons they are opposed to his emergence as chairman is his track record of strict adherence to established rules, which may make it difficult for anyone to exert undue influence on him.
Prof Taoheed Adedoja who is also in the race is seen not to have the required experience in party administration.
Mr. Jimi Agbaje who was favoured for the position of chairman in the party’s botched 2016 convention appeared to have lost steam, as his major backers in the South East and South South have turned their back on him. His campaign has remained tepid.
Former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel may also not go far. His ongoing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is being considered a baggage by key stakeholders.
In the same boat with Daniel is Chief Raymond Dokpesi who is also facing trial over his alleged involvement in the $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal with former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki.
The perception within party circles is that the government of the day might plant distractions in the way of Daniel and Dokpesi at the most critical state, particularly if any of the two should emerge chairman.
A former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja who is also in the race is the least considered appropriate for the job. Having rejoined the PDP from the Accord only last month, his candidacy may prove a hard sell.
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