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2011: IBB, GUSAU, SARAKI MAKE INROAD INTO ONDO

By NBF News

Despite the adoption of President Goodluck Jonathan by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west, a crisis of confidence may have hit the Ondo State chapter of the party as a section is rooting for the aspiration of other presidential aspirants.

Since former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo led the zonal party leadership to adopt President Jonathan for 2011 presidency, prominent and ambitious members of the party in the state have started pitching tents with aspirants other than the president.

After the South-west PDP meeting, things have taken a new turn in the party in Ondo State in the wake of the declaration of intention by other aspirants like General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau and Dr. Bukola Saraki, governor of Kwara State as no fewer than three groups have emerged in the state, each rooting for their preferred presidential hopeful.

The erstwhile national security adviser and presidential aspirant, Aliyu Gusau had last week met with leaders of the state chapters of the PDP including Ondo where the aspirant solicited their support for his aspiration.

Director of Publicity, Ondo State Chapter, Ayo Fadaka admitted in an interview yesterday that he would not be surprised that some black legs could be against the collective decision of the South-west PDP, describing it as normal for some of the party members, in exercise of their rights, to meet with any of the aspirants and pledge their support because of their own personal political interest.

He explained that whatever the case may be, the party in the South-west had decided to follow President Jonathan in 2011 and the position remained the same, adding that the PDP in Ondo State would not have expected that no other aspirant would reach out.

However, it was learnt that the division in the PDP started from the time the Dr. Olusegun Agagu-led PDP government was sacked by the Appeal Court in Benin, paving the way for Olusegun Mimiko as governor in February 2009.

The development had since led to emergence of various groups which in turn produced governorship aspirants on the platform of the PDP, each of who perceive that certain presidential aspirants would serve their respective interests better.

Sources revealed that Chief Agagu, with some leaders, however, differed with the development, saying the challenges before the party should not be actualization of mere personal interests but how to put the party back on track.

Since former governor Agagu had been ousted, groups had emerged such as the Unity Forum under the leadership of Agagu and the PDP Renewal Group under former commissioner for finance, Tayo Alasoadura and former secretary to the state government, Isaac Kekemeke. The Renewal Group had already adopted Alasoadura as its preferred candidate for the governorship of the state, which Agagu and his associates did not support.

This was the situation when former president Olusegun Obasanjo brokered peace last August in Abuja but the situation got worse when immediately after the meeting, both groups maintained their hard line postures on how the party should be run and the aspirants to be supported.

It was learnt that the Alasoadura/Kekemeke group had met with General Aliyu Gusau in Abuja before the general's resignation as NSA even as some retired generals met with the group on behalf of IBB in order to elicit the group's support having discovered that the Agagu-led group had already keyed in to the Jonathan project.

Follow-up meetings were also held prior to the decision of the South-west leadership of the PDP to support the presidential aspiration of Jonathan.

Curiously, weeks after the meeting which held in Ibadan, a member of the Alasoadura group met and nominated a prominent member of the group, Mr. Segun Dabo who was chairman of the Ondo State Sports Council, to coordinate IBB's campaign in Ondo State. The campaign organisation of Dr. Saraki also met with some leaders of the state chapters of the PDP yesterday in Abuja but the outcome could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, the PDP Director of Publicity, Fadaka, however, said the development could not be said to have polarised the PDP in Ondo because 'no responsible party leader in the state would go against the decision of the entire South-west that Jonathan be supported to be president. What is more important, particularly in Ondo State, is how we will reclaim power from the Labour Party in the state come 2012 and not who will be governor, so I do not think that is an issue.'