Political crisis deepens in Ogun state, Bankole floats Parallel PDP Structure to silence Daniel

Source: huhuonline.com
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Over the years now all seem not to be well with PDP in Ogun State, despite the pretence of the political gladiators in the state. Huhuonline.com understands that Hon. Dimeji Bankole, the Egba born Speaker of the House of Reps who is one of the

big players in Ogun PDP recently put a fast one on his arch rival, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), by setting up a parallel PDP structure in the state to battle the state Governor, OGD for the 2011 election.

Available facts have it that Hon. Bankole and other Ogun PDP opposition members like Alhaji Sule Onabiyi, Alhaji Jubril Martins Kuye, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, Alhaji Tunji Ishola, and others have finally begun their journey to hijack Ogun PDP structure from OGD after several unsuccessful attempts to have him integrate them back into the mainstream of his own caucus of Ogun PDP. The parallel PDP structure secretariat for Ogun State located in Onikolobo area of Abeokuta as Alhaji Sule Onabiyi as its arrow head while other big names in the opposition are operating in the background. Analysts are of the opinion that the Hon Dimeji Bankole's council Ogun State PDP structure might eventually get recognition of the national executive of PDP, instead of the Joju Fadairo led faction which is presently in the camp of OGD.

An source divulge to huhuonline.com that the Vincent Ogbulafor led PDP national exco is presently sympathetic to the course of Hon Dimeji Bankole and the Ogun State PDP opposition members with the promise to support them in their resolve to hijack PDP structure from the firm grip of OGD. Huhuonline.com gathered further that Ogbulafor and his group believed that Hon Bankole and his group were the People who brought PDP to Ogun State, and if the national exco fail to support them, the party might lose the 2011 elections to opposition in Ogun state.It was also gathered that Ogbulafor and his exco are not too comfortable with the way Governor Daniel is trying push them out of party rather than resolving the differences with them. Our source concluded that PDP National Executive Council (NEC) as resolved to give recognition to the Sule Onabiyi's led structure, rather than support the OGD structure, which the believe will create multi dimensional problems for the party when 2011 elections begin.

On the other hand, the man at the centre of the storm, Governor Daniel seems to be unperturbed with the decisions of Obgulafor and his group support the Hon Dimeji Bankole group despite the fact that the move has now become an open secret in Ogun socio-political discourse. Huhuonline.com checks have it Governor Daniel and his loyalists have also mapped out strategies on how to curtail Hon. Dimeji Bankole and his aggression in Ogun PDP. An impeccable source in their group also informed that ''we would roll out arsenal too when Ogbulafor and his group come out openly to hijack Ogun PDP structure for Dimeji Bankole.''

No one is likely to be surprised that the strange bedfellows in the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State will decide one day to go their different ways. No one, however, ever thought that the clearly polarised party would start the process of division so soon. The party, which does not seem to have any opposition in the state, had steamrolled its way to capturing the governorship, three senatorial, nine House of Representatives, 26 state House of Assembly seats while it capped the 'landslide' with the 20 local government chairmanship seats in the state in 2007 election. In doing this, it pulled all shades of politicians to the camp and expectedly all who came to take refuge, felt they have a stake which has not been acknowledged and dispassionately dispensed.

The struggle for who decides who becomes the state governor, in 2010 has pitted all factions in the state PDP against the 'central' faction, the state PDP executive committee, led by Chief Joju Fadairo, a body which has remained loyal to the state Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The governor has not been helped by his face-off with prominent party members in the state: the state PDP elders, a section of the state House of Assembly and a legion of federal lawmakers from the state. All the splinter groups, however, appear to have found a common ground to launch the final onslaught against their common enemy, the governor.

The constitution of a parallel executive committee in the state PDP is said to be the answer of the splinter groups to test the political waters in the state. With four officers of the group signing a statement without a letterhead and any known address, one was tempted to take the individuals, who signed the document as jokers. The officers who signed the documents are the Chairman, Chief Semiu Sodipo, the Vice-Chairman, Chief Dele Odulaja; the state Secretary, Mr. Dayo Adebayo, and the Publicity Secretary, Chief Babatunde Fadun. The renovation of an imposing building in the Onikolobo area of the state capital and the speed at which the renovation was carried out suggested that there was more to the parallel executive council than Sodipo and his group.

The Fadairo-led executive, however, felt there was the need to apply the hammer on the offending groups within the party, announcing the sacking of the Chairman, State Elders' Council, Alhaji Sule Onabiyi, while Sodipo and his crew were suspended from the party for fanning the embers of disunity.

The South-West PDP felt the need to douse the tension by declaring the parallel executive illegal but reversing the sacking of Onabiyi. The state exco celebrated the declaration of the Fadairo-led exco as constitutionally recognised but kept silent on the Onabiyi factor since it had already appointed Chief Okanlawon Soboyede as the new Chairman of the Elders Council. That move appears to be far from settling the stand-off, which may be difficult to resolve before the state primaries for the 2011 elections. The current face-off between the arm of the party that is loyal to Daniel and the parallel executive, said to enjoy the backing of the elders, two of the senators from the state, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, and four of his colleagues, the group of 15 legislators in the House of Assembly, among others, is said to be premised on the February 2008 state congress, where the Fadairo-led executive was said to have been elected.

Sodipo, holding the position of the splinter groups, claimed that the congress did not fulfil the constitutional requirements or the congress guidelines of the party. According to him, the congress can only evolve from the ward level to the state level, saying no congress held at the ward level in the state for the 2008 congress.”There is a party constitution and there is a guideline for the conduct of the state congress; it must start from the wards. The 2008 congress did not start from the wards and we know that there was no election,” he said. The Director of Organisation of the PDP, Mr. Deji Kalejaiye, did not agree with the submission of Sodipo, arguing that the congress, held in February 2008, was conducted in the spirit and the tenets of the party constitution. ”What they are trying to say does not hold water. They cannot get anything with what they are saying: a congress was held and officers were elected, so, what is the problem?” said Kalejaiye, who is also the Publicity Secretary of the party.

The weapon of the parallel executive is a report submitted to the PDP national office by the monitoring committee to the 2008 congress, headed by the former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu. Mantu had initially commended the congress in Abeokuta, saying there was no violence since the officers were consensus candidates. His report, however, did more than commendation when he noted that his committee”was reluctantly welcomed to the state after four hours of waiting.” Mantu added that elections did not hold at the wards and the local governments'level as stipulated by the constitution of the party, implying that the exercise was fraught with errors. The parallel exco had decided to hold on to this report, which is yet to be challenged by the state party since it was submitted two years ago.Despite the pronouncement of the National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-West, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, on the crisis, Sodipo said the group had not been deterred by such directive.

''No, nothing has changed. It's just a pronouncement; it has nothing to do with us. The case is before the national executive council of the party. The national executive council will listen to both of us and see whose case is genuine. That is when we will know which one is the legal and the illegal body,” he said. Findings by huhuonline.com revealed that the parallel executive members, who are yet to fill the other executive posts in their faction, is relying on the federal might of the state legislators in Abuja, the elders which gave birth to it and the wealth of its sponsors to fight the Fadairo-led executive to a stand-still and probably upturn it.

It was reliably learnt that Daniel's estranged ally, Mr. Buruji Kashamu, is playing a key role in the new parallel body, having fallen out of favour with the Governor over some irreconcilable differences. Though, Kashamu has been widely quoted as saying he was not a politician and does not hope to be one, he had equally admitted to be a financier of the party in the state. At the last count, investigations revealed that the businessman had distributed cars and money to PDP executive members in 20 of the 26 local government areas of the state. As a matter of fact, the fracas among PDP members in Ota, in October last year, was said to have been precipitated by the sharing of the largesse of the Omo Ilu group. He was said to have claimed that he had spent N800m to settle the recurring bickering in the state party, which might have occurred when he was running the OGD PDP Omo Ilu group, said to be an avenue for empowerment of party members in the state.

The open alliance between the elders, Bankole and Kashamu was demonstrated at a reception for the businessman at the Ago Iwoye home of the former Minister of State for Finance, Senator Jubril Martins Kuye, in November 2009. At the reception, attended by Bankole, Kuye, while eulogising the Omo Ilu founder, called on party stakeholders to ”embrace Kashamu” and benefit from his massive financial clout. This intimidating posturing of Omo Ilu may not be enough to tackle the power of incumbency of Daniel, which is key in the Nigerian political context, if the group, which had dumped the OGD toga, had not aligned with the Majiyagbe Group, said to be the political machinery of Bankole. Only those not properly following the politics of the state would claim not to know that the gulf between the governor and Bankole has become wider with Daniel openly accusing the Speaker few days ago of being a curse rather than a blessing to the state.

With Bankole, who had repeatedly in the past, denied eyeing the governorship of the state, said to have been 'coerced' by the elders to run for the post, the battle ahead, to control the state party machinery, appears to be nothing but going to be titanic. This is based on the premise that Ogun West, which is reported to be enjoying substantial support from Daniel, is agitating to produce the state governor for the first time in 34 years in 2011. A leader in the zone, Senator Ayo Otegbola, had once vowed that any party that fails to field a Yewa/Awori for the state governorship election in 2011, should forget about winning the race to Oke Mosan Government House.Kalejaiye had said the party in the state would determine what happens in the state while Sodipo contended that the national executive of the PDP would determine how the situation in the state would go. He is of the view that where dispute in a state will prevent the presentation of candidates for elections, the national body will step in. The battle to control the PDP machinery in Ogun State does not appear to have been decided. What is clear, however, is that the political battle ahead is definitely going to be fiercer while only time and party joggling will tell who emerges the winner among the contending heavyweights, and whether this plot will yield the party any favour only time will tell.

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