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JONATHAN SWEEPS SOUTH WEST PDP

By NBF News
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Ahead of the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the South-west geo-political zone may have opted to throw its support behind President Goodluck Jonathan.

Daily Sun investigations show that majority of the political associations within the party are rooting for Jonathan. In Lagos State, for instance which had at various times in the last eleven and a half years been controlled by former vice president, and presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, there is a seeming settled consensus backing for Jonathan.

Although the state party executive (exco) was installed and still controlled by imprisoned former chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Chief Olabode George, its sympathy for Jonathan's aspiration is barely disguised. George and the exco had initial issues against Jonathan over alleged indifference to his plight. The government's new disposition has ensured maximum comfort for him at his Kirikiri prisons, unfettered access by his relations, friends and coterie of political associates, as well as security and alleged promise of bail and state pardon.

Although, George and the exco's support for Jonathan is still fluid, attempts by the national leadership of the party to dissolve it came to naught with the propaganda that the arrow head of the push, Chief Dapo Sarumi was a core Atiku man, with ancillary links to former Lagos State governor and Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Sarumi had moved for a fusion of all the groups within the party for a collegiate composition of the exco.

Jonathan intervened in the brewing cauldron when he addressed all the stakeholders in the party a few months ago and promised far-reaching reforms.

About five major groups are in the welter of the struggle to control the party. They are Global Mandate led by former Minister of Works, Senator Oluseye Ogunlewe, and Ambassador (Dr) Tunji Sule, Lagos State Forum, LSF led by Senator Wahab Dosunmu and Mrs Dupe Sasore, the Harmony group led by Dr. Yomi Finnih; the new movement led by Chief Dapo Sarumi, and the establishment led by Chief Bode George.

The crème de la crème of Lagos PDP politicians belong to these five groups; except for the longest serving former chairman of the party, Alhaji Muhammed Ashorobi, and Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju (rtd), who broke away to form a movement backing the presidential aspiration of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd).

Atiku, Gen Aliyu Gusau, and Governor Bukola Saraki are yet to have a strong foothold in the party in the state.

In Ogun, home state of Obasanjo, while the tussle for the governorship seat of the state in 2011 mimmers between him and Governor Gbenga Daniel, it has not affected their sympathy and support for Jonathan.

Obasanjo has positioned Gen Tunji Olurin (rtd) who he drafted to Ekiti State as sole administrator after the declaration of state of emergency in 2006, as the new governor, with his daughter Senator Iyabo Obasanjo as deputy. This arrangement is at cross-purposes with Daniel's position who prefers Gboyega Isiaka, although they are united in Yewa/Awori division producing the next governor.

Daniel has rallied the Ijebu division, which controls more than 50 per cent of Ogun electorate against the former president's candidate. The Yoruba unity forum, which meets every two months at the late Obafemi Awolowo's Ikenne home has unsuccessfully interfaced in the rift.

Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, has partially clobbered most of the groups opposed to Jonathan in the state into line. Presently, there is confusion over the allegiance of the group belonging to the immediate past governor, Chief Rasheed Ladoja, owing to a sustained romance with Atiku over the years. Akala's firm control of the affairs of the party in the state and his support for Jonathan have all the indices of a full swing for the president's aspiration.

In Ondo State, ex-governor Olusegun Agagu is working at full blast for the party's support for Jonathan with very minimal opposition. The same scenario applies to Ekiti state PDP which though has lost power to the rival ACN, has created deep structures for Jonathan's presidential aspiration.

Perhaps, the only weak link is Osun State PDP, where the governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola has sympathy for Babangida. But his closeness to Obasanjo has created the enablement for a keen appraisal and comparative evaluation of Jonathan and Babangida. Daily Sun learnt that the lot falls on Jonathan, especially as the majority of the party stalwarts are already working for some of the pro-Jonathan's presidential groups.

Chairman, Publicity and Media Committee of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Committee in Lagos, Chief Willie Akinlude disclosed that Atiku's short stint in the ACN cost him most of his supporters in Lagos and the South-West.

'When he left for ACN before the 2007 elections, most of his supporters and associates especially in the Primrose circle and Patriotic Front, PF, did not go with him, and have since found other allies.'