JMK, OKUPE, KASHAMU, OTHERS TIGHTEN NOOSE ON OBJ
It hosts, perhaps, the largest concentration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) big wigs in the South-west in comparative terms of stature, affluence and influence both on the national and international scenes. These include: former president Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-governor Gbenga Daniel, former minister Jubril Martins-Kuye, former SSG Sarafadeen Isola, Chief Buruji Kashamu, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Ambassador Tunde Oladunjoye former military governor of Oyo State, Tunji Olurin, and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
Yet in spite of this apparently huge asset, the Ogun State PDP has remained hollow chaff, bearing no fruit due to division that has beset it and caused its defeat in the 2011 elections. The once winning party, which ruled Ogun and controlled all members of the National Assembly, 20 local governments and 236 councilors in the state, is, however, still to pop out of the crisis, despite internal realignment of forces.
The crux of the matter is the struggle for the control of the party, which pitted its chieftains and supporters against one another. For instance, relationship between Obasanjo and Kashamu, one of the biggest financiers of the party in the state, is said to have broken down completely while the duo of Martins-Kuye and Daniel have reconciled, even though unconfirmed reports suggest that the former may be contemplating retiring from active partisan politics.
As it were, therefore, three groups have emerged in the party; Obasanjo, Kashamu and OGD/JMK. While the Kashamu group wields financial power, Obasanjo relies on political influence, particularly at the federal level. OGD/JMK faction, however, reckons on the formidable political structure it has built over the years, particularly while still in government.
A chieftain of the party in the state, assessing the strengths of the factions, told Daily Sun: 'Baba has no ground forces, he has no electoral value and that has been demonstrated time and time again. You will recall that his daughter, Iyabo, lost election, his governorship candidate in the 2011 elections, Olurin, lost. So, did Dimeji Bankole, who ran to his side last year as well as other PDP candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives. In 1999, he won nothing. It was when OGD came in 2003 that the PDP became an election-winning machine.'
Despite this, the party chief admitted that Obasanjo was still revered because of his association with Aso Rock Villa. 'Those with him are there only because they still have expectation of getting federal appointments, which they believe he can influence.' But with the recommendation of the Oronsanye Panel, which recommended the prunning of the 482 boards of federal institutions to 168, observers note that opportunities of such appointments have shrunken. The pundits said when the boards were fully constituted, this grave implication, would become obvious and it may not be far fetched to predict a flocking back of members to the Kashamu and OGD/JMK groups.
That may mark the total isolation of Obasanjo, which is gradually on, particularly with the purported romance of the Kashamu group with OGD. A pointer to this was the surprise appearance of stalwarts of this group, led by Kashamu himself, at the birthday ceremony of the former governor at his country home in Sagamu some weeks ago.
The purported decision to drop the Owu-born politician is further said to have been informed by the allegation that he played the spoiler by promoting Olurin as the PDP gubernatorial candidate against a fellow Yewa man, which enabled his Egba kinsman, Ibikunle Amosun, who allegedly was his actual candidate, to win the 2011 polls by default. Other party stalwarts of younger generations, who think the party could do without Obasanjo in the state, who hav begun dissociating from him include Okupe, Dayo Abatan, Semiu Sodipo and Dayo Soremi.
Close watchers of events in the state, however, doubt if this brood could successfully consign the old, wily Obasanjo into oblivion and irrelevance. In spite of his recent quitting as chairman of the party's Board of Trustees (BoT), the former General, they noted, still commands great clout, having installed 'his boys' both as the National Secretary of the party and the zonal National Vice Chairman in the persons of Mr. Segun Oni and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
They cited the refusal of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to recognise the Kashamu-installed state executive, which has snowballed into a face-off between the two as pointing to the fact that the trouble with the party is just beginning.