Sunday, 6 January 2019

Agbaje Goes Solo, Shuns Party Bigwigs In Campaign

There are indications that the cracks in the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic may have informed the decision of its governorship candidate, Mr Jimi Agbaje, to operate without the support of the party’s bigwigs in the state.

it was gathered that Agbaje had assembled his campaign team without any input from the party’s leadership including a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George.

It was further learnt that as a result of the development, George and some PDP big shots in the state were not involved in the ongoing campaign of the Lagos PDP governorship candidate.

A source within the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the development was the outcome of a deep-seated disagreement between Agbaje and George, which began in 2015.

The source said, “After ex-President Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential election, the presidency started relating directly with Jimi Agbaje, who was the PDP governorship candidate for Lagos State. This was at the expense of other elders.

“The situation further worsened when Agbaje lost the election. Some elders of the party were angry that he called Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to congratulate him when the result had not been officially announced.

“It was Bode George that brought Agbaje to the party. But under the PDP structure, if the party is not in power in the state, the governorship candidate becomes the leader of the party. But this did not go down well with some elders of the party in Lagos who felt he (Agbaje) was a new entrant.

“Another factor that further divided the party was the period the PDP had its national chairmanship tussle, which created two factions, one led by Ahmed Markafi and the other by Ali Modu Sheriff. Bode George was with Markafi, while Agbaje was with a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Mrs Aduke Maina, who was with Sheriff.”

According to the source, it was the Bode George group that produced the former chairman of the party in Lagos, Mr Moshood Salvador, who, on assumption of office, reportedly aligned with the Maina/Sheriff camp.

He stressed that it was that alignment that consumed Salvador and some of his supporters.

The source said, “Another problem that created further division among the party leaders was the recent national chairmanship election where Bode George first declared his interest and shortly afterwards, Agbaje did same for the slot. This singular act escalated their division. At the moment, Agbaje claims he is working with all the stakeholders, but as a concerned stakeholder, who is grounded in the party’s operations, I can tell you that it is not completely true.”

Another source within the party, who also preferred not to be named, confirmed that some party leaders in the state had no input in the composition of Agbaje’s campaign organisation.

The source, however, disclosed that a few elders of the party such as Mrs Aduke Maina and a former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, were actively involved in Agbaje’s campaign.

“The present Lagos State Chairman of the party, Dr Adegbola Dominic, does not follow Agbaje around during his campaign activities. The elders with him are Mrs Aduke Maina, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Chief Willy Akinlude, among others,” she said.

But the Director of Media and Publicity, Jimi Agbaje Campaign Organisation, Felix Oboagwina, denied that Agbaje did not involve the PDP stalwarts in his campaign activities.

According to him, the state party chairman is the deputy head of the campaign council, which Agbaje heads.

“The instruction from the national head office of the party is that every state should have a campaign council headed by the governorship candidate and the deputy will be the state chairman of the party. There have been successful series of meetings with all stakeholders,” he said.

Commenting on the development, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The campaign is structured in a way that in a state like Lagos, where we do not have a governor, the governorship candidate should lead the campaign.

“As a matter of fact, there is a structure for states and national on how they are going to run the campaign. So, it will be difficult for me to believe that there is no party backing in Lagos State except there are other issues that are not known to the National Working Committee and the Presidential Campaign Council.”

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