Agbaje in PDP Tent

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Agbaje

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Jimi Agbaje, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, defects to the Peoples Democratic Party with an eye on the party’s 2015 governorship ticket for Lagos State

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 18, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

WITH the defection of Jimi Agbaje, former governorship candidate of the Democratic People’s Alliance’s, DPA, in Lagos State in 2007, from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the 2015 governorship election in the state has taken a new dimension.

Gani Taofik, PDP publicity secretary, in the state, is happy with the development. He said: “Agbaje is now a card-carrying member of the PDP. He has showed the State Working Committee, SWC, of the party his membership card obtained from Ward B in Apapa Local Government Area. He told us that he decided to join the PDP as the most viable platform for him to effect the desired change in Lagos State.”

Taofik said Agbaje, who came to the party secretariat in Ikeja on a courtesy visit, presented the membership card to the party leadership. The publicity secretary noted that Agbaje’s joining of the party at this time would help to further broaden its membership.

According to him, the SWC has assured Agbaje and his supporters of a level-playing field in seeking positions in the party. Taofik, said there would be no automatic tickets for candidates seeking various elective posts on the platform of the PDP in 2015. But he added:“However, if this is Agbaje’s God’s appointed time, nothing can stop him.”

Realnews learnt that Agbaje joined the PDP after being promised the party’s governorship ticket by the leadership of the party at the national level. The decision to bring Agbaje to the PDP was hatched by the trio of Bode George, former national deputy chairman of the party; Adeseye Ogunlewe, former minister of works, and Bode Oyedele, chairman of the state chapter of the Subsidy Re-investment Empowerment Programme, SURE-P. The trio is said to be disturbed by the growing influence of Musiliu Obanikoro, minister of state for defence. With his position as minister, Obanikoro has automatically assumed the leadership of the party in the state. This is said to have not gone down well with George, Ogunlewe and Akindele. They, therefore, brought in Agbaje, who they believed is the only aspirant that can face Obanikoro when the chips are down.

The magazine learnt that the trio has impressed it on President Goodluck Jonathan that they have a man who can deliver Lagos to the PDP. Knowing the influence of Obanikoro at Aso Villa, the trio made sure that all the negotiations and planning were done in his absence and that  their trip to Aso Villa was also executed without his knowledge.

At the meeting with President Jonathan, Agbaje insisted that he would only join the PDP if was assured of the party’s governorship ticket without having to go through the process of party primaries. It was alleged that President Jonathan was not strictly positive on that but was reported to have promised a ministerial ticket even if the governorship ambition failed.

However, Bode George and his group reportedly came back to Lagos and informed the leadership that President Jonathan had approved that Agbaje be given the party’s ticket on a platter of gold. However, the party’s leadership in the state smelt a rat and has thus insisted that a free and fair primary election would be organised for all aspirants to test their popularity.

Olatunji Shelle, the party’s chairman in the state, reportedly told Agbaje when he officially came to the party secretariat to present himself as a member of the party, that the PDP would organise a primary to pick its candidate. Shelle was reported to have even sworn on a Bible on the occasion that the party would not renege on the decision to conduct primaries to pick all its candidates for the coming elections.

Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, the state has been out of the grip of the PDP and this explains the seeming desperation of party’s chieftains in the state and Abuja to find a sellable candidate to contest the governorship race in 2015. Besides finding a sellable candidate, the chieftains of the party have, on their own, and sometimes with the directives of party officials in Abuja been forced to put aside their perennial differences in order to forge a united front.

With the PDP almost looking formidable based on the outcome of the Ekiti 2014 governorship election, the ruling APC in Lagos is not lying low. It is also perfecting new strategies and ideas to fend off its perennial foe. Akinwunmi Ambode, retired accountant-general, has been endorsed by Rilwan Akiolu, Oba of Lagos, as the best person to succeed Governor Babatunde Fashola. He is believed to have strong marketable credentials to win the race.

Apart from Ambode, there are other powerful figures in the ruling party who would also be in the race for the Lagos top job. Among them are Babafemi Hamzat, commissioner for works in the state; Senator Ganiyu Olarenwaju Solomon, representing Lagos West in the Senate; Muiz Banire former commissioner for environment; Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker, State House of Assembly; Leke Pitan, former commissioner for health; Gbolahan Lawal, commissioner for agriculture; Babatunde Fowler, executive chairman, Lagos Internal Revenue Service, and Senator Gbenga Ashafa.

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