Support for Senator Olamilekan Areola Solomon’s governorship bid is the source of confusion in former Governor Gbenga Daniel’s camp and in Ogun State PDP, reports Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan
Recent comments from one of the closest aides of former Governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Otunba Gbenga Daniel, endorsing the gubernatorial aspiration of the Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Olamilekan Areola Solomon, has ignited confusion within both the party and the camp of the former governor.
Bukola Olopade, a PDP chieftain who served in OGD’s cabinet as the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, posting on his Facebook page during the week, had stirred the hornet’s nest when he announced his readiness to work for the realisation of the much talked-about governorship dream of Solomon, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), popularly known as Yayi within the Ogun and Lagos political circles.
Expectedly, the online post generated a lot of anxiety as supporters of the former governor and other PDP chieftains sought to know if Olopade was dumping the party for the APC. Before long, the rumour mill was agog with claims and counter claims about plans by Daniel, his allies and many other PDP bigwigs, to join the APC.
Olopade, a die-hard lieutenant of OGD for many years, popularly known as Ozogula, had said on his Facebook page: “I stand firmly on equity, which means on Ogun 2019, I stand with Yewa/Awori for a third time. Therefore, I openly and proudly stand with Senator Olamilekan Areola (Yayi) for governor.”
Confused, many disciples of the former governor sought to get Olopade to shed more light on his post. Many others wasted no time in condemning his decision and called him a betrayer. A few pointedly asked him if he has the mandate of his political leader, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, to express such political preference ahead of the 2019 governorship election in the state
But rather than being deterred by the response, the former Commissioner appeared determined to go all the way. Not minding the anxiety his post had generated across the state, he further announced his preference for Yayi, irrespective of party affiliations. According to him; “enough of sentimental voting. If you take time to find out more about Yayi, maybe we can talk more on what he can bring to the people.”
Explaining his resolve to support an aspirant running on the platform of a party different from his own PDP, Ozogula said, “I have gone beyond the politics of supporting anyone along party lines alone. For example, I will support Attacker (Hon. Segun Adekoya) any time for the wonderful job he has done so far.”
Speaking further, Ozogula urged the people to dump what he called the sentiment of saying Yayi is a Lagos politician. According to him, most, if not all of those in the politics of Ogun State were somewhere before returning home to be part of the political process. He condemned attempts to scare Senator Solomon away from the state by some people and vowed to resist such attempts in future.
“To answer your question, can you tell me who, amongst the people in the present government, resided in Ogun State? And aside from me and a few, how many resided in Ogun in OGD’s government? Up till now, Amosun, his SSG and most of his commissioners still operate their offices from Lagos. Almost all played the Lagos political game before returning home.
Yayi tried last time in 2015, but was chased away with violence that took lives. This time, we have said “ile baba eni kin ba eniyan leer.” He is a free born in Ogun State of both Yewa and Egba stocks and may decide to come back home just as Dimeji Bankole, Amosun and OGD did. Please that sentiment won’t derail his ambition this time around,” he said.
Responding to questions on how he intended to explain his “anti-party” stance to some of his close allies within the PDP, Olopade said his decision is not based on sentiments, and as such, he has taken steps to explain himself to some of his political allies before making his new resolve public via the Facebook.
“Look, there are many sentiments against even Dimeji Bankole’s governorship ambition. But neither you nor anyone here can push me to speak about him negatively here. When I see my brother (Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives), we will discuss the needful. I have had a private discussion with my dear brother, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, and if you are close to him, he will tell you my stand and brotherly advice to him,’ he said.
Olopade however hinted that he may not necessarily dump the political camp of ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel and even the PDP, even as he is determined to work for the actualisation of Senator Solomon’s ambition on the platform of the APC. “My politics has gone beyond supporting someone based on the politics of parties. As you know all too well, my leader remains OGD and I remain my resolute principled self,” he said.
And while chieftains and members of the PDP expected to get some form of clarifications from the camp of the former governor, mum has been the word from OGD. His close aides have also refused to comment on Olopade’s post. To further compound the situation, indications emerged that the former commissioner’s action may just be a precursor to the exit of OGD and other PDP chieftains in the state to APC.
Unconfirmed reports claimed there is a deal being brokered between the APC and the OGD faction of the PDP in the state. It is alleged that aside Daniel, many chieftains of the party, especially those opposed to the continued hold of Senator Buruji Kashamu on the PDP, are being lured to dump the party and embrace the APC ahead of the 2019 general election.
Festering crisis, which has been rocking the PDP in the state since it lost the 2015 general election to internal wrangling, recently saw two factions of the party announcing the expulsion and counter expulsion of prominent chieftains of the PDP for alleged anti-party activities. Both OGD and Kashamu were announced expelled from the party by opposing factions.
The faction led by Sikirulai Ogundele and loyal to the former governor announced the suspension of Buruji Kashamu, and others, including Dayo Bayo, Pegba Otemolu, Semiu Shodipo, Fatai Adeyanju, Segun Seriki, Daisi Akitan, and Bowale Solaja. Ogundele claimed the action followed the report of a panel constituted last June to investigate allegations of financial improprieties and anti-party activities against the listed sacked chieftains.
“Based on the preliminary report of the panel however, submitted to the Executive committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ogun State Chapter, we found merit in the allegation and hereby adopt the report and findings of the Panel which include recommendation to suspend the above mentioned,” he had said.
Barely two hours after the announcement, the faction loyal to Kashamu, held a press conference same day to announce the sacking of OGD and a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Ladi Adebutu. Ogundele, and Tolu Bankole, another chieftain of the party were also announced sacked by the Kashamu.
“These charlatans that have now become an embarrassment and huge nuisance to the party are not acting solo, they are being promoted and sponsored by Hon. Ladi Adebutu.
“Ladi Adebutu is also not acting alone. He is being aided and guided by the big masquerade in Sagamu, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, whose dwindling political relevance and desire to grab from the wealth of Chief Adebutu Kessignton has made him surrender leadership to the little Ladi,” the faction said.
Meanwhile, reports further claimed that another former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, is the brain behind the effort to get Daniel and others to join the APC. Osoba, who recently returned to the party from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which he joined shortly before the 2015 general election, is a leader of the ruling party in the state.
Mentioned as part of those plotting to decamp to the ruling party is the member representing the Remo Federal Constituency of the state at the National Assembly, Honourable Oladimeji Adebutu. The Iperu Remo-born politician is one of those said to be interested in contesting the governorship position of the state in 2019.
But Adebutu, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Rural Development, has denied any plan to dump the PDP on which platform he won the last National Assembly election to represent the people of Remoland at the House of Representatives. He described reports that he is about to defect to the All progressive Congress (APC), as wild speculations.
“Our attention has just been drawn to an online publication which purports a planned defection of Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu, Member House of Representatives, and Chairman, House Committee on Rural Development to the All Progressive Congress (APC). This is for the avoidance of doubt, and especially for the sake of our teeming supporters who might be hoodwinked into believing the said story to be true.
The publication is false in all matters particular; there is no iota of truth in it and the suggestion or assumption can only exist in the wild imagination of the writer. We are not unmindful of the political undercurrents behind this false publication, and this goes on to confirm the rising profile of Hon. Adebutu in the political landscape of Ogun State and Nigeria in general.
We need to remind our people about the obvious missing links in the said write up; it does not add up logically that Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu who was elected popularly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), holding an unprecedented overwhelming mandate of the people, did not join the APC even when there was hope of a successful governance by the ruling party, and it fails logic and reasoning that he will do so now that the party has demonstrated lack of capacity to govern.
“Perhaps this wild speculation would have looked possible and plausible if the APC had shown compassion for humanity which is the hallmark of Hon. Adebutu’s brand of politics, but sadly the welfare of the people appears not to be on the core agenda of the ruling party. As a progressive politician, his brand of politics is governed by social democratic ideals and ideology which are encapsulated in the social and economic freedom of the people and general improvement in the people’s welfare,” said Adebutu.
Similarly, a chieftain of the troubled party in Abeokuta, Chief Mojeed Bakenne, has refuted claims that OGD is on his way out of the party. According to him, the former governor at a meeting held recently, reaffirmed his loyalty to the PDP when questioned about his reported defection plot. He said in spite of the crisis currently rocking the party at the state and national level, Daniel still remained a committed member of the former ruling party.
Bakenne made the remark on Friday when speaking to newsmen. According to him, the ongoing leadership challenges tearing the party apart would not lead to its collapse as it would soon fizzle out with the commitment of its dedicated members. “Anybody who believes that OGD would leave PDP for any other party is sleeping and should be woken from sleep,” he said.