THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must be aware by now of the task it faces in wrestling powers from the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Lagos. Notwithstanding the isolated “victories” the PDP earned through the courts after the last council polls, the party leadership has cast its eyes on 2015 and another chance to enter the Government House, in Alausa.
With 2015 polls still two years away, the PDP has begun moves to put its house in order to contest the polls. According to a chieftain of the party, “it is only when we close ranks and unite that we stand a chance to confront the ruling ACN.”
To put the house in order, the party is desirous of reconciling all factions within the party, inaugurating the party’s Elder’s Club whose role is to offer necessary advice, guide the party’s executive without interfering in the running of the party, and embarking on a rigorous enlightenment of the people. Sources hinted that the party is even considering a massive campaign to “dissect” ACN’s style of governance and its implications to the development and well being of the state.
It was learnt that the party leaders have taken into cognizance the problems associated with its primary and believe that starting early would avail the party the opportunity to put in place a process that would throw up an acceptable and popular candidate that would contest the governorship election in 2015.
At the inauguration of the Expanded Apex Body of the party over the weekend in the Ikoyi residence of the former national deputy chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, the party said the only means possible to dislodge the ACN in Lagos was for the PDP members to close ranks, work as a team and endear the Lagos PDP to the people “who are already disenchanted with the style of Fashola-led administration.”
It was noted during the inauguration of the Elder’s Club that contrary to insinuations that it was too early to start working towards the 2015 elections, “one of the major factors that led to our woeful performance and downfall during the 2011 governorship election was our late preparations towards the 2011 governorship election.”
A source disclosed that the controversies that surrounded the choice of the governorship candidate, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, who was seen as an unpopular choice by several members robbed the PDP of the chance to put up a stiff fight against the ACN in 2011.
The source further said that insufficient funds for “mobilisation of our supporters across the state for the 2011 governorship election also dealt a great blow to us apart from the internal crises. This time around, we are ready to address all these issues early enough, resolve whatever the differences we may have and by 2013 and 2014, the party would have been able put in place the necessary structure that would lead to the choice of a credible and generally acceptable candidate. It can never be too early to start preparing to confront a party that has been in power for 14 years.”
A party chieftain, who was in the camp of the former Minister of Works, Prince Adeseye Ogunlewe but present at the inauguration, Chief Amos Olayinka said: “It can never be too early to start preparations for the 2015 election. There could be no better time and opportunity to cash in on the ruling party other than now. We are not on a mission to distract the incumbent government or cause unnecessary disruption in the state polity, what we are only trying to do is to reconcile our members, fortify our position and make necessary preparations towards winning Lagos.”
Olayinka said PDP would have itself to blame, “if it fails to take advantage of the present situation where ACN has made life difficult for the masses through obnoxious policies like the new traffic law, increment in the tuition fees at the Lagos State University (LASU) and demolition of buildings among others.”
Speaking on the need to fast track preparations as from now, George emphasised on the need for the PDP members to close ranks, “otherwise ACN would drown Lagos and put everybody in problem.”
He asked the party leaders and faithful in the zone to be battle ready in order to oust ACN. “If at all we won’t be able to flush ACN out of the South West like we did in 2003, we can start with Lagos in 2015. We are sure of winning Lagos if there is any election now.”
Stressing that the battle against the ACN could only be won if PDP would be alert and determined to fight, he noted that, “the thrust of this focus is to point out that as the epic battle for 2015 develops, we must all be battle ready. We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders. The evil of ACN government is creeping everywhere.
“We must stop them only if we are alert, only if we are all conscious and determined to fight against injustice. Nobody will fight for us. We must pick up the gauntlet for ourselves. Enough is enough.”
He explained that the body was not a substitute for the state party executive council and had no business taking over its constitutional functions and should not be involved in the day-to-day running of the party.”
Explaining some of the factors that made him believe that the PDP can take over Lagos, George said that there was already tension within the ruling party because of the style of imposing candidates by the party’s national leader and former governor of the state, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He said that the PDP flaunted a better opportunity in 2011 because it was able to win a bye-election in Ikorodu into the State House of Assembly before the 2011 election, “unfortunately we lost the same seat few months after to the ruling ACN, but the recent council polls have revealed our strength.”
The PDP is also hoping to cash on the disenchantment of the masses over the new traffic law, which they claimed was causing resentment in many quarters. The state chairman of the party Retired Captain Tunji Shelle said, “The millions of commercial motorcycle operators across the state have now realised that the ACN government does not meant well for them. Majority of them are yearning seriously for a change, which the PDP is going to provide.”
The party faulted the claims of the state Governor Babatunde Fashola on the 72 per cent implementation of the 2012 budget. The PDP spokesman, Mr. Taofeek Gani accused the state government and the ACN of gross deceit over claims on achievements. He urged the people to verify most of the achievements the government claimed as they are under concession. “For instance, the Lekki/Epe Expressway is a Private Public Partnership programme and the users are paying. The best part of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) is paid for, whatever services they render are paid for. What is the budget performance in these?”
While claiming that the Fashola administration has collected more bonds and incurred more debt for the state more than any other state in the country, he challenged the governor to explain what happened to most of the loans his administration collected from the capital market.
While George and Adeseye Ogunlewe are identified as the leaders of the factions in the party, sources said that “almost everyone knows that whatever strategy we are hoping to put in place to oust the ACN will fail as long as the issue of factions remain unsolved.”
George wielded a great influence in the party and Ogunlewe, a grassroots politician is believed to have the political strength to withstand ACN at the grassroots level. How both will temper their ambitions and interest for the larger interests of the PDP in Lagos will actually mark the turning point for the party in Lagos.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has told the PDP to bury its dream of winning Lagos or displacing ACN in the South West region. He said: “It is a dream that will never come true.”
While Mohammed cautioned the PDP to stay away from any move capable of causing chaos in Lagos and the South West region in general, he asked, “what has the PDP achieved to make it believe it can gain the confidence of the people of Lagos?”
He said ACN would continue to implement policies that would transform Lagos and make it a better and safe place for people.
Also, the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ibirogba dismissed the insinuations that the new traffic law is eroding the popularity of the incumbent administration. “The good people of the state would always key into good government policies. The traffic law has brought forth the fact that we deserve to live a good life. We only need some discipline,” he said.
According to him, the new traffic law “is out to solve some of the prevalent insecurity, health and economic issues. A law like that cannot erode our popularity. Instead, it is shoring up the confidence of the people in the government.”
Ibirogba said the issue of commercial motorcycle operators that the PDP was trying to make a big issue out of had nothing to do with politics. “Government is supposed to always think for the people. We, as a government are supposed to define how people live and live well in the society. And what we are saying is that nobody has the right to take his own life, as government is supposed to ensure that nobody has access to take his life. If anybody is behaving in a way that can be injurious to him or her, government has the responsibility to caution the person. It would not allow such a person or persons to behave as if life has no value,” he said.
The commissioner said government had not banned commercial motorcycle (okada) operators as it was done in some states. “Most PDP states are banning them; they are even banned in Abuja. We recognise they are our people. The operators are among the people who voted for us. Our intention is not to keep them out of their job; we just said they should keep off the highways to limit avoidable accidents. It is for our own collective good.”
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