It was a chaotic scenario in Ilorin on Monday when some hoodlums disrupted the campaign procession of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun state.
Pandemonium broke out at the party secretariat of People,s Democratic Party, PDP, when some irate youths from another faction of the party PDP refused to allow Daniel to speak about his mission.
The hoodlums who were accompanied by the former factional chairman of the party in Kwara State Price Fagbemi and others forced the security agents off their way and forcefully gained entrance into the campaign venue hauling stones and other dangerous weapons.
Reacting to the scenario after fracas, the newly elected chairman of the party, Barrister Iyiola Oyedepo expressed bitterness against the faction of the party whom he said are suspected sponsors of elements from another party.
“We suspect that those hoodlums are sponsored by some elements outside PDP to create room for a weak leadership in our party, who will prepare grounds for their defection later in the year. Such persons do not feel comfortable with Oyedepo’s leadership of PDP in the state. They had done it before when our executives was dissolved. They believe that if they can’t win the elections there must not be a PDP in the state; why that if you are truly PDP?”
He also expressed dissatisfaction with how the police on ground conduced themselves at the event.
“See our police! They were overpowered by mere hoodlums from doing their jobs. What can be more than security; do we even have a government and a country?
Otunba Gbenga Daniel had come to launch his campaign at the PDP secretariat in Ilorin where he used the opportunity to deny speculations that he had stepped down for Chief Raymond Dokpesi in the race for the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also announced that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar a chieftain of All Progressives Congress Party, APC had defected to PDP.
“Dokpesi is our friend but this is a race that I am a front runner. How do you expect somebody who is a front runner to step down for another person, it’s not done that way. We are friends, we are working together but there is no issue of stepping down in this matter at all.”
Daniel said that in days to come, several of such defections will be witnessed but debunked claims that efforts were on to give Atiku the party’s ticket as presidential flag bearer in 2019 elections.
He expressed hope in the candidacy of the South-West and that a trimming its chairmanship candidates from the region before the national convention of the party.
“You know, the PDP has become a bride; everyone wants to become part and parcel of a winning party”, he said when asked for his views on the speculated return of Atiku to the PDP. “I have no doubt that PDP is going to form the next government in Nigeria. So we are happy and we would look forward to receiving the former Vice President and I can assure you he is not going to be the only one; there is an avalanche of people who are waiting to get into the PDP.
“But it would not be correct to say we have prepared the ground for Atiku to pick the presidential ticket. Don’t forget that the PDP is a democratic party, there are so many other people who want to pick the ticket and I am sure if he comes he is going to compete with every other person and somebody will pick the ticket. But there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very strong contender.”
The former governor told journalists at the Ilorin International Airport that he was sure that PDP would form the next government at the national level as he promised to use his office, if elected to resolve lingering factional crises in some chapters of the party.
Daniel said: “Part of my job, if I become the chairman is to resolve conflict, like what you have seen in Ilorin today, we will sit down with the two factions and see how we can resolve it so that everyone has a sense of belonging. Whenever you see this kind of conflict, it means the party is strong; it means everybody wants to own the party, everybody wants to belong so it actually is strength and that is how we should look at it.”
He said the party in the south west was still working hard to ensure a united voice at the convention and linked the high number of candidates from the zone to its political exposure.
“We are working very hard at it”, he said, adding: “ you know in the south west people are highly educated, very sophisticated and so when you see an avalanche of good personalities showing interest in the party, its sign of good health. We will see if we can trim the number. We are working on it.”
He described the fracas that was witnessed at the party’s secretariat in Ilorin earlier during his visit as part of the indicators to the strength of the PDP, saying now everyone wants to have a part of the party.
His words: “This party has become very strong and what we saw today is that there are two different competing factions in Kwara state, one claiming legitimacy about the ownership of the structure. We tried to see that at least there was no violence, and we will still find a way of resolving the challenges between the two factions. I have no doubt in my mind that it would be resolved.”
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