President Goodluck Jonathan may be heading for a showdown with former military dictator, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar over the candidacy of former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party.
On Sunday revealed that while Jonathan was to be in league with some powerful interest in the South-West to support another candidate, the desire of Oyinlola, the former military governor of Lagos State, is said to be causing ripples in the party.
Oyinlola is said to have the backing of Babangida and Atiku, two prominent PDP leaders, who tried in 2011 to displace Jonathan as the party’s candidate for the presidential election.
Oyinlola came to the party’s headquarters on Thursday to submit his form for the position, but was turned back on the grounds that the submission of forms had closed.
Investigations, however, revealed that Oyinlola’s backers had mounted pressure on the party’s National Working Committee to accept the former governor’s form.
It was gathered that the South West PDP was piqued by Oyinlola’s entry into the race in spite of its decision that none of the former governors should contest the party’s offices for now.
A leader of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said, “We all know those who are in the race. We have penciled down two former ministers – Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Chief Ebenezer Babatope – as well as the National Legal Adviser of the party, Chief Olusola Oke.
“Oyinlola himself is aware of this. The President is aware of our position and he is supporting us. You will recall that none of the former governors was appointed as a minister by Jonathan. We learnt that Oyinlola sneaked to his friends, governors, and Babangida, who was his boss in the army. It is these people that want to pick our candidate for us.”
The PDP chief, who explained the South-West’s position, said, “These former governors were responsible for the death of the party in the zone.
“If we want the PDP to regain its lost glory in Yorubaland, these people should take back seats in the party for now. They cannot launder the image of the PDP in the South West.”
Investigations revealed that Oyinlola was convinced by Babangida, Atiku and some governors to join the race as part of moves to spite the President.
It was gathered that with the chances of Tukur looking bright as a chairmanship candidate, the IBB group reasoned that they needed a person they could trust as National Secretary.
A member of the PDP’s NWC, who pleaded anonymity said, “You know Jonathan has not hidden his support for Tukur. IBB, Atiku and some governors chose Oyinlola, who they think they can trust to check the Jonathan man (Tukur) in the next NWC.”
When contacted, Oyinlola denied that he was being sponsored by IBB and Atiku. He, however, confirmed that he had the backing of the governors.
Oyinlola, in a statement by his media aide, Ayo Olaiya, said as an ex-governor, “There is nothing wrong if the Governor’s Forum throws its weight behind his aspiration.”
He said, “The talk about Oyinlola being a candidate of some powerful elements in the North is sheer blackmail. Politics should be without bitterness. Why run a fellow party man down because of your own ambition?”
He added that the PDP remained a formidable national party ready to attain political power legitimately during elections, stressing that his ambition would not scuttle the interest of the South West within the PDP.
But a group within the party, Osun PDP Patriots, criticised the former governor for his ambition.
The group’s spokesperson, Dr. Segun Oyinloye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, alleged that the contest for the post of PDP National Secretary should not be manipulated.
Oyinloye said, “Only those that collected forms for the post should be allowed to run. Nobody should be imposed on the party because it will affect the fortunes of the party in the South West.”