LAGOS – “ How do you expect us to win in this kind of situation? Be sincere with yourself, do you think we can win? We are facing a very formidable party which has been in power since 1999 yet we failed to put our house in order. To be honest, our candidate, Jimi Agbaje is at daggers drawn with the party leadership in Lagos State led by Chief Olabode George and the state chairman, Dr. Adegbola Dominic. He ran the campaign on his own without any serious input from the party unlike the APC that is well coordinated? So, how can we win in that kind of situation except we are just deceiving ourselves?”
Those were the exact words of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mukandasi Ajisafe while reacting to the victory of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos.
Though many were expecting a very tight contest, the reverse was the case as Sanwo-Olu polled 739, 44 5 votes to defeat Agbaje who got 206, 141 votes. The result was a sharp contrast to Agbaje’s performance in 2015 when he contested against Akinwunmi Ambode, outgoing governor of the state. Then backed by former President Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Olabode George who facilitated his entry into the PDP and was instrumental to his success in the party’s governorship primary, Agbaje polled 659, 788 votes against Ambode who got 811,994 votes.
Prior to the elections, Daily Independent had exclusively reported that Agbaje and the party leadership in the state are working at variance. The report published in its January 3 edition titled ‘Crisis Hits Lagos PDP As Jimi Agbaje Allegedly Sidelines Party’ reads “With just six weeks to the conduct of the governorship elections, crisis is currently rocking the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje and the state executives led by Dr. Adegbola Dominic are working at cross purposes instead of uniting to forge a common front against the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A chieftain of the party who spoke with Daily Independent yesterday on condition of anonymity said since his emergence as the party’s flagbearer, Agbaje has been running a one-man show, believing that he can do without the leadership of the Lagos PDP or party elders in the state such as Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party.
He said while Agbaje has been running his governorship campaign with the team he set up without carrying the state PDP along, he also picked his running mate, Mrs. Haleemat Busari without consulting the party leaders.
According to him, many party leaders who only heard of Busari’s choice in the media were angry and made attempts to kick against the decision but were prevailed on by the party leadership to refrain from doing so in order not to create the impression that the party is disunited.
“ The reality is that there is no unity in Lagos PDP and this may mar our chances in the forthcoming governorship election. Jimi Agbaje and the State Exco of the party are not working as a team”.
“ If you remember, majority of the state exco members are loyalists of Chief Bode George and as such, they don’t like Agbaje whom they see as a traitor for daring to contest against his benefactor for the national chairmanship of the PDP”.
“ Agbaje himself has not helped matters. Since becoming the governorship candidate of the party, he constituted his campaign team and neglected the leadership of the party who are the key drivers of the party”.
“ Can you imagine Agbaje never consulted the party before picking his running mate, Mrs Busari? Many of our party members and leaders were shocked when they heard about the news in the media”.
“You can imagine the anger of many party members on account of this. The issue would have gone out of hand but for the appeal by the leaders of the party such as Chief Bode George who implored them to not to make the issue public so that the APC will not capitalise on it”.
When our correspondent contacted Adegbola Dominic, the state chairman on the allegations that Jimi Agbaje is not carrying the party along in his campaigns, he said “That is not exactly correct. It is true that there may be some intra-party differences but we are resolving that. We are working together and we will achieve victory in 2019”.
“However, Agbaje denied the allegations saying he enjoys a harmonious working relationship with the Dominic-led executives”.
However, another member of the party who asked not to be named attributed the massive defeat the party suffered in the elections to threat by the APC, especially members of the National Union Of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state.
“ While it is true that the party went to election divided, another major factor that contributed to the party’s loss was the threat to non-indigenes by APC thugs led by people like MC Oluomo in Oshodi. It was widely reported in the media that after the Presidential election, these thugs went to where Igbo traders were trading, beat them up and threaten to unleash more mayhem if they come out and vote in the governorship and state house of assembly elections. So that is the major reason why the PDP got that low votes. Let me also add that most of the results announced were written up”.