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Despite the protracted crisis in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was worsened by a Federal High Court ruling last week recognising Senator Ali Modu Sherrif as its national chairman, the leadership of the party backing the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee may be seriously considering a two-time governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, as the national chairman of the PDP.
Should the leadership of the party including its influential governors get its way, Agbaje will be angling for the post in a field of candidates comprising former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel; Chairman of DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; and a former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, who is expected to throw his hat into the ring today to lead the PDP.
Last month, the Markafi-led committee had zoned the national chairmanship post of the PDP to the south and presidency to the north.
It also fixed August 17, 2016 for its national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to elect new officers that would take over from the Makarfi-led committee of the party.
However, the leadership of the party and most of its governors may have decided to settle for Agbaje due to the respect he commands in the society and the absence of corruption cases hanging over his head, which the field of other PDP contestants do not possess.
A party chieftain, who spoke to our source on the issue, said: “Agbaje commands respect and has remained above board. Since the party has zoned the chairmanship post to the south, and it is our intention to go ahead with the national convention on August 17, we have decided to back a candidate whose integrity cannot be questioned and who will provide the vision to present the PDP as a reformed party.”
He explained that the choice of Agbaje, which also stemmed from the need to present a neutral leadership that has not been tainted by the leadership tussle in the last few months, would ensure internal democracy, and one that will engender the confidence of the Nigerian electorate in 2019.
Despite the push by the leadership of the party for the emergence of Agbaje as the new PDP chairman this month, Dokpesi, at the weekend, forged ahead with his campaign in Osogbo, Osun State, where he canvassed for the votes of delegates at the upcoming national convention.
Reacting to the money laundering charges currently preferred against him, Dokpesi said President Muhammadu Buhari was using the same strategy he used in 1983, after taking over power as military head of state, to clamp down on the political class.
According to him, “Many of these politicians were jailed 200 to 300 years by Buhari when he came on board. The same thing is playing out today. What I am accused of is like someone questioning a hotelier for accepting money from a lodger.
“How could a hotelier determine the source of the money he is being paid with; I don’t want to dwell much on the subject. The matter is before a competent court of law. At the appropriate time, I will be vindicated.”
On his plans, if elected PDP chairman, the founder of AIT television and Raypower radio station promised to ensure all interests within the party are united into a formidable force capable of winning elections.
He said the first step towards achieving the objective is by reviewing all the reports of past reconciliatory committees, emphasising on the need to stop the factionalisation of the PDP.
He equally assured his audience that he would work to win Osun State for the PDP, even as he pledged allegiance to the Makarfi-led national lead