Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
A former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has rejected to the decision of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) to knock him and others out of the national chairmanship race.
Daniel, a frontline aspirant, said the decision was not in consonance with democratic principles.
The Southwest members in the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) have shortlisted only three names from the eight contenders that are vying for the seat.
The caucus narrowed their options to former minister of Sports and Special Duties, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja; former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; and former Education Minister, Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
The decision is contained in a document made available to newsmen yesterday evening signed by former deputy national chairman, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, on behalf of other members of the South-west caucus.
According to the document, the caucus picked Chief Bode George to represent Ogun-Lagos axis, Prof. Adedoja from Osun for Oyo axis and Prof. Adeniran for Ekiti-Ondo axis respectively.
The caucus listed the reasons for its action as follows: “Numerous calls and wise counsel from several quarters to prune down the number of contestants to manageable number”.
“The need to improve the chance of South West to clinch the position of the National Chairman of the Party at the Convention.
“Reduce tension, rancour and friction that may rise before, during and after the Convention among the winner and other contestants.
“Assist the voting process on the election day, reduce expenditure for non-recommended contestants, present manageable list of contestants from the South West to compete favourably with any other contestant(s) from any other zone(s) from the South.
“To avoid splitting of votes among contestants from the South West and to provide soft landing for non-recommended aspirants.
“In the overall interest of the Party and after wide and due consultations, we have been taking cognizance of various factors such as experience,
acceptability across Nigeria, Educational exposure, vision, public perception, international visibility, wining chances, Party standing nationwide, members perception and expectations.
The Southwest BoT caucus further noted that its recommendations are without prejudice to the right of any contestant outside the recommended list to contest.
“It is also without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the provisions of the constitution of our great Party that we agreed on Prof. Taoheed
Adedoja (Oyo state); Prof. Tunde Adeniran (Ekiti State) and Chief Olabode George (Lagos state)”.
The caucus further stated that its ultimate plan is to prune the shortlisted contenders to a single aspirant after wide consultations ahead of the national convention scheduled to hold on December 9 in Abuja.
However, the Otunba Gbenga Daniel Campaign Organization, in a statement by its Media Consultant, Steve Oliyide, said “Supporters should kindly disregard such documents which can best be described as the personal opinion of the writer and it’s clearly not well thought out, if at all such a document is authenticated.
“Smarting from a disastrous electoral outing in the last two and a half years, our party is just recovering from acts of impunity and unilateral actions like this and never again do we pray for such as we move on to repackage the party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is currently on a nationwide tour of all the 36 states chapters of our party, consulting with leaders and potential delegates, preaching the gospel of internal democracy and retuning the party to the people at the grassroots.
“He is currently in Kano, having earlier visited Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa and Kano last week. He remains firmly in the race and he is probably the aspirant to beat in this race. “Our supporters nationwide are therefore asked to kindly ignore documents like this, as we endeavour to rebuild and put our democratic practice on sound footing once again.”