ANAYO EZUGWU x-rays the leadership crisis rocking the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the declaration by the 2023 governorship candidate of the party, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, popularly known as Jandor that he is now the apex leader of PDP in the state

When the 2023 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, hosted members of his campaign council, party members, political associates and supporters on Sunday, March 8, his motive was to thank them for supporting his governorship ambition. However, the aftermath of meeting has not only triggered crisis in the party but divided members along the camps of different leaders of the PDP in the state over Adediran’s claim that some leaders of the party, who supported other candidates during the last elections have ceased to be members of the party.

He also declared that with the suspension of the leaders, he is now the new leader of the PDP in the state as according to him, leaders of the party who openly declared for candidates of the political during the presidential and governorship elections are no longer members of the party. Jandor further said the experience of the PDP and its candidates in the 2023 elections was not different from the past when some party leaders betrayed the party by working against its candidates. He maintained that working against the party has been the stock in trade of those party leaders.

He recalled that in the 2019 elections, the same group declared support for the Action Democratic Party (ADP) against the PDP and also worked for the Labour Party in the 2017 local government elections in the state. His words: “What happened has been their stock in trade. If you don’t want to be in PDP again, carry your bag and go. Those who have declared for Labour Party should stay there. Those who have worked for All Progressives Congress (APC) should enjoy it.

The owner of the party is at the centre and we are waiting for them to tell us how they want their party to be run at the state level.” Jandor declared that as the candidate of the party in the last election, he is now the number one leader of the party. “As of today, I am the number one in the party.

I am saying this with due respect to other faithful leaders I met in PDP, I am now the number one by the constitution of our party except I choose to leave tomorrow,” he declared. He noted that he would remain in the party to continue to provide leadership for every party member looking for a true and selfless leader. “I am ready to provide leadership for all of you. I still have the flag of our party in my hand and I am not dropping it,” he said.

Angst trails comment

Following the comment, the state chairman of the party, Philip Aivoji, asked Jandor to immediately withdraw his claim of being the apex leader of the party and apologise to the leaders in the state for making such claims. He said such claim is mere falsehood, divisive and an affront to the constitution of PDP in the state, meant to mislead unsuspecting members of the public. He said: “We would like to put it on record that the PDP is a political party governed by the rule of law and the party constitution remains supreme in the operation of the party where the Lagos State chapter derives its authority and there is nowhere in the constitution of the party where leadership is conferred on any candidate of the party.

“Therefore, the statement ascribed to Jandor is a falsehood, divisive and an attempt to mislead unsuspecting members of the party in the state and the public at large. The state chairman of the party remains the leader of the party in Lagos State. Section 22 of the party’s constitution is sacrosanct on the establishment and composition of the party-state caucus. There is nowhere the candidate of the party is mentioned as a member of such a leadership position.

“This is important to put the record straight and to enlighten loyal members of the party on the leadership composition and operation of the party in Lagos state. Also, no section of the party constitution confers on any individual or group to expel any member of the party as this power resides only in the State Executive Council and the NWC. “The Lagos State executive members found the statement as an affront and casting of aspersion on their personalities and the position they hold in the party and will therefore urge Dr Adediran to withdraw the statement and apologise for making such.

While the Lagos State chapter of our party holds all our present and former members of the Board of Trustees (BOT), National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Committee (NEC) and national leadership of the party in high esteem, it won’t condone any attempt by any member to cast aspersion on their personalities.” Speaking in the same vein, the forum of PDP Local Government Chairmen in the state, said Adediran failed to win because he did not heed the advice of the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar and some party chieftains.

The forum also condemned the claim by Adediran that he remains the leader of the party in the state. It equally took a swipe at Jandor and some of his political associates for daring to denigrate the party leaders in the state. The forum in a statement jointly signed by its chairman, Adegboyega Adegbesan and secretary, Malomo Adelabi, said: “We express our displeasure at the conduct of Jandor and his associates, the attitude of the PDP candidate had been unbecoming since the day of his declaration for the party, where dignitaries of the party, which included some sitting governors and other dignitaries of the party were present, including the then sitting governors and the national chairman of the party,(Senator Iyocha Ayu) were present. “Jandor had disregarded the party’s traditions and structure from the very first day he became the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

He became lord unto himself. He disregarded the structures of the party, by single-handedly handpicking candidates for the House of Representatives and state House of Assembly elections, thereby creating within the party “This led to several litigations in the various local government areas up to the Supreme Court, a scenario which had never been witnessed by the party before. Examples of local governments that were in legal logjam two weeks before the general election were Oshodi-Isolo, Ikeja, Mushin, Ajeromi, Apapa and Ikorodu. Another blunder he committed was that he failed to properly reconcile with the aspirants who contested along with him for the governorship ticket but were forcefully stepped down by a led electoral committee that was sent to Lagos.

“These people paid N25 million each to obtain forms. At one instance, one of the aspirants, who was forced to step down called him, so that he might make some inputs into agent lists but he told the fellow that he was not ready to share his agents list with anybody and he would mainly make use of his Lagos for Lagos group. “Two days after Peter Obi had a discussion with Jandor on the issue of working with the Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar, our presidential candidate invited Jandor to his Abuja home on the same issue of working with Labour. The meeting involved Atiku, a retired general and one other powerful northern leader. The issue of collaboration was raised and Jandor stated that he was not ready to step down for the LP candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

“He said the only condition was for Rhodes-Vivour to step down for him because he has his Awori people behind him. When the enlarged meeting was not making much progress on the issue of collaboration, Jandor was asked to suggest the way forward on how they could make progress on the issue of collaboration. They suggested that a call should be put across to Chief Olabode George and seek his opinion on the way forward. “From the venue of the meeting in Abuja, a call was put to Bode George and other notable leaders in Lagos on the issue of a working relationship with LP. All the leaders made it clear to them that the best thing is to have a working relationship with LP.

They said the most ideal and reasonable thing to do is for Jandor to step down for Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. The leaders based their analysis on the outcome of the presidential election in which LP scored 582,664 votes as against PDP which scored 75,750 votes. “Jandor is a misgiving to the PDP since 2022 when he joined the party, and in setting the record, he is the worst candidate in terms of performance, but also the candidate who mostly abused the norms and structure of the party in its almost 25 years of existence.

His many sins include his disregard for the party’s principles and traditions in the selection of the deputy governorship candidate, as he jettisoned the deputy governorship candidate, Architect Gbadebo Rhodes- Vivour who was unanimously picked by the leadership of the party for him.”

Party’s advisory committee reacts

Also reacting, the Lagos PDP Consultative Forum advised members of the party in the state not to take Jandor serious, saying that he is a mole working for the APC to destabilise the party. One of the leaders of the forum called on the National Working Committee of the party to probe Jandor over handling of election funds released to him during the election.

The leader said: “Jandor is a political nuisance to Lagos PDP. The National headquarters of the party should call Jandor to order by opening the probe of the election funds released to him during the general election. He diverted the money, which is why the party performed poorly in 2023. He is no longer relevant to our party because he is APC’s mole in the party. Lagos PDP under Jandor as the governorship candidate recorded the worst result in the 25 years of PDP in the state.”

Party spokesperson backs Jandor

Rising in defence of Jandor, the Publicity Secretary of Lagos PDP, Hakeem Amode, said the 2023 gubernatorial candidate remains one of the leaders of the party in the state. He added that Adediran was right in his declaration since many supposed PDP leaders allegedly renounced the party to join other parties during the elections. Amode said contrary to speculations, Jandor was never summoned to any meeting by the party to apologise for his statement.

He said: “Jandor was at no time invited to apologise to party leaders for his remarks. Nobody can deny the fact that as the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State in 2023, Jandor is now one of the leaders of the party in the state. His leadership does not affect the duties of the executive members of the party in the state. “Why should Jandor be asked to apologise to the party for putting the records straight when those who worked against the party have not been asked to apologise and are even being celebrated? Someone like Jandor ought to be celebrated rather than condemned for keeping the flag of the party flying despite all the shenanigans that took place before, during, and after the elections.”

According to Amode, Jandor remains a bona fide and committed member of the Lagos PDP, and he has proven to be reliable and efficient despite joining the party just about two years ago. He stressed Adediran’s pivotal role as the party’s governorship candidate in the 2023 elections. He said that Jandor’s leadership will not affect the duties of executive members of the party and urged party members to rally behind the leader to revitalise Lagos PDP and prepare for improved performance in the 2027 elections.

Stressing importance of collective effort to strengthen the party in Lagos, the party’s spokesperson cautioned against tolerating those he called dissidents bent on undermining the party’s objectives. “All party members must join hands with Jandor to restore the lost glory of the PDP, especially in Lagos State, and reposition it for better performances in 2027, which is not too far from now. All hands must be on deck if we want the best for the Lagos PDP, and we must deal with dissidents who do not want the best for our party,” he said.

Jandor defends self

Defending himself, Jandor said he didn’t have powers to expel leaders of the party. He said: “First, let me say that I did not expel anybody because I do not have the power to do so. But I would rather say that they expel themselves when they declared for another party during the 2023 electioneering process and this is not just a more allegation.

“They were on national television declaring for another party both for the presidential and governorship elections. If you have a supposed leader of a political party who has gone on national television to say don’t vote for my party or don’t vote for the candidate of my party irrespective of whatever it is, it shows that the leader has gone to the other party. If the party they supported had won, would they have been part of the government today? That is what we are speaking to.

“I don’t have the power to expel them and I never said I expelled them but they expelled themselves. We are saying that because you have declared for another party, which you did openly, then you don’t have any say anymore or if you want to rejoin PDP, we do it in politics; you can go back to your ward and rejoin through your ward. “But on your own, you came on national television, hosted another candidate in your house, declared support for him and asked every other person to support that candidate, who is not a candidate of the party where you are supposedly the leader. It shows you took that decision, we didn’t take it for you.

“For me, what I was saying was that it is high time we look for like minds within the PDP and see how we can press a reset button. You said something about Chief Olabode George being a founding father of the party and being in the party long before I joined politics, I agree with you, but just put yourself in the position of a chairman of a company who appointed a managing director and for over 20 years the MD has not been able to bring a single profit. “I joined PDP just last year, where I voted PDP has never won that polling unit before.

It was when I joined PDP in my polling booth we won for the first time in the presidential and governorship elections. Chief Olabode George hasn’t won his polling unit for the past 20 years. I voted where my aunt who was a former deputy governor also voted in the same village where someone who is the chairman of the local government also voted, and we won for the very first time in that polling unit. It speaks to something.

“What will happen if the party at the national level say let’s have a new face to take the leadership of the party; it might not necessarily be me. When I joined the party I was just a member but under my position in flying the flag of the party, of course, I’m also a leader in that party.”

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