Jonathan Launches S’West Attack Against OBJ

Jonathan Launches S’West Attack Against OBJ

There are strong indications that President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, have begun fresh moves to seize the control of the party in the South-West from former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Jonathan Launches S’West Attack Against OBJ

Investigations on Tuesday also showed that the moves were to ensure that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola did not return as the PDP National Secretary.

Oyinlola, a political protegee of Obasanjo and former Osun State governor   was on Monday  directed  to step down by Tukur. The  action  was viewed by  political observers as part of the strategies by the President and his team to whittle down the former President’s  influence,  especially  in the South-West PDP.

Tukur, whose emergence as the PDP national chairman was influenced by Jonathan, had named  the Deputy National Secretary, Chief Solomon Onwe, as  acting  National Secretary. He had cited some sections of the party’s constitution to justify his action.

Before Monday’s development, a Federal High Court in Abuja had last Friday sacked Oyinlola while ruling on a suit by a faction of the PDP  in Ogun State. The faction had gone to the court to challenge the emergence of the former governor as PDP national secretary, claiming that he was foisted on the South-West PDP by Obasanjo.

Sources close to the Presidency told one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday that Jonathan  and Tukur were not comfortable that the South-West PDP was being controlled by Obasanjo and indirectly, by the governors.

One of the sources claimed that the PDP  regarded the South-West as strategic to its  presidential primaries in 2015 and the general elections.

The South-West may not produce a presidential candidate for the PDP in 2015  but  block votes from the zone  could determine the eventual winner of the presidential election.

The PUNCH  learnt  that one of the strategies being planned by the  PDP  leadership  headed by Tukur   was to organise a fresh congress in the  South-West to pick a replacement for  Oyinlola.

This plan is contained in the legal advice given to Tukur by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Gadzama.

It was this same advice that Tukur used to order that Oyinlola be replaced by Onwe.

Investigations showed that the planned congress might give anti-Obasanjo forces in the South-West  the advantage to produce the national secretary.

The PDP, in  Ogun, Obasanjo’s home state,  is divided into two with the former President supporting  the Senator Dipo Odujurin- led executive, while  a businessman, Chief Buruji Kashamu is backing  the Adebayo Dayo-led executive.

The Kashamu-led faction has been having a series of  legal battles with the Obasanjo-backed  faction, which culminated in the removal of Oyinlola.

Sunday PUNCH had on January 13 reported that Jonathan had taken the battle for the soul of the PDP to Ogun State  with the unfeterred access a  former governor  of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, had been having in the Presidency.

One of Daniel’s loyalists,  Alhaja Salimot Badru, was recently appointed by Jonathan as a member of the Federal Capital Development Authority.

On Monday, The PUNCH reported a source at the PDP meeting  as saying that an ex-convict, Chief Bode George,  was nominated by Jonathan as a member of the Adamawa State Reconciliation Committee.

Daniel and George  are at loggerheads with Obasanjo.

Gadzama, in the memo to Tukur, said the party must organise a fresh congress in the South-West within 21 days to replace Oyinlola.

 The memo reads in part, “The National Working Committee of the PDP shall ensure, in accordance with the order of the honourable court; that a valid congress of the South- West chapter of the PDP is constituted within 21 days from  January 11, 2013 to replace the 1st defendant with another candidate.”

It  also said that since the court’s  judgment that sacked Oyinlola was a declaratory one, it was unlikely that he would get a stay of execution order from the Court  of Appeal.

Counsel to Oyinlola, Otunba Kunle Kalejaye (SAN),  had told The PUNCH in Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday, that it was proper for his client to ask for stay of execution on his sacking pending the determination of his appeal.

“I had been asked so many questions about whether the judgment was declaratory and whether it could be stayed. It is only a declaratory order that cannot be stayed. Even the order removing him is not declaratory. It is a positive order of court,” Kalejaye added.

Meanwhile, the PDP has said the removal of Oyinlola was not as a result of any personal animosity between him and Tukur.

The party,  in an unsigned statement, said  that his sacking was a result of court judgment that ousted him from office.

The statement said, “For the avoidance of doubt, we want to say unequivocally that there is no personal rift between Alhaji  Tukur and Prince Oyinlola.

“In any event, reports have indicated that Prince  Oyinlola has appealed against the court judgment and the NWC wants to say that as soon as the appeal is decided, the party will, in the same way as it did in the case of the Federal High Court ruling, obey the appeal decision.”

In Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State,  the South-West PDP said it had nothing against  the replacement of  Oyinlola as the national secretary of the party.

The National Vice- Chairman of the PDP in the zone, Mr. Segun Oni, said on Tuesday that the replacement of Oyinlola with  Onwe, was in accordance with last Friday  court judgment.

Oni, who spoke  with one of our correspondents  through his media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said that the PDP in the South- West would only kick if Onwe was  made   a substantive national secretary of the party.

He said, “His (Oyinlola) replacement is in accordance with the court judgment which is declaratory. You can’t bring someone who is not a member of the NWC to replace him that is why his deputy was announced to replace him. When the secretary can’t reform, his deputy takes over; this is not about ethnicity.


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