Last week, the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party in the Southwest held a stakeholders' meeting in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State, where it commenced strategic plans ahead of the 2015 elections. Sheriff Balogun reports
As 2015 general election draws closer, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has commenced preparations to recapture the Southwest. The party during the last election completely lost the zone to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) now the All Progressives Congress (APC). Following such humiliating defeat, the party seems not to be leaving anything to chance in the coming elections in the zone.
The meeting, which attracted party bigwigs throughout the six South-west states, was organised to sensitise supporters on the need to campaign, especially at the grassroots towards the general election.
Those who spoke at the meeting included the party’s National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo; the National Auditor, Alhaji Adewale Adeyanju; Chairman, Caretaker Committee, South-west PDP, Chief Ishola Filani; First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Women For Change and Development, Dr. Rabi Ibrahim; the Chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the party in South-west, Buruji Kashamu, among others.
At the meeting, leadership of the party assured its members of its readiness to win the zone for the party and as such, set up structures through the Mobilisation and Organisation Committee in all the wards, local governments and six states in the zone to canvass support for the party.
Director of Organisation of the Committee, Otunba Leke Adekoya disclosed that over 200,000 canvassers with valid voters’ card had been mobilised for the party across the zone, saying the committee has the contact details of all the canvassers. He said they have fully mobilised for the challenges ahead, particularly in Ekiti and Osun States, where elections are due later this month and in August.
The PDP leadership also used the forum to pray for the abducted Chibok school girls in Borno State. The prayer session led by Oladipupo asked of God to touch the minds of those who abducted the girls to free them. He also prayed that God should guide and protect the girls anywhere they are, asking that God should give President Goodluck Jonathan the wisdom and knowledge to govern the country peacefully.
Kashamu, while speaking, ascribed the security challenges confronting the country to some fifth columnists who are deliberately promoting violence and insecurity to blur Jonathan’s achievements in all the sectors of the economy.
“They (fifth columnists) feel that they are holding the short end of the political stick, so they must pull down the house because of their selfish interest,” he said, urging Nigerians to rally round President Jonathan in the fight against insurgency.
As a father, Kashamu said Jonathan was touched by the kidnap of the over 200 girls and prayed that God would assist in rescuing them. He reiterated his earlier call on the president to publicly declare his re-election bid, stressing that he should not allow the plans of those who seek to distract him to succeed. “Time is running out. He (president) has consistently told us that he would declare his position this year and I wish to urge him to do just that without further delay".
He therefore said the mega rally held in Ilaro area of the state where defectors from Labour Party (LP) were welcomed had shown the party's readiness to take over the state in 2015. "Now, we are strategising, organising and mobilising our people. They have seen us as a better alternative and are routing for us. The truth is that our people are wiser now and will not allow themselves to be led by the nose any more. They know that just like it is in cardio-vascular health, no one can survive two strokes.
"All we can assure our people is that we are committed to the project to give our people a new kind of leadership that has a human face, empower and liberate them from the stranglehold of the few who have cornered our commonwealth and appropriated same to themselves.”
He claimed their interactions with the people have shown that they are not happy with the APC-led government in the state, saying "in 2011, the fight within the PDP, the fact that the people wanted a change combined to deny the PDP of victory. Now, our people have tasted the change and it is bitter," he said.
Assessing the Governor Ibikunle Amosun government, the PDP commended the governor in area of security saying "there has been a lot of improvement in security."
According to the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Waliu Oladipupo, we note that there has been a lot of improvement in security since the launching of the State Security Trust Fund which has led to the reduction in the spate of bank robberies in recent times.
Notwithstanding, he said the allegation of the purchase of a unit of Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) for N165 million as against the market price of N30 million still raises question.
He stressed that there was another kind of insecurity that is being introduced into the state, saying it bothers on political violence and intolerance.
"There is also a resurgence of cult-related killings, from Abeokuta to Ilaro, Sagamu to Ijebu-Ode, there is virtually no night life. And this has its adverse implications on the economy of the state," he added.
According to Oladipupo, what would have been the biggest achievement of the administration – urban renewal – has been blighted by the untold hardship, pain and anguish that have become the lot of the good people of the state whose ancestral homes, shops and properties are being destroyed in the name of urban renewal without compensation.
"We, in the Ogun State PDP, think that attention should be focused on the rural areas that will add value to the overall growth of the state. We do not think it is necessary to continue urban renewal that will create further slums. It is even more worrisome when the money allegedly being spent on the roads is loans.
"We would have thought that loans would be spent on productive ventures like agriculture and development of cottage industries, which can reduce youth unemployment and crime. Even if there should be road construction, the focus should be on opening up the neglected rural areas."
He said in the area of health, as far as the party is concerned, Amosun administration does not have a clear-cut health policy, saying "forget that it is one of the key areas that the administration promised to focus on."
The party therefore urged its members, leaders and stakeholders to close ranks and work for the common good, saying "Our party is one family practising internal democracy and there is nobody as our controller-general who dishes out orders. That is why we have arguments."
He appealed to every member to cooperate with the national executive, National Working Committee and with the President, assuring the members that "our president is coming back in 2015."