The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has not occupied the seat of power in Lagos State since the country returned to civil rule in 1999. This time around, the party is making efforts to break that jinx. Assistant Editor EMMANUEL BADEJO examines the strength and weaknesses of the six contenders that have indicated interest for the governorship ticket
Politics is in the air; preparations for next year’s general elections are now in full gear at the federal and state levels. The two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) particularly are taking the lead in this regard. They are through with their conventions and have now rolled out timetables for their activities, which will climax into their primaries to produce candidates for various elective positions.
The contest for the presidential ticket of both parties is getting messier by the day, as more aspirants continue to declare their interest in the highest office in the land. In the former federal capital, Lagos the contest for the governorship seat is more intense in the main opposition party, the PDP, while the situation in the APC is calm because the incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been endorsed for a second term by the party leaders. This indication was given recently when the highest decision-making body of the party, the Governance Advisory Council (GAC) validated Sanwo-Olu to fly the party‘s flag once again during the election scheduled to hold early next year.
Six persons have indicated interest to fly the PDP flag during the election. To the opposition party, winning Lagos has become crucial for many party faithful because it has eluded it in the last 23 years when the country returned to civil rule. Many of the party chieftains are not happy with the fact that the PDP has not had the chance to occupy the Government House in Alausa, a suburb of Ikeja, the state capital. Since the PDP was defeated in the 1999 governorship election in Lagos, otherwise known as the Centre of Excellence, the tradition continued, even after the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) transformed into the Action Congress (AC), later the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and currently, and later the APC.
In spite of the continued failure to clinch Lagos State, the PDP has never hidden its frustration. Each time, the party has always promised to bring something new to governance in the Centre of Excellence. Party stalwarts have continued the search for a proactive leadership that can rescue power from the clutches of the APC.
With a new state executive in place, the state chapter of the PDP appears to be making efforts to galvanize its internal affairs and make the party more cohesive and competitive to challenge the APC.
The six chieftains that have indicated an interest in the party’s governorship ticket are Abdul-Azeez Adediran, Adedeji Doherty, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and Shammusideen Ade-Dosunmu. The other two aspirants are Jim-Kamal Olarenwaju and David Kolawole Vaughan.
In preparation for the coming primary, the aspirants have started intensive consultation to woo party delegates, who will decide their fate. While some of the aspirants are popular within the party, others appear not to be so popular.
Abdul-Azeez Adediran, also known as Jandor, is one of the most popular figures on the list. He worked with Lagos State Television, LTV 8, before setting up his own television station, Core media.
Until recently, he was a member of the APC. It was his agitation for recognition that led him, along with other prominent Lagosians such as the late Princess Adenrele Ogunsanya to float the Lagos4Lagos movement, which began as a splinter group within the APC. The movement is trying to promote the agenda of giving more sensitive positions to Lagos indigenes within the state’s governance architecture. The movement enjoys the support of some indigenes of the state and those who believe in their cause.
Apparently, Jandor used the movement to launder his governorship ambition. It was the realisation that it would be tough to actualise such a dream in the APC that led to his defection recently to the PDP. He attributed his reason for leaving the APC to the fact that his group was excluded from party congresses from ward to state level, as well as what he described as unpopular candidates usually foisted on the people by the leaders of the party. As far as he is concerned, the people usually handpicked as members of the executive committee in Lagos can only do the bidding of those that put them in office. Though his group organised a parallel congress, it later decided to quit the ruling party when its national body failed to attend to the petition Jandor and his group filed.
Jandor is a young man in his forties and enjoys the support of the younger generation within the party. With the rousing welcoming he received in the PDP, many believe his chances of getting the party’s ticket are bright. However, because he is a new entrant, he may face an uphill battle from some more entrenched members who are known players within the party.
Jandor is counting on latching on to the support from his movement. However, he cannot be said to have a formidable structure.
Adedeji Doherty is another aspirant that has high hopes for the ticket. He is an engineer by training and he has always been popular within the rank and file of the party, especially youths and women.
One of the good points that can count for him is his faith in the PDP; he has remained with the party through thick and thin, having been a member since 1998. So, if longevity is anything to go by in an organisation, Doherty stands tall. And he has not hidden his interest to govern the state on the party’s ticket. He has been vying for the party’s governorship ticket since 2007. The current attempt would make it the fifth time he would show interest in the race.
At a time in his political trajectory, Doherty acted as chairman of the Southwest PDP Caretaker Committee. He also chaired the party in Lagos; though it was short-lived, following court cases that ensued.
Doherty has also served the PDP as the Southwest Zonal Organising secretary and acting Deputy National Chairman (Southwest). In 2007, he was the Director-General of the Musiliu Obanikoro Campaign Organisation and subsequently an adviser on strategy during Jimi Agbaje’s campaign in 2015.
While he has sizeable followership within the party, his aspiration may however be challenged, as it is known that he is not on good terms with Chief Bode George, whose influence looms large on Lagos PDP. Doherty is believed to be one of those that truncated the ‘unity list’ endorsed by George and a few others during the recent party congress in the state.
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), he was the party governorship candidate for the 2011 governorship election defeating his closest rival at the primary Demola Seriki, former Minister of State for Defence.
He did not do well at the general election because he was believed to be Chief Bode George’s stooge, so those who were of the view that he was imposed on the party worked against him.
There is the possibility that he suffers the same fate at the party primary because those against George’s domineering influence in the party may work against his interest.
The Aivoji led state executive may also not be disposed to his candidature since his principal is against the emergence of the state exco.
Also, he does not have a structure that cuts across the state, for him to pull a large crowd at the party primary will be a serious challenge. He has always leveraged on Chief George’s political structure which is now decimated due to the crisis in the party, more so it is not certain the faceoff would be resolved before the election.
Whoever emerges as the PDP flag bearer will have a huge responsibility to sell the party to the electorate because the party in power in the state had ruled the state right from the time of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
The candidate will have to contest against incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who had been endorsed by the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), the highest decision making organ of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Lagos State for a second term in office.
Popularly known as GRV or The Hopeful Nigerian, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is an architect, a businessman and a politician. The 38-year old Rhodes-Vivour had his first degree in Architecture from Nottingham University and a master’ degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston.
Rhodes-Vivour is not new to Lagos politics. In 2017, he was the candidate of the Kowa party for the Ikeja Local Government chairmanship position. But, he lost that contest to the ruling APC. In 2019, he won the ticket of the PDP to contest the Lagos West senatorial seat. Again, he lost the contest to the incumbent Senator Solomon Adeola of the ruling party.
Rhodes-Vivour is said to be a strong believer in Nigeria’s future and he devotes himself to developing fellow young people to take up the mantle of leadership.
Based on some factors, the young aspirant is hopeful of his emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos. He may, however, be challenged because some think his aspiration does not have the buy-in of some party bigwigs in the state.
David Kolawole Vaughan is popularly known as Dakova, which is coined from his name. He was once a chairmanship candidate of the PDP in the Lagos Mainland Local Government Council Area election.
Between 2005 and 2006, he served as the Special Assistant to the then Minister of Work, Seye Ogunlewe. In 2015, he was also a senatorial aspirant in the Lagos Central district. In the same year, he was appointed as Director of Mobilization of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Lagos.
He is a chartered administrator of local government affairs and an entrepreneur. Dakova may have a herculean task clinching the ticket due to some inter-party squabbles, which have shoved some of his favourites aside in the scheme of things.
Jim-Kamal Olarenwaju, popularly known as Otunba is an Abuja-based businessman. He is from the Agege axis of the state. Olanrewaju has declared his intention for the governorship ticket of the party in next year’s general elections.
He has been making attempts to occupy one political office or the other since 1989. For instance, he contested for the chairmanship position in Ikeja Local Government on the platform of the then Zero Party. He had also contested for the House of Representatives and senatorial seats at various times.
Whoever emerges as the flag bearer of the PDP in Lagos will be facing the incumbent Governor Sanwo-Olu of the APC, who has gotten the nod of the party elders to run for the second term.