A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Ebenezer Babatope, on Wednesday beat the drum for the party’s erstwhile National Vice-Chairman (South), Olabode George, as the national chairman.
Mr. Babatope told a news conference in Lagos that Mr. George was the “best man” that could pilot the affairs of the party “to a new and glorious beginning.”
The former Minister of Transport said Mr. George was a loyal, tested and a responsible party man and that he had the credentials to return the party to winning ways in 2019.
He said although the position had not been zoned to a particular area of the country, “it is only right and fair that the South-West to produce the chairman since it has not produced any since 1999.
“I stand here today in historic significance to testify to the truth and to affirm the righteous path.
“Our party, the PDP was in power for 16 years of unbroken democratic governance. In this particularisation, every zone had enjoyed the helsmanship of our party leadership except the South-West.
“This is troubling, this is not fair, this is unacceptable,” Mr. Babatope said.
Mr. Babatope said he was leading a mobilisation support team for Mr. George based on his conviction and other southwest leaders in the ability of the party chieftain to lead the PDP.
Mr. Babatope, who described Mr. George as morally upright, noted that his conviction for corruption had been nullified by the Supreme Court which described his conviction as a “frame up”.
He called on party members in the zone to bury their hatchet and support the aspiration of George.
Former chairmen of the party in Ogun and Lagos State, Joju Folarin and Tunji Shelle, also spoke in support of Mr. George for the chairmanship race, saying he has the track record.
In a related development, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State on Wednesday said though the PDP was pursuing reconciliation among members, dissidents were not welcome.
Mr. Fayose said this in Ado-Ekiti at the reconciliation meeting for members from the Oyo and Osun chapters of the party.
The governor, who is the chairman of the reconciliation committee in the zone, said that the meeting was the outcome of the recently conducted non-elective national convention.
“The leaders have mandated us to bring on those who are ready to support our great party in the drive to chart a new way forward.
“In doing this, we won’t give room for dissidents to frustrate us and our efforts.
“Some people are claiming to be members of our party and at the same time going to court to frustrate the party
“They tried unsuccessfully to stop the last convention using the court but they failed woefully.
“There is no room for anybody who is one leg in and one leg out. It is either you are here or there
“I am sure no judge would allow himself to be used as a spoiler by some filthy politicians
“Sanctions will be imposed on errant members and those who are loyal party members and are working for the progress of the party have nothing to fear,” he said.
Mr. Fayose said that the success of the party’s non-elective convention was an indication that there was hope for a new Nigeria.
The opposition, the governor said, must be organised for the sake of democracy in the country.
“For us to be organised, we need to shift ground where necessary. Whoever loses out today, may win tomorrow
“In my situation, after leaving office, God still brought me here as the governor of my state.
“If President Goodluck Jonathan had won a second term, I may not be relevant like I am today.
“My appeal to you is that don’t allow anybody to use you for evil in our party,” he said.
NAN reports that those who spoke from the Oyo State delegation included Ayoade Adeseun and Bosede Adedibu.
The delegates from Oyo State pledged to go back home and reconcile, saying leaders in the state were already working on this.
The Zonal Publicity Secretary, Bunmi Jenyo, said he had no doubt that the committee would do a good job.
He appealed to leaders of the party in Osun to work together like they did during the last senatorial election.