A national chairmanship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Otunba Gbenga Daniel, said on Monday in Lagos that he had no plan of stepping down for any of the other contenders.
Reacting to speculations that he might be stepping down for Chief Olabode George, another aspirant for the position, Daniel said he had no intention of stepping down for anybody.
Daniel is a former Governor of Ogun State, while George served as a former Deputy National Chairman of the now opposition PDP.
With the zoning of the PDP’s chairmanship position to the South-West, five major contenders are currently jostling for the position.
The other contenders are Mr Jimi Agbaje, the 2015 governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former Minister of Education and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, a former Minister of Sports.
Daniel told reporters that although George was a respected leader of the PDP, he would not back down for the Lagos chief but would see the race to its logical conclusion. “Bode George is our boss. But, there is time for everything. If a smart man is dancing, he must be able to look back to see if the drum is still beating. My consultation is total. I have done an opinion poll. I wish my brother could do an opinion poll.”
“All the aspirants for this position are my friends and competent people but I am the bridge builder and the best man for the job.
“I will not step down for anyone because I did my consultations during our convention in Port Harcourt and I know so many leaders in Yorubaland who support me.
“People contest for various reasons. Some people contest to enrich their curriculum vitae, some contest to get donations while some run to win.
“It is not a do-or-die affair. It is an in-house contest and I’m running to win so as to bring my experiences to bear on the party and work on re-positioning the party,’’ Daniel said.
According to him, with 2019 around the corner, the PDP cannot afford to make mistakes in choosing its leaders because it is germane to the rebuilding of the party.
“PDP is spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria. The fragmentation in the party cuts across all political parties in Nigeria.
“However, most of our members who defected to other parties left, due to the internal challenges within it.
“The moment those who leave see a new leadership committed to fairness and justice, they will return’’ the former governor said.
On the PDP’s zoning of the presidential slot to the North, Daniel described the decision as sacrosanct, noting that it was commonsense for the party to look for a candidate from the northern part of the country to square up with the APC.
Speaking further, he debunked an alleged strife between him and Senator Buruji Kashamu from Ogun East, stating that they had no personal issues and that they had no quarrels.
Daniel, however, expressed his support for the clamour for Nigeria to be restructured, arguing that the nation’s potential would be maximised when restructured.
“We must begin to examine the system to give equal opportunities to all parts of the country,’’ he added.
He also promised to halt the culture of imposition and restore internal democracy, if elected as the national chairman of the party on December 9 in Abuja.
“Other aspirants are eminently qualified. But, I believe I can do it better. I have played corporate politics and party politics. I have the connections and networks.”
He said the mood in the party supported the zoning of the position to the South-West, stressing that the South-East may be warming up for the vice presidency in 2019.
Daniel denied vying for the position during the botched Port-Harcourt convention, saying that he was merely testing the waters.
The former governor said there was nothing wrong in the presidential ambition of Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and the chairmanship aspiration of Mr. Uche Secondus, who is from the South-South. He said zoning is beautiful because it gives people a sense of belonging in the party.
Daniel added: “Each time we adopt zoning, people from other zones still contest, despite zoning. Zoning is a moral arrangement, not a constitutional issue. So, he (Fayose) can contest. Sometimes, winning is not about personal effort. It is through the grace of God.”
The former governor dismissed insinuations that he has a moral challenge, clarifying that no court of competent jurisdiction had found him guilty of corruption.
He said: “Nobody is without blemish. I have no encumbrance whatsoever. In Nigeria, when the EFCC invites you based on a petition it has received, people will think in their perception that you are guilty. The petition was written by a former local government chairman, Tunde Oladunjoye, who was removed because he was not performing well.
“I have been in court 40 times. The prosecution is always asking for adjournment. My counsel did not object so that they will not say that they lost on technical ground. The last time was the tenth adjournment.” Daniel observed that the December 9 convention is critical to the survival of PDP.
He fired salvos at his successor, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, saying he is busy building dual carriage bridges where they are not needed.
Daniel lamented that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti terror and corruption wars have not yielded full dividends, pointing out that the Boko Haram sect has only been decimated and not wiped out.
He said while the president is incorruptible, he has not been able to dismantle significantly the structures of corruption in the corridor of power.
Daniel said the Federal Government’s tract record on the economy has not impressed many Nigerians, lamenting that unemployment is growing in alarming proportions. He stressed: “Unemployment may continue to rise, unless Nigerian money is kept in Nigeria. The rate of unemployment is directly proportional to insecurity. Tackle unemployment and insecurity will reduce drastically.”