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MUSILIU OBANIKORO, DEJI DOHERTY at loggerheads over Lagos PDP guber ticket

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AS 2015 Lagos guber election draws nearer, ENCOMIUM Weekly’s findings have revealed that major stakeholders within the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not happy about the way things are going concerning who is going to be the flag-bearer of the party in the forthcoming election.
Although, most of the aspirants are still keeping their cards close to their chests, the subterranean moves are on already.
The politicians that have been linked to the race include Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who is said to be perfecting plans to resign his ministerial appointment to pave way for his guber ambition.  This, we learnt, may happen any moment from now.
An impeccable source disclosed to ENCOMIUM Weekly that the astute politician’s purported decision has been generating serious rancor between himself and former national vice chairman of the party (South-West), Chief Adedeji Doherty, who is also eyeing the guber ticket.
Doherty was said to have hinged his anger on the fact that Obanikoro was allegedly quoted as saying that he is the only credible candidate that can wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state come 2015.  So, he should be the party’s consensus candidate and no one should be allowed to vie for the governorship ticket again.
“I learnt that Doherty and Obanikoro are in bitter feud at the moment.  The issue of who will be the PDP flag-bearer in Lagos guber election in 2015 has set the two against each other.  Since Obanikoro has made his intention known to President Jonathan that he would be running for the gubernatorial seat in the state, presenting himself as the only viable candidate capable of slugging it out with APC, the issue didn’t go down well with some loyalists of Doherty, who in turn called on President Jonathan to call Obanikoro to order so that the party’s anticipation to emerge victorious in the next governorship election in the state won’t be an ordinary nightmare.”
One of the aggrieved party faithful who spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on the condition of anonymity concerning the issue also said, “If the party leaders at the national level fail to wade into the crisis between Obanikoro and Doherty as regards guber ticket, it may cost us the chance of winning the election in 2015.  And this is the time for PDP to rule Lagos State, even the whole of South-West.  We have a lot of flaws in APC to capitalize on, especially in Lagos State.  But if the issue of who will bear the flag of the party is not settled amicably between Doherty and Obanikoro, it may be very difficult for us to make headway in 2015 governorship election.
“Although, none of us expects Obanikoro to vie for the ticket at all again.  We hope he should be contented with the ministerial appointment which we all supported.  But now that he is in the race as governorship aspirant, I think he should be allowed to test his popularity when we have our congress election which will hold soon.  Left to me, I don’t think it’s a fair decision on his part to say he is still interested in going for governorship ticket having been enjoying his ministerial portfolio, when he is not the only one in the party.”
However, one of the loyalists of Obanikoro who also spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly anonymously said, “I don’t know why people are busy insinuating rubbish.  To start with, the man has not declared himself publicly as an aspirant.  He never told anybody that he is vying for Lagos guber ticket. If at all he has the intention to do that, I don’t see anything wrong with that.  After all, the party’s constitution allows you to run for elective position if you’re qualified to.  What he needs to do is to resign his appointment as a minister first.  He should be allowed to run for the ticket if he wants to.  Maybe those criticizing him see him as a threat to their own moves.  I don’t think that should cause any crisis at all.”
However, ENCOMIUM Weekly reached out to Obanikoro on Saturday, June 7, 2014 on the issue, and he denied quarrelling with Doherty over Lagos PDP guber ticket.  He added that there is no iota of truth in it.  “Deji Doherty is my in-law and brother in whom I am well pleased.  Fighting?  That’s not true.”
Asked if he is really eyeing the state’s number one seat on the platform of PDP as being bandied, he swiftly reacted, “Don’t mind them. I am only busy trying to help the President and Nigeria overcome Boko Haram.”
We also reached out to Doherty, and he said, “I don’t have any issue with Obanikoro over Lagos PDP guber ticket.  It’s his fundamental human right to run for the governorship of the state but he has to resign his appointment as minister.  He has the right to decide whether to abandon his ministerial position for governorship ticket.  But I think he should have supported anybody who the party presents as its candidate instead of him coming out again.  That will befit him as a leader.  Left to me, I don’t have any problem with anybody aspiring to the seat, including Obanikoro.  I am enjoying good support from the party elders and those at the grassroots.
“Obanikoro also knows too well that I supported his ministerial nomination and also worked for him when he came out in 2007.  So, I believe if I decide to run for the party’s ticket now, he should throw his weight behind me, and we should both work for the success of our great party.”

– TADE ASIFAT

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