Tobi Soniyi in Lagos, James Sowole in Akure and Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
The re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in South-west states appears to be in disarray due to unresolved disputes arising from the primary elections conducted in the states by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), THISDAY can report.
With aggrieved aspirants defecting from the APC to other political parties to pursue their aspiration, the intra-party conflicts in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Osun States, among others, may cost the president re-election if not nipped in the bud.
The president is banking on the South-west to win the 2019 election.
The situation is very critical in two states: Ogun and Ondo, where the governors though claimed are with the president, however allowed their key lieutenants to defect to other political parties.
In Ondo, for instance, some aggrieved aspirants with allegiance to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, last week, defected from the APC to the African Alliance (AA), citing irregularities and sharp practices that characterised the primaries in the state.
In Ogun State, members of the party, who should work for the success of the party, have dumped the party.
Last Thursday, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, the candidate preferred by Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to succeed him, dumped the APC and defected to the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) to actualise his gubernatorial ambition.
Akinlade, who is currently representing Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, said he won the APC governorship primary in Ogun, but the leadership of the party said the primary was won by Dapo Abiodun.
The defection gale which hit the APC in Ogun State also affected Mr. Mukaila Kazeem, who is currently the lawmaker representing Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode Federal Constituency who has now pitched tent with the APM.
The duo said they were forced to leave APC, because of impunity and undemocratic norms.
At the state level, four members (majority leader, Adeyinka Mafe, Chief Whip, Idowu Olowofuja, Tunde Sanusi and Ganiyu Oyedeji) of the Ogun State House of Assembly also dumped the APC for APM.
However, the state executive members of the party have distanced themselves from any attempt to join the defection train to the APM.
In Lagos, the rivalry between two former governors of the state, Bola Tinubu and Raji Fashola has made the Buhari Campaign incohesive.
In what appears to be an emerging battle for the control of Lagos State, the, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Works, Power and Housing, has set a separate campaign group to secure 4.5 million votes for Buhari in the state.
Although the campaign group christened PMB 2019 was set up to canvass support for Buhari’s reelection, competent sources disclosed that the group with vast support base statewide was designed to be a formidable political group after the 2019 election.
Besides, according to the sources, the group is a grand political platform with an ambitious post-2019 plan, though its main thrust is to campaign for Buhari and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in the next presidential election scheduled to hold on February 16.
With its concealed post-2019 plan, one of the sources disclosed that the constitution of the group violated an understanding of all political leaders that all groups in the APC should be collapsed into the Mandate Movement, a political group loyal to the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Specifically, the source said the group would definitely become a formidable platform in the state after the 2019 general election, considering its vast support base across all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
Apart from appointing former Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole as the Director-General in the state, the source said leaders of the group “have appointed in 20 LGAs, 37 LCDAs and 347 wards across the state with a mandate to build formidable political support base in their respective areas of control.”
In a telephone conversation yesterday, Danmole confirmed the establishment of the PMB Support Group, which according to him, was designed to create a new system of presidential campaign in the state.
Danmole said the campaign group, which was founded by Fashola, “is not about going about and dancing. We have raised about 5,000 foot soldiers for Buhari/Osinbajo re-election campaign. The foot soldiers will move from house to house campaigning for Buhari.
“We are inaugurating first layer today. In December, we will add more foot soldiers. In January, we will add more foot soldiers. Our approach is to talk to people to vote instead of going about dancing. It is the inauguration of 5,000 foot soldiers to campaign for Buhari/Osinbajo in South-west.
“These people are from 347 wards, 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Lagos State. We have 15 in each LGA and LCDA. That gives us 885 foot soldiers. Then, we have Hausa, Igbo and non-indigenes communities, who formed the remaining part of the group,” Danmole said.