There are strong indications that President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party are wooing a group, led by a former governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, in Ogun State’s All Progressives Party to the PDP.
The PUNCH’s investigations on Sunday in Abuja revealed that since the crisis in Ogun State’s APC remained intractable, the Presidency and the PDP had intensified efforts to convince Osoba’s group to defect to the ruling party.
It was gathered that the calculation of the PDP was that the defection of the former governor and his supporters would shore up Jonathan’s chances in the 2015 presidential election in the state.
Besides, the ruling party also thought that Osoba’s group defection would assist in neutralising the influence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had not hidden his opposition to Jonathan’s 2015 presidential ambition.
The crisis in Ogun APC worsened on Friday when Osoba, the state Deputy Governor, Prince Segun Adesegun, who is a political godson of the former governor, and all members of the National Assembly from the state, boycotted the APC national convention in Abuja.
Osoba’s group had disagreed with the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, over the conduct of the congress of the party in the state.
Osoba and his loyalists had, on May 29, 2014, rejected sharing of party offices with Amosun’s faction of the APC.
The former governor hinted at the possibility of leading his supporters out of the APC.
Addressing his supporters, he said, “As I stand before you, I swear before God and Jesus Christ, my Lord, I promise you all that the issue of forgiveness is no more. If you stand firmly as a warrior, that is enough for me; if you are ready, there is no more room for reconciliation. If thousands of people prostrate; it is what you want that I will do; it is what you say that I will say; I will stand where you stand; I want to appeal to you, don’t be distracted.”
A member of the PDP National Working Committee, who pleaded anonymity because he was not permitted by the party to speak on the issue, confided in one of our correspondents that the PDP and the President wanted Osoba and his loyalists to defect to the PDP.
He said, “I can tell you that the Presidency and the PDP have been reaching out to the former governor and his group. We believe that Osoba is strong politically and he will add value to our party. We need him and his group to win Ogun and neutralise Obasanjo’s influence.”
But when contacted, the Senator representing Ogun East, Adegbenga Kaka, said, “For now, I can only speak for myself. I am sure we (in the Osoba faction) will meet, harmonise our position and make it known at the appropriate time.”
Kaka, who has been speaking on behalf of the group, confirmed that the PDP was among the political parties which had made overtures to him.
The senator, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday, said he was not speaking for other members of the group.
He, however, said that he was confident that the group members would soon meet to harmonise positions.
According to him, what he is after is what is best for his people, adding that he will not be stampeded out of the APC.
Asked if the ruling PDP had made overtures to the group, he said, “Not only the PDP, everybody has been approaching me; all parties have been approaching me.
“I am a progressive to the core, even the Labour Party, the UPN, everybody but I am looking out for what is in the best interest of my people so those who are thinking that I am going to leave the APC for them are kidding.”
“I am not moving to any party. I am still in the APC. I am not moving to any party, let alone the Peoples Democratic Party.
“What we are fighting for is justice and democracy, PDP does not represent that for anybody to say I am sure the person is being uncharitable to me. I remain in the APC and I don’t run away from a fight. We will fight until justice is done. We will fight until what we believe is just is done.”
When contacted the Chairman of the PDP in Ogun State, Chief Bayo Dayo, confirmed that the party was discussing with the APC group led by Osoba.
He stated, “Negotiations are always going on in all political parties. It was going on in the APC when our people were defecting to them. We have their people defecting to our party in a very large scale now.”
Dayo said that the PDP was planning a mega rally in Ogun State to receive defectors from the APC.
He said that no fewer than 50,000 APC members had joined the PDP.
When contacted the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said he could not discuss the party administration on the pages of newspapers.
But in its reaction, the state APC described the statement credited to the PDP chairman in the state, Dayo, that 50,000 members of the APC had defected to the PDP, as delusionary.
The state spokesman for the APC, Mr. Sola Lawal, said this when contacted on the matter on Sunday.
Lawal, who spoke on the telephone with one of our correspondents, said the figure being quoted by the PDP chairman must have been a figment of his imagination.
He said, “The claim of defection only exists in the foggy imagination of the PDP in Ogun State. Available statistics has it that membership strength of the PDP in Ogun State stands at 13,638.
“If 50,000 former members of another party join them, it simply means their rank has been invaded or they have been overrun. To maintain a modicum of sanity in the face of heightened popularity of Amosun’s APC, the PDP can only romanticise delusionary mental acrobatics.”
Waving off the PDP leader’s tag of non-performance on the Ibikunle Amosun-led administration, Lawal scoffed at the opposition, stressing that the current tempo of infrastructural development in the state could not be matched by that of any administration before him.