By John Apo
The emergence of Chief Segun Oni former Governor of Ekiti state as the South West Chairman of the ruling Nigeria national party PDP,did not come without some underground political moves.Oni who has been the most vocal thorn in the flesh of the Tinubu political hegemony in the South west was reportedly headhunted by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who had been contacted by President Goodluck Jonathan to help in reforming the PDP in the zone .Obasanjo was said to have began a search three months ago looking for credible Party leaders who could give a new face to PDP in the zone.After consulting widely, Obasanjo and the leaders zeroed in on former Governors and former Ministers who in their thinking would have some clouth to lead the party but they eventually settled for Governors who they believe would have political machinery for campaigns.
Sources privy to several meetings said there was a shortlist of former Governor of Ondo Dr Segun Agagu ,Oyinlola of Osun and Oni from Ekiti.What gave Oni the final nod was said to be his record of performance as Governor which was said to be unrivaled in the southwest,his integrity and dogged fight against the ACN judicial robbery or what Obasanjo refered to as “crooked victory” in the Southwest of ACN.Obasanjo was then said to have sent for Oni who reportedly first opted out so as according to him not to be ” distracted from his search for justice on his stolen mandate by Salami-Tinubu alliance”.The source said that Oni eventually succumbed when Obasanjo impressed on him the need to rejuvenate the party with credible people and that this was an assignment from a father to son to which the son must not refuse.
This settled, Obasanjo began consultation across the zone and the candidature of Oni was said to have been accepted across the Southwest states.
However the source said that with the state congresses and national convention in focus, hiccups began to emerge on the permutations as jostling for National secretary of the PDP zoned to the South west threw up Prof Tunde Adeniran,Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Chief Sola Oke.Adeniran and Oni are said to be blood relations from the same local government in Ekiti. Oni was said to have given assurances that he was ready to step down if Adeniran made it as National secretary .Perhaps the greatest political upset came from Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade present Minister of Police Affairs who has not hidden his quest to hijack the political machinery of Ekiti state from Oni in preparation towards his 2014 Governorship ambition .He got an ally in the impeached former Governor of Ekiti state Ayo Fayose who had reportedly returned to the party but was yet to be formally accepted.Fayose is also said to be oiling his way back to the number one seat in the state.Known for his brash political moves ,Fayose was said to have eaten a humble pie and warmed his way to Oni’s political chest only for him at the last minute during the congress to team up with Olubolade to undermine Oni’s emergence as Southwest leader which Fayose had also hinted as his area of interest.The duo at the last minute raised up Chief Ropo Adesanya former chairman of the Party in Ekiti to square up with Oni.With financial backing from Olubolade and Fayose,Adesanya was said to have mobilized a few delegates to Osogbo .
The sudden emergence of another candidate from Ekiti was said to have rattled the leaders at the venue of the zonal congress prompting an early meeting where Obasanjo was said to have warned against divisive tendencies and that any contestant without any pedigree of notable achievement and integrity cannot be presented to lead the party.A source at the meeting said a leader from Ondo suggested that since Ekiti had two candidates,other states will vote first and Ekiti will vote last and this was accepted.With all the states delegates led by the former Governors Agagu,Oyinlola,Alao Akala, who were colleagues of Oni, and with Ogun firmly under Obasanjo,and Lagos under Bode George all rooting for Oni,it dawned on the Olubolade/Adesanya camp that the defeat will be overwhelming.
This prompted Adesanya to storm out of the venue alleging that Oni was being imposed on the delegates.The consensus list was now announced which each candidate still subjected to voice votes to validate the concensus.Oni received an overwhelming acceptance.Some other candidates who were rejected were withdrawn for a future contest.Chief Doherty who withdrew from Lagos was also to be replaced by another nominee of Lagos for the position of Publicity secretary.
With this now all roads lead to Abuja convention ground where Ebenezer Babatope “Ebino topsy”is said to be favored to clinch the secretaryship while Adeniran is said to be pulling his weight particularly in the South east and North central caucus and may achieve an upset if moves to get Sola Oke to step down for a ministerial slot materializes.The real joker is the possible dark horse Oyinlola who may emerge if the Governors insist on producing the secretary as a trade off for supporting the President’s man for chairman .now it’s too close to call.