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Who becomes next PDP chairman?

..delegates on the march to Abuja for historic National Convention

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is one party that many Nigerians love to hate. Registered in 1998, the party won the 1999 presidential election, and also produced many governors and local government chairmen across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),

If the lifespan of the party is to be shared among the chairmen it produced, each of them spent an average of 13 months in power and of all the leaders it produced, only few had a glorious exit; most of them were forced out of office in controversial circumstances.

Despite that, the position of chairman of a national party like the PDP is only second to that of the President if the party is able to capture power and that perhaps accounts for the interest and desperation that many have exhibited in their quest to hold this position

Those that have held this exalted position include the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who was the protem chairman in 1998, Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Ahmadu Ali, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Dr. Ezekwesilieze Nwodo, Dr. Haliru Bello‎ Mohammed, Alhaji Kawu Baraje‎, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, Prince Uche Secondus, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

With the PDP National Elective Convention coming up on Saturday, December 9, all eyes are on the opposition party. The opposition PDP needs a vibrant new chairman in order to reinvent itself as the country heads into election season, and the challengers are increasingly being confronted with what stakeholders allude to as pragmatic political permutations. Delegates are also said to be moving en masse to Abuja for the historic convention.

For a party desperate to recover from the impunity that stakeholders claim drove it from power in 2015, it is worth a look at the leading candidates for the plum job.

Uche Secondus

The youngest in the field, Prince Uche Secondus, a national chairmanship aspirant in the PDP and a businessman, politician, served as acting Chairman of the party’s National Working Committee from 2015 to 2016, was born on March 22, 1955 and raised in Andoni, Rivers State, his place of birth.

He was the second chairman of the Rivers State PDP, a position he held for two terms.

He completed his elementary and secondary education in Rivers State. He further attended the London Chambers of Commerce Institute where he obtained a certificate in Commerce.

Secondus chose the path of politics during the defunct Second Republic in 1978 with the desire to improve the lives of people in Rivers State.

He served as Rivers State Youth Leader of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and Rivers State Publicity Secretary of the National Republican Convention (NRC), (1993 – 1998).

While serving as state party chair, he earned the sobriquet “Total Chairman”, and headed an influential group in the National Executive Committee known as G-84.

In 2007, Secondus was the South-South Coordinator for the PDP National Campaign Council that organised the campaigns for the party during that year’s general election. In 2008, at the PDP Convention, he gained further promotion to National Organising Secretary, holding office until 2012. Secondus is the pioneer Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). On 1st September, 2013, he was elected Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (South).

He also briefly served as acting National Chairman of the party, following the resignation of Adamu Mu’azu in 2015.

Secondus, as National Organising Secretary of the party, had the best internal and external elections, according to ViewPointNigeria report.

As acting National Chairman, he set up a special committee that looked into the causes of the failure of the party in 2015 general election, which produced the post-mortem report which has been adopted by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Secondus, one of the leading contenders for the job of National Chairman, may clinch the prestigious post, simply because he has been there, multiple times and has done it.

Prof. Tunde Adeniran

Prof. Adeniran, an educationist, political scientist who graduated from the University of Ibadan, and Columbia University in the city of New York, U.S.A, was born in Ekiti State in 1945.

He was a staff of the United Nations Organisation in the mid-seventies and lectured in some American Universities before he took up appointment at the University of Ibadan where he worked for 20 years before he retired and delved into politics in 1998.

While in the university, Adeniran was member of the University Senate for 15 years; Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (1980-81); Sub-Dean (Post-graduate, Faculty of the Social Sciences), 1981-83 and Head of the Department of Political Science, May 1994 to April 1997.

Adeniran, who served as the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany at some point, is a recipient of many honours and winner of many distinctions.

Adeniran, in his capacity as the first Minister of Education (June 1999 – January 2001) in the 4th Republic, made success of the Universal Basic Education Scheme; he initiated very bold reforms and championed changes designed to restructure and reposition the Nigerian education sector for rapid development.

He initiated a policy banning satellite campuses and abolished the discretionary list in the admission pattern of universities. As part of his laudable achievements, he laid the foundation for the establishment of NOUN.

A distinguished church leader, Adeniran is deeply involved in community service and charity organisations set up to cater for the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged. He is patron of eight different youth and student organisations.

Adeniran is one of the leading contenders for the job of National Chairmanship with seven other candidates in the December 9 – 10, 2017 national convention of the party.

Olabode George

Born Olabode Ibiyinka George in 1945 in Lagos, Bode George, as he is fondly called by his admirers, earned a B.Sc and MBA of the University of Lagos. A former Naval Officer, George rose to become a Commodore in the Nigerian Navy, and was appointed Military Governor of Ondo State (1988–1990). He established the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo by edict in 1990, a school that now has over 4,000 students.

He became Principal Staff Officer to General Oladipo Diya when the latter was Chief of General Staff, between 1993 and 1997. George was also a Director at the Nigerian National War College (NWC).

On retirement from the Military, George joined partisan politics at the return of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999 and has since held many enviable positions.

In 2001, George was made the PDP’s national vice-chairman in the South West zone. Later he became PDP Deputy National Chairman, South, and then the National Deputy Chairman of the PDP.

In January 2005, it was reported that Bode George was expected to be named National Chairman of the PDP at the party’s national convention in November. In July 2005, he was promoted to PDP Deputy National Chairman (South) and later National Deputy Chairman of the PDP.

In March 2008, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor dismissed Bode George from the Governing Board of the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI). In April 2008, the PDP National Disciplinary Committee (NDC), which Bode George headed, was dismantled.

He was chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, however, in 2003, the senior management and the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority was dismissed. The new managing director, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, hired auditors to review major existing contracts. Their review found irregularities. It was passed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu, which started investigations in 2005.

The EFCC report issued on 1 April, 2005 stated that NPA board members, including Chairman Bode George, and the management of the NPA should be held responsible for deliberate and flagrant violations of government rules and regulations governing the award of contracts, and should be sanctioned for contract splitting and inflation of contract price in utter disregard to laid-down government rules and regulations. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo dismissed the findings as inconclusive, and ordered another investigation. The second EFCC report cleared Bode George.

In August 2008, the EFCC under its new head, Mrs Farida Waziri, arrested Olabode George in Lagos and arraigned him and four others on a 163 count-charge of conspiracy, disobedience to lawful order, abuse of office and alleged illegal award of contracts worth N84billion while he was chairman of the NPA.

After the trial had started, the EFCC reduced the charge to 63 counts. In October 2009, Bode George was found guilty and sentenced to jail for 30 months. The sentence was handed out by Justice Joseph Oyewole.

The judge found the defendants guilty on 47 out of the 68 counts. The total sentences added up to 28 years, but the counts for disobedience to lawful order were ruled to run concurrently for six months, and the counts for contract inflation then to run concurrently for two years.

The verdict of the lower court was later upheld by the Court of Appeal in Lagos. But on December 13, 2013, the Supreme Court discharged the acquitted Bode George. The apex court, headed by Justice John Fabiyi, said the EFCC had no evidence that George intended to commit fraud at the NPA, and the charges of “contract splitting” was unknown to law.

Now that he aspires to lead the party as its chairman, many are wondering if people will not still habour the thought of his prison experience as a reason not to vote for him, that is despite the Supreme Court verdict nullifying the sentence.

It must be pointed out that Bode George remains one of the most experience of all the aspirants in terms of management of the PDP, because of the many leadership positions he has held and stands a good chance among the lot.

Raymond Dokpesi

Raymond Dokpesi, a media business mogul and politician was born 1951 in Ibadan, Nigeria. He is originally from Agenebode, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State.

He joined the Nigerian mass media industry with his company, DAAR Communications and set-up the Nigerian TV network, Africa Independent Television (AIT), which became the first private television network in Nigeria.

Dokpesi, attended Ebenezer African Church School, Ibadan, Loyola College, Ibadan and Immaculate Conception College, Benin City. He worked briefly with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as Marine Office Cadet in 1969 before proceeding to Poland for further studies, where he attained Bachelor, Masters Degree and Doctorate Degrees at Wyzsza Szokta Morska Gdynia and University of Gdansk Sopot.

As a student, he made a first class with distinction and was also the best graduating student in 50 years in Poland in Marine Transport Engineering.

He lectured in the University of Gdansk, Poland as Assistant Lecturer in Marine Transport Economics before returning to Nigeria on the invitation of the then Nigerian Head of State who was on State visit to Poland.

While schooling, he held the following positions – President, Nigerian Students Union Gdansk Poland (1972 – 1974), President, African Students Union, Poland (1973), President, International Students Association, Poland (1974), President, Nigerian Students, Eastern Europe (1974).

He pioneered the birth of the first private television network in Nigeria, Africa Independent Television (AIT), it was also Africa’s first satellite T.V. station. Dokpesi is today regarded as the media guru of Nigeria. Some also refer to him as the Ted Turner of Nigeria. He also pioneered the first privately owned radio station in Nigeria.

He was the organising committee chairman of the PDP national conference in 2015.

He is a recipient of several national and international awards, amongst which are: Dr. Kwame Nkurumah Africa Leadership Award and Gold Medal for Excellence in Business Practice, awarded by the Foundation for Excellence in Business Practice, an organ of the United Nations based in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Institute of Directors (10D) 2007 Entrepreneurial Award.

Dokpesi as a politician had one of his first political assignments as a political campaign manager for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, which saw Tukur into the then Gongola State Government House. He also assumed the same role during Alhaji Adamu Ciroma presidential campaign and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s presidential campaign in 1993.

Likewise during Peter Odili’s presidential campaign. Dokpesi was one of the leaders of the South-South People Assembly (SSPA), an organisation that seeks to promote South-South people of Nigeria.

As a politician, certain controversies were weaved around him, as on November 11, 2015 Dokpesi, on behalf of the PDP, made a public apology due to the mismanagement of Nigeria under the PDP governments. Now, he aspires to the number one seat of the party.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel

Born Justus Olugbenga Daniel, the Daniel story began in the ancient City of Ibadan. Born in 1956 into the family of the Most Reverend Adebola Daniel of Makun, Sagamu and late Madam Olaitan Daniel of Omu-Ijebu, Otunba Daniel’s leadership traits manifested early while he was at the Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta which he attended from 1969 to 1973.

After high school, he proceeded first to the School of Basic Studies at The Polytechnic, Ibadan for his A/Levels and thereafter to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Lagos, where he won several laurels and became acquainted with the legendary Prof. Ayodele Awojobi.

It was also whilst still an undergraduate that he was initiated into the Committee of Friends of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, indeed, as the youngest member of that select Committee that later metamorphosed into the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

During his National Service year at the School of Engineering of the Lagos State Polytechnic, he supervised the construction of the Engineering complex and also conducted the semester examinations for the School of Engineering. Daniel was to proceed to earn a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos and subsequently attended the Lagos Business School for an executive programme.

Daniel joined the then multinational company – H.F. SCHROEDER West Africa Limited in 1983 as a young Engineer moving from lecture theatre of Lagos State Polytechnic where he taught in the school of Engineering. He was to hold the post of a Commercial Manager for the Demag and Carbon brushes department.

Two years later, being the only qualified engineer in the company and industrious, he was promoted and seconded to control the affair of the LIFT Department as Assistant General Manager. Two years later, he became the General Manager of H. F. SCHROEDER. Like an automatic but unwritten rule, Engr. Daniel received another promotion two years later to the post of Deputy Managing Director, the position he held until his resignation from the company in 1990.

Daniel established his own company in 1990. Kresta Laurel’s certification as the agency for DEMAG and SABIEM products is as a result of his proficiency in engineering details, belief and ability to accomplish projects and deliver to specification.

It was the same doggedness and penchant that made him a hugely successful businessman that he brought into politics and governance.

He later became the governor of Ogun State, a position he held for eight years of two terms.

Now he aspires to lead the PDP as its national chairman and he is not leaving anything to chance in achieving this feat.

Many have said that if the effort put into campaign and reaching out to prominent leaders in the party is what will earn anyone the position, then Daniel can as well be said to have gotten it, but it takes more than that to get the position, but he is in a good stead to clinch it.

Prof. Taoheed Adedoja

Adedoja was Nigeria’s former minister of Sports and Youth Development. He was Dean of Faculty of Education, Bayero University, Kano (BUK); a two-time governorship candidate in Oyo State and contender for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship.

Adedoja, who was Provost of the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, many believe is aspiring to the position as compensation for his inability to clinch the governorship position of his state and many see his chances as slim.

Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja

Rashidi Ladoja was born in 1944 in Gambari village near Ibadan. He attended Olivet Baptist High School (1964–1965) and the University of Liège, Belgium (1966–1972) where he earned a degree in Chemical Engineering.

He obtained a job with Total Nigeria, an oil company, where he worked for 13 years in various positions before entering private business in 1985. His business interests include Shipping, Manufacturing, Banking, Agriculture and Transportation.

He was elected to the Senate of Nigeria in 1993 during the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic. By 2000, Ladoja had become a director of Standard Trust Bank Limited.

He became governor of Oyo State in 2003 as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was impeached in January 2006, but reinstated in December 2006. His term ended in 2007.

Ladoja failed to win the PDP nomination as candidate for a second term. He chose to back the Action Congress candidates for 33 local council chairmanship elections. The PDP refused to participate in the elections. As a result, the Action Congress (AC) won 26 seats and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) won seven.

Ladoja was the governorship candidate for Accord party in Oyo State during the April 2011 elections, he lost to Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

He recently returned to the PDP and vying for the chairmanship position, a move many see as a way on realigning himself back to the mainstream of the party.

Jimi Agbaje

Olujimi Kolawole Agbaje, popularly known as Jimi Agbaje or JK, was born in 1957 in Lagos State, Nigeria. Agbaje attended St Gregory’s College, Lagos and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he studied Pharmacy.

He is the second born and first male child of five children (two female and two male siblings) including Segun Agbaje, CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank.

In 1982, Jimi Agbaje founded his own company, JAYKAY Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company Limited and was Managing Director until 2005 when he decided to venture into politics.

A consummate professional, he was a member of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (1999 – 2006); National Secretary of the Nigerian Association of General Practice Pharmacists (NAGPP) from 1987 – 1990; National Chairman NAGPP (1990 – 1993) and Chairman Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Lagos State (1994 – 1997).

He was a member, Lagos State Task force on Fake and Adulterated Drugs (1989 – 1993), National Drug Formulary and Essential Drugs List (1986 – 1993) and Lagos Hospitals Management Board (1994 – 1997).

Jimi Agbaje also sits on the Board of other organisations including Oakwood Park Ltd, Atlantic Hall Secondary School Epe, Jimi Agbaje Outreach (a project dedicated to helping the less fortunate) and has served as business mentor at Fate Foundation.

In 2007, Agbaje, who had initially aspired to contest for the governor of Lagos State on the platform of the Action Congress (AC), left the party to join the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA). He was among the 11 aspirants that turned their back to the Action Congress (AC) when it was alleged that Governor Bola Tinubu had already anointed someone else to succeed him even before the party primaries.

Widely believed to have conducted the best campaign in 2007, Agbaje contested in gubernatorial election on the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) platform, but eventually, alongside other major contenders – Musiliu Obanikoro of PDP, Femi Pedro of Labour Party (Nigeria) – lost to Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress (AC).

He left DPA in 2011 and joined the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the de-registration of DPA by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

On 8 December 2014, he emerged as the candidate of the PDP for the 2015 Lagos State gubernatorial election, having defeated Musiliu Obanikoro in the primary.

Though it is said that Agbaje is running for the office of the national chairman of the PDP, very much unlike him, his impact in the campaign has not really been felt and that many think will affect his chances of becoming the party’s number one man on Saturday.

Patrick Okohue, Theresa Tekenah and Stanley Ikechukwu

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