One-time governorship candidate of the defunct Democratic Peoples’ Alliance, DPA, Olujimi Agbaje, has defeated, Senator Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro, his arch rival for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos State. Agbaje polled 432 votes as against Obanikoro’s 346, while other aspirants, namely Babatunde Gbadamosi, Tokunbo Kamson and Adedeji Doherty garnered 21, 46, and 21 votes, in that order.
Controversy over a discrepancy in the number of delegates, who participated in the primary election, and the actual votes count declared by the returning officer, Senator Shehu Kumo, almost mired the process.
Kumo announced the delegate were 806 , but the total votes cast was 63 votes more than the initial number. Some supporters and delegates of a frontline aspirant protested a foul play. At this time, tempers flared and the process was almost going to turn rowdy, before anti-riot policemen fired shots and tear gas canisters to disperse the agitators.
Smarting from his defeat, Obanikoro rejected the outcome of the primaries and called for a run-off. Aggrieved, Obanikoro addressed a press conference where he stated that the process “is completely tainted” and might spell doom for the party.
Agbaje, The Journey So Far
Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist, joined the PDP four months ago. He has wanted to become governor of Lagos State since 2011, when he contested and lost to Governor Babatunde Fashola of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. He ran a colourful campaign during his first outing and won a wide appeal. “JK Is Ok” was a popular refrain from his campaign, but definitely not ‘ok’ to uproot the bulwark the CAN had become in Lagos State. Agbaje was backed by a romp of old Afenifere leaders, some of whom were promoters of the Democratic Peoples Alliance, DPA, Agbaje was in. Agbaje’s entry into the PDP was borne out of a political exigency, compromise, and desperation by the PDP to overturn their repeated failure to produce a governor for the state.
Agbaje’s admission into the PDP was, purportedly, orchestrated by a former Deputy National Vice Chairman, PDP, Olabode George, and former Minister for Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe, among other party leaders disposed to his candidacy. He is the masterstroke being employed by the PDP to challenge the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He is a Christian and hail from Ikorodu division, in the Lagos East senatorial district, which has never produced a governor in the state. Agbaje is a prince and has wide political connections across party divides. He will be challenging Akinwunmi Ambode, the governorship flagbearer of the APC – who is also a Christian, public administrator and from Epe, in the same Lagos East senatorial district.
Should the National leadership of the party endorsed the primaries, which it is likely to do, one of the options available to Musiliu Obanikoro, is to quit the PDP and contest on another platform. Koro, as he is fondly called, is screaming blue murder and wants a re-run of the election. Obanikoro has earlier claimed the odds against him wanted him out of the race. He said Agbaje was not his challenger, but two godfathers. Bode George and Bola Tinubu, were the names he mentioned. Obanikoro had been Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government, Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture in Lagos State (under the defunct Alliance for Democracy) and a senator. He, alongside late Wahab Dosunmu defected from the AD to the PDP and both contested for governor in 2007. He was a former Nigerian ambassador to Ghana, and later South Africa, and recently a junior Minister of Defence.