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OLD FOX! OBJ outsmarts them again

Posted by By CHIDI OBINECHE, AUGUSTINE AVWODE, JACOB EDI, TAIWO AMODU, ISMAIL OMIPIDAN & JAMES OJO on 2008/03/14 | Views: 650 |

OLD FOX! OBJ outsmarts them again


After months of pulsating campaign by frontline candidates, the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finally went to the least expected, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, as the party rounded off its National Convention in Abuja yesterday.

•Plants Ogbulafor as PDP Chairman
…After selling dummy


After months of pulsating campaign by frontline candidates, the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finally went to the least expected, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, as the party rounded off its National Convention in Abuja yesterday.

The dramatic emergence of Prince Ogbulafor, against the more fancied former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr Sam Egwu, might have been read by many as a loss to former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
The truth, however, is that, Obasanjo as the proverbial old fox, actually outsmarted his political foes again. This is regardless of the fact that he campaigned feverishly for Egwu. When the matter got to a head, he engaged another gear, according to a party stalwart.

Sunday Sun can authoritatively report that Ogbulafor was Obasanjo’s “Plan B”, having felt the political pulse of the party, particularly his adversaries, who had sworn to stop him and his Egwu agenda.
One of the northern governors who would not want his name mentioned told Sunday Sun that both President Umaru Yar’Adua and Obasanjo were in agreement and sold a dummy to the public including some of the governors that the retired Army General was losing the battle.

A source said that having agreed with Yar’Adua on the choice of Ogbulafor, the president reportedly distanced himself from the crowd. That attitude of the president, a concerned party member criticised, saying it was at such time that the party needed a man of the caliber of former Abia State governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. According to him, had Kalu been around, “he would have seen through the dummy Baba was selling to them.”s

In his words: “Baba (Obasanjo) is a good old army general who thinks ahead, plans ahead and keeps quiet. He didn’t become head of state by being stupid, and that is why Yar’Adua didn’t talk all along. The party knows that they miss former governror Uzor Kalu, he would have seen through all the tricks and you know what, Gbenga Daniel, Oyinlola and Agagu all knew about it. On the face value, he is seen as having lost but he outsmarted them all. He is the real winner, the irony is that people gullibly bought into the idea that he lost completely”.

Other reports however had it that Ogbulafor’s emergence has finally dealt a telling blow on the iron grip of Obasanjo on the party.
By 4:15pm yesterday, the former National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Prince Vincent Ogbuluafor became the 5th national chairman of the party by a consensus arrangement that appear to be the beginning of the end of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s grip on PDP.
Alhaji Abubakar Baraje was also adopted as the sole candidate for the national secretary having been earlier adopted by the North Central Congress held in Lafia, Nassarawa State capital.

Again, at the meeting of serving senators presided over by Senate President, David Mark, at his official residence, Baraje was re-adopted as the zone’s candidate. The lawmakers also resolved to prevail on Senator Tunde Ogbeha, his opponent from Kogi state, to drop his ambition.

It was learnt that Chairman of the Governors’ forum, Governor Bukola Saraki, had used his position to sell Baraje to his colleagues, against former President Obasanjo’s preferred candidate, Tunde Ogbeha.
Ogbuluafor’s emergence was confirmed by one of the national chairmanship aspirants, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu at Eagle Square , venue of the convention.
Iwuanyanwu’s announcement that all the other 26 aspirants had stepped down for Ogbulafor followed a night-long negotiation and horse trading by major stake-holders of the party, to the consternation of Obasanjo’s footsoldiers.

Sunday Sun gathered that the decision to dump Dr. Egwu and Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the two frontrunners before Friday night’s ‘coup’ was taken by the governors who were unable to arrive at a unanimous decision on whether to back any of the two major contenders or not.
Part of the reasons for the u-turn was that the forum of governors insisted that the only way to move the party forward and severe the over-bearing grip of OBJ was to adopt a middle-course solution and get any of the aspirants who had no link with any of the contending forces within the party. While OBJ was clearly rooting for Egwu, it was learnt that some reformists within the party, under the aegis of G21, were also backing Anyim.

The dominant opinion in the governors’ camp was that any attempt to back either Egwu or Anyim would further polarize the party.
By 3am Saturday, the governors rose from another crucial meeting and formally announced that they had adopted the former party scribe, Vincent Ogbulafor. And by 3pm, at the convention ground, the governors, to further demonstrate their resolve, went round the arena with Ogbuluafor, to present him to delegates.

Earlier on Friday, before the emergency National Executive Committee [NEC] meeting, it was gathered that President Yar’Adua refused to yield to Obasanjo’s efforts to sway him to allow Egwu run as a consensus candidate. In fact, Yar’Adua, was said to have insisted that proper election held.
Earlier in his farewell remarks, the outgoing national chairman of the party, Senator Ahmadu Ali admonished the party supporters to sustain the awesome political machine and rejuvenate the party to deepen democracy.

In a speech that took the audience by surprise, Ali expressed regret over the overbearing influence of godfathers which undermined internal democracy in the party.
“Elections must be allowed to hold at all levels, dissent must continue to be allowed within. The influence of overbearing political godfathers must diminish further, criticism at all levels must be tolerated and constructive criticism must be accommodated and encouraged. Democracy is freedom to choose.”
Ali identified the reconciliation with those who felt aggrieved with development within the party as one of the major achievements of his administration. He thanked the former vice- president, Dr Alex Ekwueme for achieving the feat .

“The success of this exercise is demonstrated by the numerous well meaning members of our party who returned to the fold after their short sojourn outside outside . Our doors will remain open for other members willing to return and for new members willing to join the party.”
In his acceptance speech, Prince Ogbulafor said there was “no victor, no vanquished.” He appealed to party members as well as those who stepped down for him to be calm, and see the party as their project and not the exclusive preserve of any one of them.

Similarly, Ogbulafor promised that in no distant time, all estranged founding fathers of the party as well as other party members would be brought back to the party in the shortest possible time.
“I want to assure party members that there will be unity, peace and harmony in the party. The absence of these three factors cannot bring about progress,” he said.

The new chairman also said: “Our new exco will try to reduce acrimony within the party and we shall preach unity at all times. All we ask from you party members is your cooperation and prayers. The PDP is built on solid ground and we cannot allow it to break.”


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