Gbenga Daniel, Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, announced his resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and from active politics on Saturday, citing a number of reasons.
In a letter dated March 14, 2019, and addressed to the National Chairman of the party, the former Governor of Ogun State noted that the decision is personal and that he decided to take on “new challenges”.
He also said he had decided to “rejuvenate” his charity-based organisation, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF), and that he wanted to resuscitate the “non-partisan Political Leadership Academy (POLA)”, which was “established some years ago as a platform of political education to our citizens”.
Daniel indeed made a feeble attempt at revealing the real motivation for his exit when he stated in the fifth and sixth paragraphs of his resignation letter thus: “Notwithstanding these widely acclaimed achievements however, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party ran into trouble waters towards the end of our administration (about the year 2009) which led to the sad loss in the election of 2011, and regrettably ten (10) years after the party has been unable to resolve those internal disputes and challenges.
“Meanwhile, the PDP in Ogun State was confronted with a very difficult situation in matter of choice. Whereas the national leadership of our party, recognized one candidate for the 2019 election, by court pronouncements another candidate, and in compliance with those court orders, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized was on the INEC list. The candidates recognized by INEC were not acceptable to the national leadership of the party. Our situation was then compounded because the candidate which the court and INEC recognized and accepted as valid has also been expelled by the party. This was the dilemma we found ourselves as we approached the March 9, 2019 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.”
But SaharaReporters understands the issues run deeper than that.
Daniel’s Chairmanship Interest
These two exclude ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, which is his sidelining by the PDP from the moment he helped Atiku Abubakar secure the presidential ticket of the party — an action he considers not just an affront on himself but a continuation of the party’s long-running “disdain” for the South-West. The story of Daniel’s emergence as Atiku’s campaign driector is itself steeped in his interest in the national chairmanship of the party, an ambition he ultimately failed to realise.
“Gbenga Daniel contested the national chairmanship of the party in 2017,” a source at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja, who asked not to be named, told Saharareporters.
“Then, everyone agreed, according to the Wike-Ekweremadu report, that the National Chairman should go to the South-West. But Wike, with his overbearing attitude, was everywhere blasting the South-West leadership that they wanted to reap where they did not sow; and in the end, the ticket was taken away from the South-West and taken to the South-South.”
Seeing that the PDP’s power brokers, spearheaded by Nyesom Wike, the major financier of the party, were bent on making a south-southerner the National Chairman, Daniel was forced for withdraw from the race.
Other politicians from the South-West who also withdrew are Rashidi ladoja, former Oyo State Governor; Jimi Agbaje, perennial Lagos State governorship aspirant; Aderemi Olusegun, an Ekiti State politician; and Bode George, former National Vice Chairman (South-West) of the party, who was very critical of the party.
“The zoning principle, which was publicly reinforced last year in Port Harcourt, had specifically and rightly affirmed the South-West as the zone to produce the National Chairman. This binding proclamation was based on equity, fairness and natural balance that hold any organisation together,” George said while announcing his withdrawal.
“It appears the PDP is now bent on self-destruction. It has obviously allowed money moguls to dictate its thematic largeness. The party has lost its soul. It has lost its principled beginning and the predications of righteousness. It has traded the finer principles of democratic guidance and equity for the squalid, dirty and shameful resort to mercenary agenda where nothing matters save the putrid, oafish gains of the moment.
“I cannot be part of this screaming aberration. And as the Atona of Yoruba land, I do not expect any well-meaning, well-disciplined, forthright, sincere Omoluabi of Yoruba land to continue with this deceit and shameful theater.
“The Peoples Democratic Party has now mangled and distorted its soul and spirit. There is no morality here anymore. There is no sanity or any sense of enlightened civility. I, hereby, withdraw from this brazen fraud and absolutely preconceived, monetised, mercantilist convention.”
Uche Secondus — one of only two south-southerners who showed interested in the race in contrast to seven from the South-West — eventually became National Chairman in December 2017. Raymond Dokepsei from the South-South and professors Taoheed Adedoja and Tunde Adeniran from the South-West were his only three opponents, after all others withdrew.
Removal From Atiku Campaign
Not long after that, Atiku, who was running for the PDP presidential ticket, approached Daniel and made him the Director-General of his campaign.
“The entire PDP leadership also stood up against him, the Wikes of this world, the Fayoses of this world. And I can tell you that for the campaign, he spent most of the personal money because Atiku didn’t spend as much as he spent on past primaries. Daniel wanted to prove a ppint as well, so he spent his money,” said the source.
“Now, Atiku won the ticket in Port Harcourt, against all odds and the gameplans of Wike. Goodluck Jonathan told Atiku in confidence that, having been a victim of it, Atiku should retain the structure that won him the ticket of the party — because if he gives in to the pressure of the party, they would end up milking him; and instead of concentrating on the campaign, they would concentrate on making money from him.
“But what did they do? After he won the primary, they shove Daniel aside and brought Bukola Saraki from the North-Central. This is one of the anti-South-West sentiment going on in the PDP.”
The Obasanjo-Kashamu, Kashamu-Adebutu Tussle
Since 2009, when Daniel was still Ogun State Governor, PDP has been in crisis, a part of which was the war between Ogun East Senator Buruji Kashamu and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Instead of the national exco to look for a way to resolve it, they turned it into a cash cow and started collecting money from both sides,” a member of the PDP in Ogun told SaharaRepporters.
“They did that till even 215 as well, when Jonathan was in government. Adamu Mu’azu was also collecting money from Buruji to give him the exco of the party. In 2019, it was Ladi they turned to, and they were collecting money from him; Ladi paid them to actually expel Buruji Kashamu from the party, so it was not really because they thought Buruji had violated the rules of the party. That’s just one of the PDP issues.”
After the recent judgements that favoured Kashamu, it has become clear that the tussle will not end anytime soon.
Part of the judgement Kashamu got from the court is that after the tenure of this present exco ends in 2020, that exco, since it has now been legitimised, has the right to conduct a congress that will produce the next exco, which means it is either they remain in power or they make sure to bring on an exco that is loyal to Kashamu.
Therefore, Daniel, who is on Adebutu’s side, sees no place for himself in Ogun politics, especially with the party also factionalised. Adebutu has become a friend of Amosun, further depleting the PDP’s rank.
On Sunday, Daniel held a meeting with his ‘political family’, who are now pressuring him to join to the All Progressives Congress (APC). That was a day after Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor-elect, met with him at his home in Maryland, Lagos.
Daniel hasn’t decided yet whether to join the APC.