A national Chairmanship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party and former governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel denied yesterday speculations that he had stepped down for Chief Raymond Dokpesi in the ongoing race.
He however expressed hope about the possibilities of the South-West trimming its chairmanship candidates before the national convention of the party.
Daniel, who was in Ilorin, Kwara state , as part of his campaign for the slot, also hinted that the defection of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to the PDP will usher in an avalanche of similar defections in the days ahead.
When asked about the rumour of his steeping down for Dokepsi, the former governor said: “Or you mean others are stepping down for me? I stepped down for who? That’s fake news, that’s not true. Dokpesi is our friend but this is a race that I am a front runner. How do you expect somebody who is a front runner to step down for another person, it’s not done that way. We are friends, we are working together but there is no issue of stepping down in this matter at all.”
On his proposed programme for the party if elected, Daniel said, “Part of my job, if I become the chairman is to resolve conflict, like what you have seen in Ilorin today, we will sit down with the two factions and see how we can resolve it so that everyone has a sense of belonging. Whenever you se e this kind of conflict, it means the party is strong; it means everybody wants to own the party, everybody wants to belong so it actually is strength and that is how we should look at it.”
He said the party in the south west was still working hard to ensure a united voice at the convention and linked the high number of candidates from the zone to its political exposure.
“We are working very hard at it”, he said, adding: “ you know in the south west people are highly educated, very sophisticated and so when you see an avalanche of good personalities showing interest in the party, its sign of good health. We will see if we can trim the number. We are working on it.”
The former governor however denied that the party had prepared the ground for Atiku’s emergence as the presidential flag bearer when speaking on the defection of the former vice president to the party.
His words,“You know, the PDP has become a bride; everyone wants to become part and parcel of a winning party.”.
“I have no doubt that PDP is going to form the next government in Nigeria. So we are happy and we would look forward to receiving the former Vice President and I can assure you he is not going to be the only one; there is an avalanche of people who are waiting to get into the PDP.”
“But it would not be correct to say we have prepared the ground for Atiku to pick the presidential ticket. Don’t forget that the PDP is a democratic party, there are so many other people who want to pick the ticket and I am sure if he comes he is going to compete with every other person and somebody will pick the ticket. But there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very strong contender.”
The former governor told newsmen at the Ilorin International Airport that he was sure the PDP would form the next government at the national level as he promised to use his office, if elected to resolve lingering factional crises in some chapters of the party.”
He described the fracas that was witnessed at the party’s secretariat in Ilorin earlier during his visit as part of the indicators to the strength of the PDP, saying now everyone wants to have a part of the party.
His words: “This party has become very strong and what we saw today is that there are two different competing factions in Kwara state, one claiming legitimacy about the ownership of the structure. We tried to see that at least there was no violence, and we will still find a way of resolving the challenges between the two factions. I have no doubt in my mind that it would be resolved.”