by Paul Osas
President Jonathan in an attempt to put his political house in order has reached out to former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, to possibly lure him back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Gbenga Daniel was the Southwest co-ordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign in the last election. He dumped the PDP in the thick of the crisis that engulfed the party in the run-up to the 2011 governorship race in Ogun State.
The Peoples Democratic Party has seen many of its stalwarts defect to opposition parties or go ahead to float their own parties due to factionalism. There are indications that this move by the president is to win back the heart of the ex-governor, who apparently has made up his mind to defect to the Labour Party (LP).
Earlier, Daniel had floated a rival party – Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) – which presented Gboyega Isiaka as governorship candidate in 2011. Isiaka lost the election to the ACN candidate, Ibikunle Amosun. Efforts to have Daniel and his group back in the PDP after the election failed largely because of his inability to reconcile with the Kashamu faction of the PDP in the state.
According to reports, Daniel is the chief promoter of the LP in Ogun State ahead of the 2015 election. His wife recently endorsed the LP at a public event. Daniel on his part, has gone ahead to meet with National Chairman of the LP, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, in Abuja on Thursday for further talks on his defection to the party. The two-hour session, according to a source, was attended by some PDP stalwarts, including former commissioners in Daniel’s cabinet. Some of those who accompanied Daniel to the session were ex-PDP Secretary in Ogun State, Dapo Adeyemi; Prince Segun Adekoya; ex-Commissioner Waliu Taiwo; Ladi Adebutu; Segun Seriki; Kola Ogunjobi, among others.
“At the meeting, Daniel said he can deliver Ogun State to the LP, if his group is given the governorship ticket. He also demanded that the party structure should be handed over to his team of defectors. These were the two conditions he tabled before the LP to defect if it is convenient for the new party.” a source at the meeting said.
However, “Our National Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu, did not give any commitment. He said Daniel and his group should come back before the end of next month. The relevant party organs would have to discuss and weigh the options on whether Daniel is an asset or a liability to LP. The challenge we have is that as a party, this is the first time any set of defectors will dictate to us,” a party source reportedly said.
It is believed that Gbenga Daniel has a 2015 senatorial ambition.