There is discontent in the Lagos state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party following the alleged removal of the party chairman, TunjiShelle for mismanagement of campaign funds. OKUNADE ADEKUNLE reports
Fresh crisis is rocking the Lagos state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the 34 members of the state executive council moved against the party’s state Chairman, Capt. TunjiShelle, after taking a critical look at the recommendation of the disciplinary committee constituted to investigate the allegations leveled against Shelle in the aftermath of the general elections. It was revealed that the cause of the crisis in the party which later resulted to the sacking of the party Chairman was not unconnected with the crisis bedeviling the party at the national level.
It was further disclosed that Shelle before the general elections was already feuding with the party stakeholders, who promised to show him the way out of the party as the Chairman. Hallmark gathered that Shelle’s reaction to party issues when there were complaints from members in the various local governments was not friendly, and most often he would not look into their grievances.
Hallmark gathered that some aspirants in the party during the last primaries of the party raised the alarm on how Shelle collected some amount of money from them and assured them of the party’s ticket, only to spend the money alone which affected the chances of the aspirants in winning the tickets.
Although, there were indications that the crisis at the national level of the party contributed to Shelle’s removal because of his closeness to the former national deputy Chairman( South West), Chief Olabode George, who had been at loggerheads with the National Secretary of the party, Professor Wale Oladipo.
Sources in the party told Hallmark that the dispute between the two national leaders of the party and how George has been calling for the sacking of Oladipo, has not gone down well with the Minister of Foreign Affairs 11, Senator MusiliuObanikoro, who is a close ally of Prof Oladipo and a strong antagonist of George in Lagos PDP.
Sources disclosed that Obanikoro was part of those that engineered the investigation of Shelle because of how he (Shelle) manipulated the governorship primaries in favour of Mr. Jimi Agbaje who won the party’s governorship ticket. It would be recalled that the governorship primaries of the party degenerated into serious crisis after Obanikoro, who claimed that he was rigged out of the primaries, accused the party’s leadership of manipulating the primary election. It is also important to state that some of the party’s executive council members who initiated and carried out the removal of Shelle are strong loyalists of Obanikoro who were clamouring for paradigm shift in the party.
Shelle, who was also accused of mismanaging campaign funds by the executive members did not also release some of the funds meant for them and the candidates of the party in the state. It was learnt that the three senatorial candidates of the party were as well not happy with the way and manner Shelle managed the campaign funds of the party during the electioneering, but could not complain because of the fact that they did not want the issues to affect their campaign at that time.
The ousted PDP Chairman was also perceived by the party members and some stakeholders to have collaborated with the ruling APC in the last governorship election in the state. Some leaders in the party believed that Shelle’s refusal to release funds as at and when due during the electioneering was a ploy to make sure the party could not achieve victory at the polls.
A reliable source in the party informed Hallmark that Shelle was running the party as a personal business without consulting the major stakeholders, who could have made input to the success of the party. He disclosed that decision making process during the electioneering was not democratic and so it affected the results and performance of the party at the polls.
One of the party leaders who spoke with Hallmark on the condition of anonymity stated that they would not want the national leadership to interfere in the matter, as it is purely a Lagos PDP affair as they would handle it in their own way. He stressed that the party in the state is heading towards restructuring by sacking Shelle who did not carry them along in the financial administration of the party during the election.
“Shelle was running the party like his domestic home forgetting that it does not belong to him alone. We are all stakeholders in the party and we built it together to this level, why is it that one person would see it as his own estate”, said the PDP chieftain.
“He would never consult anyone of us before taking decision and all these affected our performance at the governorship poll. Shelle could not mobilise properly during the election because he was just mobilizing only one group of the party. It is time to restructure the party towards 2019 and we are going to remove more old legs in the party to restructure the party”, said the PDP chieftain.
Speaking on why it was Alhaji Kamal OwolabiOlorunoje who was picked to replace Shelle, the party leader explained that the constitution of the party stipulates that the party chairman if removed the replacement must also come from the same senatorial district, adding that both Shelle and Olorunoje came from Lagos Central Senatorial District.
Speaking with Hallmark, the Publicity Secretary of Lagos PDP, Barrister GaniuTaofeek, stated that there was no case of removal, adding that the removal of the party chairman was illegal and illegitimate. He stressed that few people in the party cannot come to conclusion to remove the party chairman for personal interest, stressing further that Shelle has been a performing party chairman ever since the party have been in existence.
Taofeek added that the state’s working committee does not have the prerogative power to remove the party Chairman, stressing that the removal cannot stand.
“There is no removal of our chairman in Lagos PDP because the few people that came together to take the decision were not constitutionally empowered to do so, so CaptTunjiShelle remains the Lagos PDP chairman”, said Taofeek.
“CaptShelle has been a performing chairman and well behaved chairman, so those that organized the press conference did that for their own personal interest not in the interest of the party”, he stressed.
attempt by Hallmark to get the response of Shelle could not yield result as he failed to pick his calls as at the time of going to press.