Story making the round in the camp of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is that the state Deputy Chairman of the party, Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku, was planning to defect to the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Thegazellenews.com learnt that the APC chieftain has met with some representatives of PDP including former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George.
Gist bearers have been pointing to some events involving Cardinal Odunmbaku and the party in recent time which had greatly reduced the once mighty influence of Cardinal Odunmbaku in the APC.
The last local government election in the state was the first clear indication of the waning influence of Odunmbaku in the party. Virtually all his candidates were rejected by the party.
Apart from this, there have been many contentious issues in the past which have shown further confirmed that Odunmbaku might have decided to dump the APC.
One of such was the mega rally organised for Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun prior to the governorship election in Osun State on Tuesday, 5th August, 2014. Cardinal Odunmbaku was conspicuously missing at the event. Although it was confirmed that he was outside the country, thegazellenews.com learnt that he never informed the Osun Governor and the leadership of the party of his intention to travel which many termed as deliberate.
It was alleged that he only called to congratulate the Osun Governor after the election, thus, he played a very pheripherial role in the re-election campaign of the Governor.
Another contentious issue was the decision of the Mandate Group to ceede the leadership of the group to APC National Legal Adviser, Dr Muiz Banire. Thegazellenews.com learnt that after Governor Aregbesola, the htherto leader of the Mandate Group, Cardinal Ofunmbaku sees himself as heir apparent to the topmost position in the Mandate Group. The decision to name Banire the leader of the group jolted Odunmbaku to reality that he is fast losing his influence in the APC.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back for the Cardinal was the last congress of the APC in Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA). In spite of his support for the camp of Julius Oloro, chairman of Ojodu LCDA, the camp of the House of Representatives member for Ikeja Federal Constituency, James Abiodun Faleke, defeated the combined team of Oloro and Odunmbaku at the congress.
To worsen the matter, Odunmbaku allegedly gave tacit support for Oloro supporters to organise a parallel executive to the legally recognised APC executive council in Ojodu LCDA.
Presently, thegazellenews.com learnt that Odunmbaku invited a faction of the Mandate Group to his Ojodu home where he allegedly informed that the name of the group would be changed to The Good Shepard Group.
A member of the House of Representatives from the Lagos East Senatorial District and a local government chairman from the Lagos Central Senatorial District confirmed to this medium in confidence that they have been invited to meetings in the Ojodu home of Cardinal Odunmbaku where he informed them that the name of Mandate Group will be changed to the Good Shepard Group.
Thegazellenews.com further learnt that the last wife of the Cardinal, one Simisola, has allegedly concluded plans to run for an elective office in Ondo State in 2015.
At the time of filing this report, Cardinal Odunmbaku was not available for comment as he was reported to have not returned from his medical trip abroad.
However, sources close to him denied the allegation saying he had no intention of dumping the APC for the PDP. “It is unthinkable. These are just the evil machinations of his detractors, I know he has no such plans but I trust him, he will address all these when he returns from his medical trip abroad,” sources toldthegazellenews.com on Friday, 15th August, 2014.