As the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) draws nearer, the race for the position of the National Secretary is beginning to hot up with one of the leading gladiators and former Minister of Sports, Professor Taoheed Adedoja raising the stakes. AKINJIDE AKINTOLA reports.Last week, a delegation of youths from Oyo State called at the Ikolaba residence of Professor Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of Sports and one of the candidates in the forthcoming election for the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Their mission was simple; to give honour to whom it was due and to register their support for his aspirations. This in itself was understandable as the former minister was the National Adviser of the Youth Vanguard of the PDP.Led by Muideen Adekunle for the solidarity visit, the youths described the former Minister as a politician worthy of emulation by Nigerian Youths and lend their support to Prof. Adedoja's candidature as National Secretary of the PDP. The group said they are most pleased that Prof. Adedoja is very acceptable to all groups in Oyo State, particularly at the grassroot due to his philanthropic activities and past records of public service both at the State and National level. While responding, Prof. Adedoja remarked that when elected National secretary of the party he would, as the engine room of the party, play a key role in the transformation agenda of PDP with a view to repositioning the party as a party that upholds the rule of law, justice and fairness. The group said it had commenced mobilization for Adedoja's support in all geopolitical zones of Nigeria for the actualization of his election as National Secretary of PDP at the forthcoming National Convention. But it is not only in Oyo State that the candidate is garnering support as exemplified by what many others are saying across the land especially as he has traveled far and near in the course of his growing up, schooling and working years.Though he is from Ibadan, he was born in Kano where he schooled and worked as well as was also educated in Jigawa State, Abraka, Delta State and Borno State where he also worked. Of course, he can speak Yoruba and Hausa fluently which has helped him in the ongoing campaign. According to Abdulahi Sani Ibrahim, Chairman, PDP Arewa Youth Caucus, 'Very certainly, the North is more comfortable with Adedoja than with any of the other aspirants for the position of National Secretary. The reason is not far fetched. Apart from the fact that he speaks the Hausa language very fluently and understands our culture, we can safely assert that Adedoja lived the better part of his life in the North and has a vast network of friends, admires and associates in the region', he said, adding:'So, I am yet to see how many of those contesting with him can beat him into getting access to the delegates from the North'.The position of the National Secretary in the upcoming National Convention has been zoned to the South West and a long list of very equally qualified aspirants are in the race. They included new entrant, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo State who is being wooed into the party with the post after he pulled out following unresolved differences. Those who have earlier shown interest in the race and began campaign in earnest include the incumbent National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke (Ondo), Chief Ebenezer Babatope (Osun), who is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and Chief Dapo Sarumi, a former minister, and founding member of the party in Lagos State. He lost the governorship election of Lagos State to former Lagos State Governor and leader of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 1999. Others included Chief Bola Olu-Ojo who served as a member of the 2011 National Convention Planning Committee and currently the Ekiti State chairman of the party, former Secretary to Ekiti State Government, Ambassador Dare Bejide, former Education Minister and Ambassador, Professor Tunde Adeniran, who was a former head of MAMSER as well as the former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Akin Osuntokun. The last four are from Ekiti State while Adedoja is from Oyo State just like Ladoja.Of all the long list, only quite a handful are really serious about the whole thing and have commenced their campaigns accordingly across the country.To underscore the seriousness of his aspirations, a chieftain of the PDP from Oyo State and former Secretary to the state government, Dr. Dejo Raimi described Adedoja as an organized man, and a very trustworthy political player.According to him, 'the fact that we have a character like him showing interest in becoming the National Secretary of the PDP is a pointer that brighter days are ahead for the party'.From Obiaruku in Delta State, Joseph Nwabuwe said: 'Prof. Adedoja is the ideal man for the position of PDP National Secretary because of his corporate and non-die hard politics which is the hallmark of a new world order. His associates in the then Bendel State (now Delta and Edo states) where he spent part of his life as a student and Students' leader testify to Prof Taoheed Adedoja's altruistic and team playing politics'.As if that is not enough, Chief Charles Okorie from Egbuoma in Imo State added his own comment. 'Prof. Taoheed Adedoja's impressive performance as dual Minister of Sports and Minister of Special Duties, his pedigree in all previous public assignments and as National Adviser PDP Youth Vanguard, coupled with his vast administrative knowledge, his national and international goodwill make him the best choice as an effective and efficient National Secretary of the largest political party in Africa, PDP'.Perhaps a peep into the agenda he set for himself if he becomes the National Secretary is apposite here as contrast to what another aspirant said when asked his agenda saying what he would do will be in line with the party's policies. On the contrary, Adedoja's five point agenda includes restoring public confidence and trust in PDP; Team Player for repositioning of PDP as a party that upholds the rule of law, justice and fairness and as a disciplined party; ICT compliant Wadata Plaza National Secretariat; Corporate Welfare and Empowerment for all members and Proactive Crisis Management at Ward, Local Government, State and National Levels.Professor Adedoja is one of the few people who have worked in virtually all the six geo-political zones in the country especially the northern zones and made friends and associates many of whom are now involved in the campaign to ensure his success as the PDP National Secretary come its March Convention as the party has zoned the position to the South West. His positive score card and minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission also stand him in good stead as this had also brought him to the corridors of power at the highest level where he exposed his assets as someone that could run an office successfully.Before he became minister, he had also served Oyo State as Commissioner for Education and had also ran for the office of the governor of the state on the platform of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2007 elections where he lost to the PDP candidate, Otunba Adebayo Alao- Akala. He decamped from the PDP to the ACN to contest the election following his belief that he was denied the ticket of the party as a result of the flawed primaries. After the election, he returned into the PDP and has remained a loyal party member.This is perhaps why told the Nigerian Compass when called to speak on his aspiration, that he said even though he has a good scorecard and pedigree to qualify for the job, as a partyman to the core, he will abide by the decision of the party but was optimistic that if the party chooses through the primary, he would emerge the next Secretary of the party as he has his loyalists all over the country. Click here to read full news..