PDP’s stormy preparation for mini-convention

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PDP’s stormy preparation for mini-convention

Tomorrow, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold its mini-convention to correct the false steps it took last year on the composition of its National Working Committee (NWC). Assistant Editors AUGUSTINE AVWODE and LEKE SALAUDEEN report.

The crises-ridden Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set for a mini-convention in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where its leaders hope to correct the false steps it took 17 months ago.

It is a moment of harrowing experience for its embattled leadership. In the last one year, the ruling party has been enmeshed in proracted crises, which are attributed to its “culture of impunity” and disregard for internal rules and regulations . Tomorrow, the party, which prides itself as the largest in Africa, will fill the vacant positions in its National Executive Committee (NEC) and explore new opportunities for growth and survival.

 Bumpy road to mini-convention

 The road to the convention is laced with thorns. On March 24, 2012, the party held its national convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur emerged as the national chairman. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola emerged as the National Secretary and Dr. Sam Jaja emerged as the Deputy National Chairman. Many officers emerged through affirmation. Others emerged as consensus candidates.

Those who stepped down for the “anointed candidates”, however, have continued to nurse grudges. They said they bowed to “rigorous persuasion and consultations” and made sacrifices to avoid division in the party. But their kind sacrifices backfired. Allegations of manipulations of the congresses that produced the candidates for the NWC positions started flying in all directions. Court cases soon followed and crises of no mean dimension crept into the party.

The Southwest zone is the worst hit. Many chieftains are in court, protesting the procedures for the zonal congress that should precede the convention.

A year after the controversial convention, the crises rocking the ruling party took a turn for the worse. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that the process through which some of the members of the NWC emerged was unacceptable. In a report by the 12-member INEC Monitoring Team led by Colonel M.K Hammanga (rtd), the electoral umpire declared: “The mode of election for single candidates was not in accordance with the mode of election stipulated in paragraph 6.9 (ii) of the Guidelines for the conduct of the 2012 congresses and national convention and, therefore, unacceptable to the commission.’’ The rule forbids anybody from emerging as an unopposed candidate.

The commission vioded the elections of the Deputy National Chairman, Jaja; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; his deputy, Okechukwu Nnadozie, National Publicity Secretary Chief Olisa Metuh, his deputy Binta Goje, national youth leader Alhaji Garba Chiza, his deputy Dennis Alonge Niyi, deputy national auditor Senator Umar Ibrahim, national women leader Chief Kema Chikwe, her deputy Hannatu Ulam, deputy national treasurer Claudus Inengas and national legal adviser Victor Kwom.

The INEC report cleared only four members of the NWC as duly elected. They are the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, suspended National Secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola, sacked national auditor Bode Mustapha and national financial secretary Elder Bolaji Anani.

The party’s NWC dismissed the INEC report, and accused the electoral umpire of acting in bad faith. Then publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh said: ‘’The report smacks of conspiracy, coming one year after our national convention. The report is sinister.

But some members of the party, emboldened by the report, went to court to challenge the process. They argued that it was not in accordance with the party guidelines for conduct of congress.

The party beat a quick retreat at a crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in June. It tactically aligned with the INEC report. While Tukur and three others remained in office, other members of the NWC resigned their positions. Interim officers were appointed to run the affairs of the party while NEC passed a vote of confidence of President Goodluck Jonathan. In the process, former House of Representatives deputy speaker Chibudom Nwuche emerged as replacement for Jaja, as the deputy national chairman, Tony Okereke became the Acting Publicity Secretary. Also, Kema Chikwe was replaced with Oyibo Nwaneri.

A convention committee headed by former information minister Jerry Gana, was also constituted. While Akwa Ibom State governor Godswill Akpabio, is the deputy chairman, the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, is the secretary.

But in July, Justice Suleman Belgore of the Abuja High Court, ordered the party to put on hold its national convention, following a suit by three members of the party- Abba Yale, Yahaya Sule and Bashir Maigudu. The implication was that the party has only three members of the NWC.

The judge however, vacated the order early this month when the plaintiffs withdrew their suit. The trio had dropped the suit after meeting with the PDP Reconciliation Committee, headed by Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson.

 Into the fray

 No fewer than 84 aspirants are jostling for the 18 vacant positions the NWC.

They will be screened today by a Screening Committee headed by Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma –Egba.

The positions to be filled include the deputy national chairman, national women leader, national youth leader, and the national legal adviser.

Speaking in a telephone interview with The Nation an aspirant for the National Youth leader who hails from Kogi State, Mr Solomon Gowin, said the party would do everything possible to right the wrongs that occurred in the past. It is trite to say that there will be misunderstanding. The size of the party alone is such that we cannot rule out crisis but the party’s leadership will handle it adequately. All the wrongs of the past will be corrected and before you know it, the party will be ready for the challenges of 2015.

Many paarty officers, who resigned on June 20, are plotting to come back to their offices. But Jaja, who is planning to regain his lost seat as the national deputy chairmanship of the party, is having issues with his Rivers State chapter, where he had been allegedly expelled. a full page advertorial placed by the state chairman of the party, Chief Felix Obuah, has alerted the Screening Committee to the development.

Those contesting for the post of the national secretary are Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Prof Wale Oladipo, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Chief Dapo Sarumi and Owolabi Salis.

Olisa Mentuh is leading the pack of those seeking to emerge as the national publicity secretary. Mrs Kema Chikwe is eyeing the position of the national woman leader. In the race for the office of the national youth leader are Solomon Gowin and Alhaji Garba Umar Chiza.

 Challenges before the


 PDP is going for the special convention as a divided fold. The acrimony that stakeholders will carry to the convention portends danger for the party.

President Goodluck Jonathan has admitted that the PDP is bedevilled by multifarious problems, urging the chieftains to save it from disintegrating. The President remarks point to the fact that the venue would be jam packed with supporters of aggrieved members seeking for justice.

 Balkanisation of PDP

Five PDP governors are on a rescue mission to reposition the party. Rather than heed to their counselling, the party leadership described them as“rebels” and even threatened to expel them.

The governors; Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) have demanded for the removal of Tukur as the national chairman, the peaceful resolution of the Rivers crisis and recognition of Governor Amaechi as the authentic Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF). Weeks after the peace proposals were presented to President Jonathan, there was no response.

The governors had visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo, General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdusalam Abubakar, urging them to prevail on President Jonathan to save the party from disintegration. There is nothing to suggest that these leaders had met with the President to discuss the crucial issues raised by the G5 .

The governors have now resolved to take their destiny in their hands by floating a new party. Apart from the G5 members, Governors Amaechi , and AbdulFatah Ahmed of Kwara State have been linked to the yet to be registered party, the Voice of the People (VOP).

If the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registers the new party, PDP may lose grip over the Northwest. With Sokoto, Kano , Jigawa out of the control of PDP and the Southwest totally out of the control of the ruling party, the PDP will be reduced to playing second fiddle in the Northwest and Southwest zones, whose total votrs’ population is more than 40 per cent of the national voting population.

The question now is, will PDP allow the six governors- and Amaechi, who has been suspended, to attend the convention? Can the party afford to hold its national convention without delegates from the six states? The plan by the PDP governors to float a new party has jolted the party leadership and the strategists in the presidency. A source said the party is contemplating the suspension of the governors. Governors are supposed to lead state delegates to the convention. If the governors are barred from attending, it will create leadership vacuum for the delegates.

The registration of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has also stirred controversy in the PDP. PDM was a pressure group founded by the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua to achieve his political objective. PDM was the main pillar on which the PDP was built. If the PDM leaders pull out of the party it will be reduced to a regional party based in the Southsouth and Southeast. Some founding members, including Chief Tony Anineh and Dr Tafida, have dissociated themselves from the new party, saying that no decision was taken to register it as a party. They are threatening a court action on INEC to deregister PDM. But Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a chieftain of the PDP, said he was aware of the move to register the new party by his political associates. But he said that he is still a member of the ruling party.

 Disagreement over

candidates in Southwest

 The Southwest zonal congress scheduled for August 24 could not hold. The National Executive Committee at its meeting last week resolved to suspend the congress to allow more time to sort out the various law suits filed by the aggrieved party members. The Congress was to elect the national secretary, national treasurer and the national vice chairman that were zoned to the region. The former officers, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Senator Bode Mustapha and Mr Segun Oni were removed from office by court order. The court ruled that the congress that produced them was improperly constituted. PDP in the Southwest is polarised into Obasanjo’s camp and anti-Obassanjo’s group. Curiously, the three officers removed belong to Obasanjo’s camp

Already, Oyilola has asked the National Convention Committee not to conduct any election into the office of the PDP National Secretary at the mini-national convention holding tomorrow. Oyinlola in his letter to the committee stated that his election as the National Secretary was not part of those invalidated by the INEC.

His letter reads: “It is abundantly evident that INEC cleared my election as the PDP National Secretary, a position from which I assert and maintain that I was unjustly and unconstitutionally removed by a January 11, 2013, ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered by the Hon Justice Abdu Kafarati.

“I have read series of media reports which indicate that the position of the National Secretary would be contested at the up-coming national convention of our great party. I state with every sense of humility that Chapter VII (3) of the PDP Constitution states: The guidelines for election to any office of the party shall be approved at the National Executive Committee of the Party, in accordance with the provision of this Constitution.”

Oyinlola reminded the Gana Committee that the Federal High Court order that removed him from office was being vigorously challenged at the Court of Appeal.

The Southwest zone held a special congress in Ibadan in July where Prof. Wale Oladipo emerged as the consensus candidadte. The choice of Oladipo has been challenged by the PDP members from his home state, Osun. The group cited irregularities in the process leading to his selection. Lagos State chapter of the PDP had also dissociated itself from the choice of Ladipo on the ground that the position is not vacant.

In the same vein, Oni has appealed against the court order that removed him from office as the PDP National Vice Chairman. Oni and the former PDP Zonal Financial Secretary, Ireti Oniyide, jointly filed a suit before an Ado-Ekiti High Court, seeking to stop the conduct of the zonal congress. The duo had dragged the Ekiti State Chairman of the PDP, Mr Makanjuola Ogundipe, the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee, Prof. Gana and PDP before the court presided over by Justice O.I.O. Ogunyemi, seeking to halt the special zonal congress on the basis of their legal challenge of their removal from office as zonal officers.

Following the chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee for the zone, Chief Ishola Filani, has emergerged as a contender for the job. At the moment, six candidates are jostling for the position. They are former National Financial Secretary, Ambassador Toye Olofintuyi; ex-chairmen of PDP in Ekiti State, Chief Ropo Adesanya, Chief Bola Olu Ojo, Chief Dipo Anisulowo and Chief Dele Okeya.

If the convention goes ahead to fill the positions of the national secretary, national treasurer and national vice-chairman (Southwest) and the court revalidate the election of Oyinlola, Oni and Mustapha, what happens?

 Persecution of Amaechi, associates

Reconciliation between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi over the protracted crisis in the Rivers chapter of the PDP has not yielded results. There is no end to the persecution of Amaechi and his political associates. He was suspended from the party without giving him the opportunity to defend himself. The party structure was taken from him in controversial circumstances and handed over to Mr Nyesom Wike, the Minister of State for Education. The new leadership of the party under Mr Felix Obuah has expelled 14 commissioners, secretary to the state government and the immediate past deputy national chairman of PDP for failing to appear before the committee set up to appraise the performances of political appointees. Given his suspension, Amaechi can’t attend the convention. The coast is clear for Wike, who has control over one local government to lead the state delegates to the mid-term special convention.

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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