•Berates Tukur for lack of democracy
•Cites Presidency for conspiracy
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could not have got a more bizarre birthday present yesterday.
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of its emergence, the ‘largest party in Africa’ as its leaders are fond of referring to it, broke into two under a long –predicted implosion.
And it all happened before a large crowd of leaders, including President Goodluck Jonathan, and party supporters from across the nation.
The occasion was its Special Convention primed to take crucial decisions ahead of the 2015 elections.
Some influential members, led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, seven governors, three former governors and federal legislators who had been complaining about the way the party was being run by the Bamanga Tukur-led National Executive Committee, walked out of the convention and proceeded to address a press conference where they announced the sack of the party’s embattled national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and the replacement of his national executive committee with a new one headed by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, a onetime acting national chairman of the party.
The faction also named former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as National Secretary, the same position he occupied before a court ruling forced him out, and Dr. Sam Jaja as Deputy National Chairman
Other members of the new National Working Committee are expected to be announced tomorrow.
Amidst backslapping and liberation songs, the PDP leaders said there was no going back in putting a new leadership in place for PDP.
Those at the session were Atiku, Oyinlola, Governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Abdulafatah Ahmed (Kwara); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
Others were the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Mukhtar Shagari; Deputy Governor of Niger State, Musa Ibeto; Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Bala Ngilari; ex- Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Adamu (a former Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the PDP); and ex- Kwara Governor Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi.
Also in attendance were some members of the National Assembly, including the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Abdulmumini Jibril; Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mohammed Zakary; Dakuku Peterside; Senator Magnus Abe; and all statutory delegates and members of the National Assembly from the seven states.
As the presence of each of the political heavyweights was announced, shout of “Chanji dole 2015’ (Change in 2015 A Must) filled the hall.
The confidence radiated by all the governors suggested that some notable leaders of the party were pulling the strings to effect change in PDP.
Baraje, a former National Secretary of the party, spoke of “increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.”
He said all efforts to draw the attention of critical stakeholders within the party to the dangers inherent in the course being charted by that leadership came to nought and “it has become very clear that the desperate permutations towards 2015 general elections have blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions.”
He added:”Not only has the constitution of the party been serially violated by Alhaji Tukur and fellow travellers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though they are above the law.
“Unfortunately, it is obvious that they get encouragement from the presidency, whose old calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
“As leaders of our great party, we consider it a sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends. While the list of their violations of the tenets of our great party is long, we will highlight just a few:
*The National Executive Committee of the PDP at its belated meeting of 20 June 2013 approved 20 July 2013 for the conduct of a special national convention. However, that date was changed to August 31 without reverting to NEC (the only authority vested with such powers) by a few people, apparently acting on the authority of the presidency.
*Notwithstanding the fact that INEC had noted that the PDP congresses in nine states were not presently conducted, the illegal delegates from such states are being paraded at the so-called convention being held today (yesterday) in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law and further bring the name of the party to disrepute.
*In gross violation of the PDP constitution which stipulates that the NEC meeting must hold at least once in a quarter, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and a few people have been running the party like a personal fiefdom without recourse to that important decision-making organ of the party.
*The NEC of the party accepted the resignation of the former members of the NWC whose offices were affected by INEC observations based principally on the agreement that the affected officers would be returned to their respective offices at the convention. However, against the decision of the NEC and in a not-so-clever bid to exclude some perceived opponents of the few powerful members who are trying to hijack the party, these positions have been made to some Yes-men within the party.
•Notwithstanding INEC’s instance that Senator Any Uba is the duly elected candidate of the party in Anambra State and against the background that he is so recognized by majority of our party members, the Bamanga Tukur-led Executives announced a purported suspension of Senator Uba and some other members close to him in defiance of subsisting court orders.
•Despite that the PDP Constitution is very clear that the state chapter of the party cannot discipline a national officer, the Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Sam Jaja, has reportedly been dismissed by some renegades who have hijacked the Rivers State chapter of our party with the connivance of the Bamanga Tukur leadership.
•The persistent change in the list of the party’s delegates in many states as part of a deliberate attempt to rig the party’s nomination of candidates, especially at the presidential and gubernatorial levels, with a view to foisting on the PDP some unpopular candidates who are bound to lose at the polls.
•The suspension without due process of the Governors of Rivers and Sokoto states. Even when the illegal suspension on Sokoto State Governor has been lifted, the Rivers Governor remains purportedly suspended for no just cause.
•The illegal dissolution of the Adamawa State chapter of the party is a clear abuse of power by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur thus causing confusion in his home state.
“Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the Bamanga Tukur leadership cannot guarantee for our millions of party members democracy anchored on free choice and the rule of law. We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to rescue the party from their dictatorial leadership.
“It is indeed noteworthy that from 1999 to date, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by our great party but not only does such trust come with enormous responsibility, we recognise that we cannot continue to take the people for granted.
“From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put that interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual.
“For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon. It s a new day for the Peoples Democratic Party.
“As we take over the leadership of the PDP, our immediate priority is to revive the culture of robust debate of all contending issues while providing a level-playing field for all our members. These were the ideals that differentiated our party from others and endeared us to Nigerians.
“We are not, and have never been, a political party where one man would be taking decisions for all members and where once you do not kowtow before the presidency, you are deemed a rebel that must be crushed. That is not the PDP bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. That, I dare say, is no longer what PDP under our leadership will represent from today.”