LAGOS—AFTER months of bickering that has polarised the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 22 senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives elected on the banner of the party, yesterday, dragged Tukur to court over moves to declare their seats vacant on account of their roles in the crisis.
However, supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan and Tukur, yesterday, said that the search for peace embarked by leaders of the party has started yielding dividends.
“We have started making serious headway in the talks,” a source who has been part of the meetings told Codewit yesterday.
For peace to reign once again in the party, the source said that the feuding camps have agreed that there was need for leadership change as calls for Tukur to step aside gained currency.
However, they are yet to conclude on how Tukur should be eased out of office. While the New PDP (nPDP) wants him to go now, other people are asking for a soft-landing for him, the source said.
Codewit gathered that the leaders will meet on Sunday, September 15 to decide Tukur’s fate.
To boost peace efforts and reduce media hype, Codewit gathered that stakeholders have been enjoined to keep sealed lips on decisions taken.
Meanwhile, Tukur and former National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola were embroiled in a war of words, yesterday, just as members of the nPDP hailed President Jonathan and accused Tukur of frustrating the peace talks.
nPDP accuses Tukur of frustrating peace talks, hails Jonathan
In a move indicating that peace is on the horizon, the Kawu Baraje-led faction of the party known as the nPDP has showered praises on President Jonathan over his role in the peace process.
It accused Tukur of frustrating the peace efforts initiated by party elders and conceiving plans to bring former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Tony Anenih to ridicule.
Urging President Jonathan not to be deterred, it asserted that Tukur and many of his acolytes lack the electoral weight to pull the party through another election victory.
In two separate statements made available to Codewit, the nPDP said it was ready for peace but expressed regrets at the belligerence of Tukur, whom it claimed had inspired plans to dissolve the state executive committees of the party loyal to the nPDP.
The statements issued by Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, the National Publicity Secretary of the nPDP followed inconclusive talks on Tuesday to resolve the crisis in the PDP.
“Unfortunately, the belligerence of the Alhaji Tukur-led National Working Committee (NWC) has so far frustrated all efforts being made by the Party Leader, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as well as by PDP elders such as Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Dr Barnabas Gemade and former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida to amicably resolve the crisis.
“We plead with them not to be deterred by those who are feeding fat on the crisis as we are ready to assist them in any way possible to enable them restore peace to our great party,” Eze said yesterday.
“The latest of the belligerent actions by the Tukur faction is the ill-advised move to take over the party’s structures in the states of the governors loyal to Baraje’s leadership. We wish to advise Tukur and his NWC against this or any other action capable of worsening the crisis.”
While commending President Jonathan and the party elders for their efforts in the peace talks, the nPDP charged them not to be deceived by the claims of Tukur and his allies.
“Mr. President should not be deceived by some party leaders who are making him believe that he can do without us. Most of these leaders currently cannot, under a properly organised free and fair elections win their wards. It is obvious that no presidential election in Nigeria can be won without states like Rivers, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi, and these are states we are controlling. Check the past general elections and see that some of these media-created PDP leaders have no followers in their states at the moment talk less of making any impact come 2015.”
In another statement, Chief Eze also denounced what he claimed were plans by the Tukur faction to denigrate some of the party elders spearheading the peace initiative. The nPDP mentioned in particular, former President Obasanjo and the chairman of the BoT, Chief Anenih.
“We have noticed the erroneous insinuation and propaganda by Tukur’s faction that the distinguished Statesman, General Oulsegun Obasanjo, had a hand in our staging a walkout during the ill-conceived mini-convention of PDP and that he is the brain behind most of our activities. We view this as disparagement of us creating the impression that we are not matured enough to determine our political future and most importantly it was as an attempt to smear the international image of General Obasanjo as a distinguished Statesman and father of PDP and rubbish his current efforts to restore peace to a party the very existence of which is being threatened by the undemocratic acts of some of its leaders. We can now understand why Tukur’s faction is hell-bent on destroying every effort to bring peace to the party.
“We are also aware of the attempts being made to rubbish and ridicule the BOT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, for stating that we have genuine reasons for what we are doing. We want to assure Chief Anenih, knowing all his sacrifices and efforts in making PDP whatever it is by today, that we will not sit and watch some jokers in Tukur’s faction rubbish him or make him look ordinary in the affairs of the party. The truth will always see us through.”
He also affirmed that the nPDP was determined to take the PDP to the original ideals as conceived by the founding fathers and thanked Nigerians and state chapters of the party that have been bold enough to support the faction.
nPDP relocates secretariat
While the search for peace continues, the nPDP, which secretariat located on Plot 3206A, No 4, Oji River crescent, Maitama, Abuja was sealed by the police, now operates from the Adamawa State Governor’s Lodge, also in Maitama, Abuja.
A statement announcing the relocation of the secretariat to Adamawa State Governor’s Lodge, situated at 2, Gurara Street, Maitama, Abuja yesterday by the National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola read: “Following the siege mounted to its national secretariat in Maitama District, Abuja, and the failure of security agencies to vacate the premises, the Baraje-led Peoples Democratic Party says it has chosen not to engage security agencies in confrontation but toe the path of peace by pursuing the matter in court. But temporarily, the party would commence entertaining solidarity visits and granting audience to its teeming members and associates at the Adamawa State Governors Lodge situated at No. 2, Gurara Street, Maitama, Abuja.”
Oyinlola, who also assured its supporters and well-wishers of his faction’s resolve to continue to pursue its legitimate course of promoting a party that is constructed on true and tested democratic ideals, justice, fair play and respect for the rule of law, said, ‘’the Baraje-led PDP would not be provoked or deterred by actions detrimental to its existence, including the unlawful occupation of its national headquarters by security agencies that have prevented the Baraje-led PDP from moving into its offices located in Maitama District, Abuja”.
Tukur, Oyinlola in war of words
However, Tukur and Oyinlola were at each other’s throats yesterday over the cause of the crisis in the PDP.
Yesterday, Tukur who threw the first punch, described Oyinlola who came on board with him as national secretary of the present National Working Committee, NWC, in March last year as an unrepentant dictator. Countering, Oyinlola described Tukur as having gone senile.
In a statement signed yesterday by Prince Oliver Okpala, his Special Assistant, Media, Tukur said Oyinlola’s grouse against him and the party was familiar and notorious since he was removed as the national secretary of the PDP on account of the flaws discovered in his election.
Oyinlola in a swift reaction said: “While we don’t want to join issues with Baba Tukur out of respect for old age, one can excuse him on account of senility. Tukur has gone senile. I remember he once granted an interview in which he described me as a fine officer and a gentleman, this same view was expressed by Olisa Metuh in a media interview recently. His statement shows inconsistency and poor leadership qualities.”
22 Senators, 57 Reps drag Tukur to court
Meantime, 79 members of the PDP in the National Assembly who decamped to the new faction of the party, yesterday, went before a Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge moves by the Bamanga Tukur leadership to declare their seats vacant.
Specifically, the plaintiffs, comprising of 22 Senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives, are praying the High Court to determine among other things, whether considering the circumstances in the national and various state chapters of the PDP, there exist a faction or division within the party.
“Whether any of the Plaintiffs or other members of the PDP holding elective seats who desire to become a member of another faction of the party or any other political party is not saved by the proviso to section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended;
“Whether in view of the proviso to section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, the 1st Defendant or any other officer of the 4th Defendant or authority howsoever described can declare the seats of any of the Plaintiffs or other members of the 4th Defendant that opted to join another political party vacant in the present peculiar and precarious circumstance of the 4th Defendant”.
The plaintiffs in the suit they filed through their lawyer Mr Tairu Adebayo, maintained that it was the division within the party that occasioned the holding of a parallel convention, saying they were justified legally to defect.
The case is yet to be assigned to any judge for adjudication.
Governors’ demand unconstitutional – Gulak
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak yesterday said some of the demands being made by the aggrieved governors of the PDP are unconstitutional.
Though he did not reveal what these demands were, there have been reports that the governors allegedly asked President Jonathan to shelve his ambition to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Speaking with State House correspondents on the Tuesday’s meeting between President Jonathan and some of the aggrieved governors, Gulak said: “Leaders are discussing. This issue with PDP is not uncommon, they are not unexpected. PDP is the biggest party in Africa and the only national party in Nigeria. Everybody wants to belong to PDP and once you have various shades of opinions, that is why in a party like this, we are bound to disagree to agree.
“We have the internal mechanisms to sort out ourselves. I’m assuring you that this so-called crisis would be a thing of the past. We are on peace course, we are discussing some of the demands that you media men are speculating are unconstitutional. These demands would not be in accordance with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and certain demands would not be in accordance with the party’s constitution.What we are saying is that the elders are talking. We are talking in accordance with the law of the land and of the party.” he said.