In the light of the current developments in Adamawa State, is the November 24 date for local government election still feasible? Daji Sani asks
The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC), saddled with the responsibility of conducting the Local Government polls had set aside this weekend, November 24, 2012 as the date to conduct election into the councils in the state. Investigation revealed that ADSIEC had released its timetable for the exercise and at the same time screened the names of nominees submitted to the commission by the 14 political parties participating in the election. Names of the candidates have also been pasted on ADSIEC’s notice board at its head office in Yola.
But a source within the state commission hinted THISDAY that only 4 political parties had indicated interest in the chairmanship election. It gave names of the parties as All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) which is contesting in three LGs; Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is interested in nine councils while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) are fielding candidates in all the 21 council areas of state.
The commission, according to the source, had also closed its door to further participation by any other party and cannot received names of nominees except for any cogent reason such as death, mistake or court injunction, hence the commission has displaced the list of qualified candidates cleared for the election and for the purpose of correction, adding that if there are names omitted, parties concerned should raise the alarm immediate correction before the election proper.
However, despite the controversies surrounding the exercise, Chairman of ADSIEC, Alhaji Zailani Ahmed and his men do not appear intimidated. Instead, they see the controversies as essentially PDP’s affair and that the commission’s independence would not be jeopardised by any such sectional discontent.
While recognizing the fact that the crisis is PDP’s, the commission also noted that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP under its chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, was not oblivious of the situation, the reason dissolved the state executive on October 17, 2012, after an emergency meeting, citing alleged insubordination among other factors.
A press release signed by PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, said the Alhaji Mijiayawa Kugama -led Adamawa executive had disobeyed the NWC’s instruction to stay action on its planned participation in the November scheduled election and was subsequently sanctioned. Following the dissolution, the embattled State PDP EXCO, filed and obtained an interim injunction at the High Court, restraining the NWC from implementing the said dissolution.
When the case was first mention on November 2, the defendants had swiftly filed an application, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter to which the trial judge, Justice Umar Bobboi gave Wednesday 7 November, 2012 to decide the matter of jurisdiction.
Justice Bobboi however, pleaded with counsels to the parties involved to expedite action on their parts to enable the court dispose of the matter in view of its urgency and importance.
However, when the case came up for mentioning the second time on November 7, lead counsels of the defendants, PDP, and Adamawa state caretaker committee of the party led by Alhaji Umar Damagun and Dr. Ameachi Nwaiwufor (SAN), told the court that it was unconstitutional for the court to interfere with the party’s internal affairs, citing also, the case of Dalhatu versus Turaki in 2010 law weekly report.
The counsel said it would amount to judicial impediment or judicial rascality if the court continues to hear the case. He further argued that according to section 60 subsection1-4 of the PDP constitution as amended in 2012, the plaintiff did not exhaust the provision in the party’s constitution before rushing to court to enforce their fundamental rights.
On the argument advanced by the lead counsel to the plaintiffs, Ayo Akam ESQ, that the tenure of his clients was yet to expire, the defendants’ counsel cited Oke versus Adeshimu that any official or member of the party could be suspended at any time if his action contravened the constitution of the party.
Justice Bobboi therefore fixed November 13 as the day for ruling over the pending case. But when the case came up for mentioning on the day of the ruling, Justice Bobboi said he had followed the argument logically and that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and vacated the order given by the court restraining the Adamawa state caretaker committee of the party as authorized by the NWC from performing its task.
Immediately, Damagun’s caretaker committee addressed newsmen at the party’s secretariat in Yola as it took full charge of the party’s leadership in the state. He informed that the party had sent a letter to ADSIEC to withdraw names of the nominees submitted to it by the dissolved Kugama-led executive.
“We have just written to the Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission withdrawing all the PDP nominees for the Local Government council elections submitted to it by the defunct state EXCO of the party, having not being authorized by the National Working Committee and having come to conclusion that the Nominees were themselves not products of a dully executed democratic process,” he said.
The committee has also promised to restructure, revalidate and reconcile aggrieved members of the state PDP as well as open its doors to new membership, hence the need for a level playing ground for all. Damagun craved for support from the State government, security agencies, PDP loyalists in the state and also promised to conduct free, fair and transparent congresses to elect new executives at the ward, local government and state levels for the party.
But views are divided over the status of candidates who names had been submitted by the dissolved executive for the said council polls. Many of the analysts bared their minds on the legality or otherwise of such action. But the electoral umpire appears bent on going ahead with the polls despite the PDP the simmering crisis.
Again, the embattled Kugama-led executive had on November 14 filled an appeal to redress the matter at the Appeal Court in Yola. According to PP Elisha, secretary to the dissolved executive, the National Secretariat of the PDP has not at any time given them fair hearing and still went ahead to dissolve them.
He said the executive had taken the matter to an upper court to seek fair hearing since the ruling by the High Court sitting in Yola was based on lack of jurisdiction to hear the case and not that the case lacked merit.
Expectedly, with PDP’s in-house confusion, observers are keen on the outcome of the tussle. Even political analysts in the state are of the notion that going by the letter sent to ADSIEC, by the caretaker committee to replace the old names and given the standing of the commission, PDP may not participate in the council polls except the ADSIEC timetable changes.
The fact that the popular adage: “He who pays the piper, dictates the tune” might come into play given Governor Murtala Nyako’s standing and the fact that he is the major financier of the commission, it is not unexpected that the hard-line posturing of the commission’s chairman may have been instigated.
Some believed that if the names of the PDP nominees already submitted are tampered with, there are indications that the party might lose to opposition parties in the state, a development that might affect even the governorship election in the future since Nyako is strongly behind the defunct Kugama-led- executive. Yet, others are of the view that even if the names are not tempered with, Nyako and Kugama executive would still be in control of the party in the state.
Pundits are therefore of the view that the NWC can only succeed by going to court to stall the ADSIEC from conducting the council polls as stipulated to allow it settle the party’s internal bedlam and conduct a fresh primary election. That way, the National Secretariat can maintain a bit of control in Adamawa’s PDP.