Chief Tony Anenih
* Group tells Anenih to allow Tukur to work
By Chuks Okocha
Fear of sack Monday gripped the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party went into closed doors meeting to discuss the report from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which stated that the outcome of the March 24, 2012, national convention was not acceptable to the commission.
This is coming on the heels of summon by the NWC that ministers should account for their stewardship as members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), with the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolomemen, and his Youth Development counterpart, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, expected to take the first slot Tuesday.
However, a group, Forum for Equity and Justice, has urged the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, to allow the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, to do his job.
But Tukur and other members of the NWC were said to have held a closed door meeting over the INEC report, where the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, later briefed journalists on the outcome of the meeting.
Metuh said: “We as a political party have done nothing that we should be afraid of. INEC cannot remove us from office because we have done anything unconstitutional.”
He further queried INEC’s constitutional powers and why it took the commission more than one year to release a report of a convention that took place in March last year.
Based on this, Metuh said: “This report is sinister, abnormal, what is the motive, why is it coming now? Why special interest in the PDP that is the question Nigerians should be asking INEC.”
In a related development, the party has issued a statement assuring members of the NWC to disregard the INEC report on the national convention.
In the statement, Metuh said: “Consequent upon our uncovering of plans by undemocratic elements to discredit and destabilise the leadership of our great party, the NWC wishes to assure all our members that it remains committed and focused and will continue to provide the necessary political direction so that the policy frameworks contained in our manifesto are fully realised for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“The NWC will never allow reactionary elements to distract it and deter it from carrying out its constitutionally guaranteed duties.”
It was also gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan had told some NWC members that he was not aware of the INEC report and that he was not part of the game plan to remove some NWC members from office.
According to a source, “when we consulted the President as the leader of the party, he said he is not aware of the INEC report or the court case to remove some of the NWC members from office.”
However, the PDP has summoned ministers to appear before it and account for their stewardship since appointment as members of the FEC.
Metuh in a statement summoning the ministers, said: “In furtherance to its determination to ensure that all apparatus of government fully deliver on their mandates, all federal ministers have been invited to appear before the NWC to give comprehensive account of their stewardship to the Nigerian people in pursuance of the mandate given to President Jonathan and the manifesto of the PDP.”
The statement added that: “Ministers are to brief the NWC on their respective policies and projects as well as the activities of parastatals and agencies under their ministries and how they have impacted on the Nigerian people. The ministerial briefings will hold from April 9to May 30.
“Those to appear this week include the Minister of Works, Mike Onolomemen and the Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, who are to brief the NWC on April 9. The Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Musa Sada, are to brief the NWC on April 11,” Metuh stated.
Meanwhile, the group in a statement issued in Abuja, and signed by its National Coordinator, Mr. Enitan Ayelabowo, said Anenih should know that his duty as the chairman of the party’s BoT was mere advisory.
The group noted that the tour being embarked upon by Anenih and members of his team to the governors was not necessary and that it was capable of further polarising the party.
The statement read: “We have noticed the way and manner our respected Chairman of the BoT, Anenih, is going about on tours to the state governors as if he is the chairman of the party.
“Though as the chairman of BoT, we understand that he needs to be acquitted with happenings in the party. But his visits to the governors before his election and after his election at Abuja are enough for him to know the feelings of the governors concerning the crisis rocking the party.
“He does not need to embark on clandestine visits to the governors. The visit is already causing tension in the party as there are those who have the notion that the Anenih team is usurping the functions of the members of the NWC of the party, led by Tukur.
“We appeal to him to shelve further visits, more so when he is not reporting his findings to the national leadership of the party. We appeal to the National Leader of our party, Jonathan, to halt further visits by Anenih to the governors as this is also causing ripples in the party, both at the national and state levels.
“Apart from this, we have it on good authority that the visit by Anenih and members of his team is being bankrolled by some ministers in the President’s cabinet.
“These ministers, one from the South-east and the other from the South-south, are doing this because of their selfish interest to become governors of their states.
“Mr. President needs to be told that there is no need to cause further crisis in the party, especially now when the opposition is coming together with the aim of wresting power from the PDP-led federal government.”
The group further appealed to the members of the NWC to stop portraying the leadership of the party as if it is a divided house, adding that a divided house is not capable of standing, especially in the face of stiff opposition.
It also called on the Tukur-led NWC to consider the call for the meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which it said, was overdue.
“Holding of NEC meetings as being canvassed by the governors is a constitutional matter. We need to have NEC meeting of our party on time in order to show to the world that we have nothing to fear and that we are together in the quest to move the nation forward,” the statement added.
The group further appealed to members of the PDP to support the President, especially now that the country is undergoing challenges, especially in the area of insecurity.
The statement added that the plan by the President to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect was a right step in the right direction.