President Goodluck Jonathan
•S’west PDP asks court to replace Oyinlola
Chuks Okocha and
Following the directive by the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Special National Convention Planning Committee halt work on the planned convention as well as the south-west congress, President Goodluck Jonathan has moved to intervene in the crisis of confidence between NWC and the Professor Jerry Gana-led committee.
The president, as at press time, had summoned a meeting of both the NWC and the committee.
The meeting was scheduled to take place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday morning but was shifted to late last night because the president was hosting the African Union (AU) Summit on Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis as well as several one-on-one meetings with visiting African heads of state.
The president’s meeting came on the heels of a statement made yesterday by the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, that there were no anointed candidates for the offices that would be contested at the national convention. He also distanced the PDP from the crisis rocking Rivers State.
THISDAY was informed that the president’s decision to intervene stemmed from his irritation with the needless supremacy battle between the NWC and the convention committee headed by Gana, and therefore summoned a meeting of concerned stakeholders to put a stop to the bickering between both bodies.
The political gamesmanship between the NWC and Gana committee came to a head after NWC’s meeting on Monday evening.
At the end of the meeting, NWC had directed Gana’s committee to stop further work on the convention so that all contentious issues would be addressed and regularised.
Consequently, the NWC directed the security officers at the Legacy House, PDP’s alternate office, to stop all members of the Gana committee from using the office.
THISDAY was told that Jonathan was not happy about the bickering, as the new date announced by Gana and the Secretary of the committee, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, had the blessing of the president and Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih.
According to a party source, “The president was particularly peeved with the way Gana and Ekweremadu were locked out last Wednesday from the Abuja residence of the national chairman.
“They went to Tukur’s residence to inform him and the NWC members that new dates had been fixed for the national convention and the south-west congress. But the chairman refused to grant them audience.
“How then could they have briefed the Tukur-led NWC of the new dates? They did not come on their own, as they had the endorsement of the president and chairman of the BoT of the party to brief Tukur and his team on the new dates that they were proposing.
“After the incident, the president was briefed on how they were snubbed by the chairman. So they were given instructions to release the dates of August 24 and August 31 for the south-west congress and national convention.”
As things stand at the moment, the source said party stakeholders would be calling for a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to address some of the issues that led to the crisis of confidence between the Tukur-led NWC and the Gana committee.
He said it was for this reason that the president summoned the meeting of the NWC and the Gana committee to agree on the earliest possible time to convene the NEC meeting, adding, “Now that the fight has been made public, there would be no need papering over the cracks, as only the NEC will have the final say.”
THISDAY gathered that baring any last minute changes, the NEC meeting may take place next week.
Confirming this, the source explained that the NEC meeting is meant to facilitate the constitution of a proper NWC in view of the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
“As NWC is at the moment, it is not properly constituted, so there is the need to do so. This is necessary so that the NWC can properly nominate a governorship candidate for the governorship election,” the PDP source said.
It was gathered that all contending issues that had triggered the misunderstanding between the NWC and Gana committee would be discussed and a decision taken in the overall interest of the party.
Meanwhile, as the party prepares to hold its special national convention, Tukur yesterday, disclosed that the leadership of the party had no special or anointed candidate for the positions that would be contested.
He also distanced PDP from the crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly, calling on the warring legislators to sheathe their swords for peace and sanity to return to the House and state generally.
In a statement by his Special Assistant, Media, Oliver Okpala, the national chairman said the party would take practical steps to ensure that the forthcoming convention and congress of the party are transparent and credible in line with the party’s avowed creed for internal democracy.
He said the leadership of the party would not have a hand in deciding who wins at the congress or special national convention, since they are going to be transparent, free, credible and fair, adding that any candidate who wins must have done so on his or her own merit.
“Those to be members of the new National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to fill the vacant positions, will emerge from due process and will be those the party delegates will chose at the congress and special convention,” he said.
Reacting to the widespread perception that the PDP had a hand in the festering crisis in Rivers State, Tukur said: “It is the desire of the PDP that peace returns immediately to the Rivers State House of Assembly in particular and the state in general.”
The national chairman urged the state’s legislators to avoid overheating the polity by their actions, as democracy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of violence and anarchy, adding that PDP is a united political family under one big umbrella and no true member of the party would want to pull down the family’s political structure and existence.
He called on Nigerians to join hands and ensure that peace returns to the Rivers assembly, insisting that without peace “our much coveted democracy will be meaningless”.
In a related incident, the PDP in the south-west has applied to a Federal High Court in Abuja to give effect to the replacement of Olagunsoye Oyinlola with Professor Adewale Oladipo as its national secretary.
The south-west PDP informed the court that Oladipo was validly and unanimously nominated to replace Oyinlola at the Extraordinary South-west Zonal Congress held on July 13, 2013.
The party, in a motion on notice filed yesterday, stated that its action was in compliance with the court’s judgment of January 11, 2013 which removed the former Osun State governor as the party's national secretary on the grounds that he was not validly nominated by the south-west chapter of the PDP.
The party also wants the court to direct its national body and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to amend their records to reflect the new changes.
The application filed by Chief Adebayo Dayo, Semiu Sodipo (for themselves and on behalf of the PDP) has Oyinlola, PDP and INEC as defendants.
The plaintiffs stated in a supporting affidavit that although the orders contained in the January 11 judgment were still valid, their motion was informed by the fact that while the court ordered Oyinlola's replacement within 21 days of the judgment, compliance was immediately impossible because of the internal crisis in the party.