* Group wants Tukur-led NWC sacked Says there is no selective court order
By Chuks Okocha
The South-west caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to adopt what it called a ‘political solution’ to resolve some of the crises rocking the party.
This came on the heels of a call by an Abuja-based group, Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN), which called for the dissolution of the PDP NWC, following the court order granted on April 27, 2012 by Justice O. E. Abang in the suit Number FHC/L/CS/282/2012 between Chief Dapo Soremi, and others, and the PDP and five others.
Prior to the call by the South-west caucus of the party to resolve the crisis, the governors elected on the platform of the party had equally called for the convocation of a National Executive Committee (NEC) to resolve the leadership crisis in the party.
In a communiqué issued by the South-west PDP leaders in Abuja, and signed by two members of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Shuaibu Oyedokun and Bode George, the leaders called for a political solution. The meeting resolved that litigations (court cases) involving the party in the South-west require political solutions.
According to the communiqué, “the meeting also resolved that the party leadership should explore political solution in resolving all court cases, on internal party matters.”
Also, the communiqué noted that lack of unity among the party leaders in each state had led to attrition and confusion of party members in the zone.
In view of this, they argued that there was the need for reconciliation in the party as a platform to reposition PDP, while acknowledging the Lagos meeting as the beginning of a serious and sustained effort at total reconciliation of all disaffected groups in the party across the South-west zone.
“The party leaders and elders should put the interest of the Party above personal ambition and self interest while eschewing bitterness, vengeance and vindictiveness over past conflicts and imbibe a new spirit of love and harmony to ensure that the party is united and formidable to win the coming elections.
“The party leaders should ensure the promotion of rule of law, internal democracy and discipline in the Party to prevent avoidable conflicts arising from arbitrary decisions and actions.
“In furtherance of this reconciliation effort, the meeting therefore set up five teams for the states of Ogun, Ondo, Lagos, Ekiti and Oyo to meet with the Party Members in the States and resolve their conflicts amicably,” the communiqué stated.
The leaders, who expressed concern at the marginalisation of zone in national affairs and leadership position, despite being the first zone to adopt President Goodluck Jonathan, urged for a meeting with the President on how to redeem this deplorable situation.
The communiqué also commended the national leadership of the PDP on efforts being made in reconciling and repositioning of the party, and pleaded with all party leaders to support the strengthening of the party.
It also expressed confidence that with this repositioning of the party, the opposition Parties pose no difficult challenge for the party.
“The meeting expressed confidence in the unifying Leadership of the Party and the guidance of Mr. President to confront emerging challenges in the political terrain,” the communiqué stated.
Also, the leaders said in order to ensure the faithful implementation of Federal Government policies and projects in states not under the control of the party and urged President Jonathan to consider as a matter of urgency the appointment of Presidential Assistants or Presidential Liaison Assistants in those states.
The leaders, however, urged the Tukur-led NWC to set machinery in motion to ensure that the party wins the governorship elections to be held in Ekiti and Osun States in 2014 without prejudice to the ongoing court cases.
Reacting also, one of the governors of the party from the North-central zone told journalists yesterday, that the best way to resolve the present crisis was for the party’s leadership to summon the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting before things get out of hand.
According to the governor, “things are really getting bad. I advise that the NEC meeting be summoned soonest, before we reach ground zero.
“PDP cannot pretend that all is well, unless is a grand plot to finish the PDP before 2015. We have the opposition parties that are gaining strength every day to contend with. As far as some of us PDP governors are concerned, there is a fire on the mountain. The earlier the NEC meeting is called, the better for the party. Some of us have made our views known to the President.”
The crisis affecting the PDP, especially in the South-west deepened at the weekend, with the NWC in obedience to a court order sacked the National Auditor, Bode Mustapha and Oni, as well as recognised the state chairman of the party in Ogun State, who incidentally was not in the camp of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Meanwhile, the SRLN in a statement signed by its leader, Chima Ubeku, stated that since the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos presided over by Justice H. M. Ogunwumiju had granted a stay of execution of the same order pending the appeal filed by the Segun Oni-led PDP zonal executive since May 25, 2012, the National Chairman of the party,
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led NWC and the sacked National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had also benefited from the stay as it avoided the contempt charge slammed on it by the High Court using the same Court of Appeal ruling.
In the ruling, the Appeal Court held that: “We are firmly convinced that the balance of justice lies in the stay being granted. The res in this case cannot be destroyed by either party but the liberty of any of the applicants if taken by contempt proceedings cannot be easily restored. An order of stay of execution or further execution of the judgement and orders of Justice C.E. Archibong of the Federal High Court Lagos in suit NO FHC/L/CS/1248/2011 delivered on 27/1/11 is hereby made. All contempt proceedings shall stay to abide the outcome of the Appeal in the said suit Order as prayed.”
The group, which commended the PDP for its decision to adhere to the rule of law, noted that: “Having effected a part of the Justice Abang order by dissolving the South-west Zonal Working Committee in line with the order, the party must also dissolve the NWC as ordered by the court.
By ignoring the Appellate court and obeying the ruling of a High Court, the NWC of the PDP had shot itself in the leg.”
The statement added: “As a group that is concerned with the sustenance of rule of law in the country, we felt obliged to comment on the decision taken by the PDP Sunday, most especially because of its effect on party politics in the country.
“First and foremost, we are happy that PDP has chosen to follow the path of rule of law and constitutionality.
“We are however worried that the party waited for close to one year that Justice Abang gave the order and after the ruling had been appealed against and stay of execution granted before giving effect to the ruling.
“Most importantly, the order granted by Justice O. E. Abang in the suit Number FHC/L/CS/282/2012 was; that the South-west Zonal Congress of the PDP held in Osogbo Osun State on March 21, 2012 involving the election of delegates to the National Convention of the party is hereby set aside and accordingly nullified.
“The election of officers at the National Convention of the 1st Respondent (PDP) involving only those that emerged as purported elected delegates from South West Zonal Congress of the 1st Respondent (PDP) is hereby set aside and accordingly nullified.
“The implication of the above is that the participation of ‘delegates’ elected at the Zonal Congress in Oshogbo in the National Convention held on March 24, 2012 rendered the Convention invalid, thereby nullifying the election of all members of the NWC.
“It is, therefore, our demand that the PDP NWC should be dissolved in accordance with the court order in suit number FHC/L/CS/282/2012 the same way the South-west Zonal Working Committee was dissolved based on the order.
“Failure to do this within 14 days will mean that the party only chooses which part of court judgments to obey and we will have no other option than to approach the court for the order to be enforced. It is against the tenet of the rule of law to chose and pick which court order to be obeyed, hence the entire National Working Committee stand dissolved by the same order.
“Since Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, emerged from the same convention which produced Oyinlola, the National Auditor and other NWC members, then it would be honourable for all NWC members to resign and another Convention of the PDP held to chose all national officers of the party.
“The alternative and the right thing is for the PDP to uphold the sanctity of judicial hierarchy and rescind its decision to sack the South-west zonal executive as it seems that the NWC was beclouded by the hurriedness to mow down Obasanjo and the Governors rather than obey the rule of Law,” the group stated.