Chuks Okocha and Daji Sani
A crack has emerged among the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the crisis in the Adamawa State chapter of the party.
The crisis in the state chapter of the party that has pitted PDP governors against the NWC deepened yesterday as 10 out of the 12-member committee reversed an earlier decision dissolving the state executive council of the party.
At an earlier meeting presided over by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, the PDP leadership had dissolved the Adamawa executive and appointed a caretaker committee.
The NWC, rising from a meeting yesterday presided over by the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, said it rescinded its decision on the matter because the congresses that produced the party leaders at the ward and local government levels in the state were never authorised.
Tukur, who is also from the state, was absent from the meeting as he was busy organising the meeting of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, which was expected to elect its chairman Tuesday.
But in a swift reaction to what many have been regarded as a palace coup against his leadership, Tukur asserted his authority as the chief executive officer of the PDP.
Also Tuesday, the Adamawa State acting Chief Judge, Justice Nathan Musa, vacated the order restraining the party caretaker committee from conducting local government and state congresses in the state, paving the way for the conduct of the state congress in Yola, the state capital, shortly after the ruling.
The dissolution of the party structures in the state had prompted the presidential committee, led by Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, to threaten that it would lobby for the sack of the NWC members for their compromised position on the crisis in the Adamawa State chapter of the party, which led to the sack of the Kaugama Mijinyawa-led state executive.
Tukur had authorised the congresses that took place on December 27, 2012 and January 4 in wards and local governments in the state despite a court order that restrained the party from conducting the congresses.
Addressing reporters on the outcome of the NWC meeting, Jaja said they rescinded the dissolution of the Adamawa State executive, as it was never the decision of the party in the first place to conduct the congresses.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, had announced the dissolution, stating that the dissolved executive had “flagrantly disregarded and shown serial disobedience to the decisions of the NWC.”
He had accused the dissolved executive council of conducting illegal local government elections and for going ahead to submit a list of candidates to the state Independent Electoral Commission without the approval of the NWC.
However, Jaja said the NWC at its 315th meeting on December 12, 2012, had agreed to reverse the dissolution of the Adamawa State executive of the party that was dissolved on October 17, 2012.
He added that the party would have announced the decision earlier but for the helicopter crash that led to the death of Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, along with four others.
He also explained that since the decision was taken, the NWC had not been able to meet because of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Also corroborating Jaja’s statement, the PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, read the minutes of the NWC 314th meeting, confirming the decision.
He also said the meeting approved the dissolution of the caretaker committee, headed by Ambassador Umar Damagum.
Jaja, who read a statement disclaiming the ward and local government congresses, said: “The NWC in its 315th meeting of Wednesday, 12th December 2012, had rescinded the dissolution of the PDP Adamawa State executive.
“The NWC had earlier dissolved the Adamawa State executive under Article 29(2)(b) wherein we acted on behalf of Article 31(2)(e) powers of the NEC. But it is instructive to note that the ward and local government executives of Adamawa State were never dissolved.
“In fact, at its 314th meeting of 29th August 2012, the NWC had upheld the March 2012 ward and local government executives except for one LGA which was later ratified. The NWC is therefore surprised, shocked and embarrassed to read in the newspapers of the purported ward, local government and state congresses said to be ongoing in Adamawa State.
“For the record, the National Working Committee hereby dissociates the party leadership from the purported congresses, which were neither authorised by the NWC nor monitored and/or supervised by the national secretariat.
“In the history of the PDP, only the national secretariat of the PDP conducts state congresses. Based upon the above therefore, the NWC hereby declares the purported congresses null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“Consequently, we hereby declare that the only state executive committee constitutionally recognised by this party is the Kaugama executive lawfully elected in March, 2012 and endorsed by the national convention.”
In his reaction shortly after the announcement of NWC’s decision, Tukur in a letter addressed to all NWC members, listed all the constitutional powers and functions of the national chairman, stating that he is the chief executive officer of the party.
He said he had deliberately delegated Jaja to handle issues affecting the party in Adamawa State to avoid accusations of bias.
According to him, he reluctantly acted on the recommendations of the NWC on all matters involving the state PDP as reached at meetings presided over by Jaja.
It was gathered that the national chairman asked the NWC to investigate the letter written by Olagunsoye to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) where the party listed the activities of the ill-fated congresses.
Meanwhile, PDP governors will between today and tomorrow meet President Goodluck Jonathan to present the report of the Presidential Committee on the Adamawa State chapter of PDP to him.
While the party’s NWC was invalidating the congresses in Adamawa State, the state acting chief judge vacated the order restraining the caretaker committee from conducting congresses in the state.
The court had earlier restrained the Damagum-led caretaker committee of the PDP from going ahead with the local government and state congresses scheduled for January 3 and 8 respectively based on a motion filed by one Mustapha Njobdi Gella and two others.
In his ruling, the CJ said: “The application lacks merit and therefore, I now vacate the ex parte motion I earlier granted.”
He said the substantive case against infringing on the plaintiff’s fundamental human rights would be heard even as he said the court was competent to entertain the case.
Reacting to the ruling, Kaugama said he was not disturbed by the caretaker committee’s bid to conduct the state congress, expressing confidence in the rule of law.
According to him, there is no vacancy in the state chapter of the party, adding that only the party’s NEC can sack the state executive council.
Immediately after the court’s pronouncement, the caretaker committee embarked on the state congresses at about 4.30 pm seeking to fill 28 positions that were contested for.