L-R: Metu, PDP National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Nyako
In this report, Chuks Okocha writes that the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have begun to reinvent the culture of discipline amongst its members, using the Adamawa State chapter as scapegoat
Indiscipline has remained the greatest problem afflicting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a political party. Although, this is not peculiar to the PDP as other parties also shoulder their own albatross; its position is quick to giving it away. This has made many people to see the party as only a platform to win elections, after which anything follows. But recent developments in the party are indicative that it may no longer be business as usual.
Two events that took place within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the northeast zone last week have gradually come to show that the party is about to rediscover itself, by ensuring discipline among members and paving the way for the supremacy of the affairs of the party among its members.
The first was the suspension of the deputy national chairman of the party in the northeast, Alhaji Girigiri Lawal for acts of indiscipline and the second is the sack of the State Executive Committee of Adamawa State for disobeying the directives of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. These two actions, so far, are unprecedented in the party.
Suspending Lawal, the party based its powers from articles 51(1) (b) (c) (h) of its constitution. PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said following the breach of the constitution of the party by Girigiri, he was invited by the National Working Committee for preliminary hearing in accordance with Article 57(3) of the constitution of the PDP.
“After the preliminary hearing, the National Working Committee resolved to suspend Alhaji Girigiri Lawal for a period of one month with effect from October, 12, 2012. The matter has been referred to the National Disciplinary Committee of our Party for further action,” Metu said and emphasised that the issue of discipline is paramount to building a virile party.
“It is therefore expected that the custodians of the constitution of the party, be they elected or appointed as well as all members should live by example and adhere to the provisions of the constitution of the party,” he said.
In dissolving the Adamawa executive, Metu said the party had to take the painful decision because of acts of disobedience by the state chapter of the party. He explained that the Adamawa state chapter of PDP led by Alhaji Mijijiwa Kaugama disobeyed the executive organ of the party when it was directed to stay action in conducting the primary elections for the forthcoming local government elections in the state.
The grouse of the National Secretariat with the state chapter was also because the state did not inform the party headquarters in the first place that it was conducting a local government primary to determine its candidates for the election and second, because of the several petitions that followed the conduct of the primary election. Thus, the action, Metu said was to address all contending issues.
Leaders of the Adamawa PDP led by the former national vice chairman, Senator Paul Wampana, General Anthony Hananiah, Senator Grace Bent, Air Commodore Dan Sulieman (rtd), General Aliyu Kama (rtd), former minister of state for Health, Dr. Idi Hong, former Chairman of PDP in the northeast, Wilberforce Juta, former state chairman of PDP in the state, Joel Madaki had petitioned the NWC of the party on the conduct of the council election. The deluge of petitions had propelled the intervention of the National Secretariat.
In their petition, the Adamawa leaders threatened to defect to another party to contest the local government election, if the National Working Committee of the party did not intervene by providing a level playing ground for all at the election. It was on the basis of this that the PDP NWC intervened.
A meeting was convened to hear the other side of the story from the Kaugama led executive. It was agreed at the reconciliatory meeting that the party in Adamawa should suspend all action pending a peaceful resolution of the crisis. PDP had directed that the congresses that elected the chairmanship candidates for the local government and councilors be disbanded because it was not in line with section 50 that stipulates that only the National Secretariat of the party shall sponsor candidates for election.
“The meeting between the NWC and the PDP state executives agreed that the candidates elected by the various congresses without references to the national secretariat of the party should be dissolved. It was further agreed that the Adamawa state executive of the party should offer apology for this infraction and that the national secretariat should be put on notice before the conduct of any primary election for the purpose of electing the local government chairmen and councilors for the local government election in the state,” Metu explained.
But the Kaugama group allegedly returned to Adamawa State and turned against the resolutions reached of the National Secretariat and submitted names of candidates to the Adamawa State Electoral Commission without recourse to the NWC, which in the first place is the sole authority to sponsor candidates for election.
This development prompted the NWC of the party to convene an emergency meeting where it welded the big stick and dissolved the Kaugama-led executive for disobeying its directive.
Metuh said Article 31(2) (e) of the party’s constitution specifically empowers the NWC thus: “where necessary, dissolve a State Executive Committee and appoint a caretaker committee to run the party until another Executive Committee is elected, provided that the period from the dissolution to the election of the new Executive shall not exceed 3 months.”
He therefore said: “The dissolved Adamawa state chapter of PDP was expressly advised by the National Working Committee (NWC) to halt further steps towards the conduct of Local Government Elections as agreed at a meeting of 9th October, 2012 between the NWC and the Adamawa State Working Committee.
“However, the EXCO did not only go ahead with the process, it submitted a list of candidates to the State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) without the approval of the NWC. This is contrary to the provisions of section 50(1) of the Constitution of the party which among others, states that the National Executive Committee on which behalf the NWC acts in this respect is the final authority for the formulation of guidelines and regulations for the nomination of Candidates for election into public offices at all levels and conveying same to INEC or any other authority to whom it may concern.
“The NWC also referred to complaints and petitions from principal stakeholders of the party in Adamawa State on various unconstitutional acts of the dissolved State EXCO, especially the principle of zoning as enshrined in Article 7(3) (e) of the party constitution as well as several letters from INEC complaining of non-compliance with relevant laws in the conduct of the Adamawa State Congresses.
“The NWC finally noted that all entreaties to get the Adamawa State Working Committee to rescind and, or reverse these constitutional breaches proved abortive, hence its decision. All members of the Party in Adamawa State are therefore advised to remain calm and await further directives,” Metuh stated.
Perhaps, realizing that it was no longer business as usual, the Adamawa State Governor, Muritala Nyako, rushed to Abuja to plead for leniency. After his meeting with the NWC, Nyako said, “there is nothing wrong in begging; PDP is a very large family, and it has elder brother and younger brother. In our own situation we have a national headquarters, we have a state chapter of the party, we have local government chapter of the party, we have the ward, we have the unit leadership, so if there is anything we observed- shortcoming- one thing or the other; obviously, we should expressed regret that this has happened.
“It is a large family; we are here to tell our elder brother our own version of the story. We are here as the state chapter, which I am privilege to be the leader, don’t forget I am not the chairman, I am the leader of the party in the state to explain what has happened. It is a very busy time for us in Adamawa. We had an election this year, we have the menace of Boko Haram, we had flooding; we are very busy. Sometimes, when you are busy the way we are, omission is inevitable. So, whatever omission, shortcoming we have observed about our conduct, we extend our regret,” the governor said.
Although, the National Secretariat has yet come up with a different position on the Adamawa case, it also sent a warning signal to the leadership of the National Assembly over its consistent face-off with the executive. The party, specifically, warned the Senate President, David Mark and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal to refrain from making inflammatory statements that could rub off on the perception of the PDP before members of the public.
Certainly, if the PDP were to sustain the present move at instilling discipline amongst its members, perhaps, it could culminate in the indoctrination of members for ideology-based politics, observers have noted. But the move, some analysts maintain, was put up in the heat of the development and that the PDP does not have the will to sustain such tradition. But whichever of these is correct, time is definitely the judge.