PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
By Chuks Okocha
Ahead of jostling for party tickets for the 2015 general election, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday restated its commitment to its zoning formula in distributing elective positions.
PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, told reporters in Abuja that notwithstanding the criticisms to the party’s zoning policy, the ruling party said it would not jettison it and would determine how party candidates would emerge for the next elections.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar had last month called for the jettisoning of the zoning formula in the PDP.
The party has also reminded its officials and other members that only it has the prerogative to nominate candidates for elections.
Oyinlola, who fielded questions from reporters on many issues, berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its stance on party primaries, adding that it cannot intimidate the PDP, as the Electoral Act does not give the commission overriding powers in the conduct of political parties’ primaries.
He also predicted that ongoing alliance talks among opposition parties in the run up to the 2015 general election would flop.
He described zoning as the major force binding the party together and therefore it would be futile to jettison its mainstay.
According to him: “Zoning cannot be said to be out of tune with the party. It has been one of the practices in the ruling party that makes it the binding glue that holds the people together and as such, it would be politically dangerous to abandon it at it this stage that it is our binding force.
“What has endeared that PDP to the people from all over the country has been the zoning arrangement which has given the hope that those in the minority in the country would have access to power.
“There is an adage in my language that says when a medicine is working for you, you don’t throw it away. So we will continue with zoning arrangement because it is working very well.”
On the alliance by opposition parties, he said it would fail, as was the case in the past.
“We don’t think we are threatened by what we will call ganging up. In those days when NPN and NPP where closing ranks, it was called accord; when the UPN and GNPP were merging, they called it ganging up. Honestly speaking, ganging up is an indication of some certain weaknesses. Why can’t a party stand on its own and contest election if you are sure that you will be acceptable to the people? You don’t need to gang up.
“That one notwithstanding, we will remain focus by delivering on the dividends of democracy to our people so that we can endear ourselves to the people of Nigeria so that they can continue to trust us. We will do the biddings of Nigerians. If you are ganging up, then you don’t have the strength. The only true national party today that cuts across every nook and cranny of the Nigeria federation is the PDP. Ganging up has never succeeded, it will not succeed.”
On the frosty relationship between the executive and the legislature, controlled by the party, Oyinlola said the PDP was adopting dialogue to resolve the face-off between the two arms of government, especially on the appropriate oil benchmark on which to base revenue projection for the 2013 budget.
Reacting to why the party is yet to implement the directives of INEC to conduct fresh primaries in some states, including Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe, Anambra, Oyinlola queried the duties of INEC in monitoring the affairs of political parties.
He said that the Electoral Act did not prescribe any function for INEC in the monitoring of political parties’ primary elections.
According to him, “in PDP we conduct our primaries, but what are other political parties doing? What did the Electoral Act say in the monitoring of party primaries? PDP is a national party and other parties don’t even do anything.”
He also said the PDP was worried by its defeat in the Ondo and Edo governorship elections, but added that it would soon embark on reconciliation to reposition the parties for victory in future election in the state.
On reconciliation, the National Secretary said: “Any moment from now, those teams will move out to reconcile the warring factions and settle differences so that we can all come back together and move on as a member of the same family.
“Were it not for the differences we had in Ogun, we would have won that state; were it not for the differences between the Akala-led side and Ladoja going to Accord, we would have won Oyo State. These are the problems we want to get our team to go and resolve. They will soon move out and we hope that before long, we will be able to reconcile all the warring factions within the PDP family,” he added.
In a related development, the PDP has urged its officials to obey all rules on nomination of candidates for elections.
The party, which has just appointed Hon. Mohammed Wakil to act as its National Vice Chairman, North East, following the suspension of Alhaji Girigiri Lawal, in a statement called on National Working Committee(NWC) members, governors, zonal officers, state chairmen and secretaries to comply with Section 50 of the PDP Constitution, 2012 as amended.
The statement signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, referred to a circular letter PDP/NC/NWC/SG/ZO/C.S/10/12 dated October 18, by Oyinlola and directed the officials to comply with the content of the circular.
“It is to be noted that Section 50 (1) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 2012 (as amended) vests the power for the formulation of guidelines and regulations for the nomination of candidates for election into public office at all levels on the national headquarters of our great party.
“So also is the authority for resolving all disputes relating to the choice of candidates for the party for any election and for conveying to INEC or any other authority to whom it may concern, and the names of candidates for the party in any elective public office in the federation,” it said.
The statement said both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have authenticated and reaffirmed the provisions of the party’s constitution through judgments.