- As threat of parallel convention looms
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Northern Elders Forum has said for peace to reign in the party, the present leadership of the party led by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff should postpone the May 21 national convention and handover the administration of the party to the Board of Trustees (BoT) which will make appropriate arrangement for transition of power to new leadership.
The group’s spokesman and former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, who addressed journalists in Abuja after their meeting said the recent congresses and the process being adopted for the amendment of the constitution are both flawed and should be jettisoned.
Gana, who read the communique of the meeting, said in order to avoid a vacuum after the Sheriff-led leadership must have stepped down, the BoT should be vested with the interim powers to administer the affairs of the party as provided by the constitution.
“We propose that the BoT be repositioned to effectively perform its constitutional role and to provide trustworthy leadership during the transition to the next national convention of the party on a suitable date to be agreed,” he said.
On the issue of demand for the postponement of the convention and if the party ignores the call, Gana said: “We are generals in this political terrain and as such we do not advertise our strategies, we have very clear strategies on what we will have to do if our demands were not met. It is well laid out but I am only permitted say the aspect I have just stated. Our response will be seen through our actions henceforth.”
While providing reasons for the group’s conclusions, Gana said a lot of things have gone wrong starting from arrangements being put together for the convention as well as the, zoning, congresses and constitutional amendment procedure.
“It is very that in a number of states, congresses were badly conducted, totally unacceptable to the people and we believed that it will fair that in such cases, they have to be re-done so that there will be credibility. In some areas, it should be s matter of reconciliation which we shall do
“We reaffirm our position that the party should suspend the proposed amendment to the party’s constitution because the procedures being followed are unconstitutional and illegal.
“Let me state that in our constitution there are very clear laid out procedures of how proposed amendments to a constitution can be handled. It states a specified period within which the proposals have to be sent to the respective state chapters and to get their responses back before presenting it to the BoT, the national caucus and then the NEC meeting. But in the present situation, not even the BoT met not to talk of the national caucus of the party before it was suddenly tabled at the last NEC meeting
“We met today in Abuja to discuss a number of very serious issues affecting our dear party and reaffirmed, resolved as follows: that there should be an effective implementation committee to take appropriate action on all resolutions at the forum. We therefore establish a 25-member implementation committee to meet regularly and to ensure that resolutions of the forum are properly implemented.”
“We believe in the rule of law, we believe in due and we believe that democracy has to be done in such a way that due processes are effective followed there is a procedure for the amendment of he constitution of our party and if and when we want to amend our constitution that procedure should followed so that it will be legal, and binding on all members.
“We reaffirm our earlier unanimous decision to ask that the scheduled convention be postponed for a number of reasons and for which we now have an additional reasons of very poorly conducted congresses in many states here in north.
“We took a progress report state by state on the conduct of congresses and we are deeply worried that in many of the states, the congresses were poorly conducted and therefore we believe that the entire process have been flawed and that the process has not got a good foundation. “We believe that the convention should be postponed do a very good arrangement can be made so that the leaders that would emerge from such convention will have credibility and will be supported by the entire party.
On the issue of zoning, Gana said: “We decided that the zoning arrangement should really follow the tradition already established which will ensure a free, fair balanced election and will promote the image of the country. This is to say that there should a balance between the north and the south in the allocation of high offices.
“It is a tradition within our party that once we agree that the presidential candidate of the party will come from a particular region, then the chairmanship must go to the other side. It is already and established fact and we don’t want to post the day or say when we get the bridge we cross, we cross it now otherwise there will be a lot of confusion in the future. Therefore we reject the latest zoning arrangement at the national level.
Also Gana distanced the group from the Monday’s NEC meeting of the party convened by Sheriff on the grounds that they were not informed.
“I am not aware that the NEC meeting has been scheduled to take place in Gombe, next Monday. We are only know that the BoT meeting will hold here in Abuja on Monday and not in Gombe. As far as I know, it is the BoT meeting that has been called by our chairman and by the grace of God we intend to be there.
Gana said that the constitution provided for a certain period of time within which the constitutional amendment can be legally carried out.
According to him, the proposal supposed to go the various state chapters first before it will be presented to various organs of the party, the national caucus, the BoT, the NEC and then the convention for ratification.
Instead, Gana said that most of the stakeholders were not aware of the contents of the proposed amendments until last week.
Speaking in the same vein, the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu said the PDP constitution required that they should give 90 days notice within which the amendment is to be sent to the state chapters but that it was not done.
He said that it would have been a total disaster if the proposed amendment were approved at the last NEC meeting because there was a clear usurpation of the powers of the BoT which was supposed to be the organ that will be consulted before any part of the constitution is tampered with.
Among those attended the NEF meeting were former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, former minister of special duties, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki and former minister of agriculture, Shettima Mustapha among many others.