- Party declares South-west zonal congress illegal
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja with agency report
Ahead of its national convention scheduled for May 21 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will tomorrow hold its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to address nagging issues currently bedevelling the party. It was learnt yesterday.
Recalled that the NEC meeting was earlier scheduled to hold last Thursday but for a reason best known to the party, it rescheduled the meeting for today to be held in Gombe State. The party has however fixed the meeting for tomorrow (Tuesday).
Some other issues that might likely be discussed by the party at the NEC are the issues raised by the PDP Concerned Stakeholders, the Northern PDP Elders and others, who are calling on its National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) to vacant office by May 21 and also to postpone the national convention.
However, the party leadership has approved the shift of venue for the 71st National Executive Committee (NEC).
A statement signed by the National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, said the meeting would now hold on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja.
The statement further noted that the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting will still hold today at the PDP national secretariat as earlier scheduled.
It advised the BoT, which will hold its meeting today and NEC members to attend these meetings unfailingly and on time as crucial party matters shall be discussed.
Reacting to this development, while speaking with some journalists, Wilberforce Juta, one of the agitators for the postponement of the national convention and a member of BoT said.
“Some of our members in the BoT will attend the meeting.”
According to him, “What happened the last time was not correct. I don’t know why the NEC meeting was called in such a hurry. But I understand that this time, the BoT will meet before the NEC meeting.” Also speaking, former Minister of Information, John Odey, confirmed that the BoT meeting will hold today (Monday) in Abuja ahead of the Tuesday meeting.
He further confirmed to our correspondent that the concerned stakeholders who are members of the NEC will attend the meeting and reiterate their position as regards activities in the party.
Odey said: “I can confirm that the BoT will hold in Abuja today and all members of the concerned stakeholders who are members will attend. Also, members of the concerned stakeholders who are members of NEC will also attend the NEC meeting and we will make our position known.
“For us, the issue is not about Sheriff but about the democratic process which is not in keeping to the true spirit of the party.”
The National Secretary of the PDP, Professor Wale Oladipo, has described the party’s South-west zonal congress which took place at the weekend as illegal.
Oladipo and Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, had engaged in a verbal war over the propriety of going ahead with the zonal congress despite a court injunction restraining the party from doing so.
While the PDP scribe had accused Fayose of causing confusion in the party, the governor had questioned the powers of Oladipo to give directive in such matters.
According to Fayose, the national secretary alone does not constitute the leadership of the party, adding: “He is an interested party on this issue.
“He can only talk as Oladipo, not as secretary because he cannot use his interest to pull the party backwards.” However, the National Auditor of the party, Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju, who also hails from the zone, yesterday said the congress was an exercise in futility.
Adeyanju, in a statement ,distanced the party from the exercise, describing it as a show of impunity by those who convened the congress, stressing that the party would not tolerate such actions as a law abiding party.
Adeyanju said: “It is the height of indiscipline and political rascality for any PDP member to claim ignorance of the order or participate in such futile exercise.
“Why would they encourage such impunity in our party. If the party has abided by the court order there is no reason why some persons should still go ahead with such exercise. The party has no hand in it. “Those who went ahead with the exercise despite the court order will have to answer to the court when the time comes. We confirmed to them that we have received the court order at the national leadership and we communicated to them to stop the exercise. We are a law abiding party and we will not condone the disobedience of a court order.”
Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos, had last Thursday granted a restraining order against the party’s conduct of South- west zonal congress.
Adeyanju and Oladipo, being the two highest ranking party officers in the zone, had last Friday in Abuja, while addressing journalists, admitted receipt of the court order and declared that the party would comply accordingly.
But Fayose was alleged to have spearheaded the conduct of the congress which was held in Akure, Ondo State.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Sheriff, has apologised to aggrieved stakeholders of the party over statements credited to him by his personal aides and associates.
Sheriff, who gave the apology at a media briefing in Jalingo yesterday, said: “As a well cultured and astute politician, I would never make any comment that would ridicule the party.”
He added that it was not in his character to join issues with highly respected elders of the party, noting that he never authorised any of his aides or political associates to react to issues raised by aggrieved elders of the party.
Sheriff according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said the aggrieved members of the party reserved the right to complain about issues affecting the party which they considered inimical to the progress of the PDP.
He, therefore, urged any aggrieved member to bury the hatchet and join hands with the present leadership to rebuild the party and restore the confidence of Nigerians in it.
He also noted that the PDP as the main opposition party in the country could not afford to have a divided house and appealed to members to work for the unity of the party at all times.
He explained that the present leadership of the party was poised to lend a listening ear to all shades of opinions with a view to strengthening it to face the challenges ahead.
He maintained that the battle for 2019 general elections had started in earnest, adding that the party could not afford to remain divided if the desired goal was to be achieved.
He said: “Under our leadership and the support and encouragement of stakeholders and supporters, PDP will definitely bounce back in 2019.”