- Party puts constitutional amendment on hold
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has resolve to go ahead with its national convention as planned on Saturday.
After weeks of turbulence which pitted the national leadership of the party and its governors against the Board of Trustees (BoT), the party monday resolved to set aside their differences in order to allow the national convention go on as scheduled on Saturday.
However, as part of the conditions for a peace deal struck between the national leadership of the party and aggrieved members of the party’s BoT under the aegis of Concerned Stakeholders, the proposed amendments to the constitution is to be suspended.
Surprisingly, the BoT meeting which witnessed a rowdy session, later ended on a peaceful note with all the combatants, including key actors in the concerned stakeholders’ group, agreeing to allow the convention to proceed and also accepted the plot for Sheriff to continue in office as the national chairman after the convention.
Monday’s BoT meeting had personalities like the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu, former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, former Depity Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, Ojo Maduekwe, Senator Waleed Jibril, and former PDP national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor were all at the meeting.
While reading out the resolutions reached at the end of the BoT meeting, the newly elected Secretary of the board, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, said the leaders had to allow the superior consideration for unity to prevail.
“Three decisions were agreed upon today, one is that in spite of the well-articulated proposals of many highly respected leaders and members that the convention should not go ahead as planned in order allow more time to resolve our differences, the consensus opinion, because we do not vote in the BoT because a divided BoT becomes a divided conscience.
“By consensus, we decided to support the NWC and NEC’ s decisions that convention should hold on May 21. Secondly all the grievances which have been clearly and well-articulated by well-meaning leaders for the purpose of making the party stronger, not grievances pushed merely to smear the party or factionalize the party will be carefully looked into and in the process of political consideration, and engineering, we will see how to carry everyone along.
“We agreed to suspend amendments to the constitution. We resolved to ask the convention to rectify the motion to zone the presidential ticket to the north. When that happens the chairmanship will automatically be revert to the south in accordance with PDP zoning principle and tradition.
“Finally, certain states where there were observed challenged during the congresses, which even the chairman and governors acknowledged, the party will look into what happened in those states and make amends.
Although not expressly stated, the BoT appeared to have accept terms to allow the zoning arrangement which favoured incumbent national chairman to retain his position at the next convention.
When asked whether the BoT was able to extract a commitment from Sheriff that he would willing step down whenever the party formally zones its presidential ticket to the north, Maduekwe said: “I believe the collective wisdom and collective honour of the leadership of the party will ensure that commitments are honoured.”
Maduekwe who sounded reconciliatory in his speech, said that he does not agree that the BoT is a mere rubber stamp, adding that it would be a tragedy to allow the PDP to go under the present circumstance
“Let me say very clearly that it has been a very active moment for the party and one should not be in any doubt that the BoT is a door mart rubber stamp, far be it.
“So we have moved away from the brink and are ready to unite ourselves and we are happy to announce that all our discussions today centered on party unity. We have moved away from the brink and we are a stronger party ready now to be a reinvented PDP.
Prof. Jerry Gana who was accused of incurring a debt of N500 million unbehalf of the party through a loan obtained from Sky Bank, used opportunity to explained that he and his committee on PDP campaign fund raising used the said amount to organise several dinners meant to raise money. He said was neither a signatory to the account of the party nor was he alone in the committee as he has other national officers of the party, like the National Financial Secretary and Treasurer were in his team.
According to Gana, it is the NWC that should be blamed for not honouring the terms of the loan to pay back the loan to the bank as stipulated.
Earlier, the PDP BoT had gone into an election select of them to fill the vacant positions of chairman and secretary. At the end of it all, former Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe was elected as the new Secretary to the board, while Senator Waheed Jibril who had been acting chairman was endorsed as the substantive chairman of the body.
THISDAY learnt that Senator Stella Omu who also showed interest in occupying the BoT secretary had to be prevailed upon to step down for Maduekwe.
Speaking on his election, Jibril said his appointment was an act of God, having risen from other party positions to reach the present status.
He said the BoT has working round the clock on all the problems besetting the party with a view to amicably resolving them.
He enjoined all stakeholders to remain calm while efforts are being made to resolve all outstanding differences.
“I enjoin all party members to remain calm while we try to resolve the crisis. I beg you not to leave the party but to remain steadfast so that the party can be able overcome the present challenges to bounce back to power.”
He advised members to stop the blame game, avoid selfish interests in approaching issues relating to the party.
THISDAY gathered that although the national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff tried to reconcile issues with the aggrieved BoT members, some of them are still not satisfied and may be trying to conclude the election of new leadership before asserting themselves.
The BoT witnessed a rowdy secession as anti Sheriff forces attempted to push an agenda to get the party to postpone Saturday’s national convention. This group waited till the election of the new BoT leadership was concluded before raising the argument to the effect that the plan for the convention did not meet expected standard. They faulted the out of the congresses organized by the party which they alleged was not credible