The Peoples Democratic Party is taking steps to reconcile its aggrieved members after its national convention. But will the suit filed by one of the chairmanship candidates, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja throw the party into another leadership crisis? Tobi Soniyi takes a look at the ominous clouds hanging over the opposition party
Even before its national convention held on Saturday December 9th, 2017, the Peoples Democratic Party knew that there would be crisis.
Ahead of the convention, it constituted a reconciliation committee â€Žheaded by Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson.
Weeks before the convention, some powerful members of the party had agreed to crown Uche Secondus the chairman of the party. May be the process would have been less acrimonious if they had summoned up courage and informed other contestants to forget their ambition and support Secondus. Rather, the party duped other contestants by selling forms to them and by giving them the impression that all the candidates would have a level-playing field when it was clear that that was not the case.
In Nigeria, sentiment often overrules common sense. Those who are intellectually lazy accepted the argument that the south-west lost the chairmanship because the candidates from the zone couldn’t agree among themselves. If those calling the shots in PDP had wanted just a candidate from the southwest, all they needed to do was to support that singular candidate.â€Ž
The convention has come and gone. But how do you reconcile with someone you deliberately duped? The PDP wants peace without justice. That is going to be tough to achieve.
How the South-west Lost outâ€Ž
As it turned out, the fate of the south-west was sealed by PDP state governors. Investigation by THISDAY POLITICS revealed that the governors had issues with virtually all the candidates from the south-west who aspired to be the national chairman of the party.
Initially, the governors wanted Jimi Agbaje who was the party’s flag-bearer in Lagos in 2015. However,â€Ž the party leaders accused Agbaje of abandoning the party while the fight between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff raged on. The leaders said they looked everywhere and could not find Agbaje.
For abandoning the party â€Žat its most difficult period, they decided that Agbaje was unworthy of leading the party.
At the botched convention in Port Harcourt, Agbaje was the anointed candidate to emerge the national chairman. Uche Secondus who eventually emerged as the national chairman had even agreed to be Agbaje’s deputy.
A PDP source said: “Agbaje abandoned the party when the crisis with Sheriff broke out after he was promised the chairmanship by the governors. When he returned this year they told him to go back.”
He said that the party leaders were furious that Agbaje did not show any solidarity with them while they were in courts doing battle with Sheriffâ€Ž.
The candidacy of Professor Tunde Adeniran, who was seen as a possible replacement for Agbaje was vehemently opposed by Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Another source, who is familiar with the machinations that led to the south-west losing the national chairmanship seat, said that Fayose, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum threatened to leave the party if Adeniran was elected the chairman.
Fayose reportedly made the threat at a meeting of the PDP’s National Executive Committee meeting.
The remaining candidates from the south-west including Olabode George, Chief Gbenga Daniel, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, Rasheed Ladoja were said to be lacking in electoral value.
â€ŽFurther investigation shows that the chairman of the now defunct National Reconciliation Committee of the party, Ahmed Makarfi who was said to have rooted for the south-west to produce the chairman eventually caved in because he wanted to remove the issue of micro-zoning so as not to entrap his own political aspiration as a northern presidential candidate.
“If he insisted that the national chairmanship office be zoned to the southwest, he would not be able to object to a suggestion that the presidency be micro-zoned to the northeast,” a source familiar with the issue said.
Breakdown in Reconciliation
While the reconciliation committee was giving the impression that discussion with aggrieved members was going on smoothly and that progress was being made, out of the blues came the report that one of the aggrieved chairmanship aspirants, Taoheed Adedoja had filed a suit in court seeking to upturn Secondus’ victory.
Adedoja, a former Minister of Youth and Sports, was one of the four chairmanship aspirants who eventually stood for the election after five others withdrew from the race.
He, however, scored no vote at the election.
At a press conference in Abuja Monday, the aspirant said the declaration of a zero score credited to him by PDP had embarrassed and maligned him â€œand brought great ridiculeâ€ to his political career built over 14 years.
Last week, another group led by an aggrieved aspirant for the office of the National Organising Secretary (NOS), Dr. Godwin Duru, also questioned the conduct of the convention and gave the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) a seven-day ultimatum to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), failing which they would release the â€œreal resultsâ€ of the convention and form a parallel National Working Committee of the PDP.
While objecting to the result, Duru had said: â€œThe one they have now, which they manipulated, is not the real result. We have our own result, which is the real result that came out of the convention, which they refused to call.
â€œBut when the time comes, after the expiration of the seven days we gave as ultimatum, we will announce the real results.â€
In suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1225/2017 filed on Adedojaâ€™s behalf by Messers Rickey Tarfa & Co., at the Abuja High Court, the aspirant claimed that his name was wrongly spelt as â€œTaoheed Oladojaâ€ thereby misleading delegates and robbing him of victory at the convention.
He said when he observed the anomaly, he and his agent reported the error to the relevant officials in charge of the convention but no remedy was made.
Angered by the outcome of the chairmanship election for which he got no vote, he said among his prayers was to declare the election for the post of chairman of the PDP held at the Eagle Square, Abuja on December 9, null and void.
He also prayed: “The court to declare as null and void any document submitted by PDP or by the purported occupier of the position of the national chairman to INEC.”
He also asked the court for the cancellation of the national chairmanship election held on Saturday, December 9 at the Eagle Square.
He further prayed the court to order the conduct of another elective national convention for the election of national chairman within 30 days of nullification of the elective national convention held on December 9.
Adedoja further asked the court for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Secondus as the national chairman of the PDP on the grounds that the election where Secondus was declared chairman of PDP, he was unlawfully excluded from the list of contestants for the position of chairman of the party.
He said that his exclusion was a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, the constitution of the PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of the national convention and the Constitution of the country.
He stated that defendants in the case, including the chairman of the convention committee of the PDP, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the secretary, and new national chairman, Secondus, had been appropriately served.
â€œI have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends and associates.
â€œMy lawyers are demanding for appropriate compensation for damages, ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute brought to my name as a result of my wilful exclusion from participating in the election resulting in the zero score credited to my name which is now in the public domain,â€ he added.
When asked if he had been contacted by the PDP reconciliation committee headed by the Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, a visibly angry Adedoja said the committee had reached out to him to verify the date they were supposed to meet, but that after giving them a date, they failed to show up.
A Splinter Group Emerges
The suit by Adedoja is not the only headache the PDP has to contend with as the group threatening to announce another PDP made good its threat.
Franklyn Edede, Hassan Adamu, Obi Nwosu, Olusola Akindele and Godwin Duru have reportedly unveiled their â€˜factionalâ€™ headquarters in Asokoro, in a move that reminded analysts of the 2013 â€˜New PDPâ€™ revolt which resulted in PDP losing some of its prominent members to the All Progressives Congress.
On Wednesday in Abuja, they announced the formation of what they described as â€˜Fresh PDPâ€™.
Both Edede and Duru contested for the positions of National Youth Leader and National Organising Secretary of the opposition party at the convention, respectively.
After they lost at the convention, the duo teamed up with other aggrieved members of the party to demand an immediate cancellation of the results announced at the convention, including the emergence of Uche Secondus as the partyâ€™s national chairman.
Nwosu said: â€œToday, the PDP Nigerians are yearning for is born.
â€œThe era of impunity and imposition of candidates on the party is gone.â€
But, PDP’s spokesperson, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan in a swift reaction said the party remained united. He dismissed the individuals and their threat.
â€œThe PDP is completely unperturbed by the comical act of some individuals who make outlandish claims in the media regarding our party,â€ he said.
May be the party is truly unperturbed. Besides, if properly handled, the grievances are not such that could not be resolved amicably. Nevertheless, a party seeking to dislodge a government must first learn to put its house in order.
Nevertheless, a party seeking to dislodge a government must first learn to put its house in order.