2019: PDP Moves to Initiate Fresh Coalition Talks

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Party sets up 22-member committee PDP, INEC differ on party leadership in Ogun
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As part of the strategies to reclaim the presidency in 2019, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has set up a 22-member committee to mobilise for a new coalition that will unseat the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general election

A reliable party source told THISDAY on Tuesday evening that the 22-member committee known as the Contact and Integration Committee headed by the former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, will be reaching out to all political stakeholders, including top members of the APC who are interested in seeing that the present crop of leadership of the country are swept out of office to enthrone good governance.

He said the committee would be inaugurated by the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, later this week
“We are going to form a broad-based coalition that will interface in all aspects and forge a common front to edge out the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 presidential election.

“The committee will be reaching out to all political stakeholders that are dissatisfied with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and are prepared to have an interface with the PDP with the hope of forming a coalition that would edge, out this government through the instrumentality of the ballot box,” said the source.

The National Working Committee of the PDP has set up the Committee on Contact and Integration.
Members of the PDP Contact and Mobilisation Committee include, Imoke (Chairman), Senator Ibrahim Tsauri (Secretary), Governors Ayo Fayose, Darius Ishaku as members.

Other members also include, Senator Joshua Lidani, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, Senator Ibrahim Kazaure, Chief Austin Umahi, Mrs Erelu Obada, Hajia Inna Ciroma and Ambassador Kema Chikwe.
Others are Hon. Emmanuel Enoidem, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello, Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Ben Obi, Dr Babangida Aliyu, Gabriel Suswam, Senator Abdul Ningi, Hon. Ajibola Muraino, Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza and Moses Clopas Zuwegho.

According to the party source, the new committee would lead the way in the effort to galvanise democratic forces to oust the APC and would engage in all forms of legitimate talks to form a coalition ahead of the 2019 general elections.
THISDAY gathered that the committee’s terms of reference goes as far as negotiating on issues relating to power sharing and distribution of offices among the coalition parties and groups after the election must have been won.

It was learnt that the new PDP national leadership has taken its time to draw guidelines and rules of engagement in order to avoid the experience of the APC which failed to managed the varying interest groups after its victory in 2015.
This will be second time the opposition will set up a committee of this nature, the first one that was headed by one of its founding members, Prof. Jerry Gana was established by the National Caretaker Committee in the wake of the long drawn leadership tussle in 2016.

At that time, the Jerry Gana-led committee met with various political associations and interest groups some which canvassed for alliance and outright merger.
But the leadership of the party turned down offers for merger which would lead to changing of the party’s name, preferring instead that other parties gets subsumed under the PDP structure.

However, THISDAY gathered that under the new push for a coalition, the PDP contact and mobilisation committee has been mandated to negotiated with all interest groups and to also consider request for alliance and merger.
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the party has rejected the move by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Mr. Adebayo Dayo as the state chairman of the party.

The commission had recently written to the party recognising Mr. Adebayo Dayo as the state chairman of the party.
Before now, the commission and the national leadership of the PDP had recognised Mr. Sikirulai Ogundele as the state chairman of the party, a development that resulted in several litigations, culminating in a recent judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos.

But the commission in a letter dated April 12, 2018 and signed by its Secretary, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu said that it was now recognising Dayo.

Ogakwu said the commission took the decision “in compliance with the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1556/2017 delivered on February 9, 2018 which has notified the national chairman of the PDP of its compliance with the said judgment.”
However, Secondus and party’s National Secretary, Senator Umaru Tsauri, in their letter to the commission, said the leadership crisis had been resolved.

In the letter, dated April 20, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday, claimed that the Supreme Court had settled the matter in its landmark judgment in PDP VS. Sheriff case on July 2, 2017.
They quoted the apex court as saying that “it is unfortunate this internal party crisis within the appellant, has staggered a lot of its anticipated progress. In any case, it is my hope that this imbroglio within the appellant will serve as appellate court.

Secondus and Tsauri therefore asked the commission to withdraw its recognition of the Dayo-led executive.
The letter added: “It will therefore amount to an inexplicable vote face and unfortunate summersault if INEC were to withdraw the recognition of the approved officials of our party in Ogun State, especially the State Executive Committee led by Sikirulai Ogundele.

“This will certainly throw the party back into avoidable conflict. We believe, this cannot be your intention or wish for our party.”
Dayo has however sent another letter to Secondus, in which he wondered whether the party chairman was sitting as an appellate court to the decided case.

His letter to Secondus, dated April 2, was titled; ‘The imperative to the rule of law on Ogun State Executive Committee.”
The letter read in part, “From all the foregoing, I am honestly amazed and shocked that you lent yourself to write INEC against its lawfully taken position to give recognition to my executive, out of your flagrant disobedience of subsisting court judgments of which you were corporately (as PDP) a party to the suit.
Dayo told Secondus that it is the exclusive responsibility of INEC to ensure that party’s constitutional “provisions and Nigerian laws are adhered to in the emergence of these party leaders.