• Party asks Oshiomhole to face APC crisis
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The fact-finding committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over how its lawmakers voted in the elections of presiding officers of the National Assembly may recommend to the party to embrace reconciliation instead of taking any punitive steps against opposition lawmakers.
Findings by THISDAY showed that members of the committee were of the view that it would not be in the interest of the party to punish the lawmakers for allegedly violating its directive on who to vote for in the June 11 election of Senate president and House of Representatives speakers.
The PDP, in the wee hours of the election day, had risen from a meeting and directed its lawmakers to vote Senator Ali Ndume as Senate president and Hon. Umaru Bago as House speaker.
However, in the election, Senator Ahmad Lawan, the official candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC), had scored 79 votes to defeat Ndume with 28 votes.
In the race for the speakership, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, also sponsored by the APC, garnered 283 votes to trounce Bago who polled 76 votes.
The party yesterday, also cautioned National Chairman of the All Progressives Party (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who on Monday criticised the party for attempting to probe how the opposition voted in the June 11 election of the presiding officers for the National Assembly saying the step was against the tenets of democracy.
The opposition party told Oshiomhole to face the crisis in his home state of Edo and APC, where members are fighting over sharing of positions, instead of his fixation on the PDP.
THISDAY learnt that the committee set up by the PDP on the election of the presiding officers might have abandoned its terms of reference and opt for reconciliation of the party and its elected members of the National Assembly.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of PDP had set up the committee to probe the roles played by some of its members at the election of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, which made it possible for Lawan to emerge Senate president and Gbajabiamila to be elected House of Representatives speaker.
The PDP committee is headed by a former President of the Senate, Senator Adolphus Wabara while a former National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, is the secretary.
Other members of the committee include: Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Senator Stella Omu, Mr. Austin Opara, Senator Abdul Ningi, and Mrs. Margaret Icheen.
One of the terms of reference of the committee is to find out why some of the PDP lawmakers failed to abide by the decision of the party during the National Assembly leadership election.
But some members of the committee told THISDAY off the record that they would move against the terms of reference of the party and pursue reconciliation, stating that the party cannot afford to toy with the goodwill it is enjoying from Nigerians at this time.
“Almost all members of the committee are at one time or the other members of the National Assembly and we know how the parliament operates,” one of the members told THISDAY, without giving details.
Another member said the committee would adopt reconciliatory approach instead of fact-finding.
“We may use the opportunity of this fact-finding to seek reconciliation and healing of cracked relationship between the party and its members at the National Assembly. Some of us know what happened. We will not go there as headmaster talking to pupils.
“No. We will have a heart-to-heart discussion and come out with resolutions that will unite PDP because we know the issues ahead. We will go to them as former parliamentarians for the overall interest of PDP as a party,” he said.
THISDAY also gathered that a member of the House of Representatives and immediate past Speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Hon. Luke Onofiok, told a meeting of the PDP National Working Committee that the party should pursue a healing process instead of embarking on any punitive exercise with the committee.
A source privy to the NWC meeting told THISDAY that the former Akwa Ibom speaker warned against any action of the party’s leadership that could be counter-productive.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the committee should not be seen as punitive.
“We just want to know what happened to guide us in the future.
“We want to know what informed their decision, bearing in mind what the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai said that he did not know that PDP was that cheap. We are aware of the scheming of some fifth columnists who are out on mischief.
“Refer to the last paragraph of the terms of reference of the committee and you will see that as the name implies, it is just a mere fact-finding to know what actually happened. We want to know whether the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has a hand in it. And how to guide the party in the events of things like this,” he said.
Meanwhile, following the criticism of the probe by Oshiomhole, the PDP yesterday asked him to face the crisis in his party, his pending corruption allegations and imminent sacking for alleged misconduct instead of seeking a face-saving measure by embarking on shadow-boxing against the PDP.
The main opposition party in a statement by Ologbondiyan said Oshiomhole, who is battling his ouster calls by APC leaders over allegations of corruption and malfeasance in his handling of their party, was in no position to cast aspersions on the PDP on its internal activities and relationship with its elected public officials.
He said: “Instead of trying to launder his image by unnecessarily attacking the PDP, we advise Oshiomhole to redeem his name by submitting himself to the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to answer huge allegations of corruption as Edo State governor as well as alleged misconduct as APC Chairman.
“The PDP challenges Oshiomhole to speak out on the allegations that he fled the country at the wake of his reported interrogation by the DSS in 2018 over accusations of corruption.
“This is a leader who had accepted that his party and the government it formed are sanctuaries of corrupt persons, when he stated, at the APC campaign rally in Edo State last year, that “once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.
“Moreover, instead of this fixation on the PDP, Oshiomhole already has his plate full with the crisis in his home state, Edo, where he is generally believed to be responsible for political tension by trying to force himself on the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, as godfather.”