Home OPINION COLUMNISTS As Splinter PDP Comes To Town By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

As Splinter PDP Comes To Town By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

new-pdpThe sudden disintegration of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the self-styled largest political party in Africa, on Saturday, August 31 symbolized the Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It came stiltly and quietly into fruition, like a thief in the night, as the legendary Shakespeare would say.
There was no inkling as to what was coming, as those who later stormed out of the special national convention of the PDP, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the seven governors, except governors Rotimi Amaechi and Murtala Nyako were fully in attendance.
As a matter of fact, while Atiku who arrived Eagle Square, venue of the convention earlier, modestly turned down a presidential protocol officer’s request that he took his seat at the VIP stand, governors Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his Sokoto state counterpart, Aliyu Magatakarda moved, with their crowd of supporters to pay their respect to President Goodluck Jonathan.
And shortly after President Jonathan ended his lengthy state-of-the-nation speech in which he took the opposition to the cleaner, the signs of crack began to show.
Ironically, the President had boasted that of all the political parties registered by the nation’s electoral body in 1998, only the PDP had remained with its identity intact to date.
The President said the convention provided members an opportunity to renew their faith in their political platform that was formed to engender national identity, promote integration and bring development to our dear Nation.
According to him, “the process of building enduring political institutions is a difficult, complex but ultimately rewarding exercise. We are gathered here at the Eagle Square to uphold old and tested values of our party’s internal democratic culture, as well as chart a new course and way forward for our Party.
“Our great party, which is widely acclaimed as the biggest in Africa, is the only Nigerian party that has been growing in leaps and bounds. It is the only Nigerian party that is not aligned to any ethnic, religious or regional interests. It is the only party that is collectively owned by Nigerians. We are very proud of our heritage and we will never betray the trust that the majority of Nigerians repose in us.”
However, a few minutes after the President’s speech, Atiku and his team, including five governors at the convention, walked out and were followed by a stream of reporters.
They drive to Shehu Yar’adua centre and held a mini convention during which acting national officers of what they called “new PDP” were picked.
The governors, who are members of the new faction, include Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano); Muritala Nyako (Adamawa); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers)
The faction is headed by the former national chairman of PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje while the suspended National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola became the party’s national secretary. Dr. Sam Jaja got the post of National Deputy National Chairman.
The press conference at the Sheu Yar’Adua Centre  Abuja, where the faction announced its emergence, was attended by many members of the national and state houses of assembly.
Baraje said that the leaders of the party came together to rescue it from undemocratic tendencies of “the former national chairman,” Bamanga Tukur.
He said, “We address you today as leaders of the PDP, who are worried by the increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Tukur.”
He said they had  done everything humanly possible to bring to the attention of critical stakeholders within the party  to the dangers inherent in the course being charted by that leadership (Tukur),
Baraje further said that it has become very clear that the desperate permutations towards 2015 general elections have blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions, adding: “not only has the constitution of the party been serially  violated by Alhaji Tukur and fellow travelers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though above the law.”
He said that the Presidency had been encouraging the Tukur- led faction, saying that that the party rule violators are getting encouragement from the presidency whose old calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
He said that as leaders of the party, they considered it a sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who had no democratic temperament and were bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends.
Baraje listed the violations of the Tukur-led faction as the changing of the date of the party’s convention without the approval of the National Executive Committee.
He said the PDP NEC at its last meeting approved  July20, 2013 for the conduct of a special national convention.
The factional chairman said that date was changed to August 31 without reverting to NEC (the only authority vested with such powers) by a few people, apparently acting on the authority of the presidency.
He added, “Notwithstanding the fact that INEC had noted that the PDP congresses in nine states were not presently conducted, the illegal delegates from such states are being paraded at the so-called convention being held today  (Saturday) in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law an further bring the name of the party to disrepute.
“In gross violation of the PDP constitution, which stipulates that the NEC meeting must hold at least once in a quarter, Tukur and a few people have been running the party like a personal fiefdom without recourse to that important decision-making organ of the party.
“The NEC of the party accepted the resignation of the former members of the NWC whose offices were affected by INEC observations based principally on the agreement that the affected officers would be returned to their respective offices at the convention.
He said that in spite of the NEC decision, the positions of the former officers had been given to “some Yes-men within the party.”
Baraje said in spite of INEC’s insistence that Senator Any Uba was the duly elected   candidate of the party in Anambra State; the Bamanga Tukur-led executives announced the suspension of Uba and some other members close to him in defiance of subsisting court orders.
He also faulted the dismissal of a former National Chairman, Mr. Sam Jaja, by the Rivers State chapter of the party with the alleged connivance of the Tukur leadership.
He also cited the suspension of Amaechi and Wamakko.
“Even when the illegal suspension of Sokoto State governor has been lifted, the Rivers governor remains purportedly suspended for no just cause.”
Baraje also said the   dissolution of the Adamawa State chapter of the party was a clear abuse of power by Tukur, thus causing confusion in his home state.
“Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the Tukur leadership cannot guarantee for our millions of party members democracy anchored on free choice and the rule of law.
“We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to rescue the party from their dictatorial leadership.
“It is indeed noteworthy that from 1999 to date, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by our great party but not only does such trust come with enormous responsibility, we recognise that we cannot continue to take the people for  granted.
“From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put the interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual.
“For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Tukur leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon.
“It s a new day for the Peoples Democratic Party. As we take over the leadership of the PDP, our immediate priority is to revive the culture of robust debate of all contending issues while providing a level-playing field for all our members.”
However, Bamanga Tukur promised that the party would deal with the governors at the appropriate time.
Tukur told journalists at the Eagle Square, that the governors were planning to defect to another party.
“The PDP does not recognise any parallel party. Those who staged the walkout  are all self-seeking and treacherous individuals pursuing neither regional nor religious agenda except their own agenda, except their own personal interest.
“Their attempt to create parallel party is illegal, unlawful as there are no crises within the PDP whatsoever.
“They were all active participants in the setting up of this convention.
“And many of them were with the President and rode with him to the convention venue and joined them in the salutation of all the delegates including their state delegates.
“The PDP is studying the situation as it unfolds and will deal decisively as the situation warrants.
“It is obvious that they are creating crisis where there is none to give the impression that the party is divided. This in their thinking will allow them persuade loyal members of the National Assembly to cross carpet with them. We will resist this.”
The relevant questions that are begging for answers now are, what purpose the new PDP wants to achieve?
What magic would the new PDP perform to be registered or given the registration certificate of PDP?
Why would the Atiku group wait for PDP to hold its special convention for it break away?
Of course, PDP has always prides itself as a party that has magic wand of mending fences when people think it is all over, but it would be seen as a miracle if the party’s confidence can see them through this major and no-going back crack.

Yusuf Ozi-Usman
Yusuf Ozi-Usman is a seasoned Journalist and Editor-In-Chief of Greenbarge Reporters.

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