Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Fresh crisis hits PDP over chairmanship position

The Peoples Democratic Party is embroiled in a fresh crisis over who leads the former ruling party, The Chat212 learnt on Tuesday.

The PDP, after 16 years in power, lost the 2015 general elections amid internal crisis, at the peak of which five of its governors defected to the then opposition All Progressives Congress, which eventually won the presidential election.

The latest crisis has its roots in the desire by the North to regain the chairmanship of the PDP, barely three months after Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu resigned from the position.

Mu’azu, from Bauchi State, had resigned from the party’s chairmanship on the heels of its abysmal performance in the 2015 polls thus paving way for his deputy, Uche Secondus, from Rivers State, to assume office as acting national chairman since June.

A former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, however stormed the Wadata House headquarters of the PDP in Abuja on Tuesday and asked Secondus to vacate the seat.

Gulak said he wanted to take over the seat though sources said he was fronting for certain northern interest.

He was on the entourage of a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Bala Mohammed, to Ado Ekiti about two weeks ago, where Mohammed had gone to ask for Governor Ayodele Fayose’s support to become the PDP national chairman.

Fayose, however told the ex-FCT minister that it was the turn of the South-West to produce the chairman of the PDP at the national level.

The Ekiti governor said Mohammed should go to his ward and start rebuilding the party, saying there was no need for a substantive national chairman now and that Secondus should be allowed to finish Mu’azu’s tenure, which should end in March 2016.

The former FCT minister, also from the same Bauchi State like Mu’azu, had told Fayose that he merely wanted to complete the former national chairman’s tenure.

Gulak told journalists on Tuesday that he had informed members of the National Working Committee of the PDP that Secondus should leave office immediately.

He said he had submitted a letter to the NWC, informing the members that another person from the North-East should replace Mu’azu.

He said, “My visit was to bring in writing to the notice of the party my intention to replace the former National Chairman of the party, after his voluntary resignation”.

“As a member, and by virtue of the constitution, I know there’s a vacancy. So it needs to be filled and I’m here to fill it. We need vibrant, bold and courageous leadership in PDP.

“The resignation of the former chairman was done voluntarily. And maybe due to the disastrous outing of the party in the last elections, he decided to resign as a man who wants to take responsibility for his actions

“The position of the constitution is that when a principal officer of the party resigns, the replacement should come from the zone from which the former person had come.”

He berated the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, for suggesting that the South-West should produce the next national chairman of the party, saying that the governor must be ignorant of the party’s constitution.

He said, “Fayose should avail his mind to the provisions of the party’s constitution. This, if he had, he should have known that a replacement for the resigned chairman should come from the North-East. I didn’t say so, the party’s constitution did.

“If the National Secretary had resigned, then it would have been natural for the successor to come from the South-West.”

He denied being pushed by any interest group to raise the dust, saying that “I believe that I’m enough a force in this party to push myself.”

But, the party’s National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, while reacting to the Gulak’s “letter”, said Jonathan’s former special adviser on political matters was ignorant of the workings of the party.

Oladipo denied seeing Gulak at the party’s secretariat let alone receiving any letter from him.

He said, “Gulak should know that the current acting chairman is not leading a Caretaker Committee, and the constitution provides that he, being the Deputy National Chairman, should assume office in the event that the chairman is not there.

“And there is no time limit for such a situation as this. So, there is no vacancy for anybody to come and occupy until the NEC decides on what to do at a congress.

“Gulak is a lawyer, and so is the acting National Chairman; and they both, I believe, should be conversant with the party’s constitution.

“The NWC is not afraid to hold NEC meeting. We just lost an election. It is not our character to lose election. This is the first time we are losing election.

“We need to look at how we got it wrong and where we erred. We have been meeting regularly, consulting with stakeholders.

“We don’t call NEC for the sake of NEC. We are waiting for the Ike Ekweremadu committee to submit its report. We have had two NEC meetings before now and we are supposed to meet again.”

The PDP National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, also said there was no time limit for Secondus to remain at the head of the party.

He cited relevant sections of the party’s constitution to buttress the NWC position.

He said, “Section 47(6) of the party’s constitution enables the NEC to, in the event of any vacancy, nominate somebody to occupy the position. And there is really no time limit under second 45 (2) where an acting national chairman may cease to act.

“So, it is still within the constitutional provision that the acting national chairman continues in his capacity until a congress is called by the NEC and a nomination is made thereto.”

Also, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, said the party’s NWC was waiting for the Ekweremadu-led Committee’ report before it could call for a NEC meeting.

“We are waiting for Ekweremadu-led committee report to know the next step to take. The decision to either make an appointment from anywhere lies with the NEC,” Metuh added.

Others jostling for the PDP national chairman job are Prof. Ahmed Alkali, a former special adviser on political affairs to Jonathan; former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil; and PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Jalo Abdullahi.

It was gathered that some northerners are of the opinion that the PDP is now becoming a regional party.

A chieftain of the party from the North-West, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that “the composition of the party, it’s management, it’s actions are anti-North.”

The source added, “When the former National Chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor resigned, they quickly replaced him with Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo.

“But now, they are dragging their feet when it is our turn to replace the chairman that came from the North and left. These are part of the crises that caused the party to lose the last general elections.”

The PDP has only two governors from the entire 19 states of the North.

The states are Kogi and Gombe.

Governorship election is to hold in Kogi State on November 21, while the APC is contesting the result of the last governorship election result in Gombe State.

Meanwhile, the party has said it will not discipline Gulak and others who have been agitating for the removal of Secondus.

Metuh, who stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, said that the former presidential aide remained a respected member of the party.

Metuh said, “We are not going to discipline him. Why are we going to do that? He is a respected member of the party. He has paid his dues and he remains a staunch member of the party.

“We respect his view as well because he’s just expressing his fundamental human right. The only thing is that we are always encouraging our members to follow the right channel of communication.

“But to think that we are going to sanction him or anyone asking for this, we won’t. We would only ask them to use the right form of communication.”