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Fractured PDP battles for survival

By Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt
23 May 2016   |   3:31 am
The rug on which Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has stood still since its formation in 1998 is gradually being pulled as it appears set for a major crack-up ...


The rug on which Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has stood still since its formation in 1998 is gradually being pulled as it appears set for a major crack-up following its two parallel national conventions held over the weekend.

The parallel conventions held in Port Harcourt and Abuja respectively, indisputably indicated that the party has increasingly become comparably fractured, and intriguingly disoriented after it lost of power in 2015.

Indications that the Port Harcourt convention might run into hitches began to emerge Thursday afternoon when the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose and some other top PDP officials arrived at the Government House, Port Harcourt, and held close door meeting with the chairman of the convention organising committee and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.

Wike was billed to brief the media on the status of the convention before Governor Fayose and others arrival. He abruptly cancelled a press conference and rescheduled it for noon on Friday. Again, it was postponed within till Friday evening, when eventually, he explained that though there were two conflicting court orders on the conduct of the National Convention.

“But again, as law-abiding party, we have taken all necessary steps to making sure that the right thing is done. We have also filed a stay of execution against that judgment and we have also filed an appeal. We did that so that they will not say we are trying to disobey order,” he

In attendance at the briefing were Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio,

Following assurance that the convention will still proceed, delegates from the 36 states of the federation as early as 8:00am began to converge at the Shark Stadium in Port Harcourt venue for the convention which was still slated to commence by 10:00am on Saturday.

While delegates were all waiting, the twelve governors elected under the platform of the party went into a closed-door meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, aimed at rescuing the party from the quagmire it found itself. It was at the meeting which in the absence of the former acting national chairman of the party, Ali Modu Sheriff, that it was resolved to appoint a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the PDP and to prevent it from further splintering.

It wasn’t until about 3:30pm that the governors ended their meeting and proceeded to the venue of the convention where they needed to reassured the delegates and their teeming supporters that the party could still ride pieces of its scattered wreckage all the way to the presidency in 2019.

The former deputy national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, who in the absence of Sheriff declared the convention open, recalled the absence of a national chairman of the party was not new because in 2011, when in the absence the then chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, the then deputy chairman, Bello Mohammada, stood in for him .

Alluding to the far reaching decisions that had been reached by the governors and other critical stakeholders, Secondus said the convention which is the highest decision making body of the party that can make and unmake as far as the constitution of the PDP was concerned, was holding to chart a new course, to make sure they put together a party that will guarantee the interest of all.

“It is time for us to come together, it is time for us to know we are in the opposition. It is time for us to drop all the wrangling. It is time that we believe in the people. It is time for us to go with the people. It is not my selfish agenda; it is the people that matter. And that is why I am here because the people matter and that is why I am here to declare this convention open” he said.

Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara moved a motion for the dissolution of the National Working Committee and the removal of national officers of the party. Emeka Ihedioha, former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, seconded the motion.  Governor Wike, Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, put the question to voice vote, which was duly approved.

Afterwards, the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, assured the teeming delegates who have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of the governors several hours’ deliberation.

Addressing the delegates on behalf of his colleagues, Mimiko assured that they would do everything within their capacity to strength the party. He stated that convention was a reflection of the resilience of the party. While promising to promote that resilience, he said that times like this called for a united and vibrant party, as Nigerians were clamouring already for what the real change they desire to be.

It was Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senate minority leader, that eventually spill the bean of the resolution of the Governors decision when he moved a motion for a caretaker committee to manage the affairs of the PDP pending the holding of another national convention
to elect national officers of the party.

Akpabio explained that the motion was brought in pursuant to part 10 article 33 subsection, 2,3,5 a, b, e, and m and also subsection 9 of the constitution of the PDP as amended in 2012. He said the convention based on the constitution of the party remained supreme and
controlling authority of the party. And no one, no individual, organ can question its decision

The caretaker committee, according to Akpabio is to foster peace, harmony and total reconciliation between all organs, all individuals and all facets of the  party and the nation

The decision to appoint a caretaker committee headed by former governor of Kaduna state, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, (chairman), Senator Ben Obi ( Secretary), Senator Odion Ugbosia (Southsouth), Senator Abdul Ningi (Northeast), Kabiya Usman (North central), Prince Dayo Adeyeye (Southwest), and Alhaja Aisha Aliyu (Northwest) as members has been seen as coup against Ali-Modu Sheriff.

Makarfi, who feigned ignorance of the coup by the governors, appealed to all aggrieved parties to give peace a chance, as his team would work conscientiously to reposition the PDP.

“I humbly accept this challenge. I said so on behalf of other members of the committee. We were nominated based on trust. I assure you, you will have no cause to worry. None of us is seeking for any office. We are here to serve our party. We are here to bring about unity in our
party. I call upon all aggrieved party men and women, please give peace a chance and give us a chance. So that we will rebuild our party to be the one that will give hope and will continue to give hope, not only to Nigerians, but also to Africans and the black race, wherever they may be. It is not time for long speech. It is time to get to work. I thank all of you for reposing confidence in us. We shall not fail you.”

The national caretaker committee members oaths of office and oaths of allegiance, was administered by Rivers Commissioner for Housing, Emma Okah.

Just as the convention was underway, Sheriff, who stayed away from the meeting in Government House, Port Harcourt, told journalists, after a careful consideration of the issues confronting the party, and taking into account the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which said it would not supervise the election into the offices of chairman, secretary and auditor, based on the order of court, it was decided that the convention be cancelled but the governors opted to ignore him.

“We have suspended it until when the High Court cases have been resolved. The issues are so many. From Abuja, we have a case where 17 members of the working committee’s tenures have not expired. It will expire in 2017. Another one in Lagos, which said the tenure of chairman, secretary and auditor, will expire in 2018. INEC also warned that they would not supervise the convention in Port Harcourt.

“Second matter of contention is that the court says there is no space for election. Therefore, we will sit in office as chairman of the party until the court cases are resolved, just like all the more members of the working committee. Whatever the decision of the court is, we will abide by that.”

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