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Sluggish Search For New Direction

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Ekweremadu-okTHE crisis that has engulfed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since it lost the March 28, 2015 Presidential election is not strange. Before now, the party was a disaster waiting to happen.

A lot of mistakes had been made and the electoral defeat was the last straw. But to still remain relevant as a party, an end to the crisis first has to be negotiated. Some party leaders even made hurried and uncoordinated move to find solution to the problem.

Some had suggested outright sacking of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), a development that created much rancour and exchanges of bitter and unsavoury words.

Those who want a total clean up in the party believe that everybody who played a role in the series of events that resulted in this political tragedy and still in the party must be shown the way out to give way to a new PDP that would not be haunted by its dirty past.

That, in fact, led to the latest hostility between the national leaders of the PDP and governors. And like a father, who suddenly woke up to find that the roof of his house had been pulled off, the national leader of the party, President Goodluck Jonathan, is making moves to get everybody together to do the needful.

But how far can he go?‎ Many say the President’s ongoing meeting with different organs of the party, including the NWC, the Board of Trustees and other key stakeholders is informed by the desire to have a way forward. This is coupled with the recent effort at resolving the crisis with the setting up of a post assessment election performance probe panel headed by Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.

Akpabio

Akpabio

Certain issues are pertinent. Who takes charge as true and able national leader? Where will the free funds that spoilt these over pampered prodigal children come from? The PDP Governors’ Forum was something that looked like a cartel of oil marketers fighting for the common selfish interests.

Now that they no longer have the Presidency to exploit and milk, could there be a common interest that will bring them together? What becomes of the NWC, which is believed ‎to have run itself out of favour with majority of the party stalwarts due to the way the processes of the party primaries that preceded the general election were mismanaged?

How will the party address the reality that orders would no longer come from the Villa? Do the 13 governors of the party see any reason to be united for any genuine rebuilding of party structure?

Can the NWC court the friendship of fresh‎ governors from Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom and others who not only gained from the most controversial governorship primaries ever conducted by the PDP, to forge a new relationship that could result in full party supremacy? But ‎the crux of the matter is the seeming failure in managing the loss.

This is not also strange for a party that failed to manage the successes it had achieved, while in power. The ‎most dangerous consequence of the defeat is the gale of defection to the APC.

As it stands today, the APC has given shelter to about four former national chairmen of the PDP, a former Vice President, a serving speaker and many governors. Mark’s Words Of Caution THE Senate President, David Mark, did not waste any time in warning that the PDP, which once called itself the largest political party in Africa, might be on its way to extinction should the current crisis be allowed to continue.

Mark, apparently worried by the continued acrimony in the party, said, “the PDP is already hemorrhaging,” adding that, “unless we halt the bleeding and find the necessary therapy, we may be heading for the final burial of the party.”

Mark said, “the party is already in a comatose status and we should do all we can to resuscitate it, rather than this unnecessary rancor and bulk passing.”

The Senate President believes that democracy and the nation would be better for it, “if we play credible opposition to ensure good governance and delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”

Muazu And His Jittery NWC THE National chairman of the party, Ahmed Adamu Muazu, has been part of the troublemakers The author of the infamous ‘Monkey de work, Baboon de Chop’ statement that first signalled the untidy nature of the PDP campaigns, Muazu is the leader of the NWC, which never hid it’s disdain for the Senator Ahmadu Ali’s campaign committee.

SECONDUSWhen issues of how party funds came up, Muazu was reported to have presided over the sharing of the funds, benefitting some N100 million‎ himself.

He did not hesitate to push the blame on the campaign committee. Muazu, who now pleads for peace with party leaders, had threatened all sorts of sanctions against perceived opponents in the wake of the crisis that took over the party after election.

The NWC had, in a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said, it is “aware of the clandestine activities of such aides and associates of the President including their unholy alliance with some elements in other parties to undermine and weaken the PDP by attacking its leadership.”

On the issue of the performance of the party in the general elections and allegations of mismanagement of Presidential campaign funds, the NWC said it has no case to answer, as Nigerians already know the truth regarding those who managed the campaigns including the funds.

The NWC said it appreciates the support and backing of key stakeholders especially the PDP Governors’ Forum, the body of national vice chairmen and state chairmen as well as governors, legislators-elect and all well meaning members in the all important effort to rebuild the party and reposition it to regain power in 2019.

But after realising the danger in talking tough and threatening party men, Muazu in another statement tagged, Muazu Sues For Peace, said: “The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has noted the various reactions that trailed the unfortunate loss of our great party in the last general elections. “

As the National Chairman and a key stakeholder in this party in the last 16 years, I quite understand and appreciate the concern, pain and frustrations of our members regarding our defeat.

I am also deeply worried about the division the development has generated within the PDP family especially regarding whether or not the national leadership should be dissolved as a direct consequence of our collective challenge.” Muazu had equally issued a strong warning to all his aides to henceforth desist from making comments on matters of party administration in the media or any other forum whatsoever.

Ekweremadu’s Burden THE decision by the party ‎to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to its poor performance in the last general election has generated further confidence crisis to the party.

The inauguration of the 17-member post election assessment committee, to among others, probe the management of campaign funds, in addition to identifying key issues for the failure, has created anxiety and misgivings about the true motive and mission of the exercise among party leaders.

Olisa Metuh

Olisa Metuh

This is coming as the party’s NWC had threatened, in the past, to organis‎e a public hearing to expose those who managed the campaign funds. In response to threats by the governors to sack the NWC, the PDP Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus had said that the party would expose all those who played role in its failure.

PDP governors had convened a meeting of party stakeholders in Abuja ‎and asked all serving members of NWC to quit. A source within the PDP national leadership disclosed that the chairman of the PDP governors’ forum, Godswill Akpabio, convened the meeting during which a decision was taken that all NWC members must resign for being responsible for the dismal performance of the PDP in the last elections.

The governors were said to have resolved to overhaul the NWC with a view to ‎flushing out all bad eggs. It was also gathered that the governors resolved to appoint a care taker committee to run the affairs of the party till next year when a national convention of the party would be convened to elect new national officers.

‎ Another source stated that Muazu and other NWC members, who attended the meeting, were asked to go out before the official end. “They (NWC members) were invited to the meeting just to give them a fair hearing‎ before a verdict is passed,” the source said. Representing the NWC at the meeting include, Muazu, Secondus and the National Legal Adviser,‎ Yusuf Kwon. The nine-point terms of reference of the committee reads: • To identify the remote and immediate causes of the relatively poor performance of the PDP in the 2015 general elections;

• to trace the origin and process of the seeming decline of the party in its electoral performance;

• to take a critical look at the preparations and build-up of the PDP to the general elections and determine its adequacies and lapses;

• to review and determine the adequacy of the structures for the 2015 general elections and how those structures functioned;

• to ascertain the degree of anti-party activities, compromises and outright sabotage that may have contributed to the misfortunes of our party at the elections;

• to look at the funding of the elections to determine whether or not the funds meant for the campaigns were adequate and whether disbursements were properly done;

• to identify different groups in the party who were to play critical roles before and during the elections and determine the effectiveness or otherwise;

• to determine any other matter that may be considered necessary and in the interest of the party, and

• to propose a road map for the party to recover its past glory and definitely win the general elections in 2019.

Ekweremadu’s committee is now faced with the serious challenges of reconciling the ‎warring camps in the party. A member of the committee told The Guardian that he agreed to serve because there is a commitment by the PDP national leadership that there wouldn’t be interference from any body.

“We were assured that the committee would be totally independent throughout the operations. I can assure all PDP stakeholders that the fear of witch hunting does‎ not arise.”

To further allay fears that the committee might be used to hunt down perceived opponents of the NWC, Ekweremadu said the committee would focus only on issues that would help rebuild the PDP even as he charges party members to shun media war.


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