• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Troubled PDP survived implosion threats, plans internal healing


After about one week of political horse-trading and battles for the soul of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party, on Thursday survived one of the biggest threats to its existence- which is the battle of who takes over as the substantive National Chairman of the party.

Since, May 28, 2022, the party had been engulfed in leadership crises, occasioned by the protests, arising from the conduct of the Presidential primary, at the National Stadium dome, which produced former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the Presidential candidate of the party.

Recall that in a dramatic move, former Governor Aminu Tambuwal who also contested the PDP presidential primary, withdrew, shortly before the casting of votes, in support of Atiku Abubakar.

Read also: PDP NEC meeting: Atiku, Wike, governors in supremacy battle

Hours after the convention, Ayu, accompanied by Sule Lamido, a former Jigawa State governor, Adamu Mainasara, former Minister of Police Affairs, and Emeka Ihedioha, former governor of Imo State, paid a thank you visit to Tambuwal, where he described Tambuwal as “hero of the convention.”

After the primaries, Nyesom Wike, the then Governor of Rivers state and contestant at the primaries, together with his G5 Governors, took a decision to stay away from supporting the party, over comments by Iyorchia Ayu, hailing Aminu Tambuwal, as “hero of our convention,” in appreciation of Tambuwal’s withdrawal from the race, in favour of Atiku Abubakar.

Wike group saw the action as a betrayal of trust by the party’s National Chairman and immediately moved for his replacement.

Read also: Battle for PDP’s soul as party holds crucial NEC meeting today

Wike’s G5 comprising, Nyesom Wike, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, former Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, former Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia state and former Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu state, insisted boycotting the party’s activities, including campaigns, unless Ayu was removed and replaced.

Ayu was suspended as PDP chairman in March 2023, after the executive members of Igyorov ward in Gboko LGA of Benue, passed a vote of no confidence in him over alleged anti-party activities.

On the 2nd of June, 2023, the High Court of Benue State in Makurdi, delivered a judgement sacking Iyorchia Ayu as the National Chairman of the PDP.

Since then, Iliya Damagum, from Damagum, in Fune local government area of Yobe State, North East, took over the party in acting capacity.

Section 47, subsections 1 and 6 of the party’s Constitution had zoned the position of party National Chairman to the North Central.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party had passed a Vote of Confidence on Iliya Damagum, Acting National Chairman, even before the meeting of NEC

Taofeek Arapaja, the party’s Deputy National Chairman, South, said the decision of the NWC which came at the end of its 584th meeting at the Party’s National Secretariat, was as part of commendation of the efforts and commitment of the Acting National Chairman to stabilise and reposition the PDP as the main opposition Party in Nigeria.

The NWC assures of its commitment in ensuring the continued stability, growth and success of our great Party at all time.

At the end of the National Executive Committee NEC meeting, the party pushed the election of a new National Chairman to August, this year, while empowering the Damagum-led interim exco to conduct ward and local government congresses before August.

The party also set up a reconciliation committee headed by Bola Saraki, former Senate President to reconcile all aggrieved members.

Sani Idabawa, a former member of the PDP’s National Working Committee NWC, told BDSunday that the party’s stability lies in following the constitution.

According to him, “recent events and commentaries surrounding the leadership of the party, particularly that of the National Chairman, will continue to bring it to public ridicule and embarrassment, unless it is resolved.”

Idabawa, who is Chairman of the Forum of former NWC members of the PDP, also urged the party to activate its disciplinary mechanisms to call members to order.

“The relevant provisions of the party’s constitution, especially those dealing with discipline should be activated to curtail public rape of our party.”

According to him, “it is unacceptable that the party appears helpless and unable to address the unbridled anti party actions perpetrated by certain individuals, openly and boastfully.”

Idabawa, who noted that the leadership vacuum must be filled, stated that such action will allow the party have a direction which every member should follow.

Tahir Shehu, the Adamawa state Chairman of the party, in a telephone interview with BDSunday, said the party remains “unshakable despite the intense battle for the soul of PDP.”

According to him, “You know that the party is the largest political party in Nigeria and in such a large group, members always struggle to extract some personal benefits, but they know that unity of the party remains sacrosanct.

“All PDP members and indeed, all Nigerians see the party as the only hope of all Nigerians. As you can see, Nigerians are suffering from the misrule of the APC eight years plus in offices, therefore, nobody is interested in doing anything that will further divide our party.

“Our opponents were waiting for us to make mistakes, so they could take advantage of the problems to further weaken it, but we have again demonstrated that when it comes to politics and politicking, the masters still reside within the PDP fold.

On the contentious issues of National Chairman and Secretary, Tahir who agreed that section 47(1 and 6) of the party’s constitution zoned the party’s Chairmanship position the North Central, however, noted that “the constitution did not provide a specific time frame within which the position must be filled, where there is a vacancy.

“Moreover, in the next few months, we shall reconvene to elect a National Chairman, but we must unite all forces first before we embark on that process.

“We have no leadership vacuum. Right now, Atiku Abubakar is the highest-ranking officer of the party, haven been elected as our Presidential candidate in the 2023 general election. So, he remains the leader of our party.”

Speaking also on the reconciliation committee headed by Bukola Saraki, Tahir, a legal practitioner described Saraki as “a very capable hand to reconcile aggrieved members.”

According to him, “He (Saraki) has done it before, so, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for him.”

Also speaking on the agitation for the suspension of the FCT Minister Nyesom Wike and his group from the party for alleged anti party activities, Tahir noted that “such action will be counterproductive because he has not offended any known provisions of the PDP constitution.

“He has not left the PDP, remember also the Wike has been a dedicated and loyal party member, having served as a local government Chairman, Minister and Governor under the PDP.

On Wike’s romance with the Tinubu’s administration, Tahir noted that “Wike is serving the country and not the APC. He has been a loyal party member. We can give him that benefit.”

Tahir commended the Governors elected on the party’s platform who he said “are working hard to strengthen the party.

“We are impressed by the results of what the Governors are doing. Their efforts are what have been keeping the party united and focused.”

Elder Statesman, Edwin Clark, speaking on the latest developments in the party, urged the party leaders to work hard to regain its bearing.

“The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was set up by leaders of like mind who assembled in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on 28th July, 1998, to work together for the speedy restoration of democracy, achievement of national reconciliation, amongst others.

“Some of us joined immediately the idea of such an egalitarian political party was enunciated, because we felt that was what our dear country needed and still needs.

“But what has happened today? Some overzealous members of the party have hijacked it for their selfish gains.

“I remember a one-time National Chairman of the party, Okwesilieze Nwodo, former Governor of Enugu State, during his tenure, proposed in accordance with the party’s provisions, payment of membership dues by all members with which the party will be run. He denounced the issue of deep pockets taking over the party when in his acceptance speech in 2010 stated ‘Needless to say, we need money to prosecute our elections but I can assure you that Ghana-Must-Go bags will not be needed at the National Secretariat of PDP in order to win primary elections. There will be no room for cash-and-carry democracy in the PDP because it is the bane of true democracy.’

“But what we now have is that the party has been hijacked by the same moneybags that we wanted to discourage. So, unless the party works hard to regain its bearing, nothing will change.”

On leadership challenges, Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi state, believe that the governors of the PDP are equal to the task.

“The Governors are united and poised to give leadership support to all the organs so that they can perform their constitutional functions. We have decided that at no time shall we leave the organs of the party feeling despondent and in want.

“We are working assiduously to make sure that all the off-season elections are well funded and we are solidly behind the current leadership of the PDP at the National Working Committee level and the BoT.

“We really appreciate their performance and we recognise especially that the BoT have an array of experienced elder statesmen who can leverage on their resources and human capital to take us to where we want to be as a country.

“We also recognise that all eyes are on the PDP especially we the governors and we are determined to bring peer review mechanism so that we bring good governance that will be diametrically opposed to what is happening in the APC. We want to make you proud and bring good governance in all ramifications and with all humility and modesty, you will recognise that my bosses, the governors are doing very well,” he said.