Is PDP throwing North East into the cave?
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met last Thursday in Abuja, in what many believed was to discuss among other things, the issue of getting a replacement from the North East for the vacuum created by the resignation of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, a former national chairman of the party. However, NEC was silent over the issue. Our correspondent examines the intrigues, concerns, top contenders and the party’s constitution.
From all indications, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is ambivalent over agitation by top politicians in the North East to fill the vacuum created by the resignation of former national chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. Efforts by politicians in the region to reclaim the seat are allegedly being thwarted by the party.
Mu’azu, a former governor of Bauchi State in the North East, resigned on May 20, following pressure that he led the party to a humiliating defeat in the last general elections, though his tenure had not expired.
Announcing Mu’azu’s resignation at the PDP national secretariat, Abuja, the PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh, said: “In line with the constitution of the party, the deputy national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has taken charge as the acting national chairman of the party with immediate effect, pending a replacement from the North East.”
Section 45 (1) and (2) of the PDP Constitution states that: “If a national officer of the party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the national secretary, all records, files and other properties of the party in his or her possession. In case of the national chairman, he shall hand over to the deputy national chairman who shall without prejudice to Section 45 (6) of this Constitution act as the national chairman pending the election of a replacement.”
But six months after Secondus assumed the office in acting capacity, PDP is yet to consider the possibility of replacement from the North East. The party’s 67th NEC meeting which held last Thursday did not also consider the issue, neither did it ask the present crop of NWC to vacate their seats as is being suggested by some party stakeholders.
In a communiqué released at the end of the NEC meeting, which was signed by Metuh, the party adopted the recommendations of the PostElection Review Committee headed by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu with amendments, approved the zoning of the party’s 2019 presidential ticket to the North, biometric registration of members nationwide and support for its candidates in the November 21 and December 5 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The NEC also assured that the PDP would continue to ensure credible, issuebased opposition and strict adherence to democratic tenets and the supremacy of the Nigerian Constitution.
It resolved to reposition the party to be able to bounce back to power in 2019, commended the activities of the party’s publicity directorate for what it termed constructive and robust engagement of the ruling party, and urged it to continue in that regard.
While the issue of substantive national chairman of the party boss was not ironed out, Metuh, while fielding questions from newsmen, said: “the NEC did not discuss the issue of replacement from the North East but there is a kind of subtle understanding that the NWC will work with the North East in that regard.”
Metuh, however, made a contradictory statement by saying: “Some members raised the issue but others did not key into it same way, so, the responsibility was shifted to the NWC.”
The PDP spokesman added that the North East has not produced a candidate for replacement so the party cannot go into decisionmaking on the issue.
The acting national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who some party chieftains have argued and insisted should vacate the seat on grounds that his official three months to act had expired, also kept mum on the issue.
He only said, “the PDP has practically two months to go into another round of Congresses and National Convention to elect a new set of leaders.”
He added that there would be regular NEC meeting to discuss and approve the programmes and framework for the exercise.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Governor of Ondo State and chairman PDP Governor’s Forum, Olusegun Mimiko and Governors Darius Ishaku of Taraba, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Idris Wada (Kogi) among others also kept mum over the issue.
But a national officer of the party who craved anonymity, told Daily Trust that the “North East may find it tough.”
He said, “Listen, we have zoned the Presidency to the North, so, do you want only the North to have two key positions? This can never happen. The North East can only agitate. We may zone the chairmanship position to the South West or any other zone in the South.”
Senator Paul Wampana from Adamawa State, who is also aspiring to be the next party chairman, has a different view when he argued that the new zoning arrangement would fully commence in March 2016, when the North East would have served out its tenure.
However, indications have emerged that the national leadership of the party is not considering the possibility of getting a replacement from the North East, even as many top party men in the region have commenced the process of filling the vacancy.
The party recently said there was no vacancy for the chairmanship position even as many contenders have sprung up from Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba and Bauchi states, all in the North East.
Daily Trust findings revealed that some of those who contested the position when it became vacant in 2014, following the sack of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, are warming up to contest again.
former minister of transport, Abdullahi Idris Umar, former minister of state for power, Mohammed Wakil, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) Senator Abubakar Mahdi and former adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on political affairs, Rufa’i Ahmed Alkali.
Similarly, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senator Bala Mohammed, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, former adviser to the president on political affairs, Ahmed Gulak and former PDP vice chairman in the North East, Senator Paul Wampana, are all gearing for the contest.
But indications that the zone would have a Herculean task ahead emerged when Gulak was recently turned down by the party, when he moved to submit his letter of intent to the NWC at Wadata Plaza, Abuja.
Gulak, after meeting for over an hour with some members of the NWC, told reporters that he had submitted a letter, indicating his interest to run for the chairmanship position.
However, the way he spoke clearly indicated that something was wrong somewhere.
Gulak said the PDP must not continue to wallow in ‘impunity and illegality’, arguing that a substantive chairman must be elected in line with the provisions of the PDP Constitution.
“There is vacancy because the former national chairman had resigned and by virtue of our constitution, a replacement will be made from the same zone where he came from. Even the acting national chairman knows that. For you to go on a wrong way for a long time does not mean that you must continue to go on the wrong way. We cannot afford to jettison the provisions of the constitution and act according to whims and caprices of any individual or group of individuals,” he said.
Gulak said that Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State was ignorant of the PDP’s Constitution for reportedly saying that the South should produce the next chairman.
However, immediately after Gulak left the PDP secretariat, the party’s national secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, and the national legal adviser, Victor Kwon, told newsmen that there was no vacancy for the chairmanship position, insisting that Secondus must remain in an acting capacity.
Kwon also interpreted Section 45 (2) of the party’s constitution as earlier stated, saying: “This is without prejudice to Section 47 (6) that enables NEC to, in the event of any vacancy, bring a successor from the same zone where the person who formerly held the office came from. So as we speak now, it is constitutional for the acting national chairman to continue in office, pending the time when NEC, in its wisdom, may decide to make an appointment to that office.”
Similarly, Oladipo, who contended that Gulak did not submit any letter of intent to him, said that “there is no vacancy for anyone.”
While some of the aspirants have said that the North East is not relenting on the issue of reclaiming Mu’azu’s seat with the party’s zonal office on top of the situation, it is left to be seen how the drama would play out.
Page 20, PDP Acting Chairman Prince Uche Secondus