Is PDP throw­ing North East into the cave?

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

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.

They in­clude

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

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