By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & HENRY UMORU
Since the advent of the Bamanga Tukur led executive of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the leadership has yet to take a breather from the spate of mostly self induced crises. Now, what could prove to be the most challenging crisis of legitimacy to face the leadership of the party is unfolding.
For a party that is almost in perpetual crises, fighting one battle after another, the anxiety that swept through the corridors of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP last weekend was demonstrative of the enormity of the trouble at hand.
Not even the resourcefulness of its retooled publicity machinery could douse the anxiety that was gripping the national officers of the party.
More than a year after the party concluded a national convention where it chose its national executive committee, NEC, the alleged illegality and intrigues that shadowed the convention have come round to hit the party at its underbelly.
In the latest controversy to bestir the National Working Committee, NWC, it has emerged that the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC into last year’s convention has condemned as unsatisfactory and against due process, the emergence of 12 of the 16 members of the NEC.
The only four in the NWC whose elections were found satisfactory going by the INEC report, were the national chairman Bamanga Tukur, Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who remarkably was suspended as national secretary last January, Bode Mustapha who was also removed as national auditor and the national financial secretary Elder Bolaji Anani. The six NWC members whose elections were found to have violated the party’s regulation were the deputy national chairman Dr. Sam Jaja, national organising secretary Abubakar Mustapha, national publicity secretary Chief Olisa Metuh.
Others were the national youth leader Alhaji Garba Chiza, national women leader Kema Chikwe, and national legal adviser Victor Kwom.
Remarkably, it was barely three months ago that Oyinlola was forced out of office in the midst of intrigues instigated by the battle between the camp of the governors in the party and former president Olusegun Obasanjo on one side and the presidency and the party’s embattled national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur on the other. At the centre of the battle between the two forces was the direction of the party and the permutations for positioning ahead of the 2015 presidential elections.
The party, acting in line with a belated and still contentious court order had last January removed Oyinlola from office citing what it claimed was a court decision. That was despite the fact that the court decision was still in contention at appeal and despite the fact that Tukur, himself, could also have been consequentially affected by a strict implementation of the court order. The INEC action was upon the claim that the 12 came to office without election but through the process of affirmation against the provisions of the Electoral Act stipulating that the election of party officials should be through the democratic process.
According to the report published in a national daily yesterday, “The mode of election adopted for single candidates was not in accordance with the mode of election stipulated in paragraph 6.5 (i) of the guidelines for the conduct of the year 2012 congresses and national convention and, therefore, not acceptable to the commission.”
Yesterday, despite apprehension among many senior officials of the PDP, the party’s national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh was dismissive of the INEC report telling reporters that the party was not obligated to the electoral body. On Sunday he had alleged in a press statement a conspiracy by some crooked elements in INEC working in cahoots with some other unnamed forces to force a crisis in the ruling party.
“We wish to alert Nigerians to a destructive plot by certain reactionary forces who working hand in glove with collaborators in the INEC have manufactured a spurious report, specifically aimed at destroying the credibility of the party’s 2012 National Convention which brought in the current National Working Committee (NWC) using judicial officers of questionable integrity,” Metuh had deposed.
The INEC report on the PDP convention is coming on top of coming intrigues allegedly spearheaded by some administration officials aiming to knock off some strategic officials of the present NWC.
Sources close to the party claim that some members of the NWC are to be targets of court actions aimed at crippling the forces against the interest of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Among those being targeted are the national treasurer, Hon. Bala Ka‘oje and the national youth leader, national youth leader Alhaji Garba Chiza and the national legal adviser, Victor Kwom. The court action aims to remove the trio and by that set the stage for the dissolution of the NWC.
The thrust of the action expected against Chiza is that he is more than 60 years and as such cannot be qualified to be addressed as a youth.
Though the party’s constitution is silent on the age stipulation for a national youth leader those against him are hoping to ride on morality that a man 60 years of age cannot be qualified to direct the tendency of the youths in the party. Chiza is presently the subject of a court action instituted by a member of the party Adeyemi Olabode John who alleges that Chiza is 63 and not within the age bracket to be qualified as national youth leader.
Influence of the governor
But besides the matter of age and morality is the fact that Chiza is the candidate of Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State in the NWC and the court action is reportedly aimed at hurting the influence of the governor in the party. Chiza from Niger State was sponsored to the NWC by Aliyu following the exit of the former national youth leader. Chiza made news after the national convention when it was claimed that he is more than 60 years old. Ka’oje is being dragged to court on the basis that he is not an accountant and as such is not qualified to hold the post of national treasurer.
The move against Ka‘oje is allegedly aimed at also limiting the influence of his governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto State who like Governor Aliyu of Niger State is believed not to be supportive of the 2015 ambition of President Jonathan. Kwon is the subject of attack based on allegations that he is less than 10 years old in the bar against the provision of the party’s constitution that the national legal adviser should be at least ten years old in the bar.
The attack against Kwon is, however, surprising given that Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau who sponsored him to the NWC has been known to be at peace with the Jonathan administration.
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