Supporters of two factional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirants in Anambra State, Andy Uba and Tony Nwoye, in a free for all, at the Special National Convention in Abuja …Saturday. Photo Jide Oyekunle
The Special Mini Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held at the Eagle Square Abuja Saturday ended on a sour note as some party stalwarts announced the hijack of power from Bamanga Tukur and the formation of a new PDP.
The crisis was a fall out of the festering crisis within the party which had for months threatened the peace of the party.
The announcement of the formation of the new PDP by seven of the PDP governors was made at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre while elections were ongoing at the Eagle Square.
The team was made up of party bigwigs like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu and his deputy, Sokoto State Governor Magatarkada Wamakko and his deputy, Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido and his deputy, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso and his deputy, River State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako and the Kwara State governor Abdulfatar Ahmed.
Others at the event are former Osun State Governor and the immediate past National Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, immediate past Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Sam Sam Jaja, former Governor of Kwara State, Shaba Lafiaji, former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdulahi Adamu, a host of National Assembly members and States Assembly members from the states where the governors are from.
Signs of trouble looming for the PDP convention began to emanate when news filtered out that Sam Sam Jaja who was a contestant for the Deputy National Chairman seat has been disqualified from the race.
Jaja, a loyalist of Governor Amaechi was cleared by the screening committee on Friday along with other 74 others contesting for various offices in the party’s NWC.
Jaja was about a week ago pronounced expelled from the party by the Felix Obuah-led State Executive of PDP in Rivers State, a development that had placed the party at a high pitch since then.
Aside from Amaechi who is still serving the suspension placed on him by the NWC of the party, all the other governors elected on the platform of the party were present at the convention as the leader of the delegates from their home states.
Signs of trouble were visible right from the outset of the convention as Atiku was refused a seat at the VIP cubicle at the Eagle Square and was forced to manage a seat in the open among the other delegates from Adamawa State.
Aside from Josephine Anenih, none of the dignitaries who were given the podium to make comments recognised the presence of Atiku while observing protocols before their speeches.
Real trouble however busted when the governors having confirmed that most of their candidates for the various offices have been unilaterally removed from the list of contestants, mobilised their delegates and walked out on the President.
The mass movement started even before President Goodluck Jonathan completed his speech.
The first set of delegates to walk out were the ones from Kano State led by their governor while delegates from other states followed in tow as their governors walked out of the arena.
In a speech delivered at a full capacity hall at the Shehu YarAdua centre, immediate past National Chairman of PDP, Kawu Baraje who led the team of the renegade party members said the move to take over the party leadership from Tukur is real and irreversible.
Flanked by six governors, Baraje had barely began reading his speech with boasting that other governors of the party who are members of the team will soon join them when the Kwara governor walked in to a loud applause and shouts.
Baraje in his speech disclosed that the team is seizing power from Tukur because he has lost focus on how the party is to be run just as the team cast aspersions on Jonathan and Tukur whom they accused of turning the party to their personal properties.
Baraje whose speech was punctuated with applause from the charged audience accused Tukur of conniving with Jonathan to witch hunt perceived enemies of the 2015 presidential ambition of the President.
Tukur he said, has become a “yes man” to Jonathan and has sold the soul of the party to Jonathan and his men while other stakeholders of the party are sidelined in the running of the party.
He announced himself as the new party chairman, Oyinlola as the authentic Secretary of the party and Jaja as the authentic Deputy National Chairman of the party, henceforth.
The rest members of the party executives, he said, will be made public by Monday.
In his vituperation against Tukur and Jonathan, he described both as betrayers who ditched the agreement to return all NWC members who resigned as agreed at the June 20 National Executive Committee meeting in accordance with agreement reached at the meeting.
He said: “We address you today as leaders of PDP, who are worried by the increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
“While we have done everything humanly possible to bring to the attention of critical stakeholders within the party the dangers inherent in the course being charted by that leadership, it has become very clear that the desperate permutations towards 2015 general elections have blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions.
“Not only has the constitution of the party been serially abused by Alhaji Tukur and fellow travelers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though above the law.
“Unfortunately, it is obvious that they get encouragement from the presidency whose old calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
“As leaders of our great party, we consider it a sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends. While the list of their violations of the tenets of our great party is long, we will highlight just a few:
“•The National Executive Committee of the PDP at its belated meeting of 20 June 2013 approved 20 July 2013 for the conduct of a special national convention. However, that date was changed to August 31 without reverting to NEC (the only authority vested with such powers) by a few people, apparently acting on the authority of the presidency.
“•Notwithstanding the fact that INEC had noted that the PDP congresses in nine states were not presently conducted, the illegal delegates from such states are being paraded at the so-called convention being held today (Saturday) in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law and further bring the name of the party to disrepute.
“•In gross violation of the PDP constitution which stipulates that the NEC meeting must hold at least once in a quarter, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and a few people have been running the party like a personal fiefdom without recourse to that important decision-making organ of the party.
“•The NEC of the party accepted the resignation of the former members of the NWC whose offices were affected by INEC observations based principally on the agreement that the affected officers would be returned to their respective offices at the convention. However, against the decision of the NEC. And in a not-so-clever bid to exclude some perceived opponents of the few powerful members who are trying to hijack the party, these positions have been made open to some Yes-men within the party.
“•Notwithstanding INEC instance that Senator Any Uba is the duly elected candidate of the party in Anambra State and against the background that he is so recognised by majority of our party members, the Bamanga Tukur-led Executives announced a purported suspension of Senator Uba and some other members close to him in defiance of subsisting court orders.
“•Despite that the PDP Constitution is very clear that the state chapter of the party cannot discipline a national officer, the Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Sam Jaja, has reportedly been dismissed by some renegades who have hijacked the Rivers State chapter of our party with the connivance of the Bamanga Tukur leadership.
“•The persistent change in the list of the party’s delegates in many states as part of a deliberate attempt to rig the party’s nomination of candidates, especially at the presidential and gubernatorial levels, with a view to foisting on the PDP some unpopular candidates who are bound to lose at the polls.
“•The suspension without due process of the Governors of Rivers and Sokoto states. Even when the illegal suspension on Sokoto State governor has been lifted, the Rivers governor remains purportedly suspended for no just cause.
“•The illegal dissolution of the Adamawa State chapter of the party is a clear abuse of power by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, thus causing confusion in his home state.
“Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the Bamanga Tukur leadership cannot guarantee for our millions of party members democracy anchored on free choice and the rule of law. We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to rescue the party from their dictatorial leadership.
“It is indeed noteworthy that from 1999 to date, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by our great party but not only does such trust come with enormous responsibility, we recognise that we cannot continue to take the people for granted.
“From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual.
“For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon. It s a new day for the Peoples Democratic Party.
“As we take over the leadership of the PDP, our immediate priority is to revive the culture of robust debate of all contending issues while providing a level-playing field for all our members.
“These were the ideals that differentiated our party from others and endeared us to Nigerians.
“We are not, and have never been, a political party where one man would be taking decisions for all members and where once you do not kowtow before the presidency, you are deemed a rebel that must be crushed. That is not the PDP bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. That, I dare say, is no longer what PDP under our leadership will represent from today.”
When the microphone was passed over to Atiku, he derided the way and manner the party had been run under Tukur, saying the position taken by the new faction was the best way to save the party from the hawks.
According to him, what happened to the party was expected because he had forewarned those in charge, but that they refused to heed his warnings.
His words; “Today is a very historic day in the life of our party. It is also a day of mixed feelings. It could also be a day of happiness. It could also be a sad day. Sad because the party we conceived in 1998 to be a rallying point for all Nigerians to be a source of unity, to be a party that will fulfill the aspirations of Nigerians, has today been dragged down by people who don’t even understand what party politics is all about.
“I have always been trying to draw attention of leaders of our party, and the leaders of government that this democratic dispensation is supposed to make things better for the people of this country. Let us not deceive ourselves, the country is full of frustration, the country is full of anger, is full disappointment, therefore we have a responsibility, to see how we can reform our great party so that those lofty ideals, lofty goals can be achieved.
“They can not be achieved by the present leadership of the party. It cannot be achieved even by the presidency.
“I have said it before and I am saying it again, that we are going in a wrong direction, now we have seen the result.
“We are losing the party, we are losing the government, and for this very courageous people seated here, this idea was mooted to see whether we still have men with courage and determination to get up and stand up. I will therefore want to appeal to the rest of our party members who are still sitting on the fence to join this new PDP.
“I want to assure you we will restore the values of the founding fathers of this party. Let me thank all of you for the courage and support to stand up because some people will be hiding somewhere.
“By the grace of God with your support, with your loyalty, the change will be achieved.”
The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) on Saturday lauded the bravery and statesmanship of the dissenting delegates of the PDP for staying calm in the face of utmost provocation and outright oppression during the just concluded PDP National Convention.
In a statement last night, the PDM chairman, Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, who spoke through his Media Advisor, Alaba Yusuf, said that: “We appreciate their bold, brave and patriotic stand of these delegates for refusing to participate in an election which they knew gave no even playing ground to all stakeholders.’’
He also added that PDM, a party of true democracy, equity, fairness stand shoulder to shoulder with all true democrats who wish to make Nigeria great again through positive political change.
It said the PDM shall soon throw open its online and manual registration of prospective members within and outside the country, within a few weeks.
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