The crisis within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) worsened yesterday with the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it would not accept the process through which some of the members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) emerged in the party’s national convention last year.
The electoral body said that the process, which produced 12 of the 16-member exco, is in violation of paragraph 6.5 (1) of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2012 congresses and national convention which says nobody should emerge unopposed, and, therefore, unacceptable.
INEC, in its report, listed the national officers of the party whose election it said, violated the stipulated provision. These are the deputy national chairman Dr. Sam Sam Jaja; national organizing secretary Abubakar Mustapha; his deputy Okechukwu Nnadozie; national publicity secretary Chief Olisa Metuh; his deputy Binta Goje; national youth leader Alhaji Garba Chiza; his deputy Dennis Alonge Niyi; deputy national auditor Senator Umar Ibrahim; national women leader Kema Chikwe, her deputy Hannatu Ulam; Deputy National Treasurer Claudus Inengas; and the National Legal Adviser Victor Kwom.
The INEC report cleared only four members of the NWC as duly elected, namely the National Chairman Bamanga Tukur, suspended national secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola, sacked national auditor Bode Mustapha and national financial secretary Elder Bolaji Anani.
The said report was signed by the following officials: team leader to the PDP national convention Col. M.K. Hammanga (rtd) and Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor – both national commissioners in INEC; director, Political Parties Monitoring and Liaison (PPML), Regina Omo-Agege; director, Public Affairs Emmanuel Umenger; chief legal officer Nnamdi Nwaeze; deputy director, PPML, Babalola O.O., Aminu K. Idris and assistant director, PPML, Pricilla Ezeigwe.
Other members of the committee include the chief administrative officer, PPML, Nkechinyere Abuh; principal administrative officer (PAO), PPML, Sefiya; PAO, Training and Bulus D. Davou.
According to INEC’s acting director, legal, Ibrahim Bawa, “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.”
In its reaction to the report, PDP yesterday said that it had uncovered plans by a tiny clique of undemocratic elements to use cohorts within INEC, and those it described as ‘bad eggs’ in the judiciary to discredit its leadership and destabilize the party.
It also said that it has briefed its lawyer in a suit filed in an FCT High Court by Hon. Abba K. Yale, Alhaji Yahaya Aruwa Sule and Basher Maidugu against eight members of NWC for their failure to meet the needed constitutional requirement to stay in office as national officials of the PDP.
In its statement signed by Olisa Metuh yesterday, the PDP described the said report as a deliberate plot to undermine the party by certain elements working with officials of the electoral body and the judiciary
Metuh said: “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 NWC, using judicial officers of questionable integrity.
“Till date, the PDP remains the only political party in the country that conducts transparent internal elections which start with the ward, local government and state congresses, culminating in the national convention. The 2012 exercise was not only unique in the level of participation of party members, but in the rancour-free, sportsman-like attitude which various contestants exhibited.
“The current NWC, since inauguration, has maintained a sound working rhythm with the members and critical stakeholders, the President, the National Assembly which the party controls and the PDP State governors whose newly formed forum – engineered by the party leadership, is already sending cold shivers to and causing problems in the opposition camp.”
The PDP spokesman noted that such a revisit of last year’s national convention, after over a year that it was held to popular acclaim of all party members, was an indication of the desperation of some politicians to achieve selfish ambition even at the risk of destroying the party.
The statement further pointed to the recently concluded peace and reconciliation tour of the party’s NWC and the complementary peace initiatives by the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees as evidence that the party was on a healthy patch and, therefore, wondered whose selfish interest the INEC report was meant to serve.
“In whose interest, therefore, are these system vampires fighting? In whose interest and at whose behest are these merchants of infamy laying these mines, which could blow our great party sky-high? It is no doubt in the service of selfish interest of this tiny clique of politicians of fortune, those whose ambition must be served or the party crumbles.”
The statement, however, warned that leaders of the party would not fold their hands “while those whose lack of self-confidence in free and fair democratic process – which our leadership has set as a sine qua non for the 2015 electoral exercises – has driven into an unconscionable frenzy of either hijacking the party or destroying its hard-earned democratic credibility.”
It was gathered that with the court case hinged on the INEC report, the elections of other members of the NWC that are not acceptable to the commission would be dissolved and the National Executive Commission (NEC) of the PDP would call for a fresh convention, as the national chairman, national secretary, national auditor and national financial secretary, whose elections are recognized, cannot form a quorum to conduct the affairs of the party.