The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has in the last month been at a great risk of witnessing a major implosion over the proposed Special National Convention and the South-West Special Congress. OBIORA IFOH takes a look at the development.
The fear in some quarters that the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may not be in a hurry to conduct the South-West congress and the Special National Convention is fast gaining ground as recent events have clearly shown that there is more to it than for the reason of the Ramadan which was earlier used to masquerade the postponement.
The PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the chairman of the Special Convention Committee, Prof. Jerry Gana are both engaged in supremacy battle that transcends the present assignment. Both men are very close to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Gana is reputed to have served Nigerian governments, present and past; military and civilian, more than any other Nigerian, dead or alive; right from his days as the Director General of the MAMSER in the military era. He has served in uncountless other committees with the recent appointment which was made possible by a presidential fiat.
He is a founding member of the PDP. But Tukur too is also a founding member of the PDP and has being on the field for too long as father, puritan and successful businessman and politician, having also served as a governor and a minister. His role as the chairman of the African Round Table gave him deserving edge at the international scene.
He ran his PDP chairmanship campaign on the ground that PDP needs him and not the other way. His mission is to attempt to return the party to the original goals it was set out to achieve; a party owned by the people and not by individuals.
To achieve this he needs the support of every party member but most importantly the President. He indeed has the tacit support of the President but his attempt to earn the support of other stakeholders have been proving daunting task, as most politicians appear to be more comfortable with the hatchet-manner politics being played before now.
Tukur, a core conservative and hugely rigid personality refused to be bent over as he refused to run the party the way all his predecessors did. To him, the party must be superior to everyone.
This position was what led to the face-off between him and the Gana-led committee which also has the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu, as the Secretary and quite a number of personalities including Governor Godswill Akpabio, who is the deputy chairman.
There are also 27 other members including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, as well as governors of Delta, Abia, Katsina, Bauchi and Benue states as well as two representatives from the 36 states of the federation.
National Mirror gathered that hell was let loose after Gana usurped the duties of the National Chairman by personally inaugurating the convention committee without carrying Tukur along. Gana also created sub-committees and personally allocated membership to the committees without recourse to the National Working Committee, NWC, in spite of the fact that the NWC was meant to play a supervisory role.
A source that spoke to National Mirror said that the national chairman and members of the interim NWC were not happy with Gana’s committee because the committee is operating as a parallel NWC, whereas, the committee is expected to take directives from the Tukur-led NWC.
According to the source, “the Gana committee has against the norms relocated the special convention committee from the offices of the party to a private office in Wuse 2 by Parakou Crescent.
“The committee had awarded contracts for the convention, yet the date of the convention is not insight. The contractors have awarded and produced the wrappers for the convention without any directive from NWC. Even, the six members of the NWC that are expected to be members of the convention committee are yet to be given or made members of the special committee.
“To make matters worse, the Gana committee had gone to the Chief of Staff to the President, Mike Ogiadhome to request for money to conduct the convention, but they were turned down and asked that they should channel their request for money through the national chairman,” the source.
The cold war came to a head last week when the duo of Gana and Ekweremadu came to the residence of the PDP national chairman to inform him the progress so far made by the special convention committee and also to inform him of the new date for the proposed convention, but aides of Tukur refused them entry into his residence on his instruction.
Angered by the slap on their face, Gana quickly called for a press conference where he announced August 31 as the date for the convention without clearing from the National Chairman. He also admitted that the locking out drama at the residence of Tukur was an incident that will be resolved within the party and not in the public. He said: “We don’t want to speak on the speculated lock-out at the chairman’s residence.
We don’t want to speak on such an issue concerning a man we have great respect for. Whatever it is, shall be resolved but not on the pages of newspapers.”
Tukur, ready for the fight, went on the offensive and technically scrapped the committee. In a statement by the acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Caeser Okeke, PDP said: “In view of the anomalies and breaches of the constitution of the PDP observed in the actions so far taken by the Special National Convention Planning Committee, the NWC has directed the Committee to put on hold all activities relating to the Special South West Zonal Congresses and the Special National Convention pending the regularisation of the anomalies and breaches so as to forestall a repeat of the events that affected the party’s convention in 2012.”
Leader of the party, President Jonathan on his return from China summoned the combatants to seek for a peaceful resolution of the face-off.
A Presidency source told National Mirror that though the President overruled the National Chairman over the cancellation of the dates earlier proposed by the Planning Committee for the South-West convention and Special National Convention, he never waivered in his support for Tukur’s passion for instilling discipline in the party.
“President Jonathan called for a truce between Tukur and Gana as the matter could degenerate to a full crisis situation. It is certain the August date for the convention will stand but the President is insisting that discipline must be maintained in the party and the party leadership must be supported to instil discipline in PDP,” says the source.
A PDP source told National Mirror that Tukur “had to be brutal because he sensed that his office is being undermined. How can the committee change a date of the conventions, sells forms, solicit funds from the Villa and draw lists of the membership of the subcommittees without consulting the NWC?
“NWC noted that the lists of membership of the sub-committees were filled with persons that have no business in the party, where people are now using the subcommittees to settle relatives. One of them listed two of his immediate brother.
While NWC members who are committee members were just ordinary sub-committee members while their cronies were awarded with juicy sub-committee chairmanship.” As it stands, peace is not in sight as the Gana-led committee has vowed to continue with the convention.
They had even gone ahead to publish the full list of the subcommittees membership insisting that they will only discontinue if there was a directive from the Presidency. Tukur only a few days ago ordered that the offices allocated to the committee at the Legacy House be sealed permanently and also left an instruction that no member of the committee should be permitted beyond the gates of the party secretariat.