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Monday, 5 August 2013

PDP’s ‘irresolvable’ reconciliation (1): Herculean task before Dickson committee

The ruling party continues to strive to reconcile aggrieved members.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has floated another committee to reconcile its aggrieved members across the country. The 30-member committee is headed by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, with a former governor of Borno State, Asheik Jarma, as deputy.
Announcing the birth of the panel, the acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Okeke, in a statement, said it would ensure comprehensive reconciliation and interest of the party.
According to the statement, “In furtherance to the efforts to ensure comprehensive reconciliation among members and interests of the party, the National Working Committee of the PDP has set up a National Reconciliation Committee to harmonize all interests and achieve a genuine reconciliation across board.”
Inaugurating the committee on Thursday last week, the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, said though change and conflicts are permanent and inseparable attributes in human existence and co-existence, the party was in dire need of unity.
He charged the panel to give special attention to the non-PDP controlled states in its assignment, especially the six states controlled by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and Labour Party, LP, in the South West zone, Anambra and Imo in the South East, Edo in the South-South zone, Nasarawa in the North Central zone, Borno and Yobe in the North East zone and Zamfara in the North West zone.
The national chairman noted painfully that “the entire South West zone except Lagos was under PDP governments and there can be nothing more tragic than the present disturbing reality of loosing that entire zone to the opposition.
“The birth of our problem in the South West and indeed other zones can be attributed to the inability of our people to manage our past successes.”
He vowed that the present leadership of the party was determined now more than ever, to reclaim the dominance of PDP in the South West, stressing that the people in the grassroots were “nothing but PDP.” According to him, the same tragedy affected the PDP in the South East and insisted that “the trend must be halted and must be reversed.”
Mr. Tukur also urged the committee to carefully evaluate the trends in the National Assembly vis-à-vis the party’s interest and progress.
Dickson accepts challenge
Accepting the challenge behalf of his team, Mr. Dickson underscored the necessity for reconciliation in the PDP, saying that though as a large party, it could not be devoid of several tendencies, conflict of interest and all manners of crises; as democrats, its members must evolve ways of appreciating them and resolving crises within the party without stifling people.
He added, “I think this is what you (national chairman) have done by setting the reconciliation committee. But all players in the political and non-political field must play by the rules of engagement. We must play the game within the ambit of national interest and not denigrate or destroy our institutions whether it is the office of the President, Judiciary, legislature, military and security services, professional bodies, media, traditional and religious institutions.”
Mr. Dickson assured that the panel would succeed in the assignment and urged party leaders, aspirants and members in state controlled by the opposition to take advantage of the establishment of the committee and work with it “to make our great party stronger.”
A history of re-conciliation
The establishment of the reconciliation panel came just a few months after Mr. Tukur led the members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party on a similar exercise.
In April, the NWC, which sees to the day to day administration of the PDP, toured the six geo-political zones of the country during which it sought to mend fences with aggrieved members of the party.
The method employed by the NWC was unique. It picked the capital of one of the states in each of the geo-political zone where party faithful in the zones converge to discuss.
In the South-South zone, the national leadership met with party members in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; North East zone, Bauchi in Bauchi State; North Central, Makurdi in Benue State; South West, Ibadan in Oyo State; South East, Enugu in Enugu State; and North West, Kaduna. The grand finale was held in Abuja.
However, the effort was everything but successful. Not only were the parleys boycotted by those who should be there, including governors who were opposed to Mr. Tukur’s leadership, they were characterized by complaints of marginalization, imposition of candidates during elections, absence of internal democracy, among others.
Even the grand finale held in Abuja was no less so. Senior members of the party such as President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; and the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, boycotted the event. Of the party’s 23 governors, only two – Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and Idris Wada of Kogi State- were on hand to witness the event.
BOT embarks on reconciliation
The failure of the NWC’s trouble-shooting adventure allegedly prompted the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the party led by Mr. Anenih to embark on another peace and reconciliation shuttle around the country.
The Board met with the PDP governors some of who expressed displeasure about the manner the party was being run.
The tour was allegedly sponsored by Mr. Jonathan who was said to be worried about the gradual disintegration of the party as well as the emergence of the All Progressives Congress, a merger of some opposition parties.
Comparatively, the BoT’s tour was far more successful than that of the NWC.
Yet, shortly after those efforts, the party’s National Caucus, in mid-June this year, appointed Mr. Jonathan to head another reconciliatory team to bring into the fold members of the party who had left out of grievance, and resolve multiple crises affecting the party.
No sooner was it announced than some prominent members of the party, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar openly criticized the plan.
Mr. Abubakar noted that “the President has no business setting up any committee on party matters when his interests are widely believed to be central to the ongoing acrimony within the party.”
Perhaps, the criticisms stalled the process as the committee never took off, let alone reconcile any aggrieved member of the party.
An unimplemented 2009 reconciliation
The PDP chairman, Mr. Tukur, had stated early in his administration that reconciling aggrieved members of the party was his priority.
Upon assumption of office in March 2012 and in deference to his 3Rs campaign agenda of Reconciliation, Rebuilding and Reforming, the national chairman, a founding member of the party, had requested to dust up the Ekwueme report on reconciliation of party members, which had been dumped by successive chairmen.
The report, which has become a template of sort for reconciliation purposes, was prepared by an 11-member panel headed by the Second Republic Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, himself a founding member of the party. Other members included prominent party members, including Adamu Ciroma, Jerry Gana, Fidelis Tapgun, Bode George, Abubakar Mogaji, Shuiab Oyedokun, and Ime Udum.
The committee, which was set up in 2009 by a former PDP national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, following a concern expressed by the then President Umaru Yar’Adua about division in the party, made far-reaching recommendations for reconciling its aggrieved members.
Among other things, the panel recommended the stoppage of the use of leader for some chieftains of the party as there was no provision for it in the party’s constitution.
The report noted that the position was not only interfering, it could also induce competition between such people and state and zonal chairmen of the party, statutorily recognized by the constitution.
Mr. Tukur had insisted that the only way to reconcile dormant founding members and other aggrieved members was to implement the report in full.
“There are many aggrieved and founding members who are dormant in the affairs of the party and with the implementation of this report, PDP will be working towards a total reconciliation of members,” he said.
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