BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU, Abuja, IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI & DAPO AKINREFON CRISIS rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, seems to be taking a different dimension following the allegation that some Senators who have identified with the Alhaji Kawu Baraje have commenced consultations and lobby to unseat the Senate president, David Mark.
Also to go with the senate president if the plot succeeds when Senate reconvenes after the vacation on September 17, 2013 was the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu who was accused of working with the Tukur faction and had tried to ensure that senators from the South East remained with the faction.
Meantime, the PDP Senators may have emergency session on Tuesday to deliberate on the crisis in the party and take a position.
Informed sources told Saturday Vanguard that Senators who have identified with the new PDP who are said to be the arrowheads of the plot to remove all Tukur’s loyalists in the National Assembly may not have problems with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha may be affected if he refuses to identify with the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led faction.
Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed that about three Senators from the North Central zone have embarked on intensive lobby to take over Senate President’s position in the event the Baraje-led faction of the PDP decides to move against him for not recognizing the new factional National Chairman of the party.
According to the investigation, the three Senators had occupied sensitive positions in their states, in PDP and in union activities and are highly reckoned with in the upper legislative chambers.
Already about 30 senators are said to have backed the Baraje-led faction while a good number of members of the House of Representatives have also expressed their support and loyalty to the new PDP factional helmsman.
A source privy to the alleged plot told Saturday Vanguard that if Mark and his principal officers elected on the platform of PDP did not recognize Baraje-led group, there would be alliance of the members of the nPDP with the opposition members of the senate to effect the change.
A senator who is in the Baraje-led faction that spoke to Saturday Vanguard on condition of anonymity said that the senate would be meeting on Tuesday to take decision on the threat made by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to declare vacant seats of senators opposed to him.
The senator who said that they had been advised not to join issues with Alhaji Tukur while reacting to the threat said, “the senators said that they won’t say anything until they meet. Let him (Tukur) do it now, why is he saying it, if he has the power he should do it.
“Bamanga Tukur is irrelevant right now to be very honest with you. What he is saying doesn’t mean anything. The country has moved beyond him, the issues are beyond Bamanga, he is totally irrelevant.
“The only thing that he has done is just to pour fuel on a raging fire it does not affect anything except to make the flame burn brighter, but when the senate group meets, they will take a decision. We are not in his faction any way, he should read the constitution. I know they (senate) will be meeting on Tuesday.”
Attempts made to confirm the meeting of the PDP senators from the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe could not yield any result as his mobile phone was switched off while the text message sent to him was not replied as at press time.
However, a Chieftain and convener of the nPDP Stakeholders Forum, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere told Vanguard that “The first victim of intra-party squabble will be David Mark because he has been sitting on the fence and hobnobbing with Bamanga Tukur at night.
“You can’t be hiding for ever, if he does not recognize Baraje, he will lose his position. In the new PDP, we have confirmed senators that have pledged loyalty to Baraje. With the support of the APC (All Progressives Congress) Senators, we will form the majority to impeach Mark.”
Ikenga Ugochinyere further said that the Senate President and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu would be removed the same time, if Ekweremadu refuses to pledge loyalty to the Baraje-led faction adding, “in the new PDP, there is discipline. But I can assure you that there are many PDP Senators that want to be Senate President.”
He, however, said that despite the lobby for Senate President Position, “We have respect for Mark, but he has to be careful if not, the respect will be withdrawn.”
He said that the nPDP has no problem with the Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal but pointing out that “if the Deputy Speaker Hon. Emeka Ihedioha does not support Baraje he will go.”
Ugochinyere said that what the senate needed to effect a change was about 56 senators and that with 30 of them that had expressed their support for Baraje, it was not going to be difficult to get the support of senators elected on the platform of opposition political parties.
On Tukur, he said, “Tukur is already blocking the chances of resolving this matter, this declaration of war is basically a smokescreen to hang on to office because he wants to draw a war, he is scared of peace negotiation which the outcome will be the termination of his deplored unlawful regime and again a fresh unity convention that will create enabling environment.
“So he will prefer to sink the party to allow peace to prevail but yesterday’s comment (threat to declare vacant seats of senators opposed to him), I must tell you my brother is one of the things I keep saying that shows that Tukur is not in tune with what is on the ground.
“If Tukur is intelligent, he would have read the provisions of the 1999 constitution before boasting that he would declare any body’s seat vacant, under section 68 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the constitution stipulated grounds under which someone’s seat should be declared vacant,” he stated.
Tukur’s faction moves to restrain Atiku, Baraje, others
The internal crisis currently tearing the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, apart, worsened yesterday, as a faction of the party loyal to its embattled chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, applied for a restraining order against the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and chairman of the “New PDP”, Kawu Baraje.
In an ex-parte application they filed before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday, the plaintiffs, urged the court to also restrain the national secretary of the “New PDP”, Prince Olagunsoye Onyinola and its deputy national chairman, Dr Sam Jaja, from parading themselves as national executives of the PDP.
Equally joined as a respondent in the application which was moved before Justice E. Chukwu, yesterday, was the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Nevertheless, the judge refused to grant the ex-parte application yesterday, even as he directed counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, to go back and put all the respondents on notice, saying they should be served the court processes via substituted means.
Before adjourning till September 12 to hear the motion on notice, Justice Chukwu, ordered that parties should maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the suit.
According to the Judge, “Although I am not afraid of granting an ex-parte application especially when it is obvious of causing anarchy, however, I owe a duty to maintain a balance. In the instant matter, what I want to do is order that the respondents are put on notice.”
It will be recalled that the Tukur led faction of the party had earlier prayed the same high court to hand Baraje, Onyinola and Jaja, one year jail term each, over their complicity in alleged criminal contempt of a subsisting court order.
Placing reliance on Order 35 of the Federal High Court Rules 2009, the party, insisted that the three respondents deserved to be committed to prison for allegedly violating a judgment of the high court delivered on January 11, 2013.
The said judgment had nullified Oyinlola’s candidacy as a nominee of the South-west zonal chapter of the PDP.
Consequently, the court , declared Oyinlola’s subsequent election to the office of national secretary at the national convention of the party held in March last year, as invalid, null and void by reason of another court order which nullified the South-west zonal congress from which Oyinlola emerged.
We cannot afford a Nigerian Spring—Bode George
FORMER Deputy National Chairman, South, of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George has advised the warring parties in the PDP to resolve the lingering crisis within the PDP in the interest of the country saying “we cannot afford a Nigeria Spring”.
Addressing party leaders, in Lagos yesterday, the party chieftain, who appealed for calm among the warring factions, said the elders of the party are in the process of resolving PDP crisis.
George also admonished the party in Lagos state to pass a vote of confidence on President Goodluck Jonathan and endorse the party’s mini convention held recently in Abuja.
He said “I want to request here and now that our leaders should pass an emphatic vote of confidence on President Goodluck Jonathan who is the national leader of our party and the symbol of our nation’s unity and great possibilities. Equally, I am requesting that our leaders should also endorse the last mini convention of 2013 as the best that our party has ever had in the history of our great party.”
The party chieftain said resolving the crisis would be the interest of the party.
He said : “let us move away from tension and acrimony. Let us disagree with tempered and peaceful resolve. Let us debate every contentious issue with maturity, with discipline, with friendship and patriotic idealism. And most importantly, even as we disagree and patch up our differences, as we tussle and shout in genuine debate, we must in the end be united in one solid reality that the government at the centre is a product of all our collective efforts. The government at the centre belongs to us all as PDP members and as citizens of this nation”.
In addition, he said, “let us support and strengthen our party and our government, that is the way of survival. Hat is the way of progress and it shall be well with Nigeria”
Also, the Lagos state chapter of the PDP, threw its weight behind the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur- led party.