Posted by By Jide Ajani, Political Editor, with reports from states on
AGAINST the backdrop of the defeat of supporters of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at Saturday’s state congress of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), some politicians loyal to him appear bent on dumping the party for a new one.
LAGOS— AGAINST the backdrop of the defeat of supporters of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at Saturday’s state congress of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), some politicians loyal to him appear bent on dumping the party for a new one. However, Board of Trustees Chairman of the party, Chief Anthony Anenih, has advised those planning to leave that they would meet an empty house wherever they choose to go to.
Chief Anenih also declared that leaders of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and other political parties were on their way into the PDP. He admonished party faithful not to be lured into the politics of exclusion. Last Saturday’s congress saw supporters of President Olusegun Obasanjo consolidating their hold on the party.
Whereas there were parallel congresses in some states, there are strong indications from the national headquarters of the party that delegates emerging from those parallel congresses would not be recognised.
There were parallel congresses in Edo, Abia and Kwara States.
In Delta State, for instance, Vanguard was informed that there may have arisen a confusion as the team sent to oversee the state congress went with two lists of delegates. One of the lists was said to have been influenced by Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, convention planning committee chairman, while the other was influenced by Dr Ahmadu Ali, the party’s national chairman.
And in another dramatic twist to the on-going factionalisation which has engulfed the party, its Abia State chapter came out of Saturday’s congress with three factions.
In Vice President Abubakar’s home state of Adamawa, PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Jonathan Zwingina raised an alarm that the deepening crisis in the party was threatening the future of the party.
Disappointed by the results coming in from across the country, loyalists of Vice President Abubakar have called on his supporters nationwide to brace up to commence the process of setting up fresh political structures across the country.
Members of the Turaki Vanguard said the PDP was no longer a genuine platform for true democracy.
In a statement by National Secretary of the group, Mr. Lanre Fayemi, asked the Vice President’s loyalists “across all political parties to come together and harmonise in each state in preparation for an alternative platform to contest the 2007 elections.”
Mr. Fayemi said time was ripe for the establishment of formidable structures across the country and instructed that members should immediately begin the establishment of offices in states, local governments and wards across the country.
He said Atiku’s supporters nationwide had become totally disenchanted with goings on in the PDP and had decided to dump the party en masse.
“We watched with keen interest the procedure adopted by the PDP in its party membership registration, congresses and the composition of the National Convention Congress Committee,” he said.
“The party’s congresses were grossly manipulated and rigged to exclude key members of the PDP that are not trusted to embrace the President Obasanjo’s two-year extension or third term agenda.”
The scheduled congress to pick officers to run the affairs of the PDP in Delta State was put off indefinitely following confusion arising from parallel lists of delegates for the exercise.
After waiting for several hours, Governor James Ibori drove into the Indoor Sports Hall of the Asaba Township Stadium, venue of the congress at 3.43pm in company of the Abuja team led by Ambassador Ladan Shuni; the incumbent chairman of the party, Dr. Pius Sinebe and State Police Commissioner, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom.
The committee from Abuja went to Delta State with two different lits of delegates. One of the lists, our source disclosed, emanated from the office of the National Chairman of the party while the other came from the office of Dr. Ogemudia, National Chairman of the Congress Committee. A different list was also made available by the party in the state.
After series of stakeholders' meetings to harmonise the three lists failed and given that the there had been complaints that neither the ward congress nor local government congress was held in the state, the party was unable to come up with a list that was acceptable to all the interest groups in the state.
The committee has since gone back to the party headquarters to write its report.
Chief Anenih said though the party was trying to resolve the protests arising from its congresses and other complaints, the plot by some members of the party to move into other parties would be made irrelevant as plans have been concluded to welcome members of those other parties to the PDP next year.
The Board of Trustee chairman who was addressing supporters of the party in Benin at the weekend said the leadership of the party was doing all it could to ensure unity in the party.
According to him,”The congresses we have had is a sign of a new beginning and it is a challenge to the party leadership. (Between now and) when our presidential candidate is nominated, we have a lot to do. Every elected executive member of the party has to be up and doing. With all I have seen here today, and especially the calibre of the new leadership of the PDP in this state, it will soon become a one-party state.
“If members of this party say they will join the ANPP in any way, they will find an empty house. Please don’t allow yourselves to play politics of exclusion. Do not be blinded into doing the wrong things by taking temporary appointments. It doesn’t last. Don’t accept such gift from anybody. Make no mistake, there will be no room for any act of indiscipline and disloyalty from any member.”
On the parallel state congress held in Edo State, Chief Anenih contended that the one organised by the faction loyal to the Governor was not real.
“At the congress we have held here, we have demonstrated true leadership qualities. It is unfortunate that the governor was not here. I believe he must be engaged in official duties and I know the new executive of the party will send him the list of officers and even pay him a courtesy call”, Anenih said in apparent sarcasm.
The three senators representing the three senatorial districts in the state, House of Representatives' members, state assembly members and council chairmen were at the congress overseen by leaders sent to monitor it from the party's national headquarters, as well as INEC officials.
But elders of the party led by the State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion, at the weekend faulted the attempts by some politicians in the state to exclude members of the party from the process that will lead to the nomination of the party Governorship flagbearer in 2007,declaring their resolve to fight those involved to a standstill.
In Umuahia, while the Governor Orji Uzor Kalu-led faction elected the incumbent, Dr Uzodinma Okpara, as its chairman while the Abuja faction of the party broke into two with the emergence of Chief Alfredo Awa as chairman of the Chief Onyema Ugochukwu faction and Dr Rex Otuka as chairman of the Chief Ojo Maduekwe group.
What appeared to be the bone of contention is the 2007 governorship ticket in which notable politicians in the state are already beginning to show interest.
In fact, police had to be at alert to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order during the congress as the once united Abuja faction displayed unconventional tactics to ensure that their candidates were elected.
At the newly acquired PDP office for the Abuja faction at Ojike street in Umuahia, trouble started when both Onyema Ugochukwu and Ojo Maduekwe could not agree on a consensus candidate for the group. While Onyema favoured Alfredo Awa who is from Abia north senatorial zone, Ojo Maduekwe rooted for Dr Otuka who is from the same Abia central as Onyema Ugochukwu.
Vanguard observed that when it became obvious that Onyema Ugochukwu group was heading for victory, Dr. Maduekwe quickly announced the cancellation of the congress which did not go down well with the other group.
In Borno, a new leadership, majority of whom were former legislators and former local government chairmen emerged as state party executive members.
At the congress of the party that took place at the party secretariat in Maiduguri, Kolo Bukar, a former member of the Borno House of Assembly from Kukawa Local Government Area was elected chairman.
Ibrahim Shettima, also a former chairman of Kwaya Kusar Local Government Area was voted as state secretary, while Alhaji Babagana Buhari was returned as treasurer and Hajiya Kuwaiya Askira retained her position as the state women leader.
The congress which was conducted peacefully and completed within 30 minutes through consensus, with all candidates returned by voice votes without any opposition.
The chairman of the congress, Alhaji Kashim Imam, said at the end of the event that the new leadership was a generational change from the old breed to the new breed of politicians. He gave an assurance that with the crop of leadership in the state, the PDP was now prepared to go places and turn its fortunes around in readiness for the 2007 elections.
In Benue State, delegates unanimously gave a fresh mandate to the 28-member executive which had been overseeing the affairs of the party in the state since August.
The decision to allow the party’s executive to continue in office was taken in Makurdi, when the electoral committee informed the delegates that only the officials had returned their nomination forms. The 28-member executive made up of loyalists of Chief Bernabas Gemade, and Gov. George Akume, was put together in August after a reconciliatory meeting between the two politicians brokered by the PDP National Secretariat.
Following the violence which trailed its congress in Imo State, the state government has confirmed what it termed the brutal physical assault on a member of the House of Representatives, Mr Atai Ali, in Owerri, even as the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly and some closeaides of the governor were allegedly marked for assassination.
Addressing a press conference in Owerri, barely 24 hours after the state congress, the Special Adviser to Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State on Political Matters, Sir George Eguh, expressed regret that theexercise was almost marred by hi-tech thuggery,violence and fraud.“I regret however to inform you that thecongress in Imo State was almost marred by hi-tech thuggery, violence and fraud. This sorry developmentis made even more regrettable by the fact that it wasorchestrated by supposedly highly placed political office holders from the state,” Sir Eguhlamented.
The former Speaker of Jigawa House of Assembly, Alhaji Isah Zakari Bosuwa, has emerged as the new Chairman, Jigawa chapter of the PDP.
Alhaji Bosuwa was the party’s deputy chairman for six years until his unanimous ratification by the delegates drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
The election of the former speaker along side 28 other exco officials was conducted by Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Dan-Namalu at the party headquarter in Dutse and witnessed by the former Governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Sa’ad Birnin Kudu, former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, immediate past Minister of State for Works, Alhaji Saleh Shehu, Ambassador Daudu Suleiman among other leading lights of the party. The congress was peaceful.
Addressing newsmen in Yola weekend, Senator Zwingina called for the urgent unification of the factions in the interest of the party. He regretted that as a founding member of the party, the crises in the party had been disturbing and painful. Zwingina stated that the two factions within the party were relevant for the actualisation of the interest of the members and the party itself.
“PDP is the greatest party in Africa, it is the winning party and whatever affects it relates to the generality of Nigerians”, the senator lamented. He charged stakeholders to bury their differences to allow the party to return to its former status and glory.
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