Posted by ROTIMI AJAYI Abuja on
"WE have a problem of indiscipline in the party, the committee was decided a long time ago, but was just reconstituted when cases of indiscipline were pending.
"WE have a problem of indiscipline in the party, the committee was decided a long time ago, but was just reconstituted when cases of indiscipline were pending. We have cases of indiscipline because of the absence of this committee, we have some of our members including Board of Trustees members joining a group of dissidents to form a party or a pressure group. If it is a pressure group, there is no problem, others have also engaged in other forms of indiscipline,” these were the words of the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali, last Thursday, while inaugurating the party’s disciplinary committee. The committee is though a standing one stipulated by the party’s constitution, its inauguration had been left in the cold all the while because there had been no need for it. Now there is a lot of assignments for the committee, which could range from considering the act of disloyalty and possible anti-party activities probably committed by Vice President Atiku Abubakar. All it takes for the Vice President to be tried by the party is for any member of the party who feels so strongly about his conduct so far to send a petition to the disciplinary committee, which has as members, officers of the party in the National Working Committee (NWC), including the national chairman himself.
Apart from the possible consideration of anti-party activities against Atiku, perhaps the main assignment in the hands of the disciplinary committee is the issue of Ogbeh, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Ghali Na’Abba and others who are seen as the pillars of the new political group. It is called the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD). Its maiden meeting in Lagos penultimate week was attended by less than two hundred people. Actually, three delegates came from each state for the meeting. It was expected that there would be a follow up meeting in Kaduna, yesterday. Although a meeting of the caucus of the movement was held in Abuja, Thursday night, the meeting was to prepare for the MDD transformation into a political party perhaps under the name, Social Democratic Front (SDF).
When the national chairman spoke at the Wadata Plaza headquarters of the embattled PDP last Thursday, he tried to cut an impression that the party was not worried by the hurricane now ravaging the party. Ali spoke and acted like a soldier but right there at the headquarters, people were scared of what could happen to the PDP. Surprisingly, some of those who appeared worried are members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC). According to one of them, “there is a clear sign of danger for the party. Things are not being done the way it should be done. The members here are even disgruntled at the chairman. He seems to be running this place as if it is a private estate meant for him and members of his family. Take, for instance, allowances of officers are not even being paid. I will tell you that by the time the MDD people move out, this party is going to be reduced to a shadow of itself.”
Another senior official of the party from the South-West, however, doubted if the MDD could be a threat to the PDP in anyway. To this official, the group leaders had very noble idea by desiring to pull out of the party. He added, however, that the strategy of the group was wrong and ill-timed. “The strategy and the timing is very wrong. You don’t take on your enemies the way the MDD people are doing it. You strike them when they (the opponents) least expect. You don’t throw the challenges on their faces the way it is being done now.
“I can assure you now that they will begin to go after Audu Ogbeh using EFCC to find out what he did wrong while he served in public office, same thing for Solomon Lar and the others. Some of us are in support of what Atiku and co are doing but honestly they are going about it the wrong way. Some of us have gone to him more than five times and told him that he needed to have a caucus in the NWC but he did not take us serious. Look at what is happening to him now within the party. Yes MDD has people but they don’t have the might. They have not even convinced me personally as the people who are ready to govern this country. They cannot rule this country the way they are going.”
Notwithstanding the opinion of PDP chieftains on the MDD, Nigerians would like to see how the Ibrahim Shema committee would discharge its assignment. This is predictable going by what happened to Governors Ngige and Dariye but observers of events within the party have raised questions on the choice of the chairman of the disciplinary committee. This is because most of the people he would need to take on are some of his political leaders. According to a source within the party, the national chairman only set up the national vice chairman (North) to be in head-on collision with the political leaders. “I would like to see how Shema would handle this assignment. Would he be able to take on somebody like Solomon Lar, Alhaji Lawal Kaita or Chief Audu Ogbeh. I sympathize with the man,” the source said.
Perhaps, the people who are raising questions on the choice of Shema as the chairman of the disciplinary committee pictured him in the shoes of the former chairman of the committee, Dr Alex Ekwueme, who commands respect among political notables in this country including President, Olusegun Obasanjo. It is against the performance of Ekwueme that Shema would be assessed in this job that is akin to being the chairman of special military tribunal of old which tried coup plotters in Nigeria.
In spite of the threat from the PDP, however, the minders of the MDD are on the attack and unrelenting in their plot and membership drive. Only last Thursday, information revealed that many governors had instructed their followers to start enrolling the new group.
Notable among the governors who is not hiding his support for the new group is James Ibori of Delta State. It was learnt that the governor had instructed his followers to see the new group as the only platform that could guarantee the continuity of democracy dividends in the state after his tenure. Ibori might have pitched his tent with the MDD in view of the controversial congress held by the PDP in the state.
Although leaders of the MDD are hostile in their attitude towards the PDP, they are not exactly unaware of the possible backlash that may emerge from their actions. According to a former secretary of the Peoples Democratic Movement and a leading member of the MDD, Alhaji Umar Shinte, the determination of the group members is unwavering.
“The capacity to transform the democratic institution rest with the people of this country through the ballot box. We intend to go, all the membership of the MDD, intend to go back and ensure that there are free and fair elections at all levels in this country through that we will have responsive government which will ensure that these institutions are strengthened. We are determined”.
Now that the MDD has decided to square up to the PDP, Nigerians should expect that things have got to the point of no return and that the Shema’s committee is just like a mere undertaker carrying the corpse for interment. While the corpse lie-in-state, we should wait to hear the beautiful dirge.
A close aide of the vice president revealed to Sunday Vanguard that the conception and implementation of the plans of the MDD had advanced in such a way that even Atiku could no longer persuade many of his followers to back out. “If he tries it, I tell you the vice president himself would be confronted,” he revealed.
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