Leadership Crisis Rocks PDP

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The Peoples Democratic Party, Nigeria’s main opposition party is yet to get over the leadership crisis rocking it as party stalwarts disagree on which of the six geographical zones in the country should produce the next chairman

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 15, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |

LEADERSHIP crisis is still simmering in the house of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Different stakeholders, including governors elected on the party’s platform have disagreed on how to resolve issues surrounding the national chairmanship of the party. Although the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the PDP will on Monday, February 8, hold an emergency meeting to resolve the controversy over who becomes its national chairman which had been zoned to the north-east.

Senator Walid Jibrin, secretary of the BoT, in a statement on Wednesday, February 3, in Kaduna, said: “It is very disappointing and embarrassing that the North-east zone cannot present any person for the national chairmanship of the party to replace Adamu Mu’azu, who has since resigned even if it is for one day.” He advised against all kinds of selfishness and impunity, warning that the party would not allow anybody or group of people with personal ambition to destroy the party.

According to the statement, “With the continuous postponement of the zonal meeting, it has become very necessary that the BoT hold an emergency meeting on Monday to review the situation and recommend a suitable person to be appointed as the chairman. All kinds of impunity and self-centeredness highlighted by the Ekweremadu committee must stop in the PDP if the party is to take over the mantle of leadership in 2019….. We must realise that we are now in the opposition having ruled the country for 16 years. We must therefore exhibit effective and objective opposition.

“Above all, we must learn a lesson from the death of the late Abubakar Audu of Kogi State. With any ambition, one can die within a second without achieving such ambition. The party constitution must always be followed strictly” as deviant behaviours will be disciplined no matter how highly placed.

These are lofty statements. But it has not in any way solved the crisis within the party, which started with the defeat of the PDP in the 2015 general elections which forced the former chairman to resign. Since then there has not been any charismatic leader to step into his shoes to revive the party. There has been series of defections by some stalwarts to the ruling party – All Progressives Congress. Needless to say the defections are a source of worry to other party chieftains because if the trend continues it will not augur well for the main opposition party and country’s democracy in general.

Trouble started in the party immediately after the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan, when close associates and aides of the former President attempted to take over the control of the party. Ahmed Gulak, Jonathan’s former political adviser, called on Adamu Mu’azu, former national chairman, to take responsibility for the defeat and resign. He accused Mu’azu of selling out the party to the APC.

Ahead of the elections, Mu’azu faced stringent criticisms for his lack of contribution to the campaign efforts of Jonathan. Many party members accused him of refusing to campaign for the President openly, especially in the northern states. Gulak said: “If the belief of the majority of the members of the PDP is anything to go by, you could say that the party chairman was the number one culprit for the dismal outing. There is no party chairman of the PDP since 1998 that has led the party to such a disastrous outing. As a result, the national chairman should consider himself one of those that have to give way for a new leadership to come up. In fact, he doesn’t need to be told to turn in his resignation.”

The National Working Committee, NWC, came to Mu’azu’s defence and warned those it described as some ambitious aides and associates of Jonathan of trying to use their closeness to the former President to cause crisis in the party and pave way for more defections to other parties. It stated: “The NWC is aware that these same individuals who mismanaged the presidential campaign funds are now desperately seeking to cause crisis in the PDP with a view not only to divert attention from their misdeeds, but also to ensure they remained politically relevant by hijacking the party structure for their selfish purposes.

“The party is aware that the same group has been sponsoring series of amorphous bodies and negative publications in a section of the media to peddle false allegations against the NWC to back their heinous and unconstitutional demands that the NWC be sacked. The NWC is duly elected and its tenure ends in March 2016 in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution. The PDP is a party built on the rule of law and democratic ethos. Its NWC is elected and not appointed and as such cannot be sacked at will. Besides, no section of the party’s constitution prescribes that the NWC should quit if the party loses in a general election.”

Following the orchestrated campaign against Mu’azu, he resigned on May 20, 2015. Mu’azu’s exit failed to restore peace in the party as Uche Secondus, his deputy, took over as acting chairman. The party’s constitution allows him to stay for three months. But he has been acting for eight months.

This must have prompted Gulak to drag him to court. The court ordered Secondus to vacate office but he appealed against the judgment and stayed put in office. However, on Wednesday, January 27, Gulak played out a drama when he stormed PDP national secretariat, saying he has assumed office as party chairman. His action spurred the leadership of the party into taking steps to address the anomaly.

The PDP Governorship Forum flayed Gulak invasion of the secretariat, but it also asked Secondus to hand over to Wale Oladipo, national secretary, pending the time a new chairman will be appointed.

But the NWC has shunned the governors’ directive. Victor Kwom, national legal adviser, insisted that Secondus remained the acting chairman. He said: “For the avoidance of doubt the statutory organs of the party, the NWC, National Caucus, the Board of trustees (BoT) and the National Executive Council (NEC) will be meeting next (this) week to deliberate on the developments, including the appointment of a replacement for Mu’azu, from the Northeast. The replacement would be in strict adherence to the party’s constitution as specified in Section 47(6). Until then the status quo remains, which means the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Secondus remains the acting National Chairman.”

Nonetheless, the crisis has taken a new dimension as a group of leaders of the PDP has kicked against zoning of the chairmanship and other positions to particular zones. The general understanding is that the replacement will come from the northeast. The PDP leaders who met in Lagos ruled out zoning. The meeting was reported to be stormy, particularly over which geo-political zone will produce the next chairman. After heated debates, all the leaders at the session resolved that the choice should be left open to all the geo-political zones. The leaders also decided to raise an 18-man search team for a capable hand to lead the PDP.

Several interest groups are scheming to occupy the vacant post. The Southeast and the South-south are also scheming for the post. A member of the NWC said: “The next chairman of the PDP should come from east of Niger because that is where the PDP’s heart resides. Majority of the states in the South-south and Southeast are ruled by the PDP. It follows that the PDP would derive most of its revenue from this region.”

Governor Ayo Fayose is equally insisting on Southwest getting the slot. His argument was that in the history of the PDP, the zone had not led the party. According to him, Southwest is strategic to the PDP’s victory in future. Only time will tell how the leadership crisis in PDP will be resolved.

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