Rather than reap a harvest of glory from the defection of three state governors to the Peoples democratic Party, PDP, members of the executive committee of the state chapters of the party are up in arms against the new Big Men in their fold, challenging the attempt at a take over.Â This report catalogues the state of affairs in those states.
By Henry Umoru
Abuja – ALL may not be well with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the self acclaimed largest party in Africa, following the defection of some governors elected on the platform of other opposition political parties to its fold.
With the cross-carpeting of governors of Zamfara, Bauchi and Imo states, Alhaji Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, Mallam Isa Yuguda and Ikedi Ohakim, respectively, to the ruling PDP, one major headache the Vincent Ogbulafor led National Working Committee is having everyday is that of how to contend with the state executive committees in the states where such defections have taken place, particularly how to forge a working and acceptable relationship between the new power men in the party and the members of the exco on ground.
Rather than savour a sense of triumph as a result of the defections, the NWC is having to contend with a plethora of advancing crisis which, if not halted, would further polarize a serially polarized party.
To accommodate the governors who dumped their parties for PDP and to make them have a sense of belonging, the party had to do a lot of home work before their return, according to the national publicity secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard on how the party intends to handle the fallouts that have arisen and that may further arise from the defections by the state governors who moved to take over the party structure they met in their respective states.
Speaking further, Alkali said, â€œA lot of home work has been done by the leadership of the party before the governors returned because as you will know, except for the Zamfara State governor who moved from his party to PDP, governors of Imo and Buachi only returned back to their former parties which they all helped to form. Yuguda is a PDP man to the core, Ohakim is a PDP man to the core, all elected members of Imo State are PDP.
What the party is doing is that weÂ want to make sure that their return does not affect the structures on ground, there must be unity of purpose. We must accommodate allâ€.
The first experiment the party carried out was the dissolution of the Bauchi State Executive Committee by the PDP national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor on Saturday, June 27, 2009 at the IBB Square, Kofar Ran, during the formal handing over of PDP flag and party leadership to Yuguda by President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua. Similarly, when Yuguda decamped, 17 All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, members of the state House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Hon Babayo Garba Gamawa officially dumped the party and followed Yuguda to PDP, meaning that the House of Assembly is now a PDP dominated one.
Ogbulafor, while dissolving the Bauchi State Exco, stressed that the move became imperative for political balancing considering the new political scenario as well as the emerging political development in the state. Ogbulafor immediately announced the constitution of a seven-man caretaker committee with Alhaji Bukar Melle as chairman to run the affairs of the party until a fresh election would be conducted to bring in a new state Exco. He directed members of the committee to report to the national organising secretary of the party for further directives and thanked the former leadership for a job well done which led to the return of the governor.
Bauchi State PDP has a seven-member caretaker committee with Ambassador Bukar Melle as chairman, Babayo Akuyam, Ismail Burga, Ibrahim Yaro Yaro, Umaru Gashua, Hajia Jummai Jamaâ€™are and Baba Hadith as members. A similar exercise was carried out by the NWC for Zamfara State PDP excos when Shinkafi dumped the ANPP for the PDP.
Ogbulafor dissolved the existing one and replaced it with a five- member caretaker Committee with Alhaji Abdulmalik Mahmud as the chairman, Namadi Ango, Adamu Umar, Ibrahim Malanha and Musa Zubairu as members. Even as at the time of this report, the long awaited inauguration of the new executive members in Zamfara was again postponed indefinitely.
Ogbulafor, according to a source is trying to be careful in taking such a decision against the backdrop that the sacked Zamfara leadership had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja challenging the dissolution of the state executive committee. Assistant secretary of the state chapter, Sani Labbo filed the suit together with some local government party chairmen in the State.
According to them, the sack was done without any reference to the elected members of the executives in the state, adding that their tenure will expire in 2012 having been elected into office in February 2008 because the constitution provides for four year term for all elected party Excos.
Following Ohakimâ€™s return to PDP, Ogbulafor also in what he described as moves to accommodate him, had to dissolve the existing exco, replacing it with a seven-member caretaker committee, but this time, he returned the chairman and s secretary of the dissolved Exco, Prince Marcellenus Nlemigbo and Chief Damian Ezeaugu respectively. Other members of the committee are Engr. Emma Ojinere, Mrs Ugichi Nanna-Okoro, Dr. Clement Anozie, Chief L.N. Ireoha and Chief Dominic Uzowuru.
Since the dissolution of the Imo State exco, the decision has not gone well with members of the dissolved exco and some PDP chieftains in and outside Imo State. Former Senate president, Senator Ken Nnamani while reacting to the dissolution and faulting the unilateral action of Ogbulafor, described it as a gross violation of the partyâ€™s constitution.
The crisis in the State PDP assumes a new dimension everyday especially immediately after Ogbulafor dissolved the Excos to accommodate Ohakim, the â€˜newestâ€™ PDP member in the state. A faction in the Party immediately elected Chief Magnus C. Orjiako as the state chairman which according to sources has the support of the state government.
The dissolved leadership which sources say has the backing of former Imo State Governor and now Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa and former governorship Candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume rushed to the court to obtain court injunction stopping what they termed arbitrary removal from Office.
They are Peter Ezenwa Orji, the PDP state treasurer, Emma Nwosu, assistant organizing secretary, Chief Stanly Nzekwe, the vice chairman, Chief Emma Elezue, the PDPÂ local governmentÂ chairman of Okigwe and Emma Egbujuo, PDP chairman for the NwangeleÂ and Desmond Ugwudi the PDP chairman for Ngor Okpala for and on behalf of other dissolved party chairmen in the state who filed a suit against the National Chairman of the PDP before an Imo State High Court
In the suit no. HMT/120/2009 filed, they prayed the court to restrain the Caretaker Committee headed by Marcon Nlemigbo from parading himself as the one in charge pending the determination of the suit. The High Court in Owerri presided by Justice Ngozi Opara had on July 31, 2009 ordered all parties in the dispute to maintain status quo pending the determination of the case.
The complaints are the same in all the states where the State Excos were dissolved, just like in Zamfara, the affected Imo Officials are insisting that the dissolution of the executive of the party was unconstitutional as they were elected for a four year term and their tenure cannot be arbitrarily annulled midway for any interest.
Now that the rumbling is the same in all the states where the governors defected to the self acclaimed largest party in Africa, time shall tell as we watch how the Ogbulafor led NWC would handle the fallouts that are rearing their heads after the celebrated entrance of the governors. We wait for when the carnival finally closes.