*Nnamani, Masari, Odili, others suspended
By Henry Umoru
ABUJAâ€”THERE was a dramatic twist to the lingering crisis in the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday as the National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, suspended former Senate presidents, Ken Nnamani, Adolphus Wabara, ex-Speaker Bello Masari and the immediate past National Secretary of the party, Bernard Eze.
The party also referred them to the National Disciplinary Committee for further action.
Rising from its National Working Committee, NWC, meeting Ogbulafor also suspendedÂ former presidential aspirant, Rochas Okorocha, immediate past Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa, former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, the PDP Abia governorship candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Onyema Ugochukwu, former Transport Minister, Abiye Sekibo, one time Health Minister, Professor ABC Nwosu and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.
In a statement signed by the PDP National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, the party expressed its surprise at the refusal of members of the Party, operating under a group called the â€œPDP Reform Forumâ€ to appear before it despite invitations extended to them.
Also affected by Ogbulaforâ€™s sledge hammer were Chief Tony Ukasanya, Chief Sunny Iroche; Senator Emmanuel Agboti; Senator Sylvanous Ngele; Chief Chris Ekpenyong, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State; Hon. Auwal Tukur, former Chief Whip, Bawa Bwari, and Kelechi Igwe.
Part of the statement read: â€œThe National Working Committee of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, at its meeting held on 22nd April, 2010 considered current political events in Nigeria and came up with the following resolutions:
â€œThe NWC is of the view that the concerned members had adequate notice but declined to utilize the opportunity granted them by the invitation to explain their roles.
â€œThe NWC held that the decision to dishonour the invitation to appear before it is a calculated attempt to disregard lawful directives of the Party in order for them to continue to ridicule the Party contrary to Article 12.1 of the PDP Constitution.
â€œConsequently, the following members of the so called PDP Reform Forum are suspended from the Party forthwith in accordance with Article 21.4 of the Party Constitution.â€
PDP is a liability, Nnamani
Crisis in the ruling Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, appeared to be widening as some members of the party, under the aegis of â€œPeoplesâ€™ Democratic Party Reform Forumâ€ converged on Abuja, yesterday, and described the Prince Vincent Ogbulafor-led National Working Committee, NWC, as lacking in leadership.
Speaker after speaker at the Forumâ€™s stakeholdersâ€™ meeting corroborated one another that there was the need for a holistic reform of the party, just as they stressed that the ideals of the founding fathers must be brought to bear if there must meaningful progress in the party.
Members of the forum also noted that there was absence of internal democracy in political parties in the country, just as they decried the state of the current ineffectiveness of the PDP NWC which it said was neither imaginative nor creative in generating ideas to reinforce founding ideals of the Party. They argued that the party must review its activities and take full advantage of the yearnings of Nigerians for a true and sustaining democratic culture.
Members shun NWC meeting
Meanwhile, members of the group who were invited by the NWC to appear before it yesterday shunned the meeting with reasons that they were not properly intimated of the meeting. They also stressed that as senior members of the party who have contributed to the growth of the PDP, the National Chairman ought to have invited them properly and not through newspapers or television.
Those invited to the Partyâ€™s National Secretariat at the same time the stakeholdersâ€™ meeting was holding were former Senate presidents, Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara, former Speaker Bello Masari, former Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili, immediate past Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Rochas Okorocha, among others.
Speaking at the event, former Senate President Ken Nnamani who described the PDP as a liability said that if the party lost an election, Nigerians would describe the polls as very free and fair but when it won, the elections would be regarded as rigged, stressed that Nigeria will get it right if the leadership and members of the PDP got it right.
He said that for the present electoral reform process to succeed, there must be reform in all the political parties, noting that members of the reform group were not there to change the leadership of the party.
Nnamani denied rumours that the group was being funded to foster a new chairman for the party.
He said: â€œI will like to make a number of clarifications because there seems to be dilution of the noble intention of this forum.
Our purpose will be enunciated by subsequent speakers and will indicate very clearly that at no time did we gather or at no time did any individual try to sponsor us to foster on a new PDP chairman on the party. A group of individuals found it convenient to run around with candidates of their choice who will take over from the present chairman of the party, that is not the purpose of this forum. We have, at no time, aspired to select, nominate or direct the activities of PDP, that is not the function because I will like to call attention to Section nine of our constitution, PDP constitution, and I will like to believe also that every person here belongs to PDP.â€
While noting that the Forum was not formed to attack any one or settle political scores, but to agitate their minds on what made PDP strong in the past, Nnamani stressed that they decided to form the body to inject new ideas to the party.
He said that 28 governors of PDP controlled states were invited to the meeting but that they did not attend because, according to him, they had inordinate ambitions to realize their various governorship aspirations of second term.
One time chairman of the Anambra State PDP and national chairmanship aspirant, Chief Dan Ulasi noted that majority of those sitting on the high table constituted the problem of the party, just as he stressed that the reform in the party must start from 1998 and not only on Ogbulafor.
Former Minister of Health, Professor A.B.C Nwosu who noted that they will not keep quiet as a group because the Forum has become a vehicular platform where members of the party can now express their minds, stressed that before now, he had no voice and no where no speak up.
Nwosu said that within the party, there were no primaries any more, as well as manifesto, added: â€œWe cannot keep quiet because in 1998, PDP entered into a covenant with the people of this country.â€
A founding member of the party, Iro Dan Musa, who asked how many members of the NWC were original members of the party, stressed that the Ogbulafor leadership has mismanaged and misled the party from ideals of the founding fathers.
For Doyin Okupe, who attributed the problems of the party to the governors, said that the PDP was not run the way a party should be run in any democracy.
A communiquÃ© issued at the end of the meeting, noted that the PDP Reform ForumÂ would ensure that things were done properly and that the party returned to the pursuit of the noble ideals of its founding fathers and the nationalist spirit that led to its formation.
Reform of electoral process
The communiquÃ© read in part: â€œThe current efforts of the PDP led Federal Government and the PDP led National Assembly to reform our national electoral process is most timely and deserve the unflinching support of all Nigerians.
â€œThe PDP itself must rise up to the occasion by putting in place necessary internal democratic reforms to reflect what is being postulated at the national level. The PDP must revisit all facets of our Party Constitution that militate against transparent internal democracy within the Party and effect immediate reforms.
â€œThe PDP must revisit the current criteria of selections of delegates for our various congresses and convention with a view to seriously reducing the members appointable by a single individual – (be he a state governor or the president/commander-in-chief). Infact, elected delegates must outnumber appointed ones.
â€œThe biennial national conference prescribed in the PDP Constitution, which is currently overdue by three months, be immediately summoned for the sole purpose of examining and effecting these necessary far reaching internal reforms.
â€œAttendance at the conference must be strictly by election at ward/local government levels.
â€œThis conference hereby calls on the founding fathers, the national leader and Acting President, Commander-in-Chief, the Board of Trustees, the expanded National Caucus of our great party and all well-meaning members of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party to take all necessary and appropriate steps to urgently dissolve the National Working Committee of the Party as currently composed and reconstitute same with men of high probity, integrity and commitment to the ideals of our great party in the interest of the Nigerian nationâ€.