B yÂ Henry Umoru
PRIOR to TuesdayÂ April, 27, each passing day was like a nightmare for members of the National Working Committee, NWC of the self-acclaimed largest party in Africa . The temperature in the polity was rising with fervency, thus over heating the system.
With this, there wereÂ insinuations of what the 50th National Executive Committee, NEC meeting would look like. It was gradually becoming evident that the once boisterous party was losing grip of its own house.
The pro-reform group and the anti reform national executive, under the watchful eyes of the embattled national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor all locked themselves in a battle of supremacy. It was as if PDP might implode.on the day of the NEC meeting.
The tension continued even as the meeting drew close. The surrounding of the national headquarters of the party was cordoned off by anti riot Mobile Policemen who mounted guard to forestall the break down of law and order. Already, protesters of different coloration had stormed the Wadata House to press home their demands.
The two groups, both the anti NWC who wants reforms within the PDP, particularly the adoption of internal democratic values by the current leadership and the pro_ Ogbulafor protesters took strategic positions around the national secretariat of the party.Â Chants against Ogbulafor rose high. But the pro PDPâ€™s National Chairmanâ€™s group wonâ€™t be intimidated as they also rallied themselves to impress their opponents that the Prince from Abia has done no wrong to be humiliated.
In all these, the 28_ PDP governors who have not hidden their support for the national chairman intensified their horse trading to keep alive their strategy of ensuring that Ogbulafor is not haunted out of office. The game plan of the governors was understandable. Their resolve to back Ogbulafor is keyed in the hopes of keeping the power sharing game, both at the national and in their respective states.
The PDP governors, if not all, twenty_three of them are strongly behind the National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor at least to actualize their second term bids.
When it was tough for the man they brought in March 8, 2008, it be came very clear to the governors that they must save him, hence series of meetings before the NEC meeting, the last one was that of Monday, a day to the meeting, a reminiscence of what took place March 7, 2008, a day to the national Convention where the Ogbulafor led NWC came on board.
As gathered, one of the moves was to ensure that a vote of confidence was passed on Ogbulaforâ€™s NWC to bring back the gradually eroding confidence of party members, especially the Reform group.
It would be recalled that prior to the March 8, 2008 Convention of the party that brought in the present members of the National working Committee(NWC), the present Chairman of the party was the least expected against the backdrop of the array of big personalities from the South East where it was zoned to until the governors through the Chairman and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki came to install their own and this is when they must not leave him to sink.
For this reason of saving their jobs and flying the flags of the party ahead of the 2011 general elections, the governors at their meetings condemned any clandestine move to remove the National Chairman and other members of the National Working Committee(NWC) outside what the partyâ€™s constitution stipulates, just as they berated a group called the PDP Reform Forum for trying to force the partyâ€™s leadership out of office.
Speaking to Journalists at the end of one its meetings, Saraki said, â€œGovernors noted the activities of an illegal group called PDP Reform Forum who has sent out letters purportedly signed by one Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, former Speaker, House of Representatives and one High Chief Aleogho Dokpesi calling for a meeting. The action of the group is not in line with the Partyâ€™s Constitution; we condemn the action very seriously. We urge the party to take disciplinary action against these members inline with the Partyâ€™s Constitution.
â€œThe Governors call on all their Party members and supporters across the Country to disregard the proposed meeting and not to attend. The Governors also noted recently how the press has been inundated with allegations of corruption against the National Chairman of the Party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, and that non of those allegations have been proved despite this, some are calling for his removalâ€.
Also recall that the Reform Forum, led by former Senate president Ken Nnamani, former speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Bello Masari, and the chairman of Daar Communications, owners of the African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower Radio, Dr Raymond Dokpesi, had last week called for a meeting of PDP stakeholders where far_reaching decisions were expected to be taken against the current Ogbulafor led NWC.
According to a source at the National Secretariat of the party who spoke with Vanguard, the governors made him and it will not be out of place if they come out now at the time of need to save his head from being removed.
The source said â€œIf the governors donâ€™t come out now to save the National Chairman, it will not be easy for them especially those returning for their second term in office will not have it easy the way and manner they had it two years ago and if Ogbulafor is removed from office, they may not be able to play along with the new executive that may be purely Dr. Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s menâ€.
The PDP presently boasts of twenty_eight governors. They are those of Adamawa, AkwaIbom, Bauchi; Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River; Delta; Ebonyi, Ekiti; Enugu; Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina; Kebbi, Kwara and Nasarawa. Others are Niger , Ogun, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara. Out of these, twenty_three of them are still qualified to have their second term bid while those of Osun, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun and Gombe are on their very last lap to complete their second term tenure.
At the end of Tuesdayâ€™s NEC meeting had in attendance all NWC members where Ogbulafor presided, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Leader, House of Representatives, Barnabas Gemade, Anyim Pius Anyim, Alex Ekwueme, Chief Tony Anenih, Amadu Ali, Shauibu Oyedokun, Ibrahim Mantu, Chris Uba, Kanti Bello, among others.
Also present were governors of Benue, Delta, Plateau, Katsina, Kaduna , Nasarawa, Enugu , Jigawa, Ekiti, Rivers, Taraba, Kwara, Cross River , Adamawa, Ogun , Niger , among others.
The PDP NEC as gathered did not discuss one very important issue that has to do with guidelines for the primaries especially ahead of 2011 if candidates must emerge for the election. It means that there must be another NEC in an emergency manner where the issue will be on the top burner especially if the PDP must get a Presidential candidate in September which still remains a tentative date.
Against the backdrop that the Independent National Electoral Commission is out with a tentative 2011 election time table, it becomes worrisome for the party in government not to have come up with its guidelines.
Tuesdayâ€™s NEC was to have approved the guidelines, but it failed to discuss it at least for the fact that first it was not easy making the NEC hold if not for the quick intervention of the governors who had to convince Acting President Jonathan of the need to hold it or the party may collapse. With the resolution of the knotty issues preceding the last NEC meeting, one other issue that will continue to dog the steps of the party is when the guidelines for the selection of its candidates for the 2011 elections would be adopted. This is one issue that the PDP cannot run away from indefinitely.
The Tuesday NEC only approved that sections 12.14, 12.46, and 12.48 of the PDPâ€™s Constitution be amended. According to 12. 14, â€œThe Local Government Executive Committee shall meet at least twice a monthâ€, 12. 46 states that â€œCongress for Federal House of Representatives. All the criteria adopted for local Government Area Congress shall apply to the House of Representatives Congress and 12. 48 which is on Senate congress stipulates that â€œall the criteria adopted for Local Government Area Congress shall apply to the Senate Congressâ€.
The parts of the PDP amendment deal with number of delegates to elect flag_bearers of the Party at various levels, but the PDP noted that the current provision which makes the number of delegates in a Senatorial Congress more than those electing a Governorship Candidate was an anomaly.
Also at the NEC meeting, members passed a vote of confidence on Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and the partyâ€™s National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Rufai Alkali at the end of the closed door meeting, â€œNEC passed a vote of confidence on the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for his heroic role in stabilizing the polity since his assumption of office as the Acting President.
â€œNEC also passed a vote of confidence and commendation to the National Assembly for their steadfastness in ensuring the stability and good governance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria .
â€œIn the same vein, NEC also unanimously expressed a vote of confidence on the National Working Committee, led by the National Chairman, Prince Dr. Vincent Eze Ogbulafor and encouraged the National Working Committee to continue along its current line of organizing the Party and ensuring its growth and stability.
â€œNEC received a report on progress on the new National Secretariat and expressed its delight that the contractors have fully mobilized to site and work has commenced in earnest. NEC commended the Acting President for the pivotal role he has played in the realization of the projectâ€.
At the end of the day, Tuesday 27 came and gone with the PDP still having a lot to contend with, the governors, having saved their man, Ogbulafor, the journey is still rough as it is not yest Uhuru for the party and its leadership.
The question is will the governors plead with the Masari reform group that have been described as rebels to sheath their sword by withdrawing the case challenging their suspension from the Court, when will the party hold its next NEC when the guidelines will be approved to set the pace for the electioneering process in the party.
It is hoped that the governors will realize that the Carnival has not finally closed, time shall tell as events unfold in the family of the largest party in Africa .
Henry pol 2