By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru & Gbenga Olarinoye
ABUJA — THE internal conflict within the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, showed no sign of abating, yesterday, as it emerged that the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, may have swayed one of the governors to his camp.
However, most of the governors, yesterday, demanded a convocation of a National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the party.
The agitation of the governors came as the party also, yesterday, denied news reports that the replacement of Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the National Secretary of the party, by his deputy was the personal agenda of Tukur, the national chairman.
An unsigned statement issued in the name of the party said the replacement of Oyinlola by his deputy, Mr Solomon Onwe, was in adherence to provisions of the party’s constitution.
The provisions of the PDP constitution which Tukur cited to appoint Onwe has provoked controversy as different sections were quoted in different press statements issued by the party on Monday and yesterday.
On Monday, Tukur, in the press statement announcing Onwe as the new national secretary had said: “Pursuant to the powers conferred on the National Chairman by Chapter V Section 35 (1), 35 (1)(b) as well as section 36(2) of the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (as amended), the Deputy National Secretary of the PDP, Barr. Solomon Onwe, is hereby directed to assume duties as the Acting National Secretary of the PDP.”
Yesterday, the party in the unsigned statement had said: “The National Working Committee wants to make it very clear that what happened was nothing more than obedience of a court judgment, and the consequential application of the relevant sections of the party’s constitution under the circumstance.”
Section 45 of the party constitution states: “45 (1) If a National Officer of the party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the National Secretary all records, files and other property of the party in his or her possession. (2) In the case of the National Secretary, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Secretary.”
Remarkably, the two provisions quoted by the party are not in the PDP constitution generally available to party members. Party officials were, however, insisting that the provisions were built in the latest amendments which are yet to be circulated.
Many party officials, nevertheless, expressed embarrassment over the discrepancies in the sections of the PDP constitution cited by Tukur and the unsigned statement, yesterday.
Tukur’s appointment of Onwe
A couple of NWC members who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity said that Tukur was wrong in the application of the constitution he used in appointing Onwe as acting national secretary.
Onwe who was operating from his office as Deputy National Secretary, also dismissed mutterings over the failure of any party official to sign the statement issued yesterday defending his appointment.
Genesis of the crisis
The crisis in the party emerged last October after the NWC dissolved the Adamawa State executive of the party allegedly on the basis of what was claimed as the insubordination of the Alhaji Umar Kugama-led executive.
Following pressure from the party’s governors with a threat to dissolve the NWC, 10 of the 12 members of the NWC earlier this month disowned the dissolution of the Adamawa executive.
The action of 10 dubbed the gang of 10 in dissociating themselves from the dissolution immediately divided the body leading to frictions between Tukur and the majority of the NWC members.
No personal rift between Tukur, Oyinlola —PDP
Meanwhile, the party, yesterday, moved to disclaim reports that the action of Tukur in appointing Onwe as the acting national secretary of the party arose from his perceived differences with Oyinlola.
In the unsigned statement, the party said Oyinlola was replaced by Onwe in deference to the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja which annulled the election of Oyinlola as national secretary.
According to the statement, “the reports create the impression that the change was occasioned by the personal desire of the National Chairman of the party to remove Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from the position of the National Secretary of the party.
“The National Working Committee wants to make it very clear that what happened was nothing more than obedience of a court judgment, and the consequential application of the relevant sections of the Party’s Constitution under the circumstance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we want to say unequivocally that there is no personal rift between Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as the National Chairman of the party, and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to warrant the sensational headlines that have been published in newspapers on the issue.
“In any event, reports have indicated that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has appealed against the Court judgment and the NWC wants to say that as soon as the appeal is decided, the party will, in the same way as it did in the case of the Federal High Court ruling, obey the appeal decision.”
Oyinlola absent at party secretariat
Oyinlola who before now put up regular daily appearances at the Wadata Plaza, national secretariat of the party was for the second working day absent at party secretariat.
Some of his personal aides were, however, around.
The governors backing Tukur, Vanguard learnt, are doing so essentially out of loyalty to President Jonathan who was instrumental to the election of Tukur as national chairman.
Anti-Tukur govs to push for NEC meeting
At today’s meeting with the NWC, the anti-Tukur governors, it was learnt, are expected to push the body to summon a meeting of the NEC of the party. Failure to hold regular meetings of the NEC is one of the issues being canvassed by the anti-Tukur governors to hit at the embattled national chairman.
Against constitutional provisions requiring the party to hold its NEC meetings quarterly, the Tukur leadership of the party has been able to hold one NEC meeting since its advent in March 2012.
A few governors supporting Tukur, led by a North-East governor, Vanguard learnt, would be moving to concretize the court judgment which ousted Oyinlola.
The anti-Bamanga forces on their part are also vowing to resist the removal of Oyinlola who was the candidate of the governors for the position of national secretary.
One of the notable backers of Bamanga, it was learnt, is one of the governors from the South-East who a source said, yesterday, the governors have counted out that he is likely to back out.
“If Oyinlola goes, then Tukur must go,” an associate of one of the governors in the forefront to reinstate Oyinlola told Vanguard in the midst of mobilization against Tukur.
The source said that Adamawa had turned into a test case for the party as he claimed that allowing Tukur to get away with the dissolution of the executive in that state would open the way for anarchy in other chapters of the party in other states. The PDP executives in the states are normally subservient to the governors and it is feared that the action of the Tukur-led PDP could destabilise the power base of the governors in the party.
Group backs removal of Oyinlola
Meanwhile, a political pressure group in Osun State, De-Raufus, yesterday threw its weight behind last Friday’s court removal of Oyinlola as the PDP national secretary.
The group also lauded the decision of the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur for appointing, Mr. Solomon Onwe as acting National Secretary of the party in replacement of the sacked Oyinlola so as not to allow vacuum that may cause doom for the party.
In a statement signed by the group’s chairman, Alhaji Musliudeen Oladimeji, the group commended the sack of Oyinlola and the immediate appointment of acting secretary for the party.
Alhaji Oladimeji stressed that Oyinlola as a trained lawyer should be able to differentiate between illegality and legitimacy and know that the fake election or adoption that enthroned him into the office of the national secretary of the PDP was faulty and it could not stand the test of time since South west executive led by Mr Segun Oni has been sacked too.