By Henry Umoru
ABUJA —ELDER statesman and prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, raised an alarm that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will soon explode as the governors elected on the platform of the party who are operating under the Nigeria Governors Forum have hijacked it and driving the country to madness with their selfish interests.
Addressing newsmen in his Asokoro residence, Abuja, yesterday, Chief Clark who also tongue-lashed former President Olusegun Obasanjo for allegedly destroying the party, warned that if Nigeria and the PDP must achieve the desired democratic principles, the overbearing nature of the governors at the state who impose candidates must be checked.
He, therefore, called on patriotic Nigerians, the founding fathers of the PDP and the youths to, as a matter of urgency, stand up against what he termed the ugly trend by the governors for the survival of the nation’s democracy.
PDP govs driving Nigeria mad — Cark
According to him, the governors were now using the forum to act as an opposition party to President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government. He alleged that they deliberately breach with impunity, the Constitution of Nigeria and the constitution of the PDP, adding that the governors elected on the platform of the PDP were driving the country to madness.
The former Federal Commissioner for Information in his fourteen-page address, also accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of being responsible for the problems bedevilling the PDP at the moment, even as he said that with his military antecedents, indoctrination and conceptualization, he destroyed the PDP especially against the backdrop that the former Board of Trustees, BoT, chairman “obliterated the known practice of the distinction of the Party Chairmanship with the leadership, and office of the President.”
He explained that the PDP’s constitution was strictly adhered to in 1998 prior to Obasanjo’s joining the PDP when he now changed things. Clark chronicled some of the activities that the former President allegedly carried out while in office along side former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Amadu Ali. He alleged that Obasanjo resigned as BoT chairman because he discovered that he could not control the government of Jonathan as he earlier envisaged.
How Obasanjo bastardised PDP
The Octogenarian said: “The 1999 election was consequently before any political office was elected, controlled, determined and approved by him and his executive. During this period, the supremacy of the party was intact when Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chief Solomon Lar, former Governor of Plateau State were on the driving seat of the party.
“However, somewhere along the line, the then incoming President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo used his military antecedents, indoctrination and perceptual conceptualization to obliterate the known practice of the distinction of the party chairmanship with the leadership, and office of the President.
“He prevented the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi from becoming the chairman of the great party on the reason that Chief Awoniyi was a Yoruba man like himself. He preferred Engr. Barnabas Gemade, who actually became the National Chairman of the party. Much sooner and for no justifiable reason, he decided to replace Gemade with young Audu Ogbeh, who used to be a Minister in the Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s government.
“The kidnap of Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State and the politics of Mr. Chris Uba, the younger brother of Sen. Andy Uba, who was then the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters, provoked some sort of disagreement between the chairman of the party and the President of the country, who single-handedly sacked the National Chairman of the party and at his own instance, imposed Sen. Ahmadu Ali as the new National Chairman of the party with little or no resistance from the party leadership/hierarchy.
“We witnessed the bastardisation of the party by the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the former National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ahmadu Ali, who for their own interests frustrated all the founding fathers of the party and party faithful by de-registering most of the founding members of the party.
“Chief Obasanjo installed himself as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the party as a former President of the country. With all of these actions, the party’s supremacy was punctured and destroyed.
“Members and all concerned reluctantly accommodated this unilateral attitude of the President in office at that time, while he got himself consolidated for the period he served. Concurrently, the governors in the various states also assumed the same posture and in all circumstances seized the soul, the heart and disciplinary features of the party.”
PDP sitting on keg of gun powder
The elder statesman, who warned that the PDP was at the moment sitting on a keg of gun powder that will explode at any time, however, called on the Governors Forum to have a re-think on thier activities, reminding them that power is transient, adding that enough is enough.
Clark who explained that the Chairman of PDP is the leader of the party and not the President of the country in line with Article 13:1 of the party’s constitution, however, stressed that this applies to the governors who are not the leaders of the party in their respective states, but the state party chairmen, adding that the governors have taken over all issues relating to governance and the party structure.
According to him, “the governors fail to conduct local government elections and run the councils with their appointees; they also interfere in decisions of the leadership of the party like in the case of Adamawa State; the governors also have overbearing influence on the state legislators where they even appoint Principal Officers of the House; the governors also frustrated moves by the PDP to generate income through computerized party membership system. Like what Chief Obasanjo did as President then, the governors have seized the soul, the heart and disciplinary features of the party.
“My Dear Governors today I am over 85 years old. I have a slogan which is that when one is 70 years and above, he is at the Departure Lounge, waiting for the Boarding Pass and, therefore, such person must have the courage and wisdom to speak out one’s mind on any issue affecting the destiny of the country. And failure to do so, is a dis-service to the nation.
“I have a stake in this country. And I have children, some of whom are educated in some of the best universities in the world and some of them are as old as some of you. These children, like all other Nigerian children, also have stake in this our dear country, Nigeria.
“I now wish to dwell on some of the offending activities of the Governors Forum which are driving the country to madness but which as members you do not care about, provided you achieve your purpose and the Forum’s over-bearing influence on the PDP, the supremacy of which you have hijacked.
Govs Forum as opposition party
“The Governors Forum is now acting as an opposition party to the Federal Government. It deliberately breach with impunity, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Constitution of the PDP, without any challenges.
The Forum has now become a threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria. Most of the Governors today, are more dictatorial than the then Military Governors.
“A situation whereby the various political offices in Nigeria, both at the party and governmental levels will be manipulated and controlled by the Governors Forum is worse than even the military regime, and is unacceptable.
“Today, the PDP is sitting on a keg of gun powder which can explode at any time. The question is: who will bell the cat? I wish to urge the Governors Forum to have a re-think on its activities, remembering that power is transient.
“For us to achieve these democratic principles, there must be internal democracy, accountability, fairness and justice in the affairs of the party.
The PDP governors who now regard themselves as the leaders of the party, are using their own structures to entrench corruption, lack of internal democracy, imposition of candidates within the structures of the party over the recognized structures as entrenched in the Party’s Constitution.
Imposition of candidates
“The continuous imposition of candidates in total disregard to the provisions of the party’s constitution is weakening the Party’s cohesion and harmony, unknowingly destroying its peace, unity, solidarity and its democratic values.
Worst still, the quality of governance in most of the PDP-controlled governments is very poor, thereby jettisoning the Aims and objectives of the 1998/1999 founding fathers which is the propagation of democratic ideals in the Nigerian polity.
“The over-bearing influence of the Governors Forum in the polity has become a matter of serious concern.
The activities of the PDP Governors Forum, in particular, have become very disturbing and calls for urgent correction as it is fast eroding the authority and the supremacy of the party and posing a serious threat to our democracy.
The Forum has become a powerful tool in the hands of the governors who now use it to pursue and promote their individual and collective interests with little or no regard to the letter and spirit of the party’s constitution and supremacy.”