By Henry Umoru 12-7-13
ABUJA- CHAIRMAN, Special National Convention Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Professor Jerry Gana yesterday declared that Committee was not in any way running a parallel National Working Committee, NWC contrary to reports that the Committee was at war with Bamanga Tukur led Executive.
Addressing Journalists yesterday in Abuja, the former Minister of Information, who explained that the Committee was working in line with its assignment which has to do with conducting the Special National Convention, said that the functions of the Committee were not in any way conflicting with that of the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led NWC.
Gana who also vowed that the Convention Committee will not in the course of its assignment go outside its terms of reference.
Flanked by the Secretary of the Committee and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Professor Gana disclosed that Special National Convention scheduled to hold at Eagle Square, Abuja, will take place on Saturday, 31st August, 2013 while the South West Zonal Congress will hold on Saturday, 24th, August, 2013 with Ibadan as venue.
It will be recalled that the Special National Convention was earlier fixed for 20th of this month while the South West Congress would have taken place yesterday, but it became imperative to shift the days as they coincided with the period of the Ramadan fast.
According to Gana, approved guidelines for both the Zonal Congress and the Special National Convention shall be released on Monday next week, adding that the appropriate Nomination Forms which had earlier been released by the Committee remain valid, “but more copies shall be made available as may be required by interested members. For the avoidance of doubt, all Nominatiin Forms earlier purchased and completed by interested members remain valid.”
When asked to comment on reports of complaints by PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that his Committee was running a parallel NWC, Gana said, ‘’the answer to the question as to whether we are running a parallel executive is absolutely, no. ‘’This is because, immediately we were inaugurated, we met and the primary assignment given to this committee was given to us by the NEC. We read it out to our members and it does not in any way conflict with the functions of the NWC.
On the treatment at the Chairman’s residence where he was locked out with Ekweremadu, the former Minister of Information said, “We don’t want to speak on the speculated lock-out at the chairman’s residence. We don’t want to speak on such an issue concerning a man we have great respect for. Whatever it is, shall be resolved, but not on the pages of newspapers.’’
It will be recalled that since the National Executive Committee, NEC of the party at its last meeting last month approved the Committee to conduct election and fill the post where some members of the National Working Committee, NWC resigned, Tukur has been having problem with the Committee.
The problem, Vanguard gathered first came up when Tukur complained of non inclusion of members of NWC as sub-committee members which then led to the inclusion of six of the NWC members.
The national chairman and members of the interim NWC, a source told vanguard are not happy with the Gana’s committee on the grounds that the committee was operating as a parallel NWC, whereas, the committee was expected to take directives from the Tukur led NWC.
Speaking further on the Special Convention, Gana promised that the Committee would ensure that the Convention was conducted in transparent, free, fair and credible manner, even as he stressed that founding fathers of the party strongly desired the restoration of democracy in Nigeria through which governments shall be freely elected by the people in free, fair and credible elections under the rule of law.
“Democracy was thus central to the formation of the PDP, without which it may lose essence and meaning. This is why the Party is making every effort to sustain internal democracy.”
The Chairman of the Convention who explained that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had been notified of the convention prior to the change of date, said that what the party will do would be to give INEC additional information on the new dates, adding, “It was several years back that the party resolved that for each convention, we have a special convention planning committee. This is just like what is happening in the country. You cannot have a situation where the Federal Executive Council organising a national election.
“That is why we have an INEC. It is part of fairness, it is part of democracy; it is part of making sure that democracy is not truncated by selfishness. So, we are not in any conflict. The assignment given to us was communicated to us again by the NWC. I assure you that we will never go beyond what we have been assigned.
“On the letter to INEC informing them of this development, a letter was signed by the national chairman of our great party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, to inform the INEC about the convention. Because of the Ramadan fasting, we shifted the date. So, the national chairman has already informed INEC and given the mandatory 21 days notice.
“The notice has already been served. We have already informed them and we have done that before the 21 days period and so, we have fulfilled the law. Just for the purpose of emphasis, it was not the secretary (Ekweremadu) or me that signed the letter; it was our national chairman that signed the letter.
On letter from the former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola complaining of the South West Congress that the office was not vacant, Gana who admitted that the Committee received the letter from him, said, “immediately we received the letter since we have legal advisers in the party we referred the letter to legal advisers. We as a committee will receive the report when the full committee meets and whatever is advised in accordance to law we will abide.
“In the meantime, in order not to cheat any body of their privilege those who want to purchase the form before the expiration of the date will be allowed to do so because if we don’t allow them and at the end it is ruled that they can purchase forms then there is no time. So an office can only be contested for only if it is vacant. If in the end the ruling is clear that it is not vacant of course we will give them their money and they too will see that it was not our fault. So we are allowing them so that they will not excluded unfairly.
Speaking on the list of delegates to the Special Convention, Gana who stressed that the list of 2012 would be used because the forthcoming convention was not a fresh one, but to remedy the wrong, said, ‘’when we met last, we sent the list to the states for verification not ratification. Because the National Executive Committee has already taken a very clear decision that this is a repeat convention. So the delegates list will be in accordance with the 2012 convention. ‘’But in the event where some people have passed on or are no longer members of our party only the state formation of the party will be able to advise us that certain persons are no longer in the party or have died.”That is the verification.
‘’Once they return the list, it is not for election at all, we are not going to do an election of new delegates, so we want to assure that delegates will be very appropriately constituted in accordance with directive of the National Executive Committee as already sent to the state the published list of delegates.
He assured that the state party formations will not tamper with the delegate list knowing that “we the master list with us.’’, adding that an accreditation committee has been set up to verify the list and ensure that members are protected and if there are issues we will send it to the committee and they will do accreditation.
He said, “We want to assure you that no one will be cheated out of his or her right.”
On the zoning of offices to geopolitical zones, Senator Ekweremadu said, “just for the sake of clarification, in the first place all the position due to respective zones will remain in those zones. But for respective zones the states will now meet if there any need to rearrange the position.
‘’But as much as possible we encourage that the states would maintain what was given to them. We think that it is fair but the zones are at liberty as long as there is consensus and they really agree. The main thing is just for fairness. Unless it becomes necessary then what they”
On the crisis rocking Rivers State, Gana, stated that while the crisis was outside their purview as a convention committee, he expressed confidence that the appropriate bodies saddled with the responsibility of looking into to matter were doing so.
He said, “I am sure you know that it is not part of our assignment, but I want to assure you that the appropriate body including the National Assembly are already looking into it and they will take the necessary steps to look into the matter. Fortunately I am very privileged to have the deputy Senate President as the Secretary of this committee and he has assured me that they are doing their very best to assure that these issues are resolved.
But it is not part of the responsibility of the national convention committee.”
When asked on the number of persons that have so far collected forms and how much was the budget, Gana however declined to state the number of people that have collected and submitted form so far.
He however said people were free to buy their forms, adding that when the accreditation committee was through with its assignment, names of those that have indicated interest and qualified to stand for the election would be published accordingly.
He explained that sub committees were setup to assist them in the process adding that it was the usual practice by the party.