PDP:Â OUR PARTY;Â Â OURÂ WAY
This is an exclusive report on the Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme National Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.Â It is also about the White Paper from the recommendations of the committee and how the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party, adopted the recommendations of the committee, which declared that members should be readmitted into the party in an â€œUnfettered and Unconditionalâ€ manner.
By Jide Ajani , Deputy Editor
They were watching home video. This was at the 42nd National ExecutiveÂ Committee, NEC, meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.Â It was on November 23, 2007, at the multi-purpose hall of the PDP national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.Â The viewing audience comprised of members of the PDP NEC.
The opening prayers were offered by Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Pauline Tallen and Mr. Abdullahi Jalo.Â The meeting was very crucial so the prayers were needed.
Ahmadu Ali, then national chairman of the party, welcomed members and took time off to tell them that the video clip they were watching was tagged â€œThe Making of a Presidentâ€.Â He said it was a documentary of the Presidential campaigns of the partyâ€™s candidate, President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
The meeting that day was very crucial because the members had to discuss the white paper on the Dr. Alex Ekwueme National Reconciliation Committee Report.
The report contained far-reaching decisions and recommendations on how to handle members who were either forced to leave the party or who left the party out of frustration.Â The other category of party leaders who left the party was made up of those who were not registered during the re-registration exercise of 2005/2006.
The reason why that dayâ€™s meeting was important was because even among the NEC members, the sympathy for some of their colleagues in the party was massive and the outcome of their decision would determine whether such members would have a say in the party again.
But two sections of the PDP constitution stood against those members who had left the party. The two sections of the PDP constitution which relate to this matter are: Article 8 (9) and 16 (4) and they state, respectively:
â€œPersons who desire to rejoin the party after leaving it shall, unless exempted by the National Working Committee, NWC, be placed on probation for a period of time not less than a yearâ€. Article 16 (4) states: â€œNo member of the party shall be qualified for nomination or election or appointment into any of the offices of the party, unless he or she has been a registered member for at least 18 months, and is of good financial standing in the party, except there is a waiver by the appropriate executive committeeâ€.
So, at that meeting, the matter of members who had left the party and were returning was the seventh item on the agenda – the presentation of the Report of the National Reconciliation Committee, chaired by Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Ekwueme.
The Report made 18 recommendations. The National Chairman presented the White Paper on the report.
According to the minutes of that meeting, Ali explained â€œthat the reconciliation committee which was set up on 23rd July, 2007, submitted its report on 9th October, 2007.Â He said the National Working Committee produced a White Paper on the report and presented for the consideration of the National Executive Committee.
â€œHe called on members to note the aim of the reconciliation exercise as envisaged by Mr. President and accordingly approve the white paper. â€œSome members observed that the white paper was defective for not highlighting the findings of the committee from which the recommendations were drawn in the first instance.
â€œThe national chairman, however, took members through the white paper, item by item for approval.â€ The NEC then approved â€œthe white paper as presented.Â â€œHowever, comments on Recommendation 2 was rejectedâ€ What this implied was that the recommendations as contained in the white paper were approved.
The White paper in question is â€œMEMO: NEC 42/60/07; to NEC; from: NWCâ€, and was titled â€œWHITE PAPER ON THE REPORT OF THE NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMITTEEâ€.
Recommendation 9, which talks about how to deal with members who were forced out or frustrated out states:
â€œThe 2006 membership revalidation exercise should be revisited to allow for UNFETTERED AND UNCONDITIONAL return of all members of the party and access to new membersâ€.
The comment attached to this recommendation reads: â€œNEC accepts this recommendation. â€œCards have continued to be made available to those who claim they were shut out during the exercise.â€
According to the White Paper which is in the possession of Sunday Vanguard, tours were arranged by the committee in order to:
*â€œListen to the grievances of aggrieved members of PDP from various states during interactive sessions
*â€œReceive reports from state executive committees;
* â€œHold extended discussions with founding fathers who have left the party with a view to urging them to returnâ€.
The white paper then went ahead to state thus:
â€œTo ensure effective coverage, the committee identified target groups such as:
*â€Members of the G-34, many of whom have left the party, leaving only about six active members
*â€Body of Conveners of the party in each state as at 1998
*â€Aggrieved members/stakeholders who either left or were forced to leave the party
*â€Aggrieved members who are still in the party but have remained inactive in party programmes and may even be on the brink of leaving the party.
â€œThe committeeâ€, according to the white paper, â€œapproved and undertook a tour of the six geo-political zones in the following order:
*North Central zone, with the meeting in Abuja;
*North West zone, with meeting at Kaduna;
*North east zone, with meeting at Bauchi;
*South West zone, with meeting in Abeokuta;
*South East zone, with meeting at Enugu;
*South South zone, with meetings at Asaba and Calabarâ€
In all, there were 18 recommendations from the Ekwueme Committee.
But in conclusion, the White Paper expressly declared: â€œThe National Reconciliation Committee provided a unique opportunity for the ventilation of grievances by members of the party, exposure of conflict-engendering practices, disclosure of significant problems within the party as well as articulation of proposals for strengthening the party.
â€œDuring the public sittings at the six geo-political zones, aggrieved members of the party freely articulated their positions, told their stories, gave expression to all manner of complaints and offered varying perspectives on the affairs of the party.
â€œAll these submissions have been synthesized as the findings of the committee.
â€œThey also form, in large part, the basis of the recommendation of the reconciliation committee report because this report is a distillation of ideas garnered from members across the country and different strata of the party, the NEC believes that they provide valuable inputs in the partyâ€™s efforts to bring about reconciliation of its members.
â€œIt would be worthy to note here that some aggrieved members have returned to the party while more are on their way back as a result of the National Reconciliation Committee.
â€œThe recommendations have also identified modalities for promoting globally accepted democratic practices in line with the principles and ideals of the founding fathers of the PDP and the NWC is applying the recommendations where necessary in the management of the affairs of the party.â€
It then showed appreciation saying â€œThe NEC thanks the members of the national reconciliation committee for a job well done.â€
The import of all of these is that all the members and leaders of the PDP who returned to the party may not even require a waiver of any sort as required by the partyâ€™s constitution since the NEC had accepted Recommendation 9.
Therefore, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his associates, as well as Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and co, based on Recommendation 9, have been considered accepted back into the PDP in an â€œUNFETTERD AND UNCONDITIONALâ€ manner.
MEMBERS OF THE EKWUEMEÂ COMMITTEE
1. Dr. Alex I. Ekwueme, GCON, chairman
2. Mallam Adamu Ciroma, CFR, member
3. Olabode George, CON, member
4. Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, member
5. Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun,
6. Amabassador Aminu Wali, member
7. Dr. Bello H. Muhammed, member
8. Lady Ime Essien Udom, member
9. Alhaji Abubakar Magaji, member
10. Prof. Jerry Gana, CON, member
11. Dr, Stephen Oru, member (secretary)