By Dayo Benson & Ola Ajayi
LAGOS—FOLLOWING the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognize the existence of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, executives in eight states where it said congresses were inconclusive, the party in Oyo State said, yesterday, that the electoral body had gone beyond the purview of its power.
This was just as the Senior Special Adviser on Media to Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said the state chapter of the party was in total control of both party and government machineries.
INEC had through a letter dated September 27, entitled ‘Re: Inconclusive State Congresses,’ signed by the Commission’s Secretary, Abdullahi Kauguma; notified the affected states- Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Kogi and Plateau – of its decision not to recognise them if fresh congresses were not held to elect their officers democratically
The letter stated: “We refer to your letter dated June 8, 2010 and the Commissions’ response dated 23rd June 2010, Ref: INEC/DPPM&L/PDP/024/ Vo1.V/161 in respect of your party’s inconclusive State Congresses.
“While noting that Congresses were successfully held in Kano, Katsina and Zamfara States the Congresses of eight (8) State Chapters of your party remain inconclusive having failed to hold in line with provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“Accordingly, the Commission would not relate with illegally constituted State Executive Committees on any matters relating to the 2011 General Elections. In effect, the Commission may not accept the actions and decisions of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, State Executive Committees in Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta,Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Oyo and Plateau States until executives are elected in line with relevant provisions of your Party’s Constitution.”
Oyo PDP has met constitutional requirement —Akanbi
Addressing newsmen on the development in Ibadan, the party’s Secretary, Alhaji Bashiru Akanbi advised INEC to face the herculean task of conducting a free and fair election come 2011 and desist from undue meddlesomeness in the party’s internal affairs.
Akanbi said: ‘’I am telling you here now that the composition of the present PDP executive members in Oyo State is in line with the constitutional provisions.
PDP executive in Oyo State has met constitutional requirement as stipulated in the 1999 and 2010 constitution as amended which clearly states that INEC cannot oversee internal affairs of political parties.”
According to Governor Akala’s media aide, Prince Oyelade: “Either at party or government level, we are in total control in Oyo State and while we feel that such a move by INEC is absolutely unnecessary, we are poised to win any plebiscite in whatever form or shape. We are looking at the larger picture”.
However, in his reaction, Delta State PDP Chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi said on telephone: “I’m not aware of such letter. ”
A source in Adamawa who pleaded anonymity said: “We have not seen any letter.
When we see the letter we will react.”
The congresses which were held in the affected states in 2008 were said not to have complied with provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010.
The Commission’s findings, according to an impeccable source, revealed that the congresses that produced the present party executives in those states were controversial and inconclusive.
Specifically, INEC would rely on Sections 223 of the Constitution and 85 of the Electoral Act which empowered it to take appropriate actions where political party activities failed to comply with democratic principles.
Section 223 of the Constitution says the Parties must operate democratically. Section 223 (1 a) provide for period election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party. Officers of the parties are to emerge through a Congress from wards to states.
Section 85 of the Electoral Act enjoins all political parties to give INEC notices to ensure compliance with their internal rules. According to section 85 (1) “A registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.”
Vanguard was informed by an impeccable source that failure of these states executives to comply with INEC directive meant that their delegates would not be recognised by the Commission to participate in 2011 election primaries of the PDP.
Speaking to Vanguard on the development, Cross River State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Mr. Mike Igini said: “Nigeria should appreciate the fact that there is new leadership in INEC. The legal template to undergo our task is Constitution and Electoral Act. Section 221 of the Constitution gave birth to establishment of political parties in Nigeria. The constitution of political parties derive their validity from this. Thus political parties are not to conduct themselves outside the Constitution.
“Part 1 of Third Schedule paragraph 15 (f) places a duty on INEC to monitor political party compliance to their constitutions. This means there can never be democratic Nigeria if political parties are not democratic.”
Igini, a lawyer, added: “INEC is not and should not be interested in who become managers of the political parties but the duty of INEC is to ensure that the principles, as laid down, are complied with. Unlike in the blindfolded symbol in justice, INEC will open its eyes to see well. When we assumed office, we found that most parties had inconclusive primaries. We found out that the crises INEC contended with in the run-off to 2007 is that the parties were not democratic.
“Most of their elections were inconclusive. Political parties have no respect for their members and glaring examples include imposition of candidates, unlawful exclusion, etc. So, to have a clean beginning, INEC at the retreat in Calabar argued that things should be done right. The current executives in the affected states are unknown to law and INEC as a creation of law under Prof. Jega whose penchant for rule of law is well known, will not relate with them.
So, what we are doing is to give them friendly notice to conduct new congresses.
“By virtue of Section 87 (1),(8), and particularly subsection 9 of Electoral Act 2010, a political party that fails to conduct primary for the purpose of the 2011 elections shall not have names of such candidate included as delegates on INEC list.”
The commissioner who noted that the whole essence of the civil society and the National Assembly that came up with the new law was to encourage political parties to go for popular candidates that can win elections, added: “This will give rise to emergence of popular candidates that Nigerian people consider as competent to deliver to them dividend of democracy. There should be no more imposition of candidate on people.