By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Umoru Henry, Kingsley Omonobi, Tony Edike & Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS—PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, stepped into the crisis engulfing the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo with a plea to rebel members of the National Working Committee, NWC, to sheath their swords pending the return from medical vacation of the embattled chairman.
However, Vanguard gathered that despite the President’s plea, the rebellion against Dr. Nwodo spread deeper as the Enugu State House of Assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding the suspension from office of the Enugu born National Chairman.
Nwodo who, sources claimed, was cutting short his medical vacation to the United States to stave off the threats to his office, yesterday, affirmed that romance between serving governors and the national secretariat would not guarantee them (first term governors) return tickets.
Nwodo’s first public reaction to the alleged rebellion in the NWC came as his allies alleged a coordinated attack against him which they claimed was being orchestrated from the authorities in his home State.
Vanguard gathered that at the end of the meeting with the three- man delegation of the PDP NWC, Monday night, the President counseled the aggrieved party officials not to implement the dissolution of the contentious Enugu State executive pending the return of Dr. Nwodo.
It was learnt that the President’s counsel was in deference to the office of the National Chairman and was also aimed at lessening the tension at the National headquarters.
The three-man delegation comprising the Deputy National Chairman, Haliru Bello; National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje and the National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, reportedly ended their consultation at the Presidential Villa at about 11.30 p.m. on Monday night.
A source confided that the President urged members of the NWC to work in peace and strengthen the party ahead of the 2011 general elections.
Meanwhile in passing a vote of no confidence and recommending his suspension from office, the Enugu State House of Assembly accused Dr. Nwodo of flagrant abuse of office.
The House resolution also flayed former Information Minister, Chief Nnia Nwodo, for allegedly arrogating to himself the leadership of the Enugu North senatorial zone.
The House asserted that he lacked the mandate to speak for the people of the zone and should, therefore, be ignored.
The lawmakers who were angry over the dissolution of the state party executive, urged the leadership of the party in the state, local governments and wards, to commence the process of reviewing the waiver granted the national chairman.
In the unanimous resolution the 22-member House, upon a motion moved by the member representing Igboeze North constituency, Mike Onyeze, condemned the dissolution of the state executive, alleging that it was done to cause disaffection in the state.
Moving the motion, Onyeze said that since the chairmanship of the party was brought to Enugu State, the situation of the party had changed to the extent that members had become very uncomfortable. He added that they were mistaken in moving for the selection of Nwodo as the national chairman of the party.
He stated that it was unconstitutional for the national chairman to single handedly dissolve the state executive of the party in Enugu without recourse to the NWC and other party organs, stressing that Nwodo had, by the action arrogated so much power to himself to the detriment of the party.
Justifying the allegation that the national chairman was acting a script, another member, Paul Anikwe queried the rationale behind the appointment of an eight-man congress committee headed by Senator Anthony Agbo, whom he said was the Speaker of the State Assembly when Nwodo was governor, some years ago.
He said: “If you want to know, then let me tell you that he has already planned on how to set Enugu on fire and perhaps arrogate the leadership of the party in the state to someone he can manipulate. That is why he is bringing somebody that can act his own script to head the committee”.
Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Eugene Odo, said the motion represented the wishes of the constituencies.
However, Special Assistant on Media to Dr. Nwodo, Mr. Ike Abonyi in his reaction to the resolution said yesterday: “My reaction is that if the resolution is true and if they feel that they are doing the wish of the people they are representing then good luck to them.”
Also yesterday, a group, “Change Initiative” hailed the dissolution of the state executive of the party, calling on the members of PDP in Enugu State to submit themselves to proper state congress that would throw up an acceptable party structure for the state.
The group in a statement by its chairman, Joseph Ozor, said that it was unfortunate that a government that prides itself as a performer could grieve at the mention of congress.
He challenged the members of the Assembly to face the people as a way of renewing their mandate, stressing that those afraid of the popular will were “crying wolf”.
PDP on peace offensive
Meanwhile, the leadership of the PDP, yesterday, went on a peace offensive with the National Publicity Secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, asserting that the NWC was in the process of reconciling their findings with the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC with a view to reaching an amicable settlement of the issue in Enugu State and all the other states mentioned in the letter from the Commission.
The statement said: “The attention of the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has been drawn to divergent headlines in some newspapers alleging a revolt and or a breakdown of cohesion within the ranks of the PDP over reports on the status of the Enugu State Chapter of the Party
“In order to set the records straight and clear all doubts emanating from the reports, the National Working Committee wishes to state as follows: Nigerians will recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had in a letter written to us expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of Congresses in eight States held in 2008, including Enugu State.
“The NWC wishes to state categorically that there is no iota of truth about the so called revolt of any kind against any official of the Party regarding any of the states mentioned by INEC in its letter. We call on all Party members in the affected states to remain calm and await a final position on the issue after due consultations with INEC.”
Nwodo who it was learnt was cutting short his medical vacation in the United States, affirmed that he was not shaken by the threat against him saying that the days when leadership of the party embarked on doctoring what delegates did at the primaries is gone for good.
While assuring PDP state governors not to panic as nobody who meets the constitutional requirements and follows the guidelines of the party would be shortchanged at the primaries, Nwodo urged the governors to note that their fate is with the delegates and not party leaders.
Nwodo in a statement issued on his behalf by Abonyi, said:
The statement said: “The National Chairman of the ruling PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo has said that only accredited delegates of the Party can determine the fate of any aspirant from President, Governors down to the least person”.
Emphasizing that “the era of the leadership of the Party doctoring what the delegates did at the primaries is gone for good” the Chairman said “that the clarification has become necessary following the continued mischievous media campaign suggesting that some State governors have been plotted out of the 2011 contest”