By Soni Daniel, Emma Ujah and Henry Umoru
Atiku, 6 govs form faction
*Baraje, Oyinlola, Jaja lead faction
*Other national officers to emerge soon
Exactly 15 years after its formal launch, the lingering crisis in the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, degenerated, yesterday, when
former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven governors broke away, formed a faction and named new national officers for it.
The governors are: Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, and Babangida Aliyu of Niger.
The governors and their teeming supporters had earlier stormed out of the Eagle Square, venue of the PDP Special Convention, after they alleged that the list of delegates for the election of national officers of the party, scheduled to be conducted at the convention, and the contestants had been manipulated by the leadership to usher in their preferred candidates.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the PDP incurred the wrath of the governors when it also became clear that the party was not ready to adhere to the guidelines released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of the convention and remove the impediments that led to the cancellation of the previous convention.
The embittered governors, some senators and House of Representatives members as well as other statutory delegates from their respective states later converged at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, where they unfolded the agenda and the names of the national officers of their faction. Some former national officers of the party made the list of new officers of the new PDP. They were, Abubakar Baraje, who was named the new National Chairman, Olagunsoye Oyinyola, National Secretary and Sam Sam Jaja, who emerged the New Deputy National Chairman of the faction.
Shortly after being proclaimed the new National Chairman of the party, Baraje said he was ready to make the PDP the party that would give adequate attention to all members and give them a level -playing field to achieve their political ambitions.
Baraje said the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP had destroyed the core values, which the founding fathers of the PDP bequeathed to Nigeria and frustrated many key members out of the party, while those who knew nothing about the philosophy of the party were now the leading lights. He also denounced the tendency by the Tukur administration to breathe down on the neck of members, who do not do the bidding of the Presidency and its lackeys, saying that such a practice was undemocratic and retrogressive.
Baraje said, “While we have done everything humanly possible to bring to the attention of critical stakeholders within the party the dangers inherent in the course being charted by that leadership, it has become very clear that the desperate permutations towards 2015 general elections have blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions.
“Not only has the Constitution of the party been serially violated by Alhaji Tukur and fellow travellers, but all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though they are above the law. “Unfortunately, it is obvious that that they get encouragement from the Presidency whose calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
“As leaders of our great party, we consider it a sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes, who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends. While the list of their violations of the tenets of our great party is long, we will highlight just a few:
*The National Executive Committee of the PDP, at its belated meeting of 20 June 2013, approved 20 July2013 for the conduct of a Special National Convention. However, that date was changed to August 31 without reverting to NEC (the only authority vested with such powers) by a few people, apparently acting on the authority of the Presidency.
*Notwithstanding the fact that INEC had noted that the PDP congresses in nine states were not properly conducted, the illegal delegates from such states are being paraded at the so-called convention being held today in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law and further bring the name of the party to disrepute
*In gross violation of the PDP constitution, which stipulates that the NEC meeting must hold at least once in a quarter, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and a few people have been running the party like a personal fiefdom without recourse to that important decision-making organ of the party.
*The NEC of the party accepted the resignation of the former members of the NWC whose offices were affected by INEC observations based principally on the agreement that the affected officers would be returned to their respective offices at the convention
*Notwithstanding INEC insistence that Senator Andy Uba is the duly elected candidate of the party in Anambra State and against the background that he is so recognized by majority of our party members, the Bamanga Tukur-led Executives announced a purported suspension of Senator Uba and some other members close to him in defiance of subsisting court orders.
*Despite that the PDP Constitution is very clear that the state chapter of the party cannot discipline a national officer, the Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Sam Jaja, has reportedly been dismissed by some renegades, who have hijacked the Rivers State chapter of our party with the connivance of the Bamanga Tukur leadership.
*The persistent change in the list of the party’s delegates in many states as part of a deliberate attempt to rig the party’s nomination of candidates, especially at the Presidential and gubernatorial levels, with a view to foisting on the PDP some unpopular candidates who are bound to lose at the polls.
*The suspension without due process of the Governors of Rivers and Sokoto states even when the illegal suspension on Sokoto State Governor has been lifted, the Rivers Governor remains purportedly suspended for no just cause.
*The illegal dissolution of the Adamawa State chapter of the party is a clear abuse of power by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, thus causing confusion in his home state.
“Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the Bamanga Tukur leadership cannot guarantee for our millions of party members democracy anchored on free choice and the rule of law. We have therefore, taken it upon ourselves to rescue the party from their inept and dictatorial leadership.
“It is indeed noteworthy that from 1999 to date, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by our great party but not only does such trust come with enormous responsibility, we recognize that we cannot continue to take the people for granted.
From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put the interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual.
“For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon. It is a new dawn for the Peoples Democratic Party.
“As we take over the leadership of the PDP, our immediate priority is to revive the culture of robust debate of all contending issues while providing a level-playing field for all our members. These were the ideals that differentiated our party from others and endeared us to Nigerians. ‘We are not, and have never been, a political party where one man would be taking decisions for all members and where once you do not kowtow before the Presidency, you are deemed a rebel that must be crushed. That is not the PDP bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. That, I dare say, is no longer what PDP under our leadership will represent from today.”
‘Party brought down’
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his remarks, lamented that the PDP, which started in 1998, had been brought down by those who knew nothing about it. “Let us see how we can reform PDP for those lofty goals to be achieved. They can never be achieved by the Presidency and the current PDP leadership,” Atiku said. “I’m sad to see this. I will, therefore, want to appeal to the rest of our members who are still sitting on the fence to join the new PDP. I want to assure you the new party will restore the fading values of the founding fathers of the party. By the grace of God and with your support the change will come.”