By HENRY UMORU, DEMOLA AKINYEMI & JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
ABUJA — The crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, took another turn yesterday as the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur vowed to declare vacant the seats of senators, House of Representatives members and other elected officers who identified with the seven governors that formed a parallel executive of the party.
Some of the affected lawmakers and other stakeholders of the party have, however, dismissed Tukur’s threat as an empty boast that has no legal basis and advised him to go and read the Electoral Act on the issue and be properly guided. This came as the Kwara State chapter of the party aligned itself with the Baraje-led faction, saying the Tukur-led executive no longer exists.
Also yesterday, the Tukur-led PDP approached an Abuja High Court, asking it to commit new PDP Chairman, Baraje and other officilas of the nPDP to one year in prison, even as it emerged yesterday that Tukur’s confidence might have taken root from the presidency..
Addressing journalists in Abuja, yesterday, Tukur, who claimed that he was fully in charge as the National Chairman of PDP, stressed that there was no faction in the party and there was no room for such a claim under any guise.
Tukur who threatened to send men of the Department of State Service, DSS; the Police and other security agencies after the rebellious governors and their sympathiszers for operating illegally, however vowed that the party will not hesitate to declare vacant, seats of the 26 senators and the 102 members of the House of Representatives, as well as other elected officers of the party that have dclared for the new PDP (nPDP).
But in a swift reaction, the chairman of nPDP and former Acting National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje described Bamanga Tukur and others who might not understand how party politics works, as jokers.
He said: “They are all jokers, they don’t know what party politics is. We are not surprised because he (Tukur) is ignorant of party politics. In any case, the process of declaring a seat vacant or recalling members of the National Assembly is well known in the constitution; to wake up and say he is going to recall people or declare their seats vacant is sheer ignorance. He is not fit to be called the National Chairman of the PDP.”
Speaking in a similar vein, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Rep. Zakari Mohammed said: “The man should go and read the Electoral Act and be guided as that will guide his utterances. This is about the law. What he does not understand is that when a party is factionalised, I can decide to say that I belong to PPA today, it doesn’t matter because it is public knowledge today that we have two factions of the PDP and nobody can pretend about it”.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who simply read a two-page statement that was made up of eight paragraphs without taking any further questions from journalists said: “Gentlemen of the press, you are aware of the current developments in our great party. Our reason for being here is to inform you without any iota of doubt that the Peoples Democratic Party has no faction and there is neither room nor reason whatsoever for such a claim under any guise.
“The PDP has only one duly elected National Executive Committee (NEC) under my chairmanship. I wish therefore to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of NEC or any other organ of our party are impostors and I urge all Nigerians, especially the security agencies and other institutions of democracy to regard them as such.
“Let me state categorically that the PDP as the sole custodian of the sacred mandate of over 160 million Nigerians and which in the last 14 years has lifted high the banner of democracy will not fold its arms while some undemocratic and unpatriotic elements destroy our common destiny by causing divisions and confusion among the people.
“Consequently, we shall ensure that any person who is not duly elected into any leadership position in our great party and has not been duly assigned any role but goes ahead to arrogate such to himself will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“Similarly, all persons elected on the platform of our great party at all levels who identify with these enemies of the oneness and greatness of our party shall have their seats declared vacant as required by law.
“We shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that such persons and indeed any other individual who attempts to subvert the leadership of the PDP shall reap in full, the consequences of such actions.
“I wish to emphasize that the PDP has adequate mechanism for internal conflict resolution. All party members are, therefore, advised to ventilate their grievances through this medium. There is only one lawfully recognized PDP and I am firmly in charge. I thank you and may God bless you.”
Tukur’s confidence, it was learnt, followed President Goodluck Jonathan’s apparent rejection of the demands of the rebel governors at the Tuesday night meeting he had with loyalist governors.
At the meeting, President Jonathan was said to have flatly rejected the requests of the rebel governors that he should among others not contest the 2015 presidential contest.
Sources close to the presidency disclosed that the president was quoted as saying that he would not lose sleep over the matter saying “those who ignited the fire should go and quench it.”
A presidency source privy to the development was quoted as saying: “What is happening in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has nothing to do with the president; it is not his headache at all and he is not losing sleep over it.
“The president believes that those who ignited the crisis should also look for ways to put it off. And from security reports, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is behind it; he cannot start a crisis and now pretending to be finding a solution to it.”
Presidential aides it was learnt, are worried that former President Obasanjo and his associates may be determined to use the crisis to stop President Jonathan from seeking reelection using the opportunity offered by the crisis.
PDP urges court to commit Baraje, others to prison
The Bamanga Tukur-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also urged a Federal High Court, Abuja, to commit to prison for alleged contempt of court, factional chairman of the party Alhaji Kawu Baraje, the faction’s National Secretary Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Dr Sam Jaja.
The party wants the court to jail the three for a minimum of one year each for allegedly violating a judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered on January 11.
In the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court, which was said to have been violated by the alleged contemnors, the court had nullified Oyinlola’s candidacy as a nominee of the Southwest Zonal Chapter of the PDP.
The Tukur-led party however argued that Oyinlola, “with guilty knowledge” “appointed and declared” himself as the National Secretary of the PDP “for the purpose of rendering the judgment of this Honourable Court nugatory and of no effect.”
The motion on notice for committal of the alleged contemnors, filed yesterday, was brought pursuant to Order 35 of the Federal High Court Rules 2009.
Counsel to the PDP, Mr Ajibola Oluyede, who made the court processes available to newsmen at briefing in Lagos, said he was directed by the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led PDP to file the action.
He said they have also filed a Preliminary Objection against the suit filed by Oyinlola, Baraje and Jaja at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja.
Kwara PDP backs Baraje
Meantime, Kwara State chapter of PDP, yesterday, aligned itself with the Kawu Baraje-led executive of the party, saying the PDP under the chairmanship of the Tukur-led executive council no longer exist.
The party leadership in the state expressed its resolve to back the Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje nPDP because of his sterling leadership qualities which brought the party to its peak when he held sway as the acting national chairman of the now troubled party.
The state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Ishola Balogun Fulani speaking at a press conference at the party secretariat in Ilorin, recalled that Baraje was able to maturely handle all the crisis in the party to a minimal level and even won more electoral victories for the party.
According to Fulani, who was represented by his secretary, Prince Yemi Afolayan,”the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP has violated the constitutional breaches and its national working committee should vacate office in the interest of the growth of the PDP.
“It was under Bamanga Tukur-led national leadership that leaders of the party have been treating members without following due process, causing disaffection among members of the party.
“As far as the PDP is concerned now in Nigeria, Abubakar Kawu Baraje remains the only leader that can salvage the PDP from its present predicament and so Bamanga Tukur has gone”, he added.
According to him,”we are authentic PDP in Kwara and no one group can lay claim to it any where”. While describing the politicians behind the claim to PDP in the state as “hungry people”, the chairman stressed that,” Baraje remains our national chairman of new PDP and Senator Bukola Saraki is also our leader and no one can lay claim to the PDP leadership except the affected leaders”.
Tukur’s not in tune with realities—Ugochinyere
Also, a Chieftain of the New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, has likened the purported threat by the embattled Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to suspend lawmakers that have given support to Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led faction as a desperate crying speech of a reckless fisherman that had lost control of his boat.
Ikenga Ugochinyere who is the Convener of the New PDP Stakeholders Forum in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said that Tukur was not in tune with realities on ground, accusing him of destroying a party that was once united.
The statement which was titled, “reaction to Bamanga Tukur’s drowning fisherman press conference” read: “The attention of the PDP Stakeholders Forum and die-hard supporters of the New PDP which is on a rescue mission has been drawn to the ranting and impotent statement made by the drowning PDP factional chairman Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to the emergence of the popular new leadership of the party.
“I want the press to know that the statement made by Tukur at his today’s (yesterday) press conference is nothing but a desperate crying speech of a reckless fisherman who has lost control of his boat as a result of recklessness and is fast sinking.
“We urge members of the party to ignore the speech like they have ignored the ranting of the impostor Chairman in the past.
“Tukur is not in tune with realities on the ground. We urge him to stop crying and bow his head in shame for destroying a united party. We dare him to use his impotent childish suspension option which has faded away with his dislodged rotten reign.
“As Tukur continues to hallucinate, more National Assembly members, members of the State Assemblies elected on the party’s platform, members at all levels, Governors, BoT (Board of Trustees) etc continue to join the new PDP rescue mission.
“Let nobody listen to a man who is not even a member of the party. Let him face the legal battle fired on him and forget noise making as he lacks the power to declare anybody’s seat vacant as such power is with us now,” he stated.
How it all started
It will be recalled that last week Saturday at the Special National Convention of PDP, there was crisis when the party split into two parallel National Working Committees, NWCs, with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven northern governors staging a walk out to later address a press conference on the formation of a new PDP with governor Chibuike Amaechi in attendance.
Baraje had named himself the National Chairman and announced Sam Sam Jaja as Deputy National Chairman and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as National Secretary.
The governors who were at the venue of the convention until 2.45 pm last saturday when the names of candidates to be voted for were read and discovered that the name of the immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja was removed leaving only the former National Organising Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus as the sole candidate, with others screened out had to immediately leave for Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre to address the media.
They were governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Aliyu Babangida of Niger; Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto State; Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers; Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa.
Others were deputy governors of Sokoto, Murktar Shagari; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano; Ahmed Musa Ibeto of Niger state; former governor of Kwara State, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi; former Acting National Chairman of PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje; former governor of Nasarawa state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; immediate past National Secretary of PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja; Senator Magnus Abe; chairman, House Committee on finance, Honourable Abdumumini Jibrin; Honourable Farouk Lawan, other members of the national assembly, state houses of assembly, among others.
It will also be recalled that Bamanga Tukur’s vexed address to members of the new party was coming barely twenty four hours after the leaders and Stakeholders of the party postponed the meeting earlier scheduled for Tuesday, just as the meeting was designed to brainstorm with the aggrieved governors as a way of nipping in the bud, the political quagmire.
The meeting was fixed to hold with President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Namadi Sambo; chairman, Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the aggrieved governors of Kano, Rivers; Sokoto; Niger; Kwara; Adamawa and Jigawa.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih who noted that some if aggrieved governors have genuine grievances, however explained that the peace talks, scheduled to continue in Abuja were postponed at the request of the governors of the party who stormed out of the venue of the party’s special national convention on Saturday.
According to Anenih, the peace talks with the aggrieved governors would now continue on Tuesday, next week, after selected party leaders would have met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday as part of wider consultations demanded by parties to the crisis.
He disclosed that the aggrieved governors told the Presidency and the PDP leadership that they needed more time to make wider consultations, just as he said the Presidency and the PDP leadership were not averse to wider consultations.
He had explained that the Presidency and PDP leadership were taking advantage of the postponement to also consult widely on how to amicably resolve the crisis, adding, “Part of the wider consultations is the meeting of selected party leaders with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday morning and thereafter, we will meet with the governors on Tuesday, next week.”