BY HENRY UMORU, ASSISTANT POLITICAL EDITOR
AFTER fifteen months of intrigues, manoeuvring, backstabbing, political intrigues, and power play between two former governors and Senators, Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff over who controls the soul of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Supreme Court on Wednesday July 12, 2017 affirmed the former as the authentic leader of the PDP.
With that ruling , all the political imbroglio, logjam and hullabaloo were finally laid to rest and the leadership squabble settled.
To say the obvious, before the ruling, the crisis created a very deep division in the former ruling party, a party that ruled for sixteen years, boasted that it would govern Nigeria for hundred years and later reduced it to sixty years, before they were shoved out in the 2015 Presidential election.
With the leadership crisis settled by the Supreme Court, it is now for the party to heal its wounds, to reflect on the past, to ruminate on why it is where it is today which explains the need for today’s Non – elective convention, with the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as Chairman, 2017 Special Non- Elective National Convention Planning Committee.
The party does not want to continue in the past hence the convention to ratify the extension of Makarfi led Caretaker Committee for at least, a period of three months ahead of the party’s yet to be fixed National Convention where a new NWC and NEC members would be put in place. The party is using this convention to ratify the lifespan of the Caretaker Committee unlike in the past where the party known for impunity of the highest order, would have just asked the committee to carry on without a convention of this kind which would have led to series of litigations from aggrieved members.
The convention has also become very imperative because the party must be built to form a strong opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the party must bounce back after a long period of crisis, the party must bring back its members who were in different camps into one umbrella.
The convention is also very important for the party because it may not have a golden opportunity to come together to strategize ahead of the November 18, 2017 Anambra Gubernatorial election.
Besides the Anambra election, the PDP cannot afford to waste time in theeir healing process against the backdrop that governorship elections of Ekiti and Osun will hold in 2018, just as the general elections will be coming in February 2019. For the party to make impact, it must heal all the wounds, ensure total reconciliation and forge a common front.
The party will also use today’s convention to look at its constitution that would require serious amendment as well as ratify reports of Committees especially that of Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and that of former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana.
Most recently was the Osun West Senatorial election which was won by one of its own, Ademola Adeleke, a good sign for the party.
It would be recalled that in 2001, PDP survived a major crisis following the expulsion of some founding fathers, including late Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Don Etiebet, Asheik Jarma, Bamanga Tukur, Edwin Ume-Ezeoke. All members of the party’s Board of Trustees against the backdrop that they battled with the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, for the soul of the party.
Also In 2006, it survived another crippling crisis instigated by its pioneer National Chairman, Solomon Lar, and a former Deputy National Chairman, Shuaibu Oyedokun, both of whom floated a parallel NWC.
In 2010, the Prince Vincent Ogbulafor led NWC came down hard on 19 senior members of the party who were chieftains of the Reform Forum, suspending them for alleged anti-party activities.
The decision was taken ahead of the 2011 polls and the party referred them to the National Disciplinary Committee for further action. Those suspended were former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; ex Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former House of Representatives Speaker now governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, former Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili, his Imo State counterpart Achike Udenwa and former presidential aspirant and now governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. The present governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai was also a vibrant and strong member of the PDP reform group.
In 2013, the PDP again was thrown into crisis when some of its prominent members, including five governors and a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, revolted and floated a new faction of the party, named nPDP which later contributed immensely to the formation of APC.
Ahead of today’s convention, Okowa who noted that though the period for preparing for the event was short, said that the committee would face the challenge and deliver a successful convention, adding, “We are confident because we are an organised party, and we will definitely deliver a convention that we will be proud of as a party. “I am trusting in the ability of our leaders, the chairmen and the secretaries of our sub-committees that we will do a good work.
“And, because we are an organised party, before today, some level of work has been done about the convention by the National Working Committee. “I must appreciate them for what they have done before today.
“We hope that by Saturday we will have a very good story to tell the public. The PDP has come alive; PDP will stay alive and on Saturday, it will send a strong message that will make Nigeria realise that we are very prepared to take over power in 2019. Our success will be that strong message that we will send out to the public.”