April 18, 2024

Coalition threat: PDP govs move to avert implosion


PDP and its colour flags

By John Alechenu & Henry Umoru

GOVERNORS elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, rose from a crucial meeting in Abuja, yesterday, with a vow not to allow ‘marauders’ drag the party into a coalition ahead of the 2027 polls.

Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, said this while answering questions from newsmen, after reading a communique issued after the forum’s meeting, in Abuja.

Also the meeting of the National Caucus, attended by Atiku, Wike and other critical leaders, was ongoing at press time.
Mohammed said: “We are aware that some marauders are hanging around somewhere, trying to factionalise our party and take one faction to a coalition. We are not going to allow that, as governors.

“We are very responsible and we are very credible and we make sure we resolve all the issues and unify the party for maximum efficiency and success in the next election.”

Mohammed spoke just as news filtered in that the party’s former National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, had withdrawn the court action he instituted against the party for his controversial suspension/ removal from office.

Ayu’s court case and the party’s appeal were being cited by persons who want the party’s Ag. National Chairman, Amb. Umar Damagum, to remain in office in that capacity.

Both Ayu and the PDP leadership have served notice of withdrawal of the pending litigation.

In a notice of withdrawal of appeal tagged: CA/MK/88/2024 SUIT NO: MHC/85/2023 dated April 15, made available to journalists, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria in Makurdi, Benue State capital, revealed that Ayu has withdrawn the appeal against the respondents filed on the 27th day of June 2023 via Notice of Appeal dated the 26th day of June 2023.

The lawsuit, which was between Ayu (Appellant) and Engr. Terhide Utaan and the PDP as the respondent, read in part, “Take notice that the appellant herein intends and doth hereby wholly withdraw the appeal against the respondents filed on the 27th day of June 2023 vide Notice of Appeal dated the 26th day of June 2023.”

G-60 lawmakers commend Ayu

Reacting to the news, the G60 People Democratic Party lawmakers in the 10th National Assembly commended Senator Ayu, for withdrawing the lawsuit, noting that the action that made Umar Damagun refuse to step down until the withdrawal of all cases now paves way for him to hand over to somebody from North-Central.

NEC to decide Damagum’s fate

However, the Chairman of the PDPGF, Senator Bala Mohammed, told reporters that the party’s NEC will ultimately decide whether or not to elect a substantive chairman.

According to him: “I said the issues have been resolved and we are looking forward to doing everything within the constitutional provision of the party.”

In response to speculations about contending forces for and against the status quo, Mohammed said: “There is no contending forces. Who is NEC? NEC is the PDP Governors Forum and other stakeholders, so we are just a portion of NEC, we cannot talk on behalf of NEC until we get there.

“NEC will take decisions on such issues not the governors, I know the governors normally take leadership positions, but we have an acting person in leadership capacity leading the party and the NEC will decide whether it is time to fill the vacancy looking at the legal implications of doing that knowing that there are so many lingering litigation in court and of course, we don’t want to disparage ourselves.”

Earlier, while reading the communique after the meeting, Mohammed said: “The meeting reviewed recent developments in the Peoples Democratic Party and urged the National Working Committee of the party to set in motion the machinery to conduct credible congresses in all the states where tenures of party officers have expired.

“The meeting noted that there are no factions in the PDP and everybody is working together.

“We equally want to use this opportunity to reaffirm that in Rivers State, the Governors would work assiduously towards resolving all the issues in the State to unite all the Stakeholders.”

North-Central Caucus insists on producing chairman

In another development, the North-Central caucus of the party has insisted on producing a substantive National Chairman.
This decision followed a meeting of party leaders from the zone at Ibro Grand Hotel, Abuja, yesterday.

The PDP leaders rose from the crucial meeting with a unanimous decision directing the Party’s Zonal Vice Chairman (North-Central) Hon. Theophilus Dakkas Shan to transmit the position of the zone to the NWC ahead of today’s NEC.

A motion to this effect was moved by Senator Tunde Ogbeha, and was widely supported without a dissenting voice.
The zone is also putting finishing touches to naming Ayu’s successor if so approved by the NEC.

The North Central restated their position that Amb. Damagum should immediately revert to his position as the Deputy National Chairman (North) in the interest of the stability of the party.

The zone is building its case around provisions of Section 47(6) of the PDP Constitution that, “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the Party, the Executive Committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or zone where the officer originated from to serve out the tenure”.

Vanguard also learned that there are moves by the Chief Nyesom Wike camp to break the ranks of Alhaji Atiku’s loyalists.

Other intrigues

A usually reliable party source informed Vanguard that while the camp of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is pushing for Damagum’s ouster, to pave way for Ayu’s successor to come from the North-Central, loyalists of the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, are pushing for and are upbeat that Damagum will retain his seat in acting capacity.

The source said: “What is playing out is normal in politics. Both camps want a man sympathetic to their causes to be at the helm of affairs ahead of the pending Ward, Local Government and State Congresses.

“The NEC meeting is essentially to ratify the decision of the Damagum-led NWC and our governors giving a three months extension to party executives at these levels in states where their tenures have expired.

“It is also to discuss and approve the timetable for the conduct of congresses for substantive executives.

“Unless something changes within the next 24 hours, Damagum’s removal may not even feature on the agenda at the NEC meeting.

“What most stakeholders, especially governors, are interested in is how the Congress will affect their hold on the Party structure.

“Other issues may of course include: the setting up of a disciplinary committee to consider cases of anti-party and other acts of misconduct against party members among other issues.

“A review of what transpired in 2023 is also very likely to feature. It is likely that a committee akin to the Sen. Bala Mohammed committee which reviewed the 2019 elections will be set up.”

NWC passes confidence vote on Damagum

With barely a few hours to the commencement of the crucial NEC meeting, the NWC has passed a vote of confidence on Damagum.
This was contained in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

He said, “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has passed a Vote of Confidence on the Party’s Acting National Chairman, Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum.

“The decision of the NWC which came at the end of its 584th meeting at the Party’s National Secretariat on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 is in commendation of the efforts and commitment of the Acting National Chairman to stabilize and reposition the PDP as the main opposition Party in Nigeria.

“The Deputy National Chairman (South) Amb. Taofeek Arapaja presided over the motion for Vote of Confidence on the Acting National Chairman which was moved by the National Vice Chairman (South East) Chief Ali Odefa and seconded by the National Treasurer, Hon. Yayari Mohammed.”

In a related development, Damagum has been having a series of meetings with various groups to perhaps shore up his support base.

Immediately after the meeting with them, he led the NWC members to another meeting with the State Party Chairmen from the 36 states, including FCT Abuja.

The meetings were held at the NEC Hall, PDP National Secretariat in Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, in Abuja.

Investigate Wike, others for anti-party activities, loss of 2023 poll, Edwin Clark tells PDP NEC

In like manner, Elder Statesman and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark has urged the PDP NEC to set up a disciplinary committee to probe alleged anti-party activities of former Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike and others whose roles he said led to the failure of the PDP in the 2023 elections, especially the presidential.

In a statement, Clark, who called for the dissolution of the NWC of the party for alleged anti-party activities, claimed that Wike was the PDP’s greatest enemy, manipulating it with an intent of destroying it.

He urged the party to appoint those who are courageous to investigate Wike’s activities, and other people who are suspected to engage in anti-party activities.

The South-South leader warned that the PDP would collapse if it picked former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the 2027 presidential election.

Urging lovers of the PDP to rally around to save it, he said that some overzealous members had hijacked the PDP for their selfish gains.

Clark’s statement is titled “As the National Working Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meets: A Poser- PDP: To be or not to be?”

The Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF said that after the dissolution of the NWC, an Acting National Chairman should be appointed by the Constitution of the party, adding that there was precedence during the tenure of Prince Uche Secondus, who was still in court when the party appointed another Acting National Chairman.

According to Clark, the party should immediately revisit the online registration of its members as it was initiated by the then National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, to save the party from depending on individuals, just as he said that some overzealous members of the party had hijacked it for their selfish gains.

Secondus warns PDP against falling for ‘Wike’s gimmicks’

Meanwhile, former National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has advised the leadership of the party against falling for what he described as “Nyesom Wike’s gimmicks.”

Secondus gave the words of caution in an advisory to PDP leaders ahead of the party’s 98th NEC meeting today.
He urged them to do everything humanly possible and within the law to rescue and restore the party’s glory.
This was contained in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi.

According to him, “Wike’s busybodying gimmicks” should not distract leaders from taking steps needed to strengthen the party.

He claimed that Wike is trying hard to create a non-existent crisis in the party to make himself relevant before his boss, President Bola Tinubu “who is already getting fed up with his nuisance of bringing politics into the governance of the FCT.”