By Lateef Ibrahim
It is an incontrovertible fact that no nation, group or individual can not completely run away from crisis. This is because crisis has come to be part and parcel of the existence of all nations, groups and individuals. Even among the comity of nations, crisis abounds. However, the ability or painstaking efforts to resolve the crisis in an amicable manner, that is generally acceptable to all parties concerned, is what shows the maturity or diplomatic know how of the affected parties. This is the reason why diplomacy emphasizes the application of intelligence and tact in the conduct of affairs among nations. However, when crisis become too frequent and seemingly defy all available solutions, then, such become worrisome.
This, no doubt, must have been the reason why political observers, analysts and pundits, among others, are becoming increasingly worried over the seemingly intractable crises that have been rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Nigeria for some time now. Even, when the crisis appeared to have been over at a time, it has again, suddenly, begun to rear its ugly head.
Shortly after the PDP lost the general election to the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2015, the party became seriously enmeshed in a major leadership crisis which clearly polarized it, sharply, into two factions. While a faction was led by former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the other faction was led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, who headed the National Caretaker Committee, NCC, of the party. The crisis, which festered and became a serious legal issue that dragged up to the nation’s apex court, the Supreme Court, no doubt, cost the PDP a lot of things, politically. The party lost the governorship elections in some states as well as a host of Senatorial, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly seats. Many of its leaders and members equally decamped to other political parties on the account of the crisis. When the Supreme Court finally gave a final ruling on the matter last year, it declared the Makarfi-led NCC as the authentic national leadership of the party.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the NCC of the party embarked on series of reconciliatory efforts aimed at bringing back some of its members who had cross carpeted to other rival political parties. After that, the NCC of the PDP first organized a non- elective national convention where some amendments were effected on the party’s constitution. On Saturday, December 9, 2017, the NCC of the party held an elective national convention at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the nation’s capital, which led to the emergence of the present national leadership of the party under the national chairmanship of Prince Uche Secondus.
However, since the elective national convention, the party has had to contend with one issue or the other. One of the candidates that vied for the national chairmanship of the party, Professor Taoheed Adedoja , is currently in court seeking the nullification of the election of Prince Secondus as the party’s national chairman. While that matter is still pending in court, some aggrieved members of the party have gone ahead to form a parallel party which they called the Fresh PDP.
The aggrieved candidates and stakeholders, after forming the parallel party, set up another secretariat for the opposition party in Asokoro district of Abuja, using the color, symbol and flag of the same PDP.
The concerned candidates and stakeholders, at a press conference held to unveil their version of PDP, described their faction as the true reformed and rebranded Peoples Democratic Party founded by great men of intellect and integrity.
The members of the group, who spoke through Prince Obi-Nwosu Emmanuel, said they are deeply hurt by the brazen acts of unparalleled impunity and gross manipulation of the December 9 elective national convention of the PDP in Abuja.
They frowned at what they called the overbearing negative influence of some governors in the party, stressing that that has worsened the future of PDP.
According to the concerned candidates and stakeholders, “Over the years, the high ideals of our founding fathers which heralded the formation of PDP have been eroded by new entrants into the party, who introduced very corrupt and anti-democratic practices that eventually led to the colossal loss which the party suffered in 2015.”
They accused the NCC of the PDP of deliberately refusing to release the delegates list as was agreed upon by all aspirants until barely 24 hours to the convention, which is contrary to the party’s constitution.
According to them, “This is a complete aberration as it made it impossible for aspirants to cross check the authenticity of the list and also had time to interact with the delegates before the date of the convention.
“The petition written by some of the aspirants with respect to the chairman and secretary of the electoral committee former Governor Gabriel Suswam and Dr Sunday Onor respectively, were completely disregarded by the NCC and never attended to.
“The actions of the Chairman of the Electoral Planning committee, Gabriel Suswam, during the convention, showed clearly that they had concluded the election even before the date of the convention. What a tragedy for democracy?”
The concerned candidates and stakeholders, insisted that the entire process of selecting the purported NWC was concluded before the convention and a list of those selected was published which eventually was circulated at Eagle Square long before voting commenced.
“Evidence is available to show that some names in the fraudulent unity list collected nomination forms after the official closing date and some others were not even screened as required by the party’s electoral guidelines.
“The most despicable part of the entire moonlight play was that the so-called Unity list was printed on the letter head of our party, the PDP suggesting that it was authorized by the leadership of the party and the National Executive Committee
“The fraudulent Unity was openly circulated to delegates without restraint and the electoral committee chairman, Chief Gabriel Suswam supervised the entire charade even confiscating the telephone handset of an agent to a candidate who dared to challenge the fraud and captured the event with his camera phone.
“To prove that there was no election but selection which was concluded long before the convention every person on the purported Unity List emerged victorious not one on that list lost. What an irony and abuse of leadership?”
Continuing they said, “To this effect, we have officially opened a national secretariat of the party here in Asokoro , Abuja from where the authentic National Working Committee NWC of the party will be operating.”
While reacting to the development, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan said the party is completely unperturbed by what he called the comical act of those behind the new faction.
According to Ologbondiyan, “The PDP is completely unperturbed by the comical act of some individuals who make outlandish claims in the media regarding our party.
“The fact is that we are happy with the efforts of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led Reconciliation Committee as well as the responses from all the respectable and responsible leaders of our party in that regard. We will, however, not be responsible or respond to any person or groups of individuals who decide to allow themselves to be used by forces from another political party in a laughable and childish attempt to distract us.
“The PDP, under the Prince Uche Secondus-led national leadership, will continue to focus on repositioning our great party to be the formidable opposition that will guarantee checks and balances in our polity and ultimately regain power in 2019”, he said.
Mr. Ologbondiyan accused the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, of being the brain being the attempt to factionalize the party with a view to destabilizing it. The PDP, Ologbondinyan pointed out, remains a highly responsible and law abiding party, with level playing ground for all to aspire for any position, adding, however, that on no account should members submit themselves to the manipulations of the ruling party to be used.
He categorically said it was strange, unacceptable and outside every known law and regulation that a group of individuals will come together and claim to have formed “a splinter group of our great party and even attempt to use our colour, name and logo unauthorized.”
According to the NPS of the PDP, “It is no longer news that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), having failed to scuttle the convention, has been frazzled and unhappy as they have realized that the convention marks a new beginning in our sure and steady step to rescue our dear nation and her people from the misrule of the APC.
“Recall that after our convention the APC attempted to inject disagreement and rancor among our members, particularly in the South-West, but also failed.
However, following certain concerns on the outcome of our convention, our conflict resolution mechanism began to address the issues that will engender continuous harmony in our fold.
“We urge any of our members who might feel strongly about the outcome of the generally accepted National Convention to explore the opportunities provided by the Governor Dickson’s Reconciliation Committee in line with the constitution of our great party.
“Thereafter, any person who for any selfish reason resort to the ignoble part of attempting to create disaffection and disunity in our party will be made to face the consequences of his or her actions as provided for in the constitution of our great party and extant laws of the land.
“The leadership of the PDP states firmly that we will not allow ourselves to be distracted because we have a task committed to us by Nigerians, which is to unseat the incompetent and corrupt APC, rescue the nation from their clutches and return our dear country to the path of prosperity and national unity,” he said.
Following the political losses that had been recorded by the PDP, which once held sway for sixteen solid years and presided over the affairs this nation called Nigeria, between 1999 and 2015, it is obvious that it cannot afford to go into another round of political crisis. This is particularly so in view of the reality that the 2019 general elections are, almost, around the corner, as serious electioneering campaigns will commence next year.
If the opposition party desires to make tangible political impact in the forthcoming elections, it must put its house in order as soon as possible, as a house divided against itself can, obviously, not stand.
The National Reconciliation Committee of the party, under chairmanship of Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, also needs to move faster to deal with the developing crises with a view to preventing them into snowballing into uncontrollable situation. A word is enough for the wise.