The crisis of confidence plaguing the relationship between the Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee (NWC) and the Special National Convention Committee set up by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a turn for the worse Monday following the directive of the NWC ordering the Prof. Jerry Gana-led committee to stop further work on the party’s special convention as well as the south-west congress.
The NWC at its meeting Monday also summoned the south-south chairman of the party, Chief Steve Oruh, to brief it on the crisis rocking the party in Rivers State.
The preparations for the party’s convention got even more complicated following the proceedings at an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Suleiman Belgore who reserved ruling on a suit challenging the proposed convention, till July 25. The suit is meant to determine whether or not the convention should hold.
The Gana committee had last Friday, announced a new date of August 31 for the convention and August 24 for the south-west congress.
But this was seen as a breach of the PDP constitution as the convention committee was said to have acted unilaterally.
Also, the Gana committee had announced last Sunday, the names of members of sub-committees for the special convention, which the NWC saw as beyond its powers.
Obviously peeved with the Gana committee for not consulting with the NWC, the executive of the party, after an emergency meeting Monday, decided to put a halt to the convention and south-west congress
In a statement by the acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Caesar Okeke, the party said: “The National Working Committee (NWC) at its meeting on Monday, July 15, 2013 thoroughly considered issues surrounding recent developments in the party and resolved as follows:
“In view of the anomalies and breaches of the constitution of the PDP observed in the actions so far taken by the Special National Convention Planning Committee, the NWC has directed the committee to put on hold all activities relating to the Special South West Zonal Congresses and the Special National Convention pending the regularisation of the anomalies and breaches so as to forestall a repeat of the events that affected the party’s convention in 2012.
“Consequently, the dates recently announced by the Planning Committee are in the circumstances untenable.”
On the crisis in Rivers State, the statement added: “The NWC viewed with concern recent developments in Rivers State and also resolved to invite the National Vice Chairman, South-south, to come and brief it to enable it take an informed decision that will lead to a prompt resolution of the crisis in the state.”
On Anambra State, the statement said: “The NWC, with the view to resolving the protracted problems of the Anambra State chapter of the party has resolved to invite major stakeholders in the state to an enlarged stakeholders’ meeting on July 18, 2013.
“This is to commence consultations towards finding a lasting solution to the problems of the party in the state which will lead the party to a successful governorship primary election in the state.”
It was further gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan will tomorrow night meet PDP stakeholders over the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The meeting is meant to streamline the aspirants and ensure that the stakeholders are united on a consensus PDP governorship candidate for the governorship election.
About 20 stakeholders led by the former vice-president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, are expected at the meeting.
The crisis in the party over the special convention came to a head last week when Tukur shunned Gana and the secretary of the convention, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, when they visited him to brief him on the preparations for the convention.
It was in reaction to this that the duo addressed a press conference on Friday announcing the new dates of August 24 for the south-west congress and August 31 for the national convention.
THISDAY gathered that prior to the NWC meeting, there were concerns within the party that the Gana committee was acting in a way seen by PDP observers as a “parallel NWC”, a perception that Gana dismissed last Friday.
The NWC is claiming that it is a standing organ of the party and therefore deserves to be briefed at all times on all events in the party. However, the Gana committee claims that it derived its powers from the NEC meeting of June 20.
Informed sources told THISDAY that by the party’s constitution, NWC is empowered to act on behalf of NEC and that the Gana committee ought to have briefed the NWC on its activities, explaining, “This is the background of the power tussle between NWC and the Gana committee.”
They blamed the muscle flexing between both organs on the indefinite suspension of the national convention without informing the Gana committee.
As the relationship between Tukur and Gana soured, the professor was forced to relocate the meetings on the special convention to his private office at Parakou Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja.
It was further gathered that the Gana committee had embarked on the sale of nomination forms to aspirants, which ordinarily is said to be the preserve of the national secretariat.
Meanwhile, an Abuja High court has reserved ruling on the application to stop the forthcoming national convention of the party for July 25.
Justice Belgore fixed the application for ruling after hearing arguments from the plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), as well as counsel to the PDP, Mr. Emeka Etiaba.
The plaintiffs, Abba Yale, Yahaya Sule and Bashir Maidugu, who claimed to be card-carrying members of the party, had asked the court to nullify the processes leading to the appointment of the party’s acting national officers.
They also prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain the national chairman of the PDP and other officers from holding the scheduled “special convention”, which date was announced by Gana.
The plaintiffs, apart from seeking to restrain Tukur and other acting members of the party’s NWC, are also urging the trial court to set aside or nullify all steps and processes that led to the appointment of the latter as national officers of the party.
The suit further asked the court to restrain Tukur “from performing any function or duty assigned to the National Working Committee of the defendant, following the resignation and removal of all members of the National Working Committee of the defendant set out in article 29 (1) (b)-(1) of the constitution…pending the hearing and determination of this case.”
In his argument, Okutepa said: “The resignation of former Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, and sixteen others was an affront on the integrity of the court.”
On his part, Etiaba urged the court to dismiss the entire suit, saying the former NWC members of the PDP resigned their positions, and the party, as the political party, sought to move on in a lawful manner, and in line with the constitution. He urged the court to dismiss the suit.