Power tussle over PDP structures
HAKEEM GBADAMOSI, YEMI AYELESO, KOLA OYELERE and ADAMU AMODU bring the interplay of forces at the recent ward congresses of the Peoples democratic Party (PDP) in some states in the country.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has begun the process of strengthening its structures across the states. The first stage of the process is the conduct of congresses at the ward level to form party executives. The process will culminate in the election of state officers.
From the results of the ward congresses in some states so far, there is an ample evidence of an intense supremacy contest among powerful members of the PDP. Leading lights in the party are involved in the battle for the soul of the party at the local level with the hope that such efforts if successful, could put them in a better position in their future political plans.
However, the lack of compromise among the major political actors vary from one state to the other. The embrace of consensus appears to have paved the way for the smooth conduct of congresses in a few places.
The party new Executive members at the wards and local government levels in a congress that was peaceful signifying a new beginning for the party in the state. Speaking on the outcome of the congress, the publicity director of media and publicity for the party, Mr. Zadock Akintoye, said the party would reclaim the state and salvage it from perceived ‘misrule.’ Akintoye said the congress to elect the state officer for the party would be held today (March 24, 2020). He said: “We are glad to inform the general public and members of our party that our ward and local government congresses have been concluded and successful. The internal mechanisms put in place by the outgoing leadership of Clement Faboyede has been adjudged by members to have been very successful in mitigating conflict within the party and ensuring that the decision on who represents from the ward to the local government and indeed to the state level, is made by the people within the corresponding jurisdiction. The chairman wishes to thank all our leaders, our Board of Trustee (BOT) members, State Elders Council members, elected representatives, zonal leaders, local government and ward leaders for their roles in ensuring that our generally agreed principles of zoning of state, local government and ward positions was a success.
Akintoye explained that exercise witnessed a huge success going by reports from officials that conducted the intra-party polls. We recorded over 97.04 percent success rate at the ward levels where we had issues in just six out of 203 wards and 94.5 percent success rate at the local government level. According to him, “Our state congress to elect state officers to pilot the affairs of the party comes up on Tuesday the 24th of March at the state secretariat, Alagbaka, Akure and is expected to be a keenly contested election with dissenting voices against our unity list and zoning, being given the equal and fair opportunity to seek the mandate of our people.”
Expectedly, the ward congresses of the PDP in Ekiti were marred by confusion as accusations and counter accusations from the camps of the gladiators trailed the exercise. So far, only the ward congress had been conducted in the state with the results inconclusive. Members of the party are awaiting the reports and recommendations of the Appeal panel set up by the National headquarters of the party. The age-long rivalries over the soul of the party structure between two leaders of the party: former Governor Ayodele Fayose and the lawmaker representing Ekiti South, Senator Biodun Olujimi came to the fore during the congress. While the camp of the senator is insisting that the results of the congress held before the arrival of the national committee into the state should be upheld, Fayose and his camp are holding up to the results conducted after the arrival of the committee later in the evening of 7th March, 2020.
Olujimi noted that the chairman of the electoral committee for the congress and deputy governor of Taraba State, Mr. Haruna Manu arrived the state after the conclusion of the election across the state. According to the former Senate Minority Leader, the electoral committee chairman insisted in conducting a new election, which she said had ended and monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agents. She threatened to drag the party to court if different results were announced by the electoral panel, adding, “of course, we tear the party apart.”
Olujimi said: “The party had asked that there should be a congress in our ward today(Saturday) which was scheduled to take place at 8 am. We find out that INEC, DSS , Police and other relevant agencies were on ground and results dully signed and everybody dispatched at about 12noon. But the deputy governor of Taraba state, Mr. Haruna Manu who is the chairman of the electoral panel came rather too late at about 3:15pm and went ahead with the normal protocols at the government house to show his presence. He came into the party secretariat at about 4pm.
“He said that because he just come that the congress has to be re-done and we were wondering why it will be re- done when INEC had signed and everybody had gone home. We suspected that some people has compromised. Let me say it to people: we will not take it, it will not happen except litigation and of course we tear the party apart, which I pray it doesn’t happen. Why the former governor does wants to win at all cost, except something is wrong. People had voted,why must you want to control the ward for the people? It is very wrong, it is not right that part congresses are conducted at night. If there is no reason, there is nothing to say we can’t do it tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday. It is not compulsory that the chairman of electoral panel should be here before the election as long as we have the INEC officials around. They want to go and write results and announce it but we won’t allow it. I believe the national leadership of our party will not allow this because we all saw what happened recently in some states as regards litigations.”
But, Fayose while responding denied writing results of the election, saying the congresses were properly done by the officially designated officials by the national secretariat of the party.
The former governor, who spoke through his spokesman, Lere Olayinka said: “It is the kind of normal complain that you hear from people that are losing. People who are losing will always complain, they will always find something to blame. It is simple, conduct of congresses in the PDP is a function of the national body of the party. The national secretariat went a step further to set up committees for each of the 16 local council areas of Ekiti State; three persons per local government, they came from other states, when the chairman came, he addressed them and gave them materials for their local government.
“They went ahead and conduct the congresses, but some people said they were from the state, they came in the morning, can you conduct a marriage ceremony without the bride and the groom? When the people from the state said they wanted to conduct the congress in the morning, we told them to wait for the officials assigned by the national headquarters.”
The development also led to a clash between the supporters of the two gladiators at the party secretariat in Ado-Ekiti, when they were waiting for the members of appeal panel sent to adjudicate on matters arising from the conduct congress arrived the state.
So, as other states have concluded their wards and local government congresses and getting set for the state congress later this week, members of the Ekiti chapter of the PDP are still awaiting the official results of that of the congress, which they say will form the foundation for the other congresses in the state.
Senator Musa Kwankwaso and Ambassador Aminu Wali factions are now at each other’s throat over the party’s ward congress in the state. Kwnakwaso’s faction went ahead to hold the Ward Congress across the 484 Wards in the state last Tuesday, but the Aminu Wali group vehemently disowned the congress, saying there was a court order directing all parties to maintain status quo.
However, the chairman of PDP Ward Congress Committee, who is the governor of Adamawa State, Alhaji Ahmad Fintiri said the party successfully conducted congresses in the 484 wards across the 44 local government areas of the state. According to the claimant, the court order dated March 17, 2020, with suit No. K/149/2020, was given by Justice Aisha Ibrahim Mahmoud of a Kano State High Court. The order states that, “upon reading the motion ex-parte dated 14th day of March, 2020, together with accompanying affidavit duly sworn to by the 1st plaintiff/Applicant of No. Kofar Mazugal, Kano, and after hearing N.A. Ayagi Esq. of counsel for the plaintiff/applicant, it is hereby ordered that: an order is hereby made directing all parties to maintain status quo in respect of their positions as of today 27th March, 2020, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. An order is hereby granted to serve the court order and other originating processes at the first defendant’s Headquarters in Abuja outside the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.”The case was between Musa Ashiru, Adamu Yusuf and Kabiru Ibrahim who are the plaintiffs and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Shehu Wada Shagagi ( chairman PDP Kano chapter Caretaker Committee); Muhamminu B. Lamido (protem chairman, PDP, Kano chapter); chairman, PDP Ward Congress Planning Committee, Kano State; chairman, Local Government Congress Planning Committee, Kano State; chairman, PDP State Congress Committee, Kano State as the defendants.
Fintiri, however, described the party ward congresses as successful and transparent, adding that, “We are here in Kano with a five-member delegation from the National Working Committee of PDP to come and conduct ward congresses of the party for the 44l local government areas in the 484 wards in the state. We have been here since yesterday to initiate the process as we commenced the congress last Tuesday. It was successful, peaceful and transparent. We went round four out of the seven local governments in the municipality. We witnessed for ourselves the large turnout of voters. The enthusiasm exhibited by members of the PDP was encouraging and the exercise was hitch-free and peaceful. I am not aware of any faction. It is a one-line party in Kano state, and we have one leadership that has been recognised by the National Working Committee.”
The ward congresses of the PDP turned out to be a test of will between two camps. A faction loyal to Mallam Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, the governorship candidate of the party petitioned the national secretariat of the party against the leader of the party Alhaji Sule Lamido over what it claimed as a “deliberate attempt to sabotage the PDP in the state.” Mallam Aminu Ibrahim Ringim who is a former Chief of Staff to a former governor of the state, Alhaji Sule Lamido was said to have secured nomination forms for all the contestable positions from the PDP national secretariat. The development did not go down well with the other faction under the party’s state chairman Alhaji Salisu Mahmuda who also claimed to have conducted parallel ward congresses in the state. The state chairman said congresses were held in all the 287 wards in the state. Salisu Mamuda claimed that the other faction no longer enjoyed the support Alhaji Lamido.
However, in another interview with the newsmen, the deputy zonal chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Aminu Jahun criticized the former aide, Ringim for not remaining loyal to Alhaji Lamido. Alhaji Jahun explained that, “There is so far no member of the PDP in the state that enjoyed so much privilege and support of the party than Mallam Aminu Ringim.” He said Aminu Ringim ought to have supported the party having been one of the major beneficiaries of the former governor when he served as the Chief of staff for eight years and became the party’s governorship candidate in 2015 and 2019. On their part, supporters of Ringim accused the present PDP leadership in the state of not carrying all party members along in the scheme of things. Mallam Yahuza Gabari a former state publicity secretary of the party, told journalists that they would not allow the former party leader to hijack the PDP in the state.