Fresh crisis threatens PDP ahead of crucial NEC meeting

A few days to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting slated for April 18,2024, a fresh crisis is brewing in the party.

This is coming at a time when the NEC’s capacity to take decisive actions against members involved in anti-party activities is under question.

Just a few days ago, a coalition of PDP federal lawmakers called for the resignation of the party’s acting national chairman, Umar Iliya Damagun, over alleged anti-party activities.

The lawmakers were led by Hon Ikenga UgoChinyere, a member of the House of Representatives.

Among other things, they questioned the silence of the party leadership over the political situation in Rivers State, leading to the intervention by President Bola Tinubu.

The lawmakers also claimed they were speaking on behalf of at least 60 lawmakers in the opposition lawmakers’ coalition in the National Assembly.

They said the local government leadership changes of the party were planned by Damagum, who they alleged has drafted members of the APC as caretaker committee members of the PDP in some states.

According to the lawmakers, PDP under Damagum has been crumbling, losing elections and facing court cases.

“Not only did Damagun hold tight to the seat for well over a year now, he has abdicated every responsibility of the office of the Chairman of PDP and is very comfortable serving APC interests,” the lawmakers stated.

“There had been agreement of a broad spectrum of the party leadership when it became clear that Damagum was not interested in conducting elections but to appoint Caretaker committees in at least 19 states where the tenures of the State and local government leaders were expiring to extend the tenures of these officials by three months.

“This decision which was made to cover every state was the wisdom that restrained Damagum from announcing a wholesale list of a majority of Caretaker Committees populated by APC agents masquerading as PDP members.

“However, despite that decision to retain everybody, Mr. Damagun went ahead and received a list of APC agents and announced them as members and leaders of the PDP Local Government Caretaker Committees wholly in Rivers State and partially in at least 10 other states. This is a direct attempt to kill the PDP and ensure it goes into extinction.

“To make issues clearer, we are speaking on behalf of at least 60 lawmakers in the opposition lawmakers’ coalition in the National Assembly. We all won our elections without any form of help or support from the party hierarchy. It has become clearer to us that this scenario was foisted so that as many of us as possible will fail the elections. Damagum never really wanted us to win.

“Voices have risen from the National Assembly to speak out and stop you. You have a chance to resign immediately, leave or be embarrassed out of the party. At least 60 of us in the PDP in the National Assembly will sever all relations with the Damagun leadership until he leaves office.

“At the scheduled National Executive Committee meeting, if Damagun by any manoeuvring however conjectured remains in office with the help of his APC friends at the end of the day, the party is now heading to the final slaughter shed,” the lawmakers said in a statement on Monday.

HMTV recalls that the nation’s main opposition party has seen its fortunes dwindle since after the 2015 general elections when it lost the presidential seat to the then newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC.

The recent being the loss of the 2023 general elections, coupled with internal rivalries and divisions within the party.

Many now share the view that the PDP seems to be in a dilemma over what to do with members who involved themselves in anti-party activities even before and after the 2023 general election.

Many see it as a herculean task the NEC of the party is expected to resolve when it converges in Abuja next week.

However, the PDP leadership under the acting chairman, Danagum, has been tagged “a toothless bulldog” that can only bark without biting in sanctioning members found culpable of anti-party activities.

HMTV recalls that prior to 2023 general elections, PDP was hit by divisions and disunity following the outcome of its presidential primaries.

Speaking when he appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Ugochinyere insisted that the Acting Chairman of the party, Umar Damagum must resign to give way for a leadership that would properly pilot the affairs of the party.

He berated Damagum for failing to call a NEC since he replaced Iyorchia Ayu who was removed as the PDP Chairman by the court.

According to him, Damagum’s alleged lack of leadership has seen the PDP not playing the role of opposition to checkmate the ruling APC.

Ugochinyere maintained that the time has come for Damagum to go, adding that governors elected on the PDP platform are of the view that the party has gone moribund.

“Aside the fact that he has not held NEC meetings since we came out from the presidential election, we are supposed to have done post-assessment of the election, find out why we performed so poorly during the election, and be able to reach out to members of the party to appreciate them.

“He has not had any relationship or meeting with lawmakers elected on the platform of the party in the parliament. People are left to keep wandering like sheep with no shepherd. There has not been any single leadership that he has provided,” Ugochinyere said.

Recently, a chieftain of the PDP, Conrad Utaan, said a new person outside of the traditionally known leaders of the party was needed to lead the party back to the top of Nigerian politics.

Utaan said the older leaders of the party have become docile and that only someone like him with a new energy could revive the party.

The party chieftain, who has declared interest in replacing Iyorchia Ayu as the National Chairman of the PDP, spoke recently on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme.

“That is exactly what the party requires at this time; new energy, new thinking to take the party to a new level.

“There are leaders in this party; we have people like the former Vice President Namadi Sambo, the former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi – several leaders of this party who have become so docile because of the lack of cohesion, because of ego spinning in the party.

“We need somebody who is bold enough, courageous enough, young enough and with the energy,” he said.

A former governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam had also alleged that the party was being controlled by external forces, rendering it ineffective as a viable alternative opposition.

Speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Suswan lamented that the party has since after the 2023 general election failed to live up to expectations of Nigerians as a viable opposition.

The Senator blamed the current PDP leadership for the ineffective state of the largest opposition party in the country, saying unless there is an overhaul of its leadership, the party will “go nowhere” because the current leadership has lost focus.

He said: “I think there are subterranean forces inferring in the party and they are determining what is going on in the party. And the leadership is acquiescing to it.

“Subterranean suggests that people are trying to control the party from the outside. They are controlling the party from the outside and they are keeping the party in a comatose state.”

The development assumed a different twist on Tuesday when the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, distanced himself from lawmakers calling for the resignation of Damagum.

Chinda, who represents Obio/Akpor federal constituency of Rivers, in a statement, cautioned members to “desist from unparliamentary practices”.

The statement was jointly signed by the minority leaders of the house of representatives.

They include Ali Madaki of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) who is deputy minority leader; Ali Isah of PDP serving as minority whip; and George Ozodinobi of Labour Party (LP) who holds the position of deputy minority whip.

“Our attention has been drawn to a press release by the group and states unequivocally that the minority caucus and PDP caucus dissociate themselves from the said press statement.

“The said coalition of lawmakers led by Hon Ikenga Ugochinyere is unknown to the parliament and both caucuses condemn in totality the absurd move, uncouth and unparliamentary language of the group.

“That the general public should take note that such a coalition is unknown to parliament and their demands do not represent that of the minority parties.

“The said lawmakers should desist from further misinformation of the public and be more honorable in their conduct,” the group of lawmakers stated.

Meanwhile, a former Vice President and presidential candidate of the PDP during the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, is said to have returned to the country ahead of the much-anticipated NEC meeting of the party.

Atiku, who has been out of the country for weeks, was reported to have returned in the early hours of Tuesday last week.

Being the presidential candidate in the last elections, Atiku is expected to spearhead other meetings ahead of the NEC meeting.

Speaking to DAILY POST in an interview, a former National Auditor of the PDP, Barr Ray Nnaji, said those making allegations against Damagum should come with concrete facts and evidence to prove that he is involved in anti-party activities.

According to him, anti-party activity is a serious offence against the constitution of the PDP.

Nnaji advised the lawmakers to prepare their ground ahead of the NEC meeting on April 18 to submit their proposal and be in a position to defend it.

He said: “We know quite well that people are alleging- the law says that people who are alleging must prove. So they must use evidence to show that the Acting National Chairman is doing anti-party activities.

“What I read is that they wanted to put APC members as executive of the party in Rivers State. That’s what I was told, that’s what I saw in the byline. There must have to be proof because you can’t just say anti-party activities without proving it. And the chairman can’t just resign like that.

“What they ought to have done is to formally write a letter that a disciplinary committee or a committee be set up to investigate the anti-party activities and report back.

“And you know quite well that for the fact that the chairman is acting; the person who actually will preside over that complaint is the Deputy National Chairman – South because before Damagum became the acting chairman he was Deputy National Chairman- North.

“And because of the fact that Iyorchia Ayu is no longer there, the person from that zone, who is the Deputy National Chairman- North, stepped into his shoes. That’s why Damagum became the acting chairman. Therefore, if you have to do that kind of thing, it is either you send it to the national chairman – South or you send it to the National Executive Council, NEC.

“The thing they are saying in the papers and the rest of that, I don’t know the efficacy of it. It’s better they prepare their ground. The NEC is coming up on the 18th of April. They will have to come and submit a proposal and be in a position to defend it. Once it gets to NEC, they will make sure it’s listed as one of the agendas of the meeting.

“If it’s discussed, probably nothing will happen at that level. They might set a committee to investigate it, and if they find out what they are saying is correct, the acting chairman will now step aside.

“So what I am saying in effect is that it doesn’t end in making allegations; you must have to come with concrete facts and evidence to show that the acting party chairman is doing anti-party activity, which is a serious offence against the constitution of the party.”

Nnaji also explained why the party has not been able to sanction the former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike over his affiliation with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

He said the PDP will emerge stronger after the NEC meeting, dismissing the claim it would be a make or mar meeting for the party.

“One thing you should understand is that Wike will not be part of that NEC meeting, notwithstanding he’s a former governor of Rivers State.

“The fact he’s serving under a different party, although he claims to be a member of the PDP, he can’t be invited for that meeting. That’s one thing you should understand.

“He might be in the background working for his own interest towards the NEC but he knows in NEC the chairman presides. He knows there’s going to be an agenda and he can’t be part of that agenda, and there will be a National Working Committee, NWC, that will look at the agenda that will be presented before the NEC.

“I am not going to see a make or mar meeting. It’s going to be restricted to the agenda of the meeting, and you don’t know what the agenda of the meeting will be like.

“It’s the NWC that will produce the agenda of the meeting. And in that agenda of the meeting, nobody will depart outside it. It’s a selective individual that constitute the NEC; it’s not for all comers. It might not be possible for the anti-party activities of the Chairman to be discussed.

“And anybody saying that it’s going to be a make or mar, I don’t know what the person means. I don’t see how it’s going to be a make or mar. The party will come out with stronger policies that will help the party to be moving ahead.

“I know quite well that the APC is not comfortable with the PDP being strong. They would like to do everything to make sure that the party has a problem.

“It’s only the PDP that’s still standing. The Labour Party, LP, has its own crisis, and whereas it controls only one state, PDP has not less than 15 states.

“Some people are saying that the governors are plotting, nobody knows. It’s not going to be easy for anybody to destroy the party by saying it’s going to be made or mar. The party is going to come out stronger and fix the national convention.

“You know why Wike seems to be untouchable? Wike has an order of the court, which so many people didn’t know. He was clever enough to go to court and got an order of the court restricting the party from doing anything against him.

“That’s why he is doing all those things. If there’s no order from the court, Wike would have been the first person to receive sanction from the party.

“But the party believes in the rule of law, so they have to obey that order of the court. I don’t know whether it has been discharged, that’s the reason.

Wike himself is not comfortable going to APC. APC just wanted to have him as a political appointee. If he could work against his party, how are you sure if he comes in, he won’t work against it?

“He is just a necessary evil. How many people are behaving like Wike? I don’t think there’s any other. The reason he’s doing so is because of that order of the court. If not, I believe the party would have disciplined him,” Nnaji further stated.

On his part, an erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct PDP, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze told DAILY POST in an interview that the acting chairman is an agent of APC for the destruction of the PDP in their drive and plot to make Nigeria a one-party state.

According to him, Ugochinyere and 59 members of the House of Representatives are on a mission to rescue the party from the hands of Damagum.

Eze claimed the PDP was going through a difficult moment because its leadership refused to adhere to his counsel to suspend Wike and his agents of mass destruction.

He said: “The Acting Chairman of the PDP, Alh. Damagum is an agent of APC for the destruction of PDP in their drive and plot to make Nigeria a one-party State.

“The same group sponsoring Mr. Damagum in what he is doing in PDP are the same group sponsoring crisis in the Labour Party just to make Nigeria a one-party system.

“The fact remains that PDP is going through what she is going through at the moment because the PDP leadership refused to adhere to my counsel from the beginning to suspend Wike and his agents.

“Their refusal gave birth to the monster that Wike has become in the politics of the party and only God can save the party from the monster that Wike has become.

“Excepting Mr. Damagum to discipline, suspend or come against those who worked against the interest of the party during the 2023 general elections is like asking a Commander of thieves to arrest fellow thieves. You don’t expect Damagum to punish members of his gang.

“He is stationed to destroy PDP and as an agent of destruction he will not vacate that office until such a time he and his sponsors achieved their evil and ulterior motive to ensure that democracy is annihilated in Nigeria.

“Hon Ikenga Ugochinyere and 59 members of the House of Representatives are to me on a mission to rescue the party from the hands of Damagum and his co-travellers and should be supported by all progressives in this country not minding political party membership.

“For Mr. Damagum to have drafted members of the APC as caretaker committee members of the PDP in some states simply exposes him as an agent of APC and Nyesom Wike.

“It is a pity that the leadership of the PDP seems to be very weak to take up the responsibility to reposition the party to rescue Nigeria from the mess she is currently plunged into by those who think that politics is all about their stomachs.

“If after the PDP forthcoming NEC meeting the party fails to summon the courage to sanction those playing anti-party activities, then the party leadership should give way for credible leadership to take over the reins of the party to play a pivotal role as a responsible opposition political party in Nigeria.

“Finally, I will suggest to Hon Ikenga Ugochinyere and 59 members of the House of Representatives to discard the idea of abandoning the party because doing so will be helping Wike and his agents to succeed in their evil machinations against democracy in Nigeria.”


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