The successful senate screening of the erstwhile acting national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Haliru Bello, midweek, has sharpened the quest by disparate interests to corner the vacant position. With Bello expected to hand over to Alhaji Kawu Baraje, in consonance with the party’s statutes, CHIBUZO UKAIBE writes that there are still many sides to the contention
The erstwhile acting national chairman of the party, Dr Halliru Bello Mohammed who was screened by the senate Wednesday is expected to tender his resignation to the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje by today. Bello is a presidential ministerial nominee from Kebbi State. But the intrigues surrounding his replacement seem to have pitched the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on a tough patch.
More still, LEADERSHIP gathered that there is a rising preference especially from notable Northern leaders for the party chairman to emerge through the national convention slated for March 2012, rather than through any emergency process for anybody from their zone.
it will be recalled that Bello who was former Deputy National Chairman of the party was elevated to his current position of taking full responsibility of the party, following a resolution by the Special National Convention of the party and the National Executive Committee (NEC) occasioned by the resignation of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo from the post under undue influence.
However, the succession tussle appears to be tugging at the core of the party.
While the South East zone of the party rising from a meeting in Enugu last week, insists that the position should revert to the zone until March 8, 2012, the North East zone holds that the zoning arrangement of the party has already favored the south east with substantive posts, as such whoever should act as national chairman in the interim, should not come from the zone.
Still agitations abound especially from the north that nominating a candidate for the acting slot to the North East zone would give whoever is eventually occupying the post undue advantage, in the event that the individual intends to contest for the post.
A North East member of the National Working Committee angling for the post told our reporter on grounds of anonymity that “appointing anybody from their zone would place other aspirants to the post to great disadvantage and this will not be good for the party”.
According to him “when you appoint one of us to the post, the person would have undue advantage and when the national convention comes and the personality is interested in the post of national chairman, the party would have no option than to simply ratify him to the disadvantage of other aspirants.
“That is why we feel that the best thing to do in the circumstance is to revert back to the South East zone so that a neutral person will be on the seat to conduct the national convention and supervise the election into national offices”.
Another member of the NWC who also pledged anonymity while denying that the NWC met at the weekend stated that “we normally meet on Wednesdays except there is an emergency and this time, there is none that should warrant us meeting on the said emergency last weekend.
“Let me also remind you that it would be wrong for us to be a judge in our own cause. What we have to do under the circumstance and which is what we are doing is that we are collating the opinion of our leaders throughout the country and in due course we shall convoke relevant organs of the party where these opinions would be discussed and a final decision taken.
“PDP has not changed from its usual family affair to being a lawless organ. If we make any mistakes now, the opposition will laugh at us and they would use the opportunity to cause confusion in the country and we would not give room for such opportunity to crop up,” he stated.
However another pioneer member of the party who would equally chose to speak on the matter anonymously noted that the issue is constitutional and can only be resolved constitutionally.
At the end of a meeting of the South East zone last weekend in Enugu, the zone insisted on producing the national chairman of the party until the tenure of the current National Executive Committee of the party lapses in March, next year. National Vice Chairman of the party in the zone, Chief Olisa Metuh disclosed this in a communiqué he read after a zonal executive committee meeting of the PDP held at Nike Lake Resort Enugu.
The South East PDP at the meeting declared that they constitutionally deserved the position based on the provisions of Article 14(5) of the constitution of the party. They also announced that within the next two weeks, the zone would submit the name of a nominee for the post of national chairman to the national secretariat of the party.
The South East PDP leaders demanded that one of their own be appointed to fill the vacant position of the national chairman in view of the provision of the constitution of the party aforementioned, which is already in default with the appointment of a non-South Easterner to the post.
According to the South East leaders, Article 14 subsection 5 of the party constitution provides that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party should appoint a substitute/replacement for the national chairman whenever the position vacated by a serving chairman, stressing that the only thing to be done in the circumstance is to ask the zone to submit its shortlisted names to the party caucuses.
They argued that the provision specifies that “the replacement should come from the zone of the immediate substantive chairman who so vacated office, and in this circumstance, South East should be the zone to so benefit since the last confirmed chairman of the party was Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo from the area”.
They pointed out that “the zone becomes even more qualified based on the provision of the party constitution when they recall that even if you put together the tenure of Nwodo and Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, his predecessor, they spent only 22 months as against 48 months specified by the constitution”.
However, it was gathered that the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Baraje (North Central) is angling to assume the two positions because of limited time between now and the next national convention.
The argument is that not appointing anybody for now would save the party the burden of understanding the disposition of the new chairman which is expected to afford the party easy procedure when nominating board members, which is the next major national task for the party.
But for other stakeholders in the party they can’t wait to have a new leadership. Disturbed by the state of affairs within the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP Transformation Network (PTN) and the PDP National Interest Group (PNIG) called for the immediate resignation of the national working Committee of the party.
According to national coordinator of PTN and PNIG, prince Bello Godspower, and Mr Dominic Alancha respectively, they stressed that “the decision to continue to run the party through unconstitutional provision of acting chairman is unacceptable to us as party faithful and we cannot continue these abnormalities in the party”
They noted that moves by the party leadership to look inward for it news acting chairman for the party is a mark of failure adding that they will not hesitate to go to court for redress if proper action is not taken as a matter of urgency. “The party is not bereaved of men and women of integrity and capacity to redefine and reposition the party for excellence. The self seeking agenda of the current NWC to hold on to power at all cost is the bane of cohesion and direction in the party.”
They however urged the south east to desist from agitating for the national chairmanship slot adding that the position has been swapped with that of the Secretary to the government of the federation which the zone currently occupies.