The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has run into a fresh round of trouble.
The acrimony that trailed the national convention of the party last December has resurfaced after some Board of Trustees (BoT) members of the party defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and pledged to work with the coalition movement recently formed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
They also declared that the PDP, as the leading opposition platform, had reached its end ahead of 2019 general elections.
While the situation has created some disquiet within the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP which was most hit by the defection, some of the members have disagreed over the impact the former president’s coalition would have on the polity ahead of 2019.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that a Memorandum of Understanding was on Thursday signed by the defecting PDP members, other political parties and other groups to dissolve into the SDP at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
Some of those mentioned include former minister of education, Prof Tunde Adeniran and former minister of information, Prof Jerry Gana, who served in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government and who are also members of PDP’s BoT.
It will be recalled that Adeniran had contested the national chairmanship of PDP last December, which was won by Prince Uche Secondus, who enjoyed the support of the governors spearheaded by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike.
Following allegations of malpractice that trailed the convention, a reconciliation team led by Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, had met with Adeniran and other chairmanship aspirants who felt aggrieved by roles played by the governors, especially Wike.
The fall-out of the convention also created a division within the party’s BoT, which comprises elders and former national elective officeholders of the party.
BoT members were split along the lines of some of its members who contested the national chairmanship.
While the likes of Jerry Gana backed the aspiration of Prof Adeniran, other members either backed Secondus or former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George.
The BoT chairman, Sen Walid Jibrin, had set up a reconciliation committee led by former Senate president, David Mark, to reconcile the aggrieved members of the advisory organ of the party following Secondus’ eventually emergence as national chairman.
But confirming their defection to SDP, Adeniran told LEADERSHIP Sunday that they decided to leave PDP because they needed a platform, among other things, that is not owned by one or few individuals.
He added that while he was satisfied with the reconciliation team led by the Bayelsa State governor, he was compelled to leave PDP because his supporters from the South-west were miffed by the way Wike insulted them on the eve of the national convention.
Adeniran said, “I am a member of the SDP and we have taken a decision to move to the SDP. What has happened is this: there are those of us who believe in genuine internal party democracy, who believe in social justice, equity fairness and honesty in politics and are irrevocably and uncompromisingly against impunity imposition and corruption.
“We formed what we called new political order. Most of us came in from the PDP, some came in from some other parties, groups, social activist and so on.
“Those of us in the PDP felt that the PDP has gone beyond what could be redeemed in terms of its commitment to what we thought should be things of the past. But we realised that we would not be able to get justice for the people and for the things that we should be running away from, and would not move this country forward. So, we thought we needed a different platform that will respect the dignity of man; that will be honest in all its dealings; a platform where the love of country, genuine patriotism and interest of the masses of the people is supreme; a party that will not be easily purchasable by one individual or group of individuals.
“So those of us who believe in the future generations and the youths and the rights of women to be respected and given their rightful place in society and in the politics of the land, we felt we needed a platform that will provide opportunity for this and we considered some new parties and some existing parties and among the various parties that we considered we also thought of those that are likely to encourage national spread, that will not promote ethnicity; a party that abhors internal crisis, a party that will have good programmes and principles, whose structure is good for the country.
“That was what recommended the Social Democratic Party. As we are moving in as part of it, everybody is equal; nobody is bigger than the other, and there is room for people and others coming behind because there are so many other groups coming from all over the place and different parties that are still coming in.”
He regretted that the reconciliation committee led by Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, did not yield the expected result.
Adeniran said: “What sparked my decision to move was the fact that the reconciliation committee was headed by a very honourable, honest, nice and patriotic man.
“He is someone I respect a lot. I admire his style of leadership. He meant well, no question about that. But after all that was done, you know, politics is about people. We represent people and so forth. I am from the South West, I have gone back to my people and they felt so insulted by some people within the PDP, and they said they do not believe that they can relate and deal with people who have no regard or respect for them. They mentioned Wike in particular with the way he insulted the Yoruba in the TV programmes few days to the convention. So I share the sentiment of my people.”
On their decision to work with Obasanjo’s coalition he said, “We shall be working with groups that believe in the core values that we believe in. The coalition that Obasanjo is working with is a movement.
“President Obasanjo is an elder statesman; he will not be involved in partisan politics. But members of that movement – I am also part of that movement; many of us are part of it. We want changes that will liberate this country. And we are going to work closely with him and we will also work with other patriotic groups who mean well for this country.”
He however said their movement from the PDP signals the end of party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“What this means is the end of the road. I wish the PDP well but then it will pose some challenges but then they will be the ones to say what it means for them. But as far as I am concerned, I feel they have a huge task ahead of them.”
But in his reaction, the chairman of PDP BoT, Sen Walid Jibrin, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he had yet to receive any formal notice of BoT members’ defection.
He recalled that the BoT had set up a committee to reconcile its members following the crisis that arose from the national convention, adding that until the report is ready, they will not make comment on the defection.
Jibrin who lamented the move of the party’s chieftains to SDP, however, said there is no cause for alarm over the perceived threat Obasanjo’s movement poses to PDP.
He said, “I talk appropriately regarding Gana and Adeniran about the issue. In any contest there is bound to be a winner and a loser. And when a winner emerges, we should all rally round and support whoever he is and forget about the past. Today the serving national chairman of the party is Secondus. So we will do everything possible to ensure success for our party.
“Many people have defected to PDP; many people are coming into PDP. The number of people coming into PDP is double the number of those leaving PDP. There is no cause for alarm.
“Even if I am the only person remaining, I will never leave PDP. I will continue to remain in PDP. I am very consistent in my belief that PDP will never die,” he said.
Reacting to the possible impact of Obasanjo’s coalition, he said, “The issue of Obasanjo is not a new thing at all, particularly for anybody that knows him very well.
“He has condemned Buhari and APC. He has also condemned the PDP. So why is he worried? Despite his position, the strongest parties today are still PDP and the APC. And so he had condemned all of us. I can’t see the coalition succeeding at all because the majority of the people are in PDP and APC. And these are the parties he is condemning. His is a total blanket condemnation of parties, which we will not take. So I only pity people who are moving into his type of game. This is a plot set up by some people in order to achieve their own selfishness and not with the people of Nigeria.
“We have a lot of problems in Nigeria but we have been able to put our heads together. We have come together to make Nigeria one. Anybody who is trying to break Nigeria, God will not give him the opportunity to do so.”
Another BoT member of the PDP, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, however, expressed displeasure over the move by his former BoT colleagues to the SDP.
Speaking with our correspondent, he said, “Frankly speaking, Prof Jerry Gana and Prof Tunde Adeniran are highly respected people in the party. They are both good friends of mine. They didn’t tell me. I didn’t know theywere going away. If they had told me I would have offered my own advice because two heads are better than one.
“In all the parties today you will notice that there is general disaffection within them. Even in the APC there are a lot of problems. I know a lot of people in APC that want to defect to PDP.”
“My philosophy of democracy is different. I believe that before you join a party you must know the philosophy and try at all times to protect it. This Idea of people jumping from one party to the other does not show democratic conduct. If democracy must be preserved, even if you have not got what you want in the party, you have to stay,” he said.
He also noted that the former president’s coalition was coming rather late ahead of 2019 general elections.
Oghiadomhe, Orubebe Distance Selves From SDP
Some members of the PDP who were listed among those who defected to the SDP have denied the report.
While former chief of staff to President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe said he remains a full-time member of PDP, former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, said reports that he had joined the SDP was false.
Oghiadomhe in a terse statement said: “My attention has been drawn to a publication in the social media by mischief-makers about my exit from PDP to SDP.
“For the record, l was never part of any group where a decision was made about dumping PDP for SDP. To my great party PDP and millions of our members, no one has my mandate to determine or associate my name to any political party without my written consent.
“Whoever must have affiliated my name to any political party other than PDP does not have my mandate and this should be disregarded as handiwork of mischief makers.
“My membership and loyalty is to PDP alone which is my party of choice since its formation.”
On his part, former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday
Orubebe also denied the story that he had dumped the PDP for SDP.
Orubebe who is one of the founding members of the PDP told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the misleading report linking him with the movement to SDP was concocted.
“Let it be known that my loyalty to PDP is still intact. Decamping is a very serious issue, and as someone who is very blunt and direct, I will not shy away from telling the public myself if or when I decide to leave PDP,” he said.
Orubebe, however, acknowledged that the party was yet again facing crisis sequel to the outcome of its national convention.
“It is no secret that PDP faces a lot of challenges, particularly arising from its last national convention of 9 December 2017, but decamping is not the solution. We will stay together and resolve the issues together.”
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