The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Niger State has been embroiled in a crisis of confidence as frictions arising from the party’s recent botched congress reveals. ABU NMODU, captures the intrigues.
Niger State chapter of the People Democratic Party (PDP) has been embroiled in an internal crisis caused by dissenting positions of most elders and stakeholders as against the position of former governor of the state Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu and his supporters.
The frictions among the stakeholders which bordered on the control of the soul of the party ahead of 2023 have since become an issue of national discuss, following series of protests that have rocked the national headquarters of the party.
To the credit of PDP in Niger State, almost six years since they were voted out of power, they still managed to retains within their ranks some experienced politicians who can work to make the party cohesive.
But that seems not to be the case as the current crisis seems to be getting out of hand especially with the spate of protests in Abuja which trailed the congresses held so far in the state, a situation which culminated in calls for the removal of the national financial secretary, Abdullahi Maibasira over allegations that he is part of the crisis rocking the party in the state.
The current situation within the party began to manifest with accusations and counter-accusations as suspicions of loyalty among party members heightened.
While the former governor, Aliyu, who is involved in the mix of the crisis was accused of allegedly carrying out “the hatchet job” of some extraneous forces, his supporters have also accused the other group of lack of transparency in managing the affairs of the party in the state.
The allegations against Aliyu were from the camp of the immediate past chairman Tanko Beji and two-time governorship candidate of the party in 2015 and 2019 Umar Nasko group.
According to them, Aliyu’s continued dominance in the party, they, while accusing him of nursing plans to destroy the party ahead of 2023, further alleged that he is part of those trying to stop the immediate past chairman Barr Tanko Beji from getting a second term.
They claim that he plans to bring a chairman that could easily be used to serve the purpose of unknown political forces in 2023 and subvert the zoning arrangements in the state. They alleged that Aliyu who is rooting for Eng Ahmed Muktar, a former member House of Representatives to become state party chairman, was not in good fate.
In turn, the former governor’s group, while dismissing the allegations against him as unfounded accused the other group of planning to bring Umar Nasko as governorship candidate again, in 2023.
The Aliyu group also claimed that they were against the former chairman Beji because of a lack of transparency in the way the 2019 presidential campaign funds were disbursed.
They alleged money released to the state for the presidential election in 2019 was not properly expended, a claim which was countered by Beji supporters.
The Beji group insisted that the former governor was aware of how the money was expended because it was collected from the source by his close political ally, a former majority leader in the House of Representatives.
As the accusations and counter-accusation continued, PDP elders in the state joined in, as they accused the caretaker committee of the party in the state of plans manipulate the process of the rescheduled congress.
They accused the caretaker chairman Garba Umar Chiza of working with the former governor to foist unpopular candidates on the majority of the party members.
The elders comprising of a former deputy governor, senators and ministers alleged that some members of the caretaker working committee were working for some extraneous forces to destabilise the party.
The elders, including a former deputy governor of Niger state Dr Shem Nuhu Zagbayi made the positions of the elders known in a well-attended conference at IBB pen house, Minna.
He was accompanied by former minister of Foreign Affairs, Abubakar Tanko, Senator Zainab Kure, deputy governorship candidate in 2019, Bar Mohammed Ndayako and a leader of the party Ibrahim Isyaku (SAN).
They said that if the issues were not laid bare there were tendencies that the PDP national chairman Secondus may be hoodwinked to accept the manipulations going on.
“Peoples’ Democratic Party, Niger State is drifting, while the National leadership is absent-minded, in other cases the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus is either aloof or complicit in the well-orchestrated plan to destroy the party” the group declared.
The group alleged thus “Several artificial issues have been created by members of the party working hand in hand with the ruling APC.
“These issues include partiality of the caretaker committee in the past three months, working assiduously to impose an unpopular, unprepared and rejected aspirant. The caretaker’s refusal to call any meeting since their inauguration for the past 3 months” Zagbayi who spoke on their behalf added.
The group alleged that the caretaker committee has turned itself into a willing tool of a witchhunt in dealing with party members, culminating in the issuance of illegal queries to 20 LGA caretaker chairmen who refused to attend a meeting to endorse an unpopular candidate.
Zagbayi said some of the issues included illegal and contemptuous adjournment of party Congress with a view to favouring one select against the Majority and Illegal reopening of sales of forms, 5 months after closure to favour some candidates for certain party positions.
He said the issues were further compounded by the refusal of the national chairman to acknowledge and meet majority stakeholders from the state to brief him on the true situation of the happenings within the party in the state.
He said it is worrisome that the national chairman refused to acknowledge and act on the unanimous decision of the stakeholders as communicated in a letter dated May 7, 2020. He said the same applied to a letter dated July 1, 2020, a situation which they said supported those working for extraneous forces to destroy PDP in the state.
“These actions are vehemently rejected, reprehensible and spite on the hardworking and loyal members of this great party that have kept the party flag flying even after a key beneficiary of the party worked against it in 2015 and landing it in the opposition,” he said further.
The stakeholders, therefore, called on Secondus to listen to the group and stop any further manipulation of the Congress rules and regulations as any further action will be tantamount to an attack on the party he is the chairman.
The caretaker committee chairman of the party Alhaji Chiza, however, denied such manipulations claims just as he justified the reopening of nomination.
He said the nomination was reopened to give all members a level playing ground and also avoid any form of imposition.
The crisis culminated into the state congress scheduled for September 12, this year to be postponed at the middle of the Congress.
The Congress committee members from Abuja were taken from the venue after it was discovered that some youths outside the PDP secretariat allegedly attacked Hon Shehu Baba Agaie who is considered one of the key supporters of Engr Muktar and a loyal supporter of Aliyu who was alleged to have held the accreditation card of his Agaie local government delegates.
The statement by the committee read thus “Due to uncertain security situation at the PDP state Secretariat, Venue of the rescheduled State Congress, the Congress stated for today, 12th day of September 2020 has been postponed.”
Chairman of the Congress Committee Alhaji Muhammed Imam made the announcement after unsuccessful attempts were made to get the thousands of persons gathered at the precinct of the venue to disperse before the commencement of the voting process.
According to the chairman, the Committee will report back to the National Working Committee which would determine the next line of action in accordance with the Constitution of the party.
In view of the developments, the national secretariat of the party set up a reconciliation committee headed by the leader of the party in the North Central zone and governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
It was learnt that at the last reconciliation meeting held on Thursday, October 8, 2020, at Benue House, Abuja, both camps agreed to the dissolution of the caretaker executives chaired by Umar Garbs Chiza for a new one to come in.
Findings further revealed that the meeting resolved that the new caretaker committee should have the chairman and secretary from another state while both tendencies present three people each as members representing each of the three senatorial zones, totalling six, plus a woman in the team.
The new caretaker executive has the responsibility to either working for the executives to emerging through consensus or the conduct of a free and fair election.
In the same vein, they are to consider the possibility of the two top contenders, Tanko Beji and Ahmed Muktar stepping down for new candidates to emerge if earlier stated options failed.
The meeting according to the source has signalled the end to a long road to peace as both tendencies agreed to bury the hatchet to move the party forward.