The national convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ended in confusion as former vice president Atiku Abubakar, seven governors and others stormed out of the event to form another faction of the party.
Others who walked out of the Eagle Square convention ground included governors Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), MurtalaNyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Aliyu Wamako.
Also in the group was Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun State who was ousted recently as the secretary of the party.
The group convened immediately at the Yar Adua Centre in Abuja and held its own convention where national officers were elected, with Abubakar Kawu Baraje emerging as its national chairman.
While Sam Jaja emerged as the deputy chairman of the splinter PDP, Oyinlola regained the post of secretary which he lost in the ruling party months ago.
Addressing the press later, Baraje explained that leaders of the party had no choice but to found the breakaway group in view of “the increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur”.
Baraje said that the politics of the 2015 elections had “blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions” and that the constitution of the party had been “serially abused” byTukur and others while “all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though above the law”.
The splinter PDP chairman said the convention at the Eagle Square was held against the constitution of the party, observing that the date of the event was not chosen by the National Executive Committee, NEC, the authorized body, while delegates were allowed from nine states where the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had said congresses were not properly conducted.
The new group also faulted the upturning of the election of Andy Ubah and his suspension from the party “in defiance of subsisting court orders” and in spite of INEC’s recognition of his winning thePDP Anamba governorship primaries.
Baraje also listed as worrisome developments in the party the suspension of governors Ameachi andWamako, the dismissal of Jaja, a national officer by state officials and the dissolution of theAdamawa State chapter of the PDP.
The faction promised “a new lease of life” for those “who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur’s leadership”, adding that the PDP was not envisioned to be “a political party where one man would be taking decisions for all members and where once you do not kowtow before the presidency, you are deemed a rebel that must be crushed”.
As Baraje was charting a new course for the party, at the national convention in Eagle Square, which had President Goodluck Jonathan in attendance, speakers were calling for a rallying of forces to take the party forward.
The chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, called for peaceful co-existence in Nigeria for the enhancement of the country’s stability, just as he asked members to complement this by embracing peace as well.
“This call becomes imperative for the country to move forward. Time has come for all Nigerians to come together and tolerate one another,” he said.
Anenih who noted that there would always be crisis in every society, however, said PDP had the mechanism to resolve its internal crises.
In his speech, the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, said the party was owned by all Nigerians and emphasised the need for peace to reign in the country for the country to be run smoothly.
Akpabio, who is also the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, claimed that statistics showed that the best states at the moment in the country were the ones being run by PDP governors.
He also said PDP governors had resolved to give adequate support to President Goodluck Jonathan in the running of the country.
“The President has succeeded with “an uncommon performance”, leading to the reaping of democratic dividends by the people.
“The uncommon reformation in both the power, health and aviation sectors are great achievements. For the first time in 10 years, the rails are now running and airports are wearing new-looks, just as peace is being restored in the troubled Northern parts of the country,” Akpabiosaid.
Below is text of Abubakar Baraje’s address.
We address you today as leaders of PDP, who are worried by the increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur .
While we have done everything humanly possible to bring to the attention of critical stakeholders within the party the dangers inherent in the course being charted by that leadership, it has become very clear that the desperate permutations towards 2015 general elections have blinded certain people from the consequences of their actions.
Not only has the constitution of the party been serially abused by Alhaji Tukur and his fellowtravellers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though above the law. Unfortunately, it is obvious that that they get encouragement from the presidency whose old calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
As leaders of our great party, we consider it a sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends. While the list of their violations of the tenets of our great party is long, we will highlight just a few:
The National Executive Committee of the PDP at its belated meeting of 20June 2013 approved 20July2013 for the conduct of a special national convention.
However, that date was changed to August 31 without reverting to NEC (the only authority vested with such powers) by a few people, apparently acting on the authority of the presidency.
Notwithstanding the fact that INEC had noted that the PDP congresses in nine states were not properly conducted, the illegal delegates from such states are being paraded at the so-called convention being held today in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law and further bring the name of the party to disrepute.
In gross violation of the PDP constitution which stipulates that the NEC meeting must hold at least once in a quarter, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and a few people have been running the party like a personal fiefdom without recourse to that important decision-making organ of the party.
The NEC of the party accepted the resignation of the former members of the NWC whose offices were affected by INEC observations based principally on the agreement that the affected officers would be returned to their respective offices at the convention. However, against the decision of the NEC and in a not-so-clever bid to exclude some perceived opponents of the few powerful members who are trying to hijack the party, these positions have been made Open to some Yes-men within the party.
Notwithstanding INEC instance that Senator Any Uba is the duly elected candidate of the party inAnambra State and against the background that he is so recognized by majority of our party members, the Bamanga Tukur-led Executives announced a purported suspension of Senator Ubaand some other members close to him in defiance of subsisting court orders.
Despite that the PDP Constitution is very clear that the state chapter of the party cannot discipline a national officer, the Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Sam Jaja, has reportedly been dismissed by some renegades who have hijacked the Rivers State chapter of our party with the connivance of the Bamanga Tukur leadership.
The persistent change in the list of the party’s delegates in many states as part of a deliberate attempt to rig the party’s nomination of candidates, especially at the presidential and gubernatorial levels, with a view to foisting on the PDP some unpopular candidates who are bound to lose at the polls.
The suspension without due process of the Governors of Rivers and Sokoto states. Even when the illegal suspension on Sokoto State Governor has been lifted, the Rivers Governor remains purportedly suspended for no just cause.
The illegal dissolution of the Adamawa State chapter of the party is a clear abuse of power byAlhaji Bamanga Tukur thus causing confusion in his home state.
Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the Bamanga Tukur leadership cannot guarantee for our millions of party members democracy anchored on free choice and the rule of law. We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to rescue the party from their int and dictatorial leadership.
It is indeed noteworthy that from 1999 to date, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by our great party but not only dies such trust come wig enormous responsibility, we recognize that we cannot continue to take the people f granted.
From now, the new leadership of the party under us will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will putty interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of one single individual.
For all the members of our great party who may have become disillusioned by the anti-democratic tendencies of the Bamanga Tukur’s leadership, there is a new lease of life in the horizon. It’s a new day for the Peoples Democratic Party.
As we take over the leadership of the PDP, our immediate priority is to revive the culture of robust debate of all contending issues while providing a level-playing field for all our members. These were the ideals that differentiated our party from others and endeared us to Nigerians.
We are not, and have never been a political party where one man would be taking decisions for all members and where once you do not kowtow before the presidency, you are deemed a rebel that must be crushed. That is not the PDP bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. That, I dare say, is no longer what PDP under our leadership will represent from today.
The PDP convention is still in progress at the Eagle Square.