More than a dozen executives of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, asked to leave their posts over flawed elections are likely to stay away despite repeated assurances from the party’s leadership that all they need do is “regularize” the elections to return to their jobs.
Having breached a party rule barring candidates from being elected unopposed, the regularization, as required by a report by the Independent National Electoral Commission, would require new elections and opponents for each of the more than 14 slots. But while some of the candidates may lose out naturally at the polls, others will be edged out on account of their political patronage as it regards their loyalty for governors opposed or in support of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The affected executive committee members are expected to all resign by Thursday. Ahead of that date, the National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, became the first to formally announce on Wednesday that he was stepping down. The resignation will be effective Thursday, he said. “This resignation is in the overall interest of the party and is being done to put a final stop to the controversies generated by the INEC report on the mode of my election as National Publicity Secretary,” Mr. Metuh said.
The report by INEC was released early April, nearly one year after the affected executive members of the party took office. The electoral body said their elections violated a stipulation that bars officials from getting elected unopposed. Some of those affected are: Deputy National Chairman, Sam Jaja; National Organizing Secretary Abubakar Mustapha; his deputy Okechukwu Nnadozie; National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh; his deputy Binta Goje; National Youth Leader Garba Chiza; his deputy Dennis Alonge Niyi; Deputy National Auditor Umar Ibrahim, National Women Leader Kema Chikwe; her deputy Hannatu Ulam, Deputy National Treasurer Claudus Inengas; and National Legal Adviser Victor Kwom.
The report cleared four exco-members as duly elected, namely, the national chairman Bamanga Tukur, sacked National Secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola, sacked National Auditor Bode Mustapha and National Financial Secretary Bolaji Anani. Under the party’s laws, the executive members spared, will not form a quorum to decide on matters in need of voting, making it exigent for the vacant slots to be filled. The PDP National Executive Council meeting, scheduled for Thursday, is expected to announce plans for a party convention where an election will be conducted.
But our sources say President Jonathan, embroiled in months of antagonism with some governors opposed to his second term plans, will use the current opportunity to fully take over the control of the party by ensuring that only people considered loyal to him are elected into the NWC. Most of the departing NWC members had the backing of their governors and former President Olusegun Obasanjo to be elected at the 2012 convention. The president is said to have particularly overseen the election of the national chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur.
That divided sponsorship showed early enough after the election last year with party officials such as the erstwhile National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, opposing Mr. Tukur, and impliedly the president, on key decisions. Mr. Oyinlola was later removed by a court through a suit instituted by a section of members of the party from the South West challenging the process that produced him as candidate from the zone. The National Auditor, Bode Mustapha was also shown the way out of the NWC through the same process as Mr. Oyinlola.
A federal high court struck out their appeal just last week. Both men had the backing of Mr. Obasanjo. Those likely to follow the same path with the latest development include Sam Jaja, the deputy National Chairman, known to have been sponsored by Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, a known antagonist of the president. Although Mr. Jaja has not openly shown his disloyalty to the president, he is also said to be retaining his relationship with Mr. Amaechi. The National Youth Leader, Garba Chiza, is another member of the executive likely not to return.
His supposed election is believed to have been masterminded by the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu. Mr. Aliyu has already indicated his intention to run for president, and likely challenge Mr. Jonathan for the PDP ticket, in 2015. Former aviation minister, and outgoing Women Leader for the party, Kema Chikwe, is almost certain not to return to her post as she is said to have secured her post because of her loyalty to Mr. Obasanjo.
For those likely to be in the good books of the establishment, they stand to face opposition at the polls. Already, Chyna Iwuanyanwu, who contested for the position of the National Publicity Secretary last year, has again declared interest for the slot. “With the recent developments in PDP, God has provided another opportunity to do it right,” Mr. Iwuanyanwu said on Wednesday.