Vanguard (Lagos)

26 April 2013

Nigeria: PDP Crises - Respect INEC Report, Govs Tell Tukur

Abuja — THE crises rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have taken a new twist with governors elected on the platform of the party now pushing for the full implementation of the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the 2012 National convention.

The governors at the end of a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, it was learnt, also pushed for the adoption of a political solution to the problem that led to the exit of the party's National Secretary, former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The governors who met under the platform of the PDP Governors' Forum described the INEC report as a time-bomb for PDP with a warning that failure to implement it would lead to disaster and legal problems for the party.

INEC had last month released the report of its monitoring of the 2012 convention of the party in which it alleged that the election that produced majority of the members of the National Working Committee, NWC, was defective and in gross violation of the party's guidelines for the convention.

Specifically, INEC had claimed that besides the quartet of the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Auditor and the National Financial Secretary, who went through the process of election with counting of votes, the other members of the NWC who were elected by affirmation failed the guidelines as stipulated by the PDP's convention guidelines.

The National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur polled 3,185 votes; sacked National Auditor - Bode Mustapha scored 3,005 votes; Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani got 2,975 votes and sacked National Secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola got 3,061 votes.

The INEC report after some initial trepidation in the party heriarchy was subsequently dismissed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh who described the report as a fabrication aimed at embarrassing the party.

"This report is totally false and is clearly part of the orchestrated media attack on our party, aimed at causing confusion and undermining the psyche of our members," Metuh was quoted as saying when the report of the electoral body first emerged.

His assertion nonetheless, the party's governors, it was learnt, are now pressing for the full implementation of the report through holding of a mini convention to fill up vacancies or regularize the election of those INEC alleged to have been irregularly elected.

The source at the meeting told Vanguard that the PDP governors resolved that it has become imperative to implement the report against the backdrop that, with the present situation, the future actions of the present NWC could be questioned, given the INEC query on the election of the NWC members.

According to source, the governors resolved to tell Tukur to go ahead with the implementation of the report where those affected will face fresh elections if they so desire as a soft-landing.

In the alternative, the NWC members who do not return could be compensated with board appointments.

Vanguard also gathered that the governors were making case for the return of one of their former colleagues, the sacked National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola through what they termed political solution to the problem.

It would be recalled that Oyinlola was removed last January following the action of a federal high court ruling which pronounced that the zonal congress that produced him was illegally conducted and he was immediately replaced by the Deputy Secretary, Solomon Onwe who has been in acting capacity since then.

The governors are peeved with the speed with which Tukur moved to execute the court ruling, despite apprehensions that a strict interpretation could have also affected all the other members of the NWC elected at the national convention.

Oyinlola in a memo sent to the Governor Ibrahim Shema-led South-West Peace Panel put in place by the PDP Governors' Forum, PDPGF, called the attention of the panel to the fact that 'it was the same South-West delegates to the PDP zonal congress of March 21, 2012, that also voted at the national convention held on Saturday March 24, 2012."

The letter read in part: "I wish to also make it known that most of the decisions taken in this matter have been unilaterally taken by the national chairman who attempted on more than one occasion to rail-road the NWC into taking hasty and ill-conceived decisions.

"This development could only ridicule all of us in the eyes of right-thinking members of the society; and I must say that, expectedly, these sordid developments have had negative effects on the morale of members of the PDP in my zone.

"Let me go further that going by this same Federal High Court, Lagos ruling cited earlier, both the national chairman and the national secretary have not been validly elected following the nullification of the South-west zonal congress by the court. That aspect of the judgment concerning Olagunsoye Oyinlola has been implemented.

"However, the Federal High Court ruling which annulled the South-west Congress which also produced the national chairman and members of the NWC has not been considered in the process of implementing court

"Technically, that judgment also invalidated the election of the national chairman based on the fact that the South-west delegates to the PDP zonal congress of March 21, 2012, also voted at our National Convention held on Saturday March 24, 2012."

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