Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Tukur to New PDP Members - You Will Be Treated As Criminals

editorial

The 'New Peoples Democratic Party' suffered recently suffered string of setbacks, the highpoint was last week Fridays judgement of an Abuja Federal High Court, which restrained its leadership from parading as the national executive committee of the party.

They were equally restrained from operating parallel national, state, local government area and ward offices of the party.

The Independent National Electoral Commission was also ordered to refrain from recognising, dealing and relating with the New PDP.

The court, presided by Justice Elvis Chukwu, made the order while delivering judgment in a suit in which the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led faction of the party asked it to stop the Alhaji Abubakar Baraje-led group from further parading themselves as the party's elected executive officers.

The defendants in the suit - Baraje, Dr. Sam Jaja, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar - were backed by seven state governors, including Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

Emboldened by their serial successes including the INEC express declaration penultimate week that its is the authentic PDP, The Peoples' Democratic Party under Bamanga Tukur came out to warn the Alhaji Kawu Baraje led New PDP, to stop making utterances, issuing press statements, holding meetings under the banner of PDP or be treated as impostors and criminals.

Seizing the legitimacy bestowed on its leadership by the court, the Tukur-led PDP warned that it would no longer tolerate the excesses of the Baraje faction.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, PDP shortly after the Abuja court ruling, he said; "For the avoidance of doubt, the ruling of the court in this regard is absolutely clear, direct and unambiguous. The PDP has only one duly elected National Executive Committee under the National Chairmanship of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.

"We wish therefore to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of this organ of our party are impostors and must be treated as criminals by all and sundry.

"Henceforth, the leadership of the PDP will no longer tolerate or condone any meeting, utterances, press statements and/or activities whatsoever under the name, flag and colour of the PDP by any unauthorized person or group(s) under any guise.

"As a law abiding party, the PDP remained calm in the face of the unwarranted attacks of the last few months. Our leaders chose the path of caution and decorum but our reconciliatory moves and offer of olive branch were treated with the highest disdain and viewed as signs of weakness.

"The National Working Committee has therefore directed that the name, colour, flag and the provisions of constitution of our party must be held sacrosanct by our members. The PDP has adequate internal mechanism for resolution of disagreements and members are advised to express their grievances through such".

The PDP is actually basking on the euphoria of their string of successes over the splinter group, yet there seems a confusion on how to handle the renegade group, but the fact is that some of the aggrieved governors may be disposed at returning to the mainstream party not minding if their request to shove the National Chairman, Tukur aside is shunned.

Notwithstanding the splinter elements have expressed their readiness to fight on. The snag is, for how long would their supporters hold out, waiting for any court judgement that could cede the leadership structure to them. As it is now and by the latest court pronouncement, such dream seems like a mirage.

Stop Gloating, We Are Bonafide Members of PDP - Baraje

Not minding their precarious position however, the faction told the Tukur led PDP to stop gloating over their victory as they will never surrender.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, he said that the new PDP feel nothing but pity for Alhaji Tukur and his National Working Committee (NWC)

"We feel nothing but pity for Alhaji Tukur and his NWC, who are already gloating over their 'victory' over us and even had the temerity to describe us and our governors as criminals. By being so uncouth in addressing governors duly elected by Nigerians, Tukur and his disciples have once more vindicated our struggle to flush out these unholy undemocratic elements from our party.

"We are confident that this is one mission, which we shall successfully accomplish, by the grace of God, not minding the use of state security agencies to harass and intimidate our people."

Nonetheless, the faction accepted the court ruling, but declared intention to appeal.

In a statement signed by Kawu Baraje, he disclosed that it would abide by the court's judgment but would hold a meeting within the week to decide another line of action.

He stated: "As a group that has a lot of respect for the judiciary, we have accepted the ruling in good faith and wish to abide by it. Even so, we have directed our legal team to appeal the judgment, as a matter of urgency, as we remain convinced that we have a good case and are thus determined to ensure that Tukur and his cohorts are not allowed to hold sway as the leaders of our great party."

Baraje, who just returned from the Holy Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, disclosed that he has convened an emergency meeting of the G7, stakeholders and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the New PDP to exhaustively discuss the new developments and chart the way forward, as there is no going back on the struggle to rescue PDP from the "hands of usurpers."

He said: "Apart from deciding on the Federal High Court ruling and the challenges facing us a group, the G7/stakeholders/NWC meeting slated for this week is expected to deliberate on how five more governors of PDP that have indicated interest to join the Baraje leadership will be received in the fold."

However, the factional national chairman denied media reports of a crack in its camp and declared that his group was determined to remove the Tukur-led NWC it described as undemocratic elements.

"Let us reiterate that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, reflected in a section of the media, of division and disunity among our governors and National Assembly members because of our current travails, the fact remains that instead of division, our current travails have strengthen us the more and act as a unifying factor that have shown us that it is a matter of time that the undemocratic elements that have seized our party will be dislodged", he said

Apparently to cap their optimism, the factional leadership boasted that five more governors have indicated interest to join the seven already with them. Well, the outcome of the meeting was still being awaited as at at the time of going to the press.

The claim according to observers is to maintain a bold face. The truth is that the new PDP has been badly bruised and may find it very difficult to hold on to their supporters for a long time, particularly now that the election season is fast drawing near.

Again, there were reports that the All Progressive Congress (APC) may have given them a deadline of November ending to seal a deal with them or they should simply forget it. They averred that time is no longer on their side considering that the opposition party is yet to conduct its national convention to elect party leaders, register new members and also harmonize the leadership structures in the state s and geopolitical zones.

The implication is that much dilly-dallying could pile much pressure on the splinter PDP to such an extent that they may end becoming mere joiners in any party they are headed to unless they settle to register their own political party.

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