by Segun Odeleye
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) split into two factions on Saturday, with a faction led by Atiku Abubakar and seven governors staging a walkout during the PDP Convention and later addressing the media at the Yaradua Centre in Abuja.
The faction announced that its new chairman is Kawu Baraje.
Baraje later addressed the press and spoke on the reasons behind the break-up.
He said: “We address you today (yesterday) as leaders of PDP, who are worried by the increasing repression, restriction of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji 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 destroyed by Alhaji Tukur and his fellow travellers, 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 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 June 20, 2013 approved July 20, 2013 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 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 insistence that Senator Any Uba is the duly elected candidate of the party in Anambra State and against the background that he is so recognized by majority of our party members, the Bamanga Tukur-led executives announced the purported suspension of Senator Uba and 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 senior 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 by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur thus causing confusion in his home state.
Given the foregoing, it is very clear that the 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 dictatorial leadership.”
The other PDP chairman who is the recognised one by INEC, Bamanga Tukur, responded to the setting up of a new faction with these words in a statement:
“The PDP does not recognize any parallel party. Those who staged the walkout and organised kangaroo meeting are all self-seeking and treacherous individual pursuing neither regional nor religious agenda except their own agenda, except their own personal interest.
“Their attempt to create a parallel party is illegal as there is no crisis within the PDP whatsoever. They were all active participants in the setting up of this convention. And many of them were with the president and rode with him to the convention venue and joined him in the salutation of all the delegates including their state delegates.
“The PDP is studying the situation as it unfolds and will deal decisively as the situation warrants.
“It is obvious that they are creating a crisis where there is none to give the impression that the party is divided. This in their thinking will allow them persuade loyal members of the National Assembly to cross carpet with them. We will resist this.
“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.
“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.”