The factional national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Kawu Abubakar Baraje, says that Nigeria now has a focused PDP and not a one-man show being run by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur under the inducement of the Presidency and the task of crushing dissidents.
Baraje was making his maiden speech following his election at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Center, Abuja, flanked by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, seven/eight walkaway governors and some members of the National Assembly shortly after they walked out of PDP’s Special Convention.
The new chairman said it had become very clear that the Bamanga Tukur leadership was incapable of guaranteeing for 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 intention and dictatorial leadership,” he declared, saying the new leadership will strive to build a fairer as well as a more transparent and accountable PDP that will put the interest of members and indeed all the people of Nigeria above that of a 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 tow 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.”
He added that they are worried by the increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by the faction led by Tukur.
Baraje said that while his faction has done everything humanly possible to bring to the attention of critical stakeholders within the party the dangers inherent in the course being charted by the leadership, it had become 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 fellow travelers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though they are 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.
According to the chairma, “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.”
He highlighted a few violations of the tenets of the party, as follows:
“The National Executive Committee of the PDP at its belated meeting of 20June 2013 approved 20 July 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 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 Andy 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 a 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 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 by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur thus causing confusion in his home state.”
Alhaji Baraje also noted that since 1999, Nigerians have constantly voted the presidential candidates presented by the PDP. He stressed that only does such trust come with enormous responsibility, it was important not to continue to take the people for granted.
Meanwhile, at an election conducted by former Senate President Ken Nnamani at the special convention of the PDP on Saturday, the following were also named as officials of the party:
-Deputy National Chairman: Secondus Uche Prince
-National Publicity Secretary: Olisa Metuh
-Deputy National Secretary: Onwe Solomon Onwe
-National Organizing Secretary: Mustapha Abubakar
-Deputy National organizing Secretary: Nnadozie Okechuckwu
-Deputy National Publicity Secretary Jallo Abdullahi Ibrahim
-National Treasurer: Bala Buhari
-Deputy National Treasurer: Enegesi Claudius Godsave
-National Legal Adviser: Barrister Maidugu Bashir
-National Women Leader: Chikwe Kemafo Nonyerem
-Deputy Woman Leader: Lam Hanatu
-National Youth Leader: Abdullahi Maibasira
Deputy National Financial Secretary: Auwalu Abdu
Deputy National Auditor: Alhaji Lawal Anche
In a development that will feed into the argument of the dissidents about the PDP’s anti-democratic practices, the party did not open the position of party chairman to be contested. Similarly, the candidates for most of the vacant posts were “returned unopposed.”