Key stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have agreed on new measures that will guard against future crises capable of dividing the party and weakening its chances in subsequent elections in the country, DAILY ASSET can reveal.
From Mathew Onah (Yola), Obinna Ibe (Umuahia),
John Shiando (Makurdi), Dan Amusingha (Minna), Abubakra Abdullahi (Minna)
owing the `judgment by the Supreme Court ending Senator Ali Modu Sherrif’s claim to the Chairmanship of the party.
One of the measures, which has already enjoined popular support among influential chieftains of the PDP, is the decision to amend the party’s constitution to introduce clauses that would make the constant recourse to law courts by aggrieved party members unattractive.
Another measure, DAILY ASSET learnt, would be to strengthen its peace building and arbitration capacities and deliberately encourage members to fully exhaust such internal channels without seeking justice in court.
Already, the next National Convention of the party has been tentatively slated for October 2017.
It was indeed one of the most protracted political cases in the history of the nation’s judiciary. But after more than 14 months of tussle between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Modu Sherrif, for the control of the soul of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Supreme Court, last Monday, dismissed the application filed by Sherrif.
While the judgment has continued to elicit reactions from various parts of the country, especially with its implication on the 2019 general elections, DAILY ASSET reliably gathered at the weekend that the bruised survivals of the legal battle have decided that “the PDP would never, ever go through that bitter and shameful experience again.”
The New Game Plan
A former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly and current National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Barrister Dave Iorhemba, confirmed to DAILY ASSET that there are plans by the party to review its constitution to ensure discipline and check abuse of court processes, among other things.
He noted that the Supreme Court pronouncement on the crisis in the PDP was not only for the party, “because the judgment has asserted the supremacy of the party convention in Nigeria, not only for the PDP but for all the political parties. It could be applicable to the PDP, APC or any other political party.”
As for the PDP, he said, “there are some constitutional amendments that we have proposed; one of which is to ensure party discipline and the other is to ensure stringent measures. You are aware that the Court will frown at any constitutional provision that will seem to shut-out the jurisdiction of the court.”
Iorhemba said the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee wanted to see that “we create provisions that will make sure that it will make it extremely difficult for members of the party to begin to approach the court because as it is now the constitution of the PDP is porous in such a manner that any member of the party can take the party to court and that has drawn us back to where we are today.”
“There are other provisions we also intend to amend in whatever we are doing. The last amendment was in 2012, and you are aware that the 2014 amendment of the PDP was shut-down by the High Court of the Federal Territory Capital in the case of Chief Joseph Jerry against the PDP. So, we are going to address most of these things,” he added.
He hinted that the party was going to meet this week in an expanded caucus “and then the NEC (National Executive Committee) will meet and the BoT (Board of Trustees) will also meet to draw out programmes for whatever we are going to do subsequently.”
On the significance of the victory of Ahmed Makarfi at the Supreme Court to the PDP and to Nigeria’s democracy, the national legal adviser said, “we are saying that the supremacy of the party convention is key; it takes far reaching decisions. The convention of the party can shut-down or dissolve the National Working Committee and the BoT and set up any committee including setting up of the National Caretaker Committee. That is the supremacy of the National Convention of the party. It has the power to do everything. That is what the Supreme Court said. The court has asserted the supremacy of the convention of a political party, not only to the PDP but for other political parties. Today is PDP, tomorrow any other party will make reference to the judgment.”
He observed that even the governing – All Progressives Congress (APC) was scared of holding even a NEC meeting talk less of a convention. “So, the significance of it (judgment) is that a new chapter has come to page in the PDP. If the APC are telling you that they are not threatened, is not true. They are.
PDP Chieftains speak
Senator T A Orji (Abia Central Senatorial District), who also spoke to DAILY ASSET, described the Supreme Court judgment as God’s doing, stating that there was no victor, no vanquish.
The former Abia State governor however called for concerted efforts of all members particularly party leaders to move the PDP forward, just as he appealed to all those who ran away to come back and rejoin their party.
On his part, the Speaker, Abia House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu called on his party people in Isiala Ngwa South state constituency to close ranks now that the matter of who is the authentic national chairman of the PDP has been finally settled through the last court of Appeal.
Niger State Chairman of the PDP, Barrister Tanko Beji, in his reaction to the Supreme court judgment, declared that the task of rebuilding the Nation would be daunting.
Barrister Beji who was a staunch supporter of the Makarfi’s faction while the crisis lasted, said in a statement in Minna that although the judiciary has spoken loud and clear, the task of repositioning the party as a veritable opposition platform that wants to return back to power will start in earnest, as there is no time to waste. “We must now come together and remain focused because the battle ahead is not going to be for the faint hearted..
Alhaji Tinjani Tanko fari,
Another chieftain of the PDP in Niger state, Alhaji Tinjani Tanko fari, boasted that the coming months will define the political direction of the state as the 2019 election gradually draws close, explaining that there were forces that wanted the former ruling party dead at all costs in order to foist their new political agenda on the country, “but the judiciary has rescued Nigerians from the hand of such mercantile politicians.”
“ Quote me, the political tempo in the country will soon pick up now that the agents of darkness has been put in their rightful place by the landmark judgment of the country’s apex court,” he declared.
On his part, a former Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, advised to the leadership of the PDP to try to avoid impunity and strive to uphold integrity and good governance.
“We must strive to rebuild the party and move democracy forward. We must also, avoid the pitfalls of the past especially the issue of impunity. We must allow the will of the people to prevail, people are already tired of the APC and want the PDP to come back. If we remain together as one united party, we are sure of victory come 2019,” he told DAILY ASSET in an interview.
According to the former Minister, the Supreme Court judgment would go a long way in helping the party to reflect and reposition itself, “and I believe it will brace up and avoid pitfalls in the future. I believe that victory is also sure for party in 2019.”
He said: “the Supreme Court verdict is vindication for democracy and I commend the judiciary for proving to be the last bastion of hope for the ordinary Nigerian. The judgment is not only victory for PDP, it also represents the interest of Nigerians. It is a case of PDP against PDP, so it is a no victor, no vanquish judgment.”
In Adamawa state, the state chairman of the PDP, Barrister Abdulrahman Bobboi, told DAILY ASSET that all stakeholders of the party had agreed to forge ahead together in unity with whoever emerges as the national chairman after the supreme court ruling.
Describing the ruling of the apex court as strengthening democracy, Bobboi said now the PDP is going to emerge stronger and better focused to face its roles as an effective opposition party.
He appealed to aspirants of the party to come forward and synergize with a view to winning the polls in the 2019 general elections, more so as the PDP was in power for 16 years “but the APC has spent only 2 years and yet they are already factionalised.
A former Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, told DAILY ASSET that the supreme court ruling has drawn a curtain on the crisis that has engulf the party in the last two years.
“We have overcome our challenges now and it is time to move forward and redeem Nigeria and Nigerians from the misgovernance of the APC. We are stronger now as a party, because we have overcome the challenge of impunity and lack of adherence to the rule of law that has characterised our internal affairs in the past,” he declared.
From Nasarawa state, where thousands of PDP supporters from the 13 local government areas converged on the capital, Lafia and rallied round major roads of the town expressing their happiness cover the victory, the state chairman of the party, Francis Orogu, appreciated the supporters for their doggedness by continuing to remain with the party despite its challenges at the national level for more than a year.
Orogu who is the national secretary of the forum of states chairmen of the party, advised those that left the PDP for the reason of division in the party to return as the party is now one united party with focus. “We are like soldiers who have been on training and passed out; as we’ve passed out, we’re going to be carrying out our activities in full force.”
The State Chairman of the PDP in Benue, John Ngbede said “we are going to ensure our genuine members who fell into the trick of following Ali Modu Sheriff are brought back into the fold. I said genuine members because some of them who were parading themselves as Sheriff members are APC, the man who claimed he was the State chairman of the Sheriff faction is an APC member. But for those who are our genuine members, we will reconcile and bring them back to form a formidable force towards 2019.”
Alfred Berger Emberga
Ngbede’s confident outburst was however questioned by the acting State Publicity Secretary of the APC in Benue, Alfred Berger Emberga, who told DAILY ASSET in Makurdi, “these guys were there in 2015 as a ruling party, but the APC as an opposition party then came and defeated them. They were there as a ruling party with all the resources at their disposal, they were there when they had the sitting president and 22 governors and national chairman who was also a past governor, but we defeated them. Is it now they are in opposition that they will defeat us or APC will be afraid of them?”
“You see, with what happened in 2015, they still feel that Nigerians voted the APC in error, without knowing that they are gone and gone for good and are not coming back to power. Nigerians are not stupid to again bring back the party that introduced corruption, the party that elevated it to alarming order. PDP is party of impunity, and corrupt people. They should rather prepare and face opposition, 2019 will still come and we will defeat them squarely. So, I am advising supporters of the PDP to not bask in such euphoria and brace themselves to do opposition and stop those useless noise,” he added.
PDP National Legal Adviser
The National Legal Adviser of the PDP, thinks differently. “When the other political parties came together and were able to wrestle power from the PDP, the expectations of Nigerians were very high, but as the party has not met the expectations and aspirations of Nigerians, Nigerians are now looking out for the baby that was thrown away with the bad waters, which is the PDP. Therefore the lingering crisis in the party was a cause of concern for Nigerians because they look at the PDP as the only credible opposition party that can provide a check to the ruling APC.”
Iorhemba told DAILY ASSET that the National Caretaker Committee was going to set up a reconciliation committee, “which means all the members who left the party and all those who are disenchanted, those who are members of the ruling party and other political parties who are disenchanted in a way and manner things are done in their political parties should come back to the PDP, we are reconciling our members. The National Chairman of the party has granted amnesty to the Amodu Sherriff group.”
Preparing PDP for 2019 election
Barrister Iorhemba noted that people were running away from the PDP because of the crisis and that it was the crisis that made the party to lose the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections, as well as made the PDP not to participate in most of the local government elections that were conducted by the States Independent Commission.
“But now the party has been unified. Most members of the senate and states houses of assembly that were elected on the platform of the PDP dumped the party on the excuse that the party was in crisis. Now the party is no longer in crisis. The Supreme Court judgment has brought us back on the right part. We are going to move round, in every state to tell Nigerians that the PDP is back,” he said with confidence.