The National Executive Committee (NEC), of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is finalizing arrangement to set up a Reconciliation Committee that would tour the whole country to soothe strained nerves among the party members and bring back members that left its fold. RAZAQ BAMIDELE, in this report examines the obstacles the committee is likely to encounter going by the reports that some PDP governors are bent on frustrating the reconciliation efforts.
When Alhaji Bamanga Tukur assumed office as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he promised to reconcile all the aggrieved members of the party to ensure peace and harmony within the party. In addition to that, he also promised to bring back to its fold, aggrieved members that left the party in annoyance with the aim of building a very big and stronger party. He hoped to achieve success where his predecessors failed as the committee the party currently under his leadership is planning to set up is not the first of its kind that had been set up in the past which had yielded no fruitful result.
Barrier to successful reconciliation
Daily Sun gathered authoritatively that past efforts at reconciling the aggrieved members and bringing in those who left the party in annoyance were in vain due to what observers belief is PDP Governors’ resolve to hold the party by the jugular with a view to having it in their pockets.” By doing so, they intend to frustrate any member considered to be so powerful and popular that can challenge and whittle down their power.
Even as the National Working Committee (NWC), under Bamanga Tukur also plans to embark on a nationwide reconciliation efforts, some state governors and party chieftains are said to be prepared to resist the move with a view to frustrating the committee and preventing it from achieving its goal.
A member of the NWC, who spoke with Daily Sun on condition of anonymity complained that “it is unfortunate that some of our governors are constituting obstacles towards reconciliation that can open up political space in their states by blocking all efforts to bring back members that had left the party.”
A source close to the NWC complained that “the case of Abia State is worrisome,” explaining that “even the State Governor, Theodore Orji, who himself decamped from the Progressive People Alliance (PPA), on which platform he was made governor even while in custody, protested the planned re-admittance of his former boss, Orji Uzor Kalu into the PDP!”
It would be recalled that last week, Theodore Orji led a delegation to Abuja to protest the planned re-admittance of former governor Orji Uzor Kalu back to the PDP.
Daily Sun gathered that some of the antics of the governors to block notable personalities into the party is that they so pocket the party in their various states that nobody gets registered without their consent. The party, at state level is therefore being run like a cult contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantee freedom of association.
Freedom of association
While commenting on the development, a chieftain of the PDP and former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Lekan Balogun frowned at attempts by some governors to narrow the political space describing such as “anti-democracy and against constitutional provision.”
Senator Balogun, who spoke with Daily Sun on phone said “it doesn’t make sense to deny anybody right of association,” stating that “the choice to associate should be personal and nobody is qualify to define it for me.”
While asserting that the cultist antics of the governors would not augur well for the PDP, Chief Balogun cited the case of Orji Uzor Kalu as an example saying “as a popular politician who has followership, his people can bring luck to the party and make it stronger and more formidable.”
In party affairs, Balogun continues, “you don’t need to be my friend to be in the same party with me,” adding that “it is not a criterion to like somebody’s face before you allow him into your party as political party is supposed to be an all inclusive one.”
The Ibadan Oyo State based politician then frowned at what he termed “arbitrary use of power by the governors,” warning that “if not curbed can constitute great danger to the party in 2015.”
Former Governor of Ekiti State and National Vice Chairman of the PDP for South-West, Mr. Olusegun Oni, however denied that some governors are frustrating reconciliation and blocking re-admittance of former members, saying it is the media that has been speculating what is not nearer to the reality on ground.
According to him, all members of the PDP, the governors inclusive “are working towards expansion of the party with a view to making it stronger, much more acceptable and more formidable.”
He however admitted that “in every human organization, there is always conflict and conflict resolution,” just as he admitted that “the party may not admit aspirants who might want to pocket the party so that the results of the primaries would be known even before the exercise is conducted.”
Oni further advised that “former members, who want to come back should do so in a manner that would not offend those they are coming to meet in the party,” saying “what we desire in the party is peace across all the levels of the party.”
The South-West PDP leader also asserted that “Bamanga Tukur is fully in charge of the party,” insinuating that “only those who would not want to work with us towards the direction of peace and thereby cause unnecessary tension may have problem being with us.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metu also comes in defense of the governors saying “they are strongly in support of the reconciliation efforts of the PDP.”
In a telephone conversation with Daily Sun, the party spokesman said generalization of the blockade allegation is unfair saying such a blanket accusation is unacceptable.
However, he agreed that there was a design to prevent some former members from coming back to the party. When asked to explain, Metu said any unrepentant member, who has penchant for causing confusion and confrontation.
Though he agrees that there are constitutional provisions for freedom of association, he quickly added that his party also has its own constitution that contains some rules that guide its affairs and operations.
While expressing confidence that the PDP will continue to wax stronger and win election in Nigeria, the party’s image maker informed that “we are not afraid of any opposition,” saying “we even like a virile opposition with which we can engage in intellectual discourse.”
He sees nothing strange or frightening in having a virile opposition which he said “will come out to tell the people its own programme with a view to seeking votes for mandate.”
According to him, with the reformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan administration, PDP will continue to win elections in Nigeria.
With the suspected cracks in the PDP occasioned by the governors over bearing attitude, political analysts are of the belief that, were it to be in a clime where there is virile opposition, they would have cashed in to send the PDP packing in 2015.
Though the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (AC N), Alhaji Lai Muhammed, declined to “meddle in the PDP internal affairs,” he volunteered that “no political party would close its door against new members.”
He however clarified that “inspite of that, we have to be weary of who to admit,” predicting however, that “PDP days are numbered.”