THE crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a different dimension yesterday with the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwezilieze Nwodo, dismissing the governors, who threatened to pull out of “the largest party in Africa”.

This came on the heels of the visit to the national secretariat by some aggrieved state chapters “to clarify some issues”, as the crises in their states escalated.

Some governors had threatened to dump the party, if the crises in their state chapters were not resolved in their favour.

But, the national secretariat of the party described the threat as a hoax.

Speaking through his Special Assistant on Media, Ike Abonyi, Nwodo further described the alleged showdown between a group of governors and the national secretariat as a mere speculation.

“Well, I don’t want to react to speculations. As far as the national chairman is concerned, it is a speculation; there is no such issue before him,” said Abonyi.

In fact, a national daily had reported yesterday that the 28 PDP governors have threatened to boycott the Thursday National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.

Some of the issues alleged to be pitching the national chairman against the governors are the controversy surrounding the zoning arrangement and the issue of second term for some of them.

The statement credited to the governors alleged that they are seeking the assurance of automatic tickets for the returning governors before backing the presidential aspiration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

The only condition the governors would attend the meeting, according to the report, was if the chairman withdraws the defamatory imputations and sweeping allegation made against them.

Nwodo was quoted to have said that he has barred the governors from visiting his house to lobby ahead of the 2011 polls.

During his recent visit to Lagos, Nwodo threatened to publicly disgrace whoever comes to his house to lobby, or tries to circumvent the party rules.

His words “Despite the injunction in my inaugural address that the days of buying nomination were over, do you know that they do not listen? Anyone who tries it again, I will disgrace him publicly.

“I have told our governors not to come to my house again. If they want to see me, they should come to my office.”

Meanwhile, for the second time in one month, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State yesterday stormed the national secretariat of the party in Abuja with his faction to seek clarification over rumours that the national leadership intends to dissolve the state executive.

Alao-Akala, who met with Nwodo and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC), it was learnt, demanded to know whether the discussion he held with the national chairman penultimate week on the status of his state executive still stands, or not.

He told the NWC that the party members in the Pace Setter State were not comfortable with rumours from Abuja, adding that despite his repeated assurances, the people continue to be skeptical about what the national secretariat could do.

Alao-Akala was in company with the Second Republic Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), his Special Adviser on Politics, Chief Adetoro, his Executive Assistant, Dejo Olaniyan, Segun Akinloye, Depo Oyedokun, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola and other members of the House of Representatives, as well as Chief Adigun Irawo, the governor’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Saka Balogun and Senator Andrew Babalola.

On the withdrawal of the court case believed to have been instituted by him against the NWC, the governor denied having any hand in it, as he said that some aggrieved members, who felt that things ought to be done properly, instituted the case.

He explained that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in a telephone conversation, relayed to him Nwodo’s directive, asking him to withdraw the case, but insisted that he did not have any hand in it.

The governor told Nwodo yesterday: “Mr. Chairman Sir, I just want to discuss how we can move the party forward. Our people at home are not happy with the rumour we are hearing here and there. I tried to allay their fears that there is no problem from the headquarters here. But, they seem not to have confidence in what is happening in Abuja.

“I tried to talk to them most of the time, but they will still not listen because you know our politicians the way they behave. When I had this appointment with you, I discussed with some elders and we decided that we should all come here again to listen to what you have to say. Whether what we discussed the other time has changed and if it has changed, what changed it and what is the way forward? We will all discuss it.

“When Baba Obasanjo phoned me about four or five days ago and told me that you asked me that we should withdraw the case from court and I said I am not the one behind the people who went to court. It is because people were not satisfied with what is happening and they believe that things have to be straightened up, that is why they went to court.

“I told these elders that this is what is being requested of me, can they come to shed more light so that my National Chairman and the National working Committee (NWC) would be more informed and be in a more knowledgeable position to deal with the situation.”

The Senator Ike Nwachukwu Reconciliation Committee had recommended a power sharing arrangement among all the major stakeholders in the party in Oyo State, including the immediate past Governor Rashidi Ladoja, as the panacea to the crisis which had polarised it.

While Alao-Akala reportedly kicked against this arrangement, some party men loyal to him proceeded to the court.

Asked what his reaction would be if the Oyo PDP exco is dissolved, Alao-Akala said that it was not good to rock the boat in the election year.

His words: “Don’t let me preempt my people. I don’t think the NWC will like to do that because ours is not like theirs. This time is not the time to rock the boat because elections are coming and we must be careful as a party and that is exactly what we are trying to do.

“You see, we as a party lost some states during the 2007 elections because of the in-fight and not actually that the opponents were stronger than us in those states that we lost, but because PDP members were fighting themselves. So, unless we put this mechanism of resolving conflict within the party, we won’t get there.”

The Delta State Forum of Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders of the PDP also stormed its national secretariat yesterday.

Its mission: To canvass for the dissolution of the state executive committee.

This is the second time in 30 days that the forum would pay such a visit to the national body.

About 23 members of the forum and six governorship hopefuls had, on July 21, visited Abuja to congratulate Nwodo on his emergence as the National Chairman during which they first sought the dissolution.

In the delegation were: Chief Alex Ideh, Chief Gabriel Ogbetuo, Sir Emmanuel Akangbou, Sir Solomon Efenudu, Chief A. H. Erute, Chief Chukwujindu Nduku, and Mr. Hyacinth Enuha.

Others included Chief J. I. Asini, retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ugbaja, Mr. Williams Ukpebitere and Dr. Patrick Nwamu.

They stated their mission to Abuja, saying: “Our presence in Abuja this time around was to commend Papa Clark (Chief Edwin) for his doggedness in the Big-Heart State politics.”

According to Ideh, who led the delegation, the meeting agitated for the need to alert Nigerians and “put the record straight about a series of misinformation, disinformation and antics by the illegal and unelected party structure in Delta State, led by Peter Nwaoboshi”.

He added: “We were in Abuja again, and after meeting with Papa Clark, we stated the following as the true and unambiguous situation of things in PDP in Delta State.

“One, that INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) letter of 25th February, 2008 stated that there was no congress in Delta.

“Two, that the National Chairman, Dr. Nwodo, and the PDP NWC have not made any pronouncement in conflict with the position of INEC in this matter and three, that the court in Oghara, presided over by Justice Maidoh, has vacated the injunction against the party and has transferred the case back to the state C.J. (Chief Justice) for reassignment.

“Four, that the National Chairman of the PDP and the NWC should disregard the publication by the Delta State Caucus of the House of Reps, whose primary intention is to seek re-election and recognition, and five that most members of the caucus are beneficiaries of fraudulent elections in the state as exemplified by the current removal of Barr. Martins Okonta as Speaker of the Delta House of Assembly.

“The caucus members were sponsored by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in order to perpetuate their illegality of substitution, bedroom compilation and ballot snatching, usually mid-wifed from Government House, Asaba, more so, that the presence of all the Senators representing the state in our meeting with the National Chairman of our party confirms our position that there was no congress in the state.”

The forum finally called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on President Goodluck Jonathan to run for elections in 2011, saying “his emergence was an act of God”, even as it urged Nigerians to key into the divine arrangement.

The Nwaoboshi led-executives, however, insisted yesterday that the party is intact and maintained that the rift between the state executive and the headquarters has been resolved.

In Bayelsa State, leaders of the Action Congress (AC) yesterday showed signs of shock and disbelief at the alleged decision of Governor Timipre Sylva and his loyalists within the PDP to defect to the AC ahead of the 2011 general elections and his bid to secure a second term ticket, warning that there is no automatic ticket in their party for him.

While the governorship flag bearer of the AC in the 2007 election and the 2008 re-run elections, Mr. Ebitimi Angbare, expressed caution over the alleged decision, he insisted that there are no visible indication that the governor would dump the party.

Other leaders of the AC, including a former member of the House of Representatives and the Bayelsa East Senatorial flag bearer of the party in the 2007 polls, Mr. Ebikekeme Ere; another governorship aspirant on the platform of the party leader of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Lagos, Mr. Denzel Kentebe and Comrade Miriki Ebikibina said although they were yet-to-be approached formally by the governor and his loyalists, the strict procedure required for new members would be followed and there would be no automatic ticket for him.

Meanwhile, there were indications at the weekend of a new realignment by members of a faction of the PDP loyal to Sylva, who, it was learnt, were piling pressure on him to dump the party for the AC and secure the ticket to contest for a second term in 2011.

The decision is not unconnected with the perceived on-going reforms in the party, which the loyalists believe will not favour their principal eventually and the power wielded by President Goodluck Jonathan at the national level.

The plan to move out of the PDP by Sylva and his loyalists was further given a bite with the reported meetings between him and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other chieftains of the party ahead of the convention of the AC in Lagos yesterday in which it transformed to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

But, reacting to the report, the flag bearer of the PDP in the 2007 elections and winner of the election petition that led to the annulment of Sylva’s victory by the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Ebitimi Angbare, in a text message in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, yesterday, said: “It is pre-mature to comment on this, there is nothing on ground indicating that Gov. Sylva is planning to move.”

To Ere, although the decision of the party and its leaders on the issue is supreme, he said that if the governor is admitted into the AC, “i will then move to a party that will share the same ideals with me”.

In his position as one of the strong contenders for the governorship ticket of the AC in the 2011 general elections in the state, Kentebe told the Nigerian Compass yesterday that the party will ensure that the tenets of democracy are always sustained, irrespective of the issues confronting it.

Kentebe said although the AC welcomes new members into its fold, “but the governor and his loyalists have not contacted the party of any intention to join. But as a party, we always welcome new members who believe in our objectives and if Governor Sylva desires, he must comply with laid-down procedures for accepting new members. He must be registered at the ward level. There are also strict procedures adopted in choosing our flag bearers at all levels, including the position of the governor.

“There is no automatic ticket in the Action Congress (AC).When the time comes, we will field our best candidate who will give us an opportunity to capture the state.”

Also yesterday, the Zonal Working Committee (ZWC) of the PDP in the South-East raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some presidential aspirants to create confusion to destabilise the zone.

The party alleged that the plotters had already recruited “political jobbers and harlots who have no pedigree, integrity or electoral value,” as agents of the devious plot, who “believe in selling their consciences even to the devil for little stipends”.

The ZWC, in a statement issued by the Zonal Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ali Odefa, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Compass in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, stated that the party has uncovered an elaborate scheme by presidential aspirants from other zones to infiltrate and subvert the South-East through the sponsorship of media campaign of calumny against the PDP and its national leadership.

The party, however, warned members in the zone against falling prey to the tricks of the “schemers”, or engaging in activities, which contravene Article 21 sub-section 1(b) 1(i) of the party’s constitution, saying such could attract severe sanctions.

The ZWC noted that the alarm had become necessary in view of the coming general elections, insisting that any party member, no matter how highly or lowly placed, who violates the party’s constitution, would be made to face the full weight of the provisions of the document.

It statement reads in part: “The ZWC shares the vision of the National Chairman, that it is better to loose election than to have an undisciplined party. Politics is not all about winning elections. First, our party members ought to be much disciplined citizens of Nigeria before talking of election; because if you elect an undisciplined person into public office, you are not doing well to our people. Democracy is not all about electoral victory.

“The ZWC also wish to very sincerely commend and thank the National Working Committee of our party, led by the National Chairman, Dr. Okwy Nwodo, for the new sense of direction he is giving to the party. This is in the areas of restoring peace, discipline and order, and above all, internal democracy, by taking the party back to the people, its original owners.”

Also, the ZWC condemned a situation in which it said party members in the zone would, at their leisure, throw tantrums at their leaders, stressing that the party will, henceforth, not hesitate to bring down the hammer on erring members.

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