The crisis facing the People’ Democratic Party worsened on Saturday as factions held parallel conventions in Abuja and Port Harcourt. This came after Justice Mohammed Idiris of the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered parties, in a suit filed by three members of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), seeking to stop the party’s National convention, to maintain status quo.
The Abuja event was parallel to the highly publicised National Convention organised by the national leadership of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers, also on Saturday.
However, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Saturday announced the suspension of its National Convention (in Port Harcourt), citing numerous court cases as the reason the decision.
“Members of the National Working Committee and I have been working since morning. We are confronted with a lot of challenges. The challenges are court cases and taking into account the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to supervise the election into the office of Chairman, Secretary and Auditor. Based on the order of the court and on the account that our party is responsible and law abiding with high respect to the judiciary and courts, we do hereby state and put off the National Convention,” Sheriff said.
Meanwhile, some members of the party went ahead to hold the convention in Port Harcourt. At the convention, they dissolved its National Executive Council (NEC), National Working Committee (NWC) and set up a seven-man Caretaker Committee.
The motion to dissolve the party’s NEC and NWC was moved by Austin Opara, a former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and seconded by Emeka Ihedioha, also a former Deputy Speaker of the house.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Chairman of the party’s National Convention Committee put a the question and the motion was affirmed by the delegates.
The convention also approved another motion to set aside decisions taken by the NWC and zoning of its presidential candidate for 2019 election to the north.
The motion was moved by Dr Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger state and seconded by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta.
The convention also set up a seven-man caretaker committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, while Senator Ben Obi was appointed as its secretary.
The committee was given three months to organise a new National Convention to elect new national officers. The delegates also barred the committee members from contesting any position in the next convention.
Makarfi, in his speech, said he accepted to serve because it was about the unity of the party and progress of the country.
“I humbly accept this challenge and I do so, on behalf of other members of the committee. Other members of the committee were nominated on trust. I assure you, you will have no cause to worry. None of us is seeking for any office. We are here to serve and bring unity to our party. I call on all aggrieved party men and women to give us a chance to rebuild our party to give hope to Nigeria and black race,” Makarfi said.
The other members of the committee were Senator Odion Ugbesie, Senator Abdul Ningi, Kabir Usman, Dayo Adeyeye, and Alhaja Aisha Aliyu.
In Abuja, however, Chairman of the convention, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, said that the major stakeholders of the party were united to reposition the party and that no officer would be elected at the exercise.
Mantu said that stockholders in PDP were all united in affirming the vision and ideals of the party’s founding fathers.
“We are united in reaffirming the ideals that made Nigerians in 1999 to break the yoke of ethnicity and divisive politics to unite under the PDP umbrella to elect the first Pan-Nigerian President. Our teeming supporters are looking toward the party of inclusion, the party of economic opportunities, the party of freedom and the party of national unity to rise from the ashes of defeat to the mountain of hope. Our people are looking with nostalgia to the freedom of speech, the respect for our courts and the sense of belonging that pervaded our country under the PDP. We the stakeholders of the PDP are resolved to rebuild, renew and rebrand our great party to anchor the dreams of our founding fathers and give wings to the hopes of our citizens who live in uncertainty,” he said.
Mantu said that the gathering of PDP members in Abuja for a national convention was to chart a new course and restore the moral values of the party.
“Our concerted efforts will lead to a new party with responding ideals,” he said, adding that the decision to go ahead with the Port Harcourt convention was illegal and a total disregard to a court order.
He added that the action of the National Executive Committee of the party in selecting Sen. Ali Modu Sherriff as national chairman was in gross violation of established procedure for the selection.
“The selection of the chairman for the unexpired term of the North-East zone started with nominations from states in the zone; Sen. Sheriff was not nominated by any state caucus and hence not qualified to be selected,” he said.
In his remark, a former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, said that the Abuja group’s effort would lead to a new beginning for the PDP.
“Our founding fathers are very resolute in the kind of party that we are building; PDP that wants to ensure that everybody is cared for and carried along. PDP will not tolerate anything that will take away human rights from the people. PDP stands for human rights, human dignity and human values,” Gana said.
Some members of the party at the Abuja convention were former chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; former Minster of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo; former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed and Dr. Doyin Okupe.