Nigeria: Crack in New PDP over reconciliation with Tukur
A crack seems to have emerged in the New Peoples Democratic Party as its bloc in the House of Representatives and its leadership differ on reconciliation with the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP.
While the Abubakar Baraje-led New PDP insisted on Sunday that Tukur and other National Working Committee members of the PDP were on a witch-hunt mission, the members of the bloc said they were fully prepared for truce as against leaving the PDP.
The New PDP leadership was reacting to the setting up of a Disciplinary Committee by the Tukur-led NWC apparently to try its members for indiscipline.
It said it was amused that Tukur and his “illegal NWC members, who are indeed not ready for peace,” could decide to come up with such a committee at a time President Goodluck Jonathan was busy holding peace meetings with aggrieved members of the PDP.
The New PDP argued in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, that Tukur’s action showed that he and members the PDP were working at cross purposes with Jonathan.
It said rather than trying others for indiscipline, Tukur and his team should first be arraigned before the committee for anti-party activities.
The statement reads in part, “To call a spade a spade, it is tantamount to anti-party activities and exposes Tukur’s hypocrisy and vindicates our stand that he is an obstacle to peace in our great party.
“If indeed a disciplinary committee has been set up by Tukur, we make bold to say that he should be the first with his illegal NWC members to appear before it for usurping the office of the national chairman of our party even when he is not legally a member of the party as he did not revalidate his membership during the 2011 revalidation exercise.”
It added that Tukur had ceased being a member of the party and should therefore vacate his office.
The faction added that,”If the Umaru Dikko-led Disciplinary Committee is actually serious with its task, it should immediately after its inauguration start to investigate why a non-member of our party should be elected to such a highly exalted office of the national chairman.”
It described its non-recognition by the Independent National Electoral Commission as unfortunate and reminded the electoral body that the 1999 Constitution recognised the right to associate.
It added that INEC was “ aware of the flawed nature of the last convention where some of the aides of President Jonathan who were not our party’s delegates were allowed to vote.”
This alone, according to the faction, was enough to cause a nullification of the outcome of the convention.
In his reaction, Tukur insisted that he would continue to be guided by the 1999 and PDP constitutions.
Tukur, who spoke to our correspondent through his media aide, Mr.Oliver Okpala, said, “We will continue to instill discipline and sanity in the party and also ensure that those who go against the party now toe the path of political rectitude and return to the norms and sanity in the present political dispensation.
“As a father who has seen it all, Tukur’s duty is to make sure that his children do not destroy the aims and objectives of the founding fathers of the PDP through political rascality.”
But the New PDP bloc in the House of Representatives toned down its desire to leave the main PDP.
The group said it was fully prepared for reconciliation as against leaving the PDP.
The Leader of the group in the House, Mr. Andrew Uchendu, told The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday, that his colleagues were in “support of the reconciliation mode set by the Presidency and our leaders.”
He said, “Our leaders are still on the reconciliation mode with the Presidency.
“We want to give them all the opportunities to discuss and resolve the dispute in the party.”
The twist came after the Independent National Electoral Commission clarified last week that it recognises only the PDP led by Tukur.
About 57 lawmakers publicly identified with the Alhaji Abubakar Baraje-led faction of the party last August.
The tough-talking bloc also threatened at some point to team up with opposition parties in the House to frustrate all PDP proposals, including bills and requests from the Presidency.
Findings also indicated that they tried to move against the majority leadership of the House but were reportedly calmed by the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal.
But, on Sunday, Uchendu, who is from Rivers State, said the bloc believes in one PDP.
His response came after our correspondent alerted him to the implication of INEC’s stance, which meant that the Baraje faction would not field candidates for elections in 2015.
Uchendu noted that the electoral body spoke the “obvious”, adding that there was never a time the bloc in the House said the PDP was not one.
He said, “INEC is stating the obvious; that there is one PDP under one umbrella.
“What is in contention, however, is that there is a division in that one umbrella.
“That division is what the Presidency and our leaders are working on to resolve so that the party can remain strong and united.”
The New PDP spokesman later on Sunday told one of our correspondents that there was “no contradiction at all” between the lawmakers’ position on reconciliation and that of the faction.
He said, “Our statement did not say we don’t want peace. It is they (Tukur-led PDP) that don’t want peace. They set up a disciplinary committee for what? To try themselves? They set it up just to try our governors and they don’t expect us to keep quiet.
“They should try themselves for the illegal act which they are doing which we are trying to rectify. When they try themselves, then we know they are serious. What we are saying is that Tukur is not a member of the party and let them start with him. Must we now because of party politics support illegality?”