Fresh crisis has erupted in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party after a former Minister of Information and a founding member of the party, Jerry Gana, led a group of other leading members to announce the takeover of the party from its national chairman, Ali Sheriff.
Mr. Gana, who appears to head a group within the PDP called “Concerned Stakeholders”, met on Thursday at the Nicon Luxury Hotel in Abuja.
After the meeting, which was co-chaired by a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, a former Minister of Education, Tunde Adeniran, and media mogul, Raymond Dokpesi, a communique was released rejecting the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, to extend the tenure of Mr. Sheriff to May 21, 2016.
The group said as far they were concerned, the tenure of the National Working Committee, NWC, expired on March 24, 2016.
The group said a national convention should have been held to either elect a new NWC or approve the composition of a caretaker committee.
“The purported extension of the tenure of the Chairman and other members of the national working committee by the Party by the NEC was an illegality and therefore untenable and contrary to the provisions of our party Constitution which gives such powers ONLY to the National Convention of the Party,” the group said.
They also said in line with that position “all actions purportedly taken by the said NEC and the National Working Committee, including the Ward, Local Government, State Congresses and the planned National Convention of the Party slated for the 21st of May 2016 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State constitute a nullity and are of no effect”.
They equally said the zoning arrangement as announced by the chairman of the “purported” Zoning Committee, the governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom was unacceptable, because it ran contrary to the PDP’s “established principles and practice”, which, they said, had sustained the party in continuous unity for the last 18 years.
“Deriving from all the above and in order to stop further slide into unconstitutional confusion and widespread disenchantment of party members nationwide, We the founding fathers, stakeholders and leaders of the party from all the 6 Geopolitical zones hereby announce a 21 member steering committee to manage the affairs of the PDP, and work intimately with our respected members of BOT who are the conscience of the party till such a time that a proper, lawfully organized National Convention of the party, where a new authentic leadership of the party will be duly elected in accordance to the provisions of our party constitution and guidelines,” they said.
They added that the new steering committee will soon embark on a nationwide tour, to address and resolve all issues and areas of conflict in every state of the federation.
The group said the steering committee will immediately put in place a National Reconciliation Committee to reconcile all previously aggrieved party members.
They equally condemned what they called an attempt by the “illegal” NWC of the party to amend the constitution of the PDP in order to “muzzle and control the BOT and thereby subject it (BOT) to the “villains and caprices” of the NWC.
The Jerry Gana group also called on governors elected on the platform of PDP, as well as senators, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly members to “take up the gauntlet and support this noble cause”.
“We need to come together as a family, to fight the cancer of impunity that has eaten deep into the tissues of our party,” they said.
The spokesperson of the PDP chairman, Inuwa Bwala, told journalists at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja that the Jerry Gana group were just out “to cause mischief”.
He also said that they were come up with different gimmicks to divert attention from the effects of what they did in the past leading to the squandering of the fortunes of the party.
“Unfortunately, among such groups are self-styled elders and stakeholders led by Professor Jerry Gana. I have seen him sweating on television, playing with language but at the end of the day saying nothing.
“I want to specifically say we kept sealed lips about some of the activities of this man believing that we could still find a rendezvous at which we could work together for the progress of the PDP. I must say, and there are witnesses that this is one character that attempts to play a role in every government since the time of the military,” Mr. Bwala said.
Mr. Bwala said the group formed by Mr. Gana is not known to the constitution of the PDP. He also accused Mr. Gana and his group of having “personal grudges” with Mr. Sheriff.
“We know the very ignoble roles that he played that led to the PDP being defeated in the last election. These were the same characters that deceived President Jonathan into failure. Unfortunately most of them still go round to ask the chairman of one favour or the other and when the chairman declines they take offence against him.
“I know as a fact that Senator Jery Gana has written to the national chairman to allow him nominate some people into certain committees or allow them perform certain functions for the party.
“Whether these requests were granted or not is immaterial. But that is perhaps one of the reasons that he has taken the position against anything this man does. This is the same man that recognized the national chairman, writing to him on the need to submit the report on the finance committee which he headed.
“The chairman has been running away from receiving that report because it is on record that the same Jerry Gana on behalf of the party without using the machinery of the party collected the sum of N500million loan from Skye bank on behalf of the PDP for which the PDP has been dragged to court and is being compelled to pay back.
“Leaders of thought in this party including some elders have prevailed on the chairman not to make this matter known and to save this man from public embarrassment. But as it is the chairman may be left with no option than to drag Jerry Gana before the EFCC to explain his role in obtaining N500 million facility on behalf of the party and let him also explain what he has done with the money” Mr. Bwala said.