December 30, 2010 By Henry Umoru
During the first half of this year, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was in the hands of Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. The Abia-born Prince came on board on March 8, 2008 with other members of the National Working Committee, NWC put up by the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Convention electoral panel at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Other Members of the NWC are Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed as deputy national chairman; Abubakar Kawu Baraje, national secretary; Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali, national publicity secretary; Dr. Musa Babayo, deputy national secretary; Chief Olusola Oke, national legal adviser and William Makinde, national treasurer.
Tukur Mani, national financial secretary; Prince Uche Secondus, national organising secretary; Dr. Samuel Ortom, national auditor; Hajia Maryam Inna Ciroma, national women leader and Otunba Muyiwa Collins, national youth leader also emerged on March 8..
Following some political intrigues and irreconcilable differences in the party ahead the 2011 Presidential elections, Ogbulafor resigned under duress. Pressured by ‘unseen political forces’, he had to throw in the towel through a letter of resignation he wrote on Wednesday May 14, 2010 following a case with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC.
Ogbulafor said that, quitting would allow him the opportunity to prepare and face his case in court following his prosecution at an Abuja High Court along side three others by the ICPC over a 16-count criminal charge involving N2.3 billion fraud.
Five days after Ogbulafor resigned, another big fish, the Board of Trustees, BoT Secretary, Abdullahi Adamu followed. He quit to face the pending case against him by the EFCC.
“In view of my recent meetings and discussions with Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party extraction; I hereby give 30 days notice of my intention to resign as the National Chairman of the PDP.
Ogbulafor said his resignation was “in strict compliance with the provision of Article 14.4 of the Constitution of the PDP, 2009 (as amended) as follows: “Any officer elected into the Executive Committee of the Party at any level may resign his or her office by giving 30 days notice in writing to the appropriate Executive Committee, except in the case of resignation for the purpose of vying for an elective office which shall be effective within the period stipulated in the guideline issued for such elective office by the National Executive Committee of the Party,” he wrote.
Before this letter, his opponents made things stormy for Ogbulafor in the PDP especially prior to the Anambra State election where the party was almost scattered with the emergence offFormer Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the party’s candidate. The NWC had to settle for Soludo when there was no successful primary to choose among the well over48 aspirants from the state, after series of attempts, including a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
For daring to dump the party, members like Andy Uba, Nicholas Ukachukwu and Uche Ekwunife were sacked from the PDP. The order was contained in a letter with reference number PDP/NS/NVC/SE/001-2010 and titled: “De-registering Dr. Andy Uba, Nicholas Ukachukwu from PDP.”
The letter was directed to the Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Anambra PDP, Prof. Osita Ogbu. All is now history, the PDP was defeated at the end of the day by Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
Ogbulafor was also faced with the challenge of not having access to the then ailing President, late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He was in Saudi Arabia for over 90 days, and the leadership of the party could not see Yar’Adua.
The Party was also in a dilemma on where to pitch its tent. During this trying period in the nation’s chequed history, the PDP sat on the fence, no affirmative action, the slogan, God gives power became very popular at Wadata Plaza, the PDP national Secretariat. There was the problem of making President Goodluck Jonathan, then Vice President acting president until the National Assembly saved Nigeria by applying political solution to the very serious constitutional matter.
When Yar’Adua returned to the country, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali on Wednesday February 24, 2010, said God answered the prayers of the party and that of Nigerians.
Before his exit as chairman, Ogbulafor was faced with the problem of the governors who became very strong and hijacked the party. During the campaigns for his successor from the array of politicians from the South_East, the governors also showed how powerful they were. Their choice for the post carried the day.
But one good thing about Ogbulafor’s tenure before it was terminated was the review and implementation of Dr. Alex Ekwueme -led committee’s report and the take off of the construction of the party’s permanent headquarters in Abuja. President Jonathan headed the fund raising Committee.
However, the PDP under Ogbulafor could not review the report of Senator Ike Nwachukwu’s Elders Reconciliation Committee, before he was sacked. Members of the Committee had travelled to some of the PDP warring states like Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Edo, Kaduna, Adamawa, among others. The problems are still there for Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo who became the national Chairman on June 17, 2010 after the ratification of his name at the end of the 51st National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party, to inherit.
But before Ogbulafor’s ‘sack’ the PDP Reform Forum came into being in April 2010. It was led by former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, ex-governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, former Senate President Adolphus Wabara. There were also Professor Alphonsus Nwosu, past Presidential aspirant, Rochas Okorocha, former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa, the PDP Abia governorship candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Onyema Ugochukwu, former transport Minister, Abiye Sekibo, and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume among others.
The forum decried the absence of internal democracy in the party and ineffectiveness of the PDP NWC, which it said was neither imaginative nor creative in generating ideas to reinforce founding ideals of the party. It said that the party must review its activities and take full advantage of the yearnings of Nigerians for a true and sustaining democratic culture.
Thereafter, the party became a war zone. It was a battle for the survival of the fittest and Ogbulafor became the first and only casualty in the NWC.
Members of the forum were described as rebelsnd rascals. They were suspended after an emergency meeting of the NWC held on April 22, 2010 through a letter by the PDP National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje. The group then went to court, but after all the hullabaloo and spitting of fire by both groups, there came light at the end of the tunnel on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 when the presidency had to intervene, to say enough was enough. Though President Goodluck Jonathan was in far away Nice, France, his Vice, Namadi Sambo called both the NWC and the reformers to a meeting at the Presidential villa.
At the end of the day, members of the PDP Reform Forum became frustrated against the backdrop that their requests were thrown out by the PDP NEC. They had withdrawn the case from the court as part of the agreement. Little wonder most of the reformers refused to be in President Goodluck Jonathan’s camp. They are the likes of Nnamani, Raymond Dokpesi, Professor Osita Ogbu, Professor Alphonsus Nwosu, among others. Masari dumped the PDP for the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
Following the exit of Ogbulafor, former Secretary of the Party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo became the national Chairman on June 17, 2010 after the ratification of his name at the end of the 51st National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party and he inherited some of the problems especially from the states.
Delegations from Delta led by Chief Edwin Clark met with him as well as those from Plateau, Kano, Adamawa, Oyo, Kwara, Enugu among others. Nwodo promised to bring all factions together in one room where there would be no entertainment. It is now history as some state chapters of the party are still enveloped in crisis even as the PDP prepares for its congresses and the Special National Convention.
Nwodo faced with the major challenge of granting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar a waiver to enable him contest the presidential election on the platform of the PDP, the problem he inherited from his predecessor. Ogbulafor had said that he must go to his Yeli Ward in Kojoli, Jada, Adamawa State to register if he must return to the party. Atiku had a running battle with his governor, Adm. Murtala Nyako who never wanted him back in the party.
It became very serious but at the end of the day, he was granted a waiver by the party. Nwodo and Atiku have one thing in common: they both left the PDP for the Action Congress, AC, now Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Nwodo got his through a combination of forces put together by the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, the state Chairman, Vita Abba and the National Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Olisa Metuh, among others.
In the year under review, the PDP had its governors in Ekiti (Segun Oni), Osun, Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) sacked and its main rival candidates of the ACN, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola came on board .There was a judgment for a re_run election in Delta State. Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamako won his case.
The party is still wading through the tide of picking a presidential candidate. President Goodluck Jonathan is in the race with Atiku Abubakar and Mrs Sarah Jubril. Prior to the emergence of Abubakar as a consensus candidate of the Northern Leaders Political Forum, NPLF, we had former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, ex-National Security Adviser, Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki aspiring. But the Adamu Ciroma – led Consensus Committee reduced the Northern aspirants to one.
All things being equal, with the party’s guidelines approved at the 55th NEC meeting, the Presidential candidate of the party will emerge next year, January 13, 2011, governorship candidate will emerge January 9.
At present, political activities have kicked off with the screening Committees set up, we watch as events unfold and close this year, 2010 in the family of the self acclaimed largest party in Africa.
*Posted on www.vanguardngr.com/