- Tambuwal, PDP Senators and Govs rattle Jonathan
BY JAMES OBUTE
Apart from the task of facing the opposition party, All Progressive Congress (APC), in the 2015 general election, the house of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to be divided against itself.
Penultimate Thursday November 6, Nigerian Senate President, Senator David
Mark led his colleagues to a meeting with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan over the alleged manipulation of Peoples Democratic Party’s ward congress by state governors. This is coming after the embattled House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, got court order restraining PDP and others from reconvening with the aim of impeaching him as a result of his defection to APC.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Emmanuel Onu, also filed a fresh suit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to remove Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu as the National Chairman of the party and reinstate Alhaji Bamanga Tukur on the ground that the resignation of the latter on January 15, 2014 failed to comply with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
The PDP’s problem was compounded by second term governors who have declared their intention to contest for senatorial seats amidst tough opposition from serving senators.
President Jonathan and PDP had earlier in the year created an impression that the lawmakers will be given automatic ticket for the 2015 parliamentary election, pushing the elated House of Reps PDP members to unanimously endorse Jonathan for next presidential election.
But the lawmaker has come to understand that they were merely deceived into endorsing Jonathan as the unfolding drama shows that most of them are already out of the way as far as getting PDP for the election is concerned.
Some Senators elected on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party last week, threatened to ignore all executive bills, including the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the 2015 Appropriation Bill over the alleged manipulation of the party’s congress by state governors.
The PDP senators alleged that the just concluded election of Ward delegates by the PDP was skewed in favour of the PDP state governors who had lined up their loyalists to take over the seats of the legislators. The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the PDP caucus in the Senate for which the Senate session was abruptly stopped on Tuesday.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the sitting that lasted for just a few minutes, had barely announced the holding of the caucus meeting when Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved a motion for the suspension of all items in the Order Paper to allow PDP members proceed to the Senate President’s office where the meeting was held.
Though President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday November 6 held a series of closed-door meetings with some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, presumably on how to resolve the disaffections arising from the last ward congresses across the states, it is observed that the problem is far from being over.
Most of the senators stayed away from the National Assembly complex last Thursday following the abrupt adjournment they executed to protest their alleged unfair treatment by Jonathan and the PDP during last Saturday November 1 ward congresses across the country.
The meeting specifically centred on the need for both Jonathan and the National Working Committee of the PDP to accord the senators the same recognition as governors as far as the 2015 general election is concerned.
The lawmakers are pushing for the issue of securing automatic tickets for at least two serving senators in all the PDP controlled states, while the governors could be given the ticket to produce one candidate each. But this is nearly impossibility as some governors want to replace all the lawmakers with new set of people.
The urge by governors to seek election into the Senate began in 2007 when many of them who were elected in 1999 served out their second term in office. Then, former Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, was elected to represent Kebbi Central Senatorial District after he served two terms in office as governor.
The current Senate has 10 former governors in its fold, including Bukola Saraki (Kwara), George Akume (Benue); Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Ahmed Maharfi (Kaduna) and Ahmad Rufai Sani Yerima (Zamfara).
Many governors elected on the PDP platform, who will round off their term in office on May 29, 2015, were said to be eyeing senatorial seats in their various states.
The current Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, is involved in a serious battle to replace the senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Deputy Senator Ike Ekweremadu. He also wants his chief of staff to come to the senate.
Chime is currently serving his second term as the governor and his senatorial ambition was said to have triggered off cold relationship between him and Ekweremadu. Supporters of the two gladiators, as expected, have become sworn enemies all in a bid to ensure that their principals get the PDP senatorial ticket.
Governor Martin Elechi, who is also currently serving his second term, is not left in the race for the senatorial seat as he declared not long ago that he would contest for the Ebonyi Central Senatorial seat.
Elechi declared his ambition to contest for the senatorial seat at the 34th state executive council meeting of the PDP in Abakaliki. He said he accepted to contest following consultations and pleas from major stakeholders in the senatorial district.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has already bought and submitted his form with the aim of replacing the current senator representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Alloysius Etok, in 2015.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, is to engage Senator James Manager in a serious battle over the Delta South Senatorial seat. Manager, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on the Niger Delta, is a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan, and he is said to be using his relationship with the President to get the PDP return ticket.
Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, who wants to achieve his senatorial ambition, has also bought and submitted his nomination from. There is already an intense battle between Suswam and the senator currently representing Benue North-East, Barnabas Gemade. Gemade is a former PDP national chairman. He has already written a protest letter to PDP national headquarters over the alleged manipulation of the ward congress by governor Suswan.
This medium has learnt that the national chairman of the party, Adamu Muazu, is already having difficulty with some quarters in the PDP in view of the way he is handling the party affairs particularly the process leading to nomination of candidates for the 2015 general election.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Emmanuel Onu, has filed a fresh suit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to remove Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu as the National Chairman of the party. Onu asked the court to remove Mu’azu and reinstate the immediate past National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whose resignation on January 15, 2014, the plaintiff argued, failed to comply with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
Mu’azu was on January 15 appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee to succeed Turkur, who the plaintiff argued resigned under circumstances that never followed due process.
A lawyer and a member of the PDP, Ezionye Ndubuisi, had on September 23 filed a similar suit before the same court seeking an order sacking Mu’azu as the PDP National Chairman.
Ndubuisi had asked the court to remove Mu’azu on the grounds that he did not emerge as the National Chairman of the party through an election at a special convention of the party as stipulated by the party’s constitution. The older case has yet to be heard by the court.
Onu, who anchored his fresh suit on grounds similar to those of Ndubuisi, joined as defendants, the PDP, Mu’azu and the Independent National Electoral Commission. He argued that the resignation of Tukur and the subsequent appointment of Mu’azu violated sections 47(5) and (6) of the PDP Constitution 2012.
His counsel, Mr. Elochukwu Nweke, stated in his written address accompanying the suit, “A literal interpretation of section 47(5) is that a letter of resignation of an elected officer of the 1st defendant (PDP) serves as a notice and as such a letter becomes operational after the period of 30days elapses. This is to enable the Executive Committee time and room to carry out the process of filling the vacancy.
“Also a literal interpretation of section 47(6) is to the effect that if such an election cannot be conducted within a period of 30days, an appointment ought to be made by the appropriate committee and until election is conducted. By necessary implication, it is mandatory that election shall be conducted thereafter.” The plaintiff said instead of complying with the provisions of the party’s constitution, what transpired was that “On 15th day of January, 2014, a purported envelope containing a resignation letter by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was presented to National Executive Committee.
“The committee debated it and accepted the same day. On 20th day of January, 2014, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu was appointed the National Chairman of the 1st defendant.” He added, “We firmly state that the emergence and appointment of the 2nd defendant (Mu’azu) within a period of five days was premature, invalid and unconstitutional. “The appointment of the 1st defendant is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.”
As all these problems are unfolding, President Jonathan and his party are battling the Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal over his defection to the opposition APC.
A Federal High Court, Abuja presided by Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Monday November 3 ordered parties in a suit filed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal, and the All Progressives Congress, to maintain statuesque till the determination of the motion on notice.
Based on an exparte application filed by Tambuwal and the APC and heard on Monday, the court order implied that the House of Representatives could not reconvene sitting.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the order in a ruling on the exparte application, which sought to restrain the House of Representatives from reconvening earlier than December 3, to which its sitting had been adjourned.
Justice Mohammed said the order was necessary in order to protect the subject matter in the suit. He directed the defendants to appear in court on Friday November 7 to showcase why the prayers sought in the exparte application should not be granted. The defendants in the suit are the Peoples Democratic Party, its National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, the House of Representatives, Ihedioha, Inspector General of Police, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.
A counsel to the Speaker and the APC, Mr. Sunday Ameh (SAN), had while moving the application urged the court to protect the subject matter of the suit which they filed last Friday challenging an alleged plan by the PDP to remove him declare his seat as Speaker and member of the House vacant.
The lawyer told the court that granting the orders will help preserve the subject matter of their suit which is the position of Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, his membership of the House as well his security which are all under threat. He further told the court that the PDP had summoned its members at the House of Reps alongside the Deputy Speaker, Ihedioha, for the purpose of plotting the re-convening of the House in order to discuss the removal of Tambuwal as the Speaker and member of the House.
He also pointed out that Order 5 Rules 18(1)(2) and (3) of the House Standing Rules empowered the Speaker to reconvene the House by directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to notify members. He added that it was unlawful, unconstitutional, and null and void for the PDP to move to reconvene the House outside the Speaker.