For observers of Nigeria’s political space in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, the merger of some major opposition parties to form the yet-to-registered All Progressives Congress and the crisis rocking the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, are two events, from opposing ends, which are prone to daily twists and turns, worthy of paying close attention to.
The crisis in the PDP started when the governors elected under the platform of the party were reported to have demanded for better involvement in the decision-making process of the party at the national level, a move which pitched them against the party’s National Chairman. Their request was not granted, but it led to a polarisation of the party’s National Working Committee.
This led to a cascade of events and further division within the party which culminated in the sack of the party’s National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who apparently was the choice of the governors and is loyal to their cause. His removal from office so riled the governors they started putting pressure on the party’s national leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, to dump the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who they believe orchestrated Oyinlola’s exit. That was one request President Jonathan was not willing grant, thereby losing the support of the governors.
Then there is the widely rumoured rift between the president and the party’s former Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Also, there is an alleged rift between the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, and the National Working Committee led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur over claims that the newly elected BoT chairman has usurped the functions of the party’s NWC.
As if these are not enough, the Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday in a report by its 12 member committee chaired by Colonel M. K. Hammanga (retd.) cancelled the election of 12 members of the National Working Committee of the party. The committee argued that the party violated paragraph 6.5 of the guidelines used for conducting the 2012 congress and national convention which brought the affected NWC members into office.
Those whose elections were annulled by INEC are the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Sam Sam Jaja; the National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; the Deputy National Organising Secretary, Okechukwu Nnadozie; the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; and the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Binta Goje;
Others include the National Youth Leader, Garba Chiza; his Deputy, Dennis Alonge Niyi; the Deputy National Auditor, Senator Umar Ibrahim; the National Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe; her Deputy, Hannatu Ulam; the Deputy National Treasurer, Claudus Inengas; and the National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon.
The committee rather curiously however saw nothing wrong with the election of the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the Financial Secretary, Bolaji Anani, and in a move which surprised many, the committee upheld the election of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Chief Bode Mustapha, both of who were removed in February by the party, which based its decision on court judgments against both men.
While the party has reportedly referred the matter to its legal team for advice, the party’s leadership is said to be at loss at what about how to handle this latest snag in the wheel which could lead to the dissolution of the 16-man working committee before the expiration of its tenure.
In his reaction to the commission’s report, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who is one of the affected NWC members, accused INEC of plotting to destabilise the PDP and pledged to resist any attempt by the enemies of the party to use the regulatory body against it.
Metuh’s assertions raise more questions than answers. Who are those he accused of trying to use INEC to destabilise the party? Is this a new twist to the Tukur vs governors power tussle? Or the man from Ota is just showing the party’s leadership who is in charge? Has Oyinlola gone through the backdoor to reengineer his way into the party’s hierarchy? Or is this the handiwork of opposition parties who have all to gain from the death of the mammoth standing in their way to 2015?
Whatever led to this, the timing couldn’t have been worse for the PDP. It will be interesting to see how the party negotiates this latest bend in the race to 2015, but what is obvious for all to see is that the party’s umbrella is leaking, and it actually seems the PDP has grown so large, conquered all its enemies, and is now turning on itself. For the first time in as many years, Nigeria’s ruling party seems to be in real danger of a total disintegration.
– Ogunyemi Bukola is a writer, an editor, and a social media strategist.