PDP crisis: Bamanga Tukur can afford to breathe again

by Rachel Ogbu

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It looks like the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur who was asked to resign last week might have dogged the bullet thanks to an INEC write-off and the intervention of Governors Godswill Akpabio, Emmanuel Uduaghan and Gabriel Suswan of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Benue states respectively, new reports claim.

According to reports, Tukur told reporters in Abuja on Tuesday that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) report shielded him from being removed. Also Daily Sun reports revealed  that certain PDP governors who had since been elevated to being  members of the national caucus ensured soft- landing for the embattled Tukur at the meeting of the party caucus.

Among  the group of pro-Jonathan governors who made passionate appeal for the  embattled National Chairman, were the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum  Chief Godswill Akpabio, Uduaghan and  Suswam.

Governors, particularly from the North-West were said to have casted a vote-of-no-confidence on Tukur which because they were against his style of leadership, but reports claim they were warded off by Governor Akpabio, who met with members of the G-84, on Tuesday night and secured their support for Tukur, ahead of today’s crucial meeting. The G-84 is a forum for state chairmen and secretaries of the party across the 36 states. They are members of NEC.

[READ: Enough is enough: Jonathan asks Tukur, PDP NWC to resign]

Daily Sun reports:

But as Tukur savours his victory, a group, the PDP Stakeholders’  Forum, yesterday kicked against the idea of a caretaker committee to administer the party, ahead of a mini-convention being scheduled for July 15, 2013 to replace members of the NWC, who are expected to vacate their offices after today’s NEC meeting.

National Coordinator of the group, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said that there was no provision for  caretaker committee in the PDP 2012 Constitution, [as amended].  He quoted section 45(1) of the party’s Constitution to support his claim.

Sections 45 (1-4) of the  PDP 2012 Constitution, as amended reads:

“If a  national officer of the party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the national secretary all records, files and other properties of the party in his possession; In the case of the national chairman, he shall hand over to the deputy national chairman who shall, without prejudice to section 45(6)  of this Constitution, act as the national chairman pending  the election of a replacement;

•In the case of national secretary, he shall hand over to the deputy national secretary; and

•This provision shall apply mutatis mutandis to other levels of the party structure.’’

Ugochinyere warned  the NEC not to constitute a caretaker committee, as he noted that  it was against the provision of section 85(3) of the 2011 Electoral  Act  which made it mandatory for political parties to fill their executive committees through democratic means.

“With the above constitutional provisions, it is very clear that the PDP NEC lacks the power to set up or constitute a caretaker committee for the running of the party. The PDP Constitution, the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution requires the PDP NEC to in a situation of vacancy occurrence commence the process for holding a democratic convention where a replacement officer shall be elected.

“The NEC is hereby invited to note that if vacancy occurs in any office of the party, by removal or resignation, the PDP Constitution requires the deputy national officer to act pending the election of the substantive National officer as required by Section 45 of the PDP Constitution.

“The NEC is hereby invited again to note that in a situation that vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the party and there is no deputy to take over, they can going by the provisions of Section 47(6) appoint a replacement from the same zone where the former occupant originated from pending the conduct of election to fill the vacancy.

“In view of the above, the PDP NEC can only appoint an acting National Chairman and NWC officers if there is no deputy National officers to take over but if there is deputy officers still in their current positions, they are constitutional empowered by the PDP Constitution to act until the convention is held to fill a replacement.’’

The group also alleged forgery of the PDP 2012 Constitution, (as amended) by the  Tukur-led NWC.

Daily Sun also learnt that while the national caucus and BoT have taken  a position that the affected officers should vacate their positions, their stance could also court a legal debacle for the party.

An Abuja High Court under Justice Adamu Bello in a suit brought before Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, seeking among others, to restrain INEC from recognising or allowing any attempt to place the impeachment or removal of any member of  NWC on any agenda of any of the national organ of the party, ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit.

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