Mass Defection Looms In PDP After Tribunal Verdict
There is trouble in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party following former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s loss at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
development, it was gathered, has made some members of Board of
Trustees of the PDP to travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on
Saturday (today) to engage in what one of our correspondents gathered
was tagged ‘‘strategic consultation’’ with Atiku.
The meeting, it was learnt, was necessitated as a result of wrangling among senior members of the party.
Investigations also showed that the allegation by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, that some governors of the party were visiting President Muhammadu Buhari at night was also causing ripples among its senior members.
Wike had also alleged that members of the committee set up by the BoT to investigate the emergence of Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives were corrupt.
While the PDP and Atiku rejected the tribunal’s judgment and had signified their intention to approach the Supreme Court, Wike had congratulated Buhari.
Already, it was learnt that some members of the party had been strategising on how to defect from the PDP to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Atiku is said to have been residing in the UAE for some time now.
The Chairman, PDP BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, confirmed the trip to one of our correspondents in a telephone interview.
Walid said, “Yes. The PDP BoT members will travel on Saturday to Dubai to see our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar as part of our strategic consultation. The consultation is going to be nation-wide. He is the first person we will meet for the consultation.”
It could not be confirmed how many members of the PDP BoT were on the trip. It was, however, confirmed that Walid and the Secretary of the board, Senator Adolphus Wabara, made the trip.
According to him, the BoT will meet on Thursday to deliberate and decide on Ayu’s committee report.
The committee was set up by the BoT to investigate the emergence of Elumelu as the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives.
Wike accused the Iyorcha Ayu committee of being corrupt when a member of the committee, Austin Okpara visited him to inform him that he had resigned his membership.
Walid said he did not know why Austin Opara left the committee.
He said, “We have three other committees and the outcome of the Ayu committee will not be in isolation of other committees like the Tom Ikimi Disciplinary Committee and the Senator Adolphus Wabara committee. It is true that the committee has submitted its report but the BoT will meet on Thursday next week to discuss and make a decision on the recommendations.
“I don’t know why he left. It was when the report of the committee was submitted that I noticed that he did not sign and his column for signature was not signed.
‘‘I am not a member of the committee. Since the inauguration of the committee, I have not spoken to them, I have not visited or interfered with their work or given any input in the course of their work.
“He did not write or tell me why he left or did not sign after the submission of their work. As far as I’m concerned, I will leave that for discussion next Thursday when the BoT will meet.”
It was also learnt that the mass defection is said to have further been fuelled by the outcome of the party’s governorship primaries in both Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The outcome of the primaries had been rejected by some aspirants, who accused the party of being biased.
For example, a former Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Timi Alaibe, is believed to be planning to ditch the PDP following the outcome of the Bayelsa State governorship primary.
Senator Douye Diri, an ally of the outgoing governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, was declared the winner of the primary.
Diri, who represents Bayelsa Central at the National Assembly, defeated 19 other aspirants to emerge as the PDP candidate for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
He polled a total of 561 votes to win the governorship ticket while Alaibe came second with 365 votes. Both Diri and Alaibe are from the same Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
Alaibe had complained about the number of delegates accredited for the primary, saying the newly-elected local government chairmen in the state were not expected to be allowed to vote.
He based his complaint on the non-compliance with the party’s constitution which gives a specific number of months occupiers of such offices are to spend before they could qualify as delegates.
‘‘But in total disregard for norms and laid down procedure, the party neglected that and allowed the impunity to reign. We will know how far that can take them,’’ a source close to the aspirant told one of our correspondents.
It was learnt that Alaibe was under pressure to dump the PDP and pick the ticket of another political party.
A loyalist of Alaibe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he and others were waiting for the former presidential aide to take a decision on what to do.
‘‘We are waiting for him to return. Though his name is not yet with the Independent National Electoral Commission, there is a window for substitution of names,’’ the source added.
Alaibe heads to court, seeks fresh PDP gov primaries
Meanwhile, Alaibe has filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, asking for the cancellation of the primary.
A statement on Saturday by the administrative secretary of the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation, Prof Seiyefa Brisibe, said Alaibe filed the application on Friday in his quest to redress the alleged “procedural flaws” which he claimed were recorded in the poll.
“The suit filed pursuant to Order 3 (9) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 seeking answers to questions bordering on obvious non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010, the PDP Constitution and Electoral Guidelines, by the state chapter of the party in the conduct of the ward congresses, inclusion of local government council officials in the delegates list and the procedure for inclusion of three ad hoc delegates,” the statement said.
In the suit with reference number FHC/YNG/CS/99/2019, the aggrieved aspirant listed as defendants the PDP; Senator Douye Diri, governorship candidate; the INEC and one Embeleakpo Alale for himself and representing the elected council chairmen, vice chairmen and councillors of the PDP who were allowed to be delegates at the elective State Congress of the PDP in Bayelsa State held on September 3, 2019.
“He wants the court to order the conduct of fresh primary election for the nomination and sponsorship of the candidate for the governorship election in Bayelsa State,” the statement added.
The emergence of David Lyon as the governorship candidate of the APC and the naming of a serving Senator, Biobaramakuma Degi-Eremienyo as his running mate, may further compound the PDP’s problem in the state.
Degi-Eremienyo, who is the senator representing Bayelsa East, was a commissioner for Local Government Affairs under the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, when the latter served as the governor of the state.
The choice of Lyon’s running mate is also said to be generating more crisis for the party.
Dickson is said to be scheming to impose the senator representing the western senatorial district, Lawrence Erwujkpor, in order to pave the way for his emergence as the next senator.
PDP candidate says APC can’t win credible poll in Bayelsa
Diri, however, said the APC was not in a position to win a free and fair election in the state, even at the councillorship level.
He has, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies to remain neutral during the election.
Diri, who addressed journalists in Abuja on Thursday, said if there was a level playing field, the PDP would emerge victorious.
He said, “We have a fight ahead of us but I don’t see our opponents as being so strong on the ground to defeat the PDP. If we have a free, fair and transparent election, the APC cannot win even a councillorship election in Bayelsa State. It is all the hype about federal might by using the security apparatus to intimidate or using INEC to write results.
‘‘Our appeal is that the security agencies must be professional. INEC must remain an unbiased umpire. If there is a level playing field, the opponents are neither here nor there to contest in this election.”
He expressed his willingness to continue to reach out to the 20 aspirants that contested against him during the primary with a view to winning them to his side.
A participant in the PDP governorship primary, Mr Keniebi Okoko, had, however, identified frequent defections by politicians from one political party to another as the bane of democracy in Nigeria.
Why Dino rejected to lead party campaign in Kogi
In Kogi State, Senator Dino Melaye is also said to be angry over the outcome of the party’s governorship primary, where he emerged fourth with 70 votes.
Musa Wada, a younger brother of the immediate past Governor Idris Wada, who also contested the ticket, scored 748 votes to clinch the party ticket.
Melaye, who had yet to come out of the anger over the outcome of the primary, had also rejected the position of the Director-General of Wada Governorship Campaign Committee given to him by the national leadership of the party.
Sources close to the Senator representing Kogi West in the Senate, had asked for a fresh primary, but his request was turned down.
One of Melaye’s confidants, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the senator was consulted before he was named the DG of the campaign.
He said, ‘‘But after he thought over it, he decided to reject it. He was of the opinion that the party betrayed him and was going to use him again. Melaye had asked that another primary be held after the first one was disrupted and there was shooting.
‘‘He believed that he was sacrificed by the national leadership of the party because he is not from the majority tribe in the state.’’
Melaye, via his verified social media accounts on Friday, rejected the offer. His rejection also signified his anger against the party.
“I wish the PDP all the best. When truth is a casualty, there is chaos,” he added.
No cause for worry, says party
When asked about the subtle threats by some party members in Bayelsa State to defect following the outcome of the governorship primaries, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was not aware of any such plans.
“We are not aware of any defection plans, but I must tell you that the PDP is a big family and if we have issues, we have ways of resolving them internally,” he said.
Also speaking on Wike’s congratulatory message to the President on his victory at the tribunal, especially when his party had decided to appeal the judgment, Ologbondiyan said there was no cause for worry. He described Wike as one of the committed members of the party.
He said, “Governor Wike is one of our committed members and the fact that he congratulated the President is no cause for alarm.”
Ologbondiyan, however, said the drama and celebration in the camp of the APC would be short-lived when the Supreme Court rules on its (PDP) appeal.
He said, “We had a judicial process and our responsibility is to explore that process. We know as a party that we have a solid case and our candidate made a very beautiful presentation at the tribunal and so we are relying on the errors made by the tribunal to appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court.”