The crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, took a new twist Monday as the national leadership slammed an indefinite suspension on its former National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and three other leaders of the New Peoples Democratic Party, nDPD, and ordered their investigation, for alleged anti-party activities.
The others whose suspension was announced by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh at a press conference in Abuja, were a former acting National Chairman of the party, Kawu Baraje, a former Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja and a former senator and ambassador from Jigawa State, Ibrahim Kazaure.
Mr. Baraje is the National Chairman of the nPDP, while Mr. Jaja is his deputy and Mr. Oyinlola, the National Secretary.
But Mr. Baraje and his colleagues have, through their faction, described their suspension as the greatest joke of the century, adding that it was not only an abuse of the party constitution, but also the court process, which reinstated Mr. Oyinlola as National Secretary.
While announcing the decision of the party to suspend the four persons, Mr. Metuh said preliminary hearings conducted in line with the PDP Constitution showed that they had breached Section 58 (1) (b), (g), (h) and (i) of the document.
Section 58 (1) says, “Subject to the provision of this constitution, the party shall have power to discipline any member who (b) commits any breach of the party’s constitution and or manifesto; (g) engages in disorderly conduct at meetings or rallies or at any party function; (h) engages in any conduct likely to cause disaffection among members of the party or is likely to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient conduct of the business of the party; (i) engages in unauthorised publicity of disputes within the party or create a parallel party organ at any level.
The PDP spokesperson added that they are to be referred to the party’s National Disciplinary Committee, NDC, inaugurated two weeks ago by the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, for further investigation. The Committee is headed by Second Republic Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, a personal friend of Mr. Tukur.
He described the suspended persons as the pillars behind the formation of the nPDP, also called Kawu Baraje faction, and warned members of the ruling party across the country to avoid any dealings with them.
The action of the party is believed to be a move at preventing Mr. Oyinlola’s reinstatement as National Secretary as ordered by the Court of Appealsitting in Abuja, last Thursday. He was sacked from the position by the Federal High Court, Abuja last January 11. He, however, approached the Court of Appeal, which delivered judgement last week.
Prior to the announcement of the suspension order on Monday, security had been beefed up around the party’s national secretariat in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, allegedly to stop Mr. Oyinlola from resuming as secretary.
Mr. Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, is the National Secretary of the nPDP, which was floated by a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, seven governors and some members of the National Assembly, elected on the platform of the PDP.
The governors are Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
Reacting to the suspension, the faction in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chukwuemeka Eze, said it was the greatest joke of the century, adding that Mr. Tukur and the NWC members had exposed themselves as champions of undemocratic acts and greatest enemies of the party.
In September, few days after the birth of the Baraje faction, Mr. Oyinlola and 12 members of the PDP, who attended a rally he organised in his home town, Okuku in Osun State, were suspended by the state chapter of the party.
It was not clear why the seven governors belonging to the splinter group, also called G7 Governors and its other senior members of the Baraje faction, were not suspended.
It said, “With this greatest joke of the century, Tukur and his funny NWC have only succeeded in exposing themselves not only as champion of undemocratic acts but the greatest enemies of PDP as all their actions are all geared at ensuring that peace eludes the party.
“Nigerians can now understand why we are hell bent of ensuring that these military mentally inclined men are removed from our political psyche if we are to enrich and uplift our democratic credentials.”
The faction said the uncivilized action was not acceptable to its members, insisting that Mr. Oyinlola “must be reinstated as a matter of urgency as ordered by the Appeal Court as the national Secretary.”
It also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and any other government agency not to entertain any document or letter from PDP without the authorization of Mr. Oyinlola in view of the fact that he was the incumbent National Secretary of the party fully recognized and sanctioned by a credible Court.
It also urged “all good members of PDP to remain calm, steadfast and focused as we fight the illegality which Tukur and his people represent as the task to strengthen and rebuild our party is a task that we must conclude.”
Only on Sunday night, the governors expressed confidence that Mr Oyinlola would be reinstated as the national secretary of the party.
Mr. Aliyu, who spoke to journalists after a meeting of the group at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, said its members were happy with the court order reinstating Mr. Oyinlola’s as the National Secretary of the PDP because it fell in line with the reforms they were canvassing.
“We look forward to resolution and future resolution of the matter,” the Niger State Governor said.
Apart from sealing the group’s national secretariat in Maitama District of Abuja, two previous meetings of the governors had been disrupted by the police.
Several peace meetings held to resolve the crisis in the ruling party had yielded no fruit. The governors met on two occasions with President Goodluck Jonathan and some senior members of the party at the Presidential Villa. Before then, the Elders Committee of the PDP led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had also waded into the crisis.
Mr. Eze had said on Sunday that the meeting conveyed that night was meant to articulate the position of the group in anticipation of its meeting with Mr. Jonathan this week.