By Our Correspondents — Oct 29, 2014.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) printed only one nomination form and expression of interest form which it reserved for its sole presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan.
The development might have prompted two other PDP presidential aspirants, Dr. Abdul Jahil Tafawa-Balewa – son of former prime minister of Nigeria, and Akasoba Zainab Abiola – wife of late winner of the June 12 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola, to express frustration and bewilderment at the matter.
The two aspirants disclosed this yesterday after their unsuccessful bid to secure the forms at the national secretariat in Abuja .The two aspirants further stated that the party told them that the forms were either not ready or solely reserved for Jonathan.
Tafawa-Balewa said the party told him that the forms were not ready and asked him to return on Thursday, while Zainab Abiola, on her part, disclosed that she was told that only one set of presidential forms were printed, supposedly for President Jonathan. Thursday is the last day for the purchase of the forms in the party.
The attempt by the two presidential aspirants to pick the forms is in opposition to the sole candidacy of President Jonathan as declared by the National Executive Committee (NEC). The PDP national leadership had also instructed all party members to abide by the endorsement.
But speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, Tafawa-Balewa revealed that the national secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and national organising secretary, Abubakar Mustapha, had told him that the forms were not ready, an occurrence that he described as worrisome considering the present tempo of the polity.
Tafawa-Balewa, who disclosed that he had paid the required N22 million for the presidential nomination form, displayed a Zenith Bank teller with account number 1012436478 to that effect.
He said: “I have paid for my forms. I was, however, told that they don’t have the forms ready. No matter, I am still here. I will send some of my people here to come and pick the form.
“I went to see the secretary. I also went to see the organising secretary and they said the form was not ready. I am a party person, so I don’t want to have any doubt in thinking that, maybe, the presidential form is not available. We have so many gubernatorial forms and so many people picking those up and very few of us – just the president and I – for the presidential race; so, why two forms will not be ready is a little bit worrisome, but my party will do what is right.”
Reacting to the endorsement of Jonathan by the PDP, Tafawa-Balewa said: “I think those who endorsed the president is a body and the body has organs. These organs are little parts of the body. I am appealing to the body polity and I am going to run. Those organs do not always represent the masses that follow my path.”
He denied insinuations that he was sent by some people to cause a distraction to Jonathan’s emergence.
On her part, Abiola, who disclosed that she, too, had paid the N22 million fee for the presidential nomination forms at Diamond Bank Plc., stated that when she approached the leadership of the party to collect the forms, she was told that only one set of the forms was printed.
Brandishing the bank teller, she threatened to go to court if she was not given justice in the matter.
She revealed that after meeting the national chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, and the national organising secretary, Abubakar Mustapha, they “said to me that they printed just one nomination form. They told me they were reserving it for the president.”
She added: “I have the guidelines; I have not seen where it is stated that you need to print just one form. PDP, the largest party, printed just one party nomination form for position of president.”
While she described the situation as a misrepresentation of facts, she declared that she was not asking for a refund of her my money as she wanted to content for the nation’s top job.
“As we speak, there is vacancy in Aso Rock. No one can stop me from contesting,” she insisted.
Inn his reaction, however, the national publicity secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, denied knowledge of the situation, saying he just heard about it from the reporter.
He said: “I will like to confirm from the national chairman and the national organising secretary the true position.”
When asked if the party would be willing to sell forms to other presidential aspirants, Metuh said he would direct the journalists to the national organising secretary whose office handled the issue of forms.
PDP, Akpabio ask Tambuwal to step down
The national leadership of the PDP yesterday reacted to the defection of the Speaker Tambuwal, asking him to do the needful and resign since he had joined the minority party in the lower chamber.
Rising from a meeting yesterday, the PDP spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh, said “the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has met with PDP leaders in the House of Representatives concerning the defection of Speaker Tambuwal to the APC.
“After a thorough consideration of the matter, the NWC came to a conclusion that the Hon. Speaker, as a responsible elected officer, knows full well what is needful and honourable of him since his new party is in the minority.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that Hon. Tambuwal became speaker on the platform of the PDP as the political party with the majority of seats in the House of Representatives and that this incontrovertible fact has not changed.”
Also, the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has called on Tambuwal to step down having defected to the opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Reacting to the action of Tambuwal, Akpabio said he must recognize the fact that his party was still a minority in the House; therefore, he should do the right thing and resign his office as speaker.
He said: “For me, we had always suspected that the speaker was in name a PDP member, but in action an opposition party member, and so what has happened today is a culmination of what we had always suspected and I do expect that being an honourable member – which he is, I will also expect that, as a man of integrity, he knows the right thing to do: that he was elected on the platform of the PDP and, today, he has defected to the opposition and there is no crisis or division in PDP. So, the law is very clear and the constitution is very clear.
“I want to wish Tambuwal well in his new party and also urge him to do the needful – which is obeying the rule of law.”
APC reps hail Tambuwal’s defection
Speaker Tambuwal, who officially defected to the APC yesterday, argued that his defection was in line with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and followed developments in the PDP in his home state, Sokoto.
After making the defection announcement at the end of Tuesday’s plenary, Tambuwal immediately adjourned plenary to December 3, a move monitors suggested was to thwart any likely move by the PDP dominated House to unseat him.
He becomes the first speaker from a minority party and the first non-PDP politician to hold that position since the inception of this dispensation in 1999.
PDP enjoys a majority in the House with 189 members to APC’s 159. The remaining 12 lawmakers are from other smaller parties.
The APC caucus in the House, however, insisted that the adjournment was to allow lawmakers attend to political exigencies.
The APC caucus in the House led by the House Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, hailed Tambuwal’s defection. At a briefing with newsmen, the APC caucus insisted that the opposition leadership of the House was consistent with the law and practice in a presidential system of government.
Gbajabiamila read out the following: “We welcome and applaud the speaker’s decision. Ever since the crisis started in PDP which led to the formation of the ‘New PDP’ and the defection of five PDP Governors, 37 PDP members of the House of Representatives to the APC, and the formal merger of the ‘New PDP’ with the APC, we had all along known that this day will come.
“We are proud to acknowledge that the speaker remains not only a member of the House of Representatives but also its speaker.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the constitution requires only that ‘speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves’. Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has been a speaker for all the members, all the political parties and for all Nigerians and will so continue.
“As a caucus, we pledge our continued support to the current leadership of the House of Representatives. We will not do anything to destabilize the institution of the House of Representatives, so that it will continue to deliver on the mandates given to its members by Nigerians.”
Reacting to the sudden adjournment of the plenary to December 3, 2014, and the speculation that Tambuwal might be evading possible impeachment, the House minority whip, Hon. Samson Osagie, at the briefing, debunked the speculation, saying the adjournment became necessary in order to allow members fully participate in electioneering campaigns for their party primaries.
Osagie said: “Let me assure you that the decision to adjourn plenary to December 3 was to cater for the political interests of all members, whether the PDP or APC. You all will agree and you are all conversant with the timetable of primaries for the political parties, the PDP and APC, and you will agree with me that activities have already started. And if members want to contest election to return to the National Assembly or for other positions, certainly you know, for instance, that you can’t sit in the National Assembly and be contesting back at home.”
On the much-talked-about Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Osagie said the lawmakers were keen to pass it before the end of their current tenure.
According to him, “There are few reports that are of concern to us as a House – reports such as the PIB brought up this morning. It is a Bill that we want to pass before we leave this House.
On his part, Gbajabiamila explained that the expected 2015 budget also informed the adjournment.
He said: “Let me just simply add that we are also expecting the budget and before we can consider the budget, there has to be oversight.So this is a working break when members are also going to be engaging in oversight but, more importantly, the motion to adjourn till December was actually moved by the leader of the House and was seconded by the deputy leader of the House.
“So there is no issue here that anybody was trying to thwart anything. If they are trying to thwart anything, then it is on the other side.”
We still control the House
– PDP Caucus
The PDP House Caucus, in separate statements by the House leader and deputy leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande and Hon. Leo Ogor, said the PDP, which still maintains a slim majority, will take a decision on Tambuwal’s action at an “appropriate time.”
“This is a party affair. Members take decision on the floor based on party. So, the party will take a decision at the appropriate time.” Adeola-Akande told newsmen after the defection.
Her deputy, Hon Ogor, said that the PDP caucus would await the court’s decision in relation to political party defections before making further moves.
Ogor, who insisted that the PDP remained in control of the House in view of its superior numerical membership, however, expressed doubt that the PDP caucus could muster the required two-thirds votes required to impeach the speaker.
Ogor said: “What happened today was quite unexpected. But again, that decision was a personal decision and has no major implication on our political party. The PDP members of the House will look at the situation and take a position in respect of the defection. He is gone, fine. And he emphasized that his decision borders on his local politics; that it borders on the interest of his people and his constituency.
“We await the ruling of the court on the matter. And I think this is one great opportunity for us to call on the judiciary. They are also an arm of government. Justice delayed is justice denied. And with this subject matter before them, it behooves on them to make the necessary interpretations so that we can lay this issue to rest in respect of defections. But for us as members of the PDP, we believe that we will continue carrying on the responsibilities of our party.
“Let’s look and see how he manages the House. We will watch him with eagle eyes and interpret every action that he takes.”
On the adjournment, Ogor said: “The adjournment was moved by the Leader of the House. That has nothing to do with his defection. He stated clearly that the essence is to go for the oversight function and for the House to adequately prepare for the presentation of the budget. You are also mindful of the fact that there are primaries before us. It behooves on all of us to do the needful to make sure that those who want to come back can have the opportunity to work towards that.”
Reps rules have no provision for impeachment
The House of Representatives Standing Orders which spells out procedures and practices of the House and its committees do not expressly provide for the impeachment of its speaker, findings show.
Hence, reported moves by the ruling PDP and the presidency to remove the Speaker Tambuwal may prove futile.
The House Standing Orders do not in any of its sections provide for the speaker’s removal from office on the grounds of defection and anti-party activities, allegations that have been thrown on Tambuwal in some quarters.
It does not even spell out removal procedures in the event of ‘gross misconduct.’
Section 7 Rule 26(a) of the House Standing Orders is the closest the rule book gets to the removal of the speaker.
The section states, “In the absence of the speaker and deputy speaker without any communications to the Clerk of the House within a period of three consecutive days or where both have either been certified dead or incapacitated, the House may elect, for that purpose, someone who shall preside. Such member shall be known as Speaker Pro-tempore.”
PDP NWC snubs Gov Chime
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP yesterday refused to receive Enugu State Governor Sullivan Chime who came to the national secretariat of the party.
The governor was stood up by the party leadership over five hours at the party secretariat.
Chime had arrived at the PDP national secretariat as early as 11am in hopes of seeing the NWC or the national chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Mu’azu.
Sullivan is aiming for the Senate to replace the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu.
Party sources told reporters that the crises rocking the Enugu State chapter of the party was responsible for the non-reception of the governor by the party leadership.
The source noted that the disrespect shown by Chime to the PDP-NWC and other PDP chieftains, who unsuccessfully intervened in the controversial “chicken impeachment” of his erstwhile deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi, contributed to the treatment meted out to the governor.
More so, the crisis in the state chapter nosedived further following Chime’s insistence that Ekweremadu will not return to the Senate.
Also, the deputy chairman of the party in the state, Elder David Aja, recently rejected the appointment of the managing director of the Enugu State Housing Development Cooperation (ESHDC), Mr. Ikeje Asogwa, as acting chairman of Enugu PDP following the resignation of Engr. Victor Abba.
It was, however, gathered that Chime brought Mr. Asogwa to the PDP to introduce him to the party leadership, but the controversial manner of Asogwa’s emergence caused the NWC to refuse to meet them so as not to create the impression that Asogwa had been endorsed by the national body.
The governor, who arrived at Wadata Plaza, was led by the protocol personnel through the back door to the chairman’s waiting room on the third floor where they waited till 4.05 pm and left.