Following what appeared a palace coup on Tuesday by the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan and his strategists have initiated moves to regain control of the party.
A major plank of the strategy is to whip some members into line by supporting the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, wholeheartedly or get them removed outright from the committee.
They seem to be succeeding as the party’s National Secretary, ex- governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was yesterday removed from office by an Abuja court. His removal was greeted with jubilation in the camp of the President and Tukur . A source close to the President told our reporter that with the development, Oyinlola, who got into office with the support of PDP governors, is “down and out “. (See Court sacks Oyinlola as PDP scribe below).
The NWC members, mostly loyal to governors, some kingmakers and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, had on Tuesday moved against Tukur.
The NWC members nullified the just-concluded congresses in Adamawa State and reinstated the State Executive Committee of the PDP led by Alhaji Umaru Mijinyawa Kaugama.
It was the first time in the history of the PDP that all NWC members, including the National Secretary of the party, would rise against a serving National Chairman without a dissenting voice.
They all rejected the purported election of a new State Executive Committee headed by Chief Joel Madaki.
But a rattled Tukur said NWC members’ action amounted to “a betrayal” with a promise to fight back.
Investigation revealed that apart from Tukur, the President and his strategists were shocked by the “rebellion” of NWC members at a time they thought they were in control of the party.
It was learnt that the Presidency felt that the “rebellion” might have been instigated by some forces within the party, including PDP governors, to prove a point that Jonathan is not in control of the PDP structure.
It was gathered that the intervention of the President was not only designed to reconcile, but to gauge the mood of some critical stakeholders.
According to findings, the crisis between Tukur and NWC members was a signal that Jonathan might lose the 2015 presidential ticket unless urgent action is taken to whip the party leadership in line.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President and his strategists were shocked that the NWC, which was put in place after a careful and mutual negotiation with stakeholders, could openly disgrace the National Chairman of the party.
“Although the President succeeded in dousing the fire temporarily, the signal from the NWC members was clear that he was losing the grip of the party.
“This explains why the President and his strategists are working round the clock on how to regain the control of the PDP structure and earn the confidence of NWC members.
“As part of this new initiative, the President spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to meet with PDP governors and other stakeholders. He spent 72 hours addressing the crisis in the NWC instead of managing state affairs.
“Ordinarily, if the NWC members have respect for the President, they ought to have deferred to the President before going to the press on Tuesday to move against Tukur.
“They simply acquiesced to the bidding of their governors, sponsors or godfathers. This development worsened the situation.
“And the discontentment came at a time most party leaders were fed up with the leadership style of the National Chairman.
Responding to a question, another source said: “With this NWC structure, Jonathan would have to forget the 2015 presidential ticket. If they can do it on Adamawa crisis, they can upturn the table when it comes to presidential primaries.
“This is the main worry of the President’s think-tank. The crisis was seen as a smack of indiscipline by NWC members.”
Asked of the options available to the President and his strategists, a third source said: “Besides reuniting the NWC members, there are plans to woo or lobby some of them to appreciate the transformation agenda of the President.
“Also, some strategists of the President are already reaching out to PDP governors and the godfathers of some NWC members to call them to order and allow some stability in the party.
“Some of those who had hands in the emergence of NWC members are ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, other members of the PDP Governors’ Forum, ex-Governor Bukola Saraki and the Ubas.
“The NWC members are also products of the party structure in the six geo-political zones. Their zones might be asked to prevail on these leaders to give peace a chance.
“In fact, this was the key message of the President to the breakfast session with PDP governors on Thursday.”
Investigation also revealed that the President and his strategists might bid time and invoke Article 14.2 of the PDP Constitution to call for an emergency National Convention or a mid-term vote of confidence on NWC members.
Although the NWC members came on board in March 2012, their attitude or performance could lead PDP members to effect change.
Article 14.2 reads: “A vote of confidence may be moved on any member of the Executive Committee of the party at any level at any National Convention or Congress of the party two years into the tenure of such member of the Executive Committee and where such a vote fails, the Executive Committee member shall be replaced at that National Convention or Congress.
“Provided that two months notice of such motion shall be given to the Secretary at the appropriate level who shall circulate it to the relevant chapters one month before the National Convention or Congress.”
Another source added that by virtue of Article 21.1- 21.12, a disciplinary action can be initiated against any member of the NWC, if there is a petition alleging misconduct.
The source said: “Those against NWC members can hide under this clause to deal with them. That is why some of these NWC members are jittery.”