POSITION PAPER BY SENATOR BURUJI KASHAMU IN RESPECT OF THE RESOLUTION OF PDP NATIONAL LEADERSHIP CRISIS
The best thing that can happen to our great party is the peaceful resolution of all crises within the Party and uniting all factions to pose a more united and formidable opposition. It is for this reason that I am not against any decision reached by the leaders and elders of our great party, including the Board of Trustees, on the party leadership crisis. But such decisions must be decent, reasonable and justifiable and not condone or endorse impunity. I love, appreciate and value our party, elders and leaders but cannot endorse injustice.
THE NATIONAL CONVENTION/NATIONAL CARETAKER COMMITTEE
The way and manner in which the National Convention was convoked leaves much to be desired. There can be no valid National Convention in the absence of valid delegates. There can also be no valid National Convention without a proper quorum, which is by the Constitution of the Party two-thirds of valid members and delegates of the National Convention. Furthermore, all decisions taken at the National Convention must be by voting. Even if a caretaker committee was to have been constituted, its members ought to have been elected at a valid National Convention. The imposition of the Caretaker Committee by a powerful few is against our Constitution and should not be allowed to stand because the manner in which the Caretaker Committee was constituted dents the integrity of the committee, its eminent members as well as the party. It was public knowledge that the National Chairman had, in order to avoid all these crisis, postponed the National Convention and he did not mandate the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, to stand in for him because he was on ground in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Chief Secondus’ role in acting for the National Chairman was further circumscribed by the judgment of the FCT High Court in a case instituted by former Presidential aide, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak. In the judgment, the court restrained Chief Secondus from acting for the National Chairman or performing his functions. It is instructive that he filed and lost an appeal at the Court of Appeal against the judgment. Therefore, Chief Secondus cannot validly claim to have acted for the National Chairman when a court judgment forbids him from doing so, irrespective of whatever the party’s constitution says. That is a clear contamination of the National Convention and all that took place there.
What is more, in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/637/2016 filed by the National Auditor, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, to preempt those who planned to hold parallel National Convention and make the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor and recognize only the National Convention presided over by Senator Sheriff, the court expressly ordered parties in the suit, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the 2nd defendant, “not to take any step that will foist a fait accompli on the Court”. It therefore meant that any convention presided over by any other person except Senator Sheriff is tantamount to overreaching a valid and subsisting court order (See Annexure I).
We should devise a way to rectify the illegalities so that it does not make our party vulnerable to those who might want to exploit the situation in the future and make a waste of our efforts at rebuilding the party ahead of future elections. It should be recalled that we had a similar situation in the build up to the last general election when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted that certain positions in the then National Working Committee (NWC) were filled by affirmation and not election. This forced the party to organize a midterm National Convention to rectify the situation.
IMPUNITY/LAWLESSNESS OF GOVERNOR FAYOSE
Some party leaders have all along been acting as a law unto themselves and carrying on with impunity irrespective of whether their actions are in the interest of the Party. Such actions, if not checked, could further stigmatize the Party as a lawless organisation. It was Governor Fayose who came to me and said we should work for Senator Sheriff. He said I should start a heavy campaign because the governors had decided that he was the only one that could save the party. Yet, it was the same Governor Fayose that tricked his colleague-governors and hijacked the National Convention for his personal interests even in the face of obvious illegalities. This can be clearly seen from the text message that was sent to him by one of his lawyers, Dr. YemiOke, on the same 21st of May, 2016. For the avoidance of doubt, Oke, in the text message sent from his telephone number 08023148096 said, “Your Excly: Gov. Fayose sir. There is a very serious problem in the pipeline…the election should go on and we may appoint the three of them to function in Acting capacity. Constituting all as caretaker committee is very risky and dangerous. The other side will constitute a proper Exco and Challenge and defeat your own Caretaker Committee. Yours will be caretaker. They will call theirs NWC and will move round the courts to get a funny order/judgment to regularize. Alternatively, we do election and not release result till Tuesday. Or release all except the three and get the Convention to appoint them in an acting capacity. At any rate, the matter is on appeal and they will be in office while the other group will be in court for the next 5 years. Let’s be strategic and imaginative sir – Dr. YemiOke.”
Despite his lawyer warning him of the dire consequences of the idea of a National Caretaker Committee, Governor Fayose goaded his colleagues to constitute it. He wants to take over the structure of the Party in the South West as a means to execute his plan to bid for the position of vice-presidential candidate in 2019. When he approached me with a plan to sack all the national officers of the party from the South West and replace them, I refused because the National Secretary had hitherto done a good job. I suggested to him that we should retain the National Secretary in his position and zone the positions of National Publicity Secretary and National Auditor to Lagos and Ekiti states.
However, Governor Fayose has handpicked those he wants to use to fill these positions. For instance, in Oyo State, he handpicked, Hon. MulikatAdeola-Akande as his candidate for the position of National Secretary. For National Auditor, he handpicked one Mr. Adeyemo, a career staff and former Deputy Director in the Office of the National Auditor, who is from Oyo State but claims to be from Lagos State. He has pencilled down his Special Assistant on Public Communication and New Media as the candidate for the National Publicity Secretary, and then purportedly conceded a non-existent post of the National Vice-Chairman, South West, to Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State. So, if he has single-handedly positioned his cronies for the positions of National Secretary, National Publicity Secretary and National Auditor. Where is the justice in all of these?
SOUTH WEST ZONAL CONGRESS
Governor Fayose decided to hold what he termed an elective zonal congress in the South West as at the time Lagos, Osun and Oyo states had not yet finished their state congresses; only Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti states were ready. He ignored the fact and took those who are not delegates from the Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun states to what he called the zonal congress from which zonal officers purportedly emerged. Whereas in actual fact, only two states – Ondo and Ekiti states – had authentic delegates at the exercise. It should be noted that the tenure of the zonal exco that was purportedly replaced at the exercise had not elapsed. Indeed, a court had restrained the party from conducting fresh zonal congress for the South West since the tenure of the present exco will lapse in 2018. Yet, Governor Fayose brushed this aside and took his illegal delegates and South West zonal exco to the National Convention in Port Harcourt; thus contaminating the National Convention with his illegalities. It should be noted that purported zonal congress was nullified by the court on the 17th of May, 2016 (See Annexure II).
GOVERNOR FAYOSE’S ROLE AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
On the day of the National Convention, Governor Fayose removed all the genuine delegates from the South West Zone from the Convention Programme/Delegates List. Congresses were conducted in Ogun State, which were monitored by INEC and have been confirmed by the National Working Committee and a subsisting order of court as authentic, yet Governor Fayose also brought persons who did not participate in the congresses as delegates for Ogun State. Governor Fayose brought persons who never participated in the Congresses conducted in their various states to represent Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo states to the convention. He inserted eight pages of illegitimate delegates list into the Convention Programme and manipulated and blanked out names of legitimate delegates from pages 81 – 83 of the same document in order to bring in his own choice of illegal delegates (See Annexure III). He also brought a purported list of South West Zonal Exco for the Convention when the elections from which they emerged had been nullified by the court. He put his people in Page 81 and blanked out names of delegates approved by the National Working Committee and the NEC in Page 83 of the same document, and replaced them with his manufactured list. These included the States and Local Government Exco members. Governor Fayose confiscated all the tags meant for delegates from the South West and gave them to fake delegates he handpicked from the various states in the zone. Consequently, when the authentic delegates went to collect their tags, they were given observer tags in order for them to gain entry into the National Convention ground. This is an act of complete lawlessness and it stinks with illegality. How do we justify all these actions?
THE NOMINATION OF PRINCE ADEYEYE TO THE NATIONAL CARETAKER COMMITTEE
Seeing all the illegalities that Governor Fayose has done, how can we trust his motive in hand-picking Prince Adeyeye? There is no doubt that Prince Adeyeye is a fine gentleman, cool-headed and an honourable person who is eminently qualified to hold any position of importance. But the way he was hand-picked by Governor Fayose to represent the South West Zone without due consultation with other leaders of the party in the zone leaves much to be desired. Many notable leaders of the party are not happy that they were not consulted and carried along in the choice. It is doubtful if Prince Adeyeye would work for the interests of all stakeholders in the Party and not do only the bidding of Governor Fayose who nominated him.
I am one of the leaders of the PDP in South West and I have contributed greatly and invested great efforts and resources in ensuring the success of the Party especially in the South West Zone of our country. I participated in all the elections conducted in the South West and expended great efforts and resources in mobilizing the electorate to vote in favour of the Party especially in Ekiti and Osun states. I can boldly say that I am one of the people responsible for the successful emergence of Governor Fayose as a candidate and governor of Ekiti State. I believe that I am one of the leaders in the South West Zone of the Party to be reckoned with.
THE HUMILIATION OF SENATOR ALI MODU SHERIFF AND THE WAY OUT
Some governors brought Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to be Chairman of the Party and then turned around to embarrass and disgrace him at the National Convention. If they want the progress of the Party and are not merely serving their personal interests, they should give him a soft-landing and allowed him leave the leadership of the Party in a more dignified and matured way. The truth is that Senator Sheriff has been hurt and shortchanged; he spent enormous resources in rejuvenating party, procuring the nomination form and sponsoring delegates to the venue of the National Convention. He never wanted to be the National Chairman. Some of leaders, particularly the governors, brought him. Every action he took was at the behest of some of the governors. Yet, the very people who goaded him on, tricked him and literally stripped him in the open. No leader worth his mettle will watch passively while others trample on his rights and dignity. It is my considered view that because of the betrayal, open shame and ridicule that Senator Sheriff has been subjected to, it is incumbent on the leadership of the party to plead with him and seek his forgiveness in order for him to withdraw all the cases in court. Some commensurate measure of restitution must be seen to have been done in the true spirit of genuine reconciliation and peace.
It is true that I have been one of the ardent campaigners for the National Chairmanship to be zoned to the North until a Presidential candidate of Northern extraction emerges in 2018, in accordance with the zoning principle of our party and the resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC). I and some like minds were of the view that this would help to strengthen the party in the North since it has only two governors out of the 12 Governors produced by our party. This is coupled with the fact that not many of our leaders in the South are ready to finance the party. We reasoned that the National Chairmanship could return to the South in 2018. However, we were quick to add that our views were not final. We indeed encouraged other stakeholders who had contrary views to air such and let reason prevail.
It is in the light of the above that I wish to say that if all critical stakeholders agree that the National Chairmanship position should be zoned to the South West, the interest of the party officials – the National Secretary, Prof. AdewaleOladipo (Osun) and the National Auditor, AlhajiFataiAdeyanju (Ogun) – whose tenures are yet to expire and are in court should be considered. This could be a good way to pacify them towards an amicable resolution of the crisis. I am also willing to engage and persuade them in the overall interest of the party. It should be noted that they came into office by virtue of a Special National Convention that was held on the 10th and 11th of December, 2014(See Annexure IV).
I am aware of the advice of our leaders and elders that the suits that have been filed in court should be withdrawn in the interest of peace and reconciliation. But, the painful reality is that because of Governor Fayose’s actions and manipulative tendencies as captured above, many of the South West states, if not all, are in court in order to protect their rights and safeguard the well-organised and acceptable congresses in their respective states. Millions of naira was spent in organizing the congresses in various states, with INEC and other relevant agencies present. These agencies have since issued their reports and endorsed the congresses. As for members of the South West zonal exco, there was no congress because the tenure of the current exco elapses in 2018. The exco came into office in October, 2014 (See Annexure V & VI). It should be noted that the South West zonal exco is also in court. Given Governor Fayose’s scant regard for the party’s constitution and his open show of lawlessness and impunity, it will be difficult to persuade them to waive their rights.
In the light of the above circumstances, it is my well considered view that all the congresses held in the South West states that have been ratified by the NEC and approved by INEC and other relevant bodies should be upheld while the Zonal Exco be allowed to serve their tenure till 2018.
My superior elders and leaders, if we want the progress of the party, all the illegalities must stop. Senator Makarfi is a cool-headed, intelligent and responsible leader with enviable antecedents. It will be better to call for a NEC meeting to pass a resolution to make Senator Makarfi the acting National Chairman because of the circumstances that gave birth to the National Caretaker Committee. The cloud of illegality that is hovering over our party began in the South West. As stated earlier, it has its roots in Governor Fayose’s attempt to remove and replace members of the zonal exco whose four-year tenure has not expired because they came into office in 2014 and there is no evidence of any misconduct or anti-party activities against them.
We cannot use illegality to solve the problem of the Party. We need to call a NEC meeting where we could right the wrongs in order to preempt mischievous elements or the opposition who could use some disloyal members of the party in the nearest future to question the legality of the Senator Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee and its activities, including the emergence of a new NWC that will guide the party to choose candidates for elections at various levels. By appointing a National Caretaker Committee who will conduct the National Convention that will appoint the officers of the Party who will in turn conduct the National Convention in which the presidential candidate would be elected, we may be building the future of the Party on illegality. This is part of what led to our defeat at the last elections. We must prevent it from happening again. We have to get rid of the illegality so that we can build our party on a solid and sure foundation.
I appreciate the honor given to me by inviting me for a reconciliation meeting as one of the leaders of the party to be reckoned with in the South West. I wish to assure my respected leaders and elders that I am deeply committed to the peace process in the overall interest of our party and country.