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Damagum survives to remain as acting chair till August



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•He has overstayed as acting chairman –BoT chair


From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The tussle over the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reached a denouement, yesterday, as the National Executive Committee (NEC), resolved that the Acting Chairman, Umar Damagum, should remain in office until August.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, told newsmen after the NEC meeting that the issue of a substantive national chairman would be discussed at the next meeting of the party organ in August.

“Our party emphasises the need for reconciliation and stability within the party at this time. Therefore, the issue of the national chairman has been deferred to the next NEC meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for August 15, 2024.”

Prior to the NEC meeting, supporters of the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, had been locked in a supremacy tussle over which of the groups would produce the substantive national chairman.

Also, party stakeholders from the North Central had insisted  that the zone must produce a replacement for the former chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who was ousted last year.

Regardless, the opposition spokesman, while briefing on the outcome of the meeting of the PDP national caucus, earlier in the day, had told newsmen that the issue of party chairman was not part of the agenda for NEC.

“The caucus did not consider that, because we consider that at this time there are so many issues involved about the leadership.

“That issue was deferred to the next NEC meeting. So, what we are taking to NEC, the issue of leadership is not one of those things to be discussed in NEC.

“Damagum continues to be the acting national chairman of the party until the next meeting of NEC, after this NEC. And the party considered it not important to have more consultations on that issue. And what we are going to do is that we as a party must be united.”

Daily Sun gathered that while the issue of a substantive national chairman was not on the agenda, it nevertheless came up in the course of the meeting. However, it was deferred to the next meeting to enable the North Central to put its house in order.

Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Bala Mohammed, while briefing newsmen, said the opposition party was guided by experience and constitutionality.

“There were a lot of permutations and mischievous thinking outside there. But we looked at all the issues and we worked along our guidelines and constitution. There is no problem or dissension among members.

“In the next two months, we will see a lot of activities. Leadership is a responsibility. We said in September we would leave our congresses. We will look at the issue of leadership and look at the issue of our constitution where it will be. And we will do it with no rancour.”

A communique issued at the end of the NEC meeting, and read by Ologunagba, said the party organ approved the reconstitution of the party disciplinary and reconciliation committees to further ensure the stability of the party.

According to the communique, the NEC commended all the organs of the “party for their collective resilience, steadfastness and commitment towards the unity, stability and sustenance of our great party despite daunting challenges.

“NEC also commends members of the PDP, with particular reference to the youths and women for their courage in resisting the antics of the divisive and anti-people All Progressives Congress (APC), especially, its desperation to emasculate the opposition and foist a one-party state on our nation.

“NEC charges all organs, leaders, critical stakeholders and, indeed, all members of the PDP to close ranks, put aside every personal or group interests and work together in the overall effort to reposition and return the PDP to power at the centre in the interest of the Nigerian people.”

Furthermore, the communique, noted that “NEC expresses concern over the ill-implemented policies of the insensitive APC administration, leading to worsening insecurity, harrowing economic hardship, soaring unemployment rate, high cost of food and other necessities of life with pervading misery and despondency across the country.

“NEC expresses serious apprehensions over the spate of acts of terrorism and violence, including the escalated cases of mindless killings, mass abduction of innocent Nigerians and marauding of communities in various parts of the country.

“NEC condemns the insensitivity, nonchalance, incompetence and arrogance in failure of the APC administration which continues to conduct itself in a manner that shows it has no iota of interest or commitment towards the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“NEC also condemns the creeping totalitarianism and tendencies towards a one-party state which is inimical to the peace, stability and corporate existence of our nation as well as the development of democracy and good governance in the country.

“NEC, after due consideration, demands that President Bola Tinubu should urgently convene a special national security council meeting to proffer a holistic solution and measures to curb the disturbing insecurity with its attendant negative consequences on our national life. 

“NEC also demands that President Tinubu should immediately rejig his economic team to bring in persons of proven integrity and competence without bias and vested interest to assist in repositioning the economy.

“NEC further demands that the Federal Government should review all policies and programmes which are stifling the economy with a suffocating effect on the lives of citizens; including the increase in price of fuel without cushioning measures, hike in electricity tariff, increased taxation and implementation of adverse fiscal policies.”

Earlier, Damagum, in his welcome address, said there was need to constitute a strong reconciliation panel to unite aggrieved members, especially those unhappy with the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general election.

The acting chairman, while stating that there is need to reposition the opposition party, said Nigerians are anxiously looking up to the PDP to provide them relief from the APC-led Federal Government.

He said: “There is also a need to constitute a strong reconciliation committee to unite our many aggrieved members, especially during the last party primaries. It is better late than never.

“We must as urgent as possible reposition and strengthen the party for effective and constructive opposition; bringing on the table acceptable alternatives of policies and programmes in the governance of our nation; we must also as a matter of necessity bring the concerns of Nigerians to the forefront of political discourse;

“We must also understand that Nigerians are in love with the PDP and are anxiously looking up to us to bring succour and relief to their long APC-afflictions. There is also a need for us as an opposition party to remain more united than we have ever been.

“This is because in unity lies our strength; we must remain vigilant and also understand that the ruling party will be making frantic effort to use any available means to destabilise us, but if we are able to close ranks and remain focused, external forces against the party will always be frustrated.”

However, Chairman of the BoT, Adolpus Wabara, said Damagum has overstayed.

He stated this, while speaking at a meeting of the BoT, at the PDP National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza, ahead of a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

“I must address a matter that weighs heavily on our collective conscience, the leadership of the party as it stands. Recalling the events that led to the ousting of the former Chairman of the party in person of H.E. Senator Iyorchia Ayu, the current Acting Chairman has spent over a year in office  whereas as the usual practice of the party, the region from whence the national officer hails from should have produced a viable candidate to complete the tenure of the former national officer.

“Furthermore, the contentious issue surrounding the office of the National Secretary has regrettably sown seeds of discord within our party. The ambiguity surrounding this position has led to confusion and internal strife, hindering our collective efforts to pursue our noble objectives.

“The solutions to these two challenges are clearly imbibed in our party’s constitution but deliberate litigations have made the application of these constitutional solutions impossible.”

In his address at the NEC meeting, Wabara charged the party organ to take steps to address recent crises and challenges confronting the opposition party.

“We cannot ignore the fact that our party is facing internal strife, fuelled by inactions, disagreements and misunderstandings that threaten to undermine the very foundation upon which the PDP stands….

“It is clear the hope of Nigerians for rescue from this emerging totalitarianism is anchored on their belief in the capacity of our party to lead the charge in defending and protecting our national patrimony at this critical time.

“Therefore, I am calling upon the members of the national executive council to step forward and take on the crucial role of mediators in resolving the crises that have engulfed our party.

“It is imperative we set aside personal differences and work together in the spirit of fraternity and solidarity to find common ground and chart a solid path forward. To further strengthen our party we must toe along the line of the three “Rs” of Reconciliation, Repositioning and Repositioning.”

Those who attended at the NEC meeting included Atiku, Wike, former vice president Namadi Sambo, governors Seyi Makinde, Ademola Adeleke, Siminalayi Fubura, Sheriff Oborevwori, Douye Diri, Umo Eno, Ahmed Fintiri of Oyo, Osun, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Adamawa states respectively.