Thursday, September 10, 2020

OPINION: Solution To PDP Crisis in Kaduna State, BY Jerry D. Ishaya

As a committed member of PDP in kaduna state, I  have since developed keen interest in following political events as they unfold within and outside our party. I have a full knowledge that as the  party embarked on the process of electing new executives at various levels, interested state party leaders began to engage on battle of supremacy for the control of various party structures. This has exacerbated the struggle among party chieftains believing that whoever controls the party machinery shall have advantage in the nominations of candidates in 2023 elections. 

As a member of the eleven (11) man PDP caretaker committee in Kaduna State, I owe my party total allegiance and loyalty. I also have a duty of pushing for finding lasting solutions to the ongoing wranglings within the party as failure to do so shall reflect in the quality of party leaders to be elected, and the eventual emergence of party candidates at various levels for general elections and the overall future outlook of the party. I am fully aware that I have a duty to share true information with the party faithfuls for the purpose of keeping them updated with the happenings within the party. From this background, I have decided to share the following information to keep you abreast with current happenings in PDP Kaduna State so that we can join hands in finding lasting solution to the problems bedeviling our party.

I wish to remind you that the PDP National Executive committee (NEC) at its 88th meeting approved the time table and schedule of activities for the year 2020 party congresses in 25 States including Kaduna. The entire exercise was planned to commence with sales of forms, then ward congresses on the 15th of March, 2020 and end with zonal Congress Appeals on the 22nd April, 2020. The election of the party executives was schedule to end before the expiration of the four-year tenure of the ward, local government, state and zonal executives.

Recall that the ward congresses were conducted in Kaduna state on the 15th of March, 2020 by the ward congress committee appointed by the party NEC on the recommendation of National Working Committee (NWC). In compliance with the guidelines for conducting congresses, an Appeal committee was also constituted. The appeal committee received complains/petitions and heard from the parties involved. Thereafter submitted its report on the 20th of March, 2020 (The report is now a public document). The appeal committee upheld all other elections but recommended the cancellation of the congresses in the following wards and called for freshcelections:

The entire Zaria LGA (13 Wards)

Dama Kasuwa Ward -(Kauru LGA)

Kauru East Ward - (Kauru LGA)

Tudun Wada West – Unguwar Ma’azu (Kaduna south LGA)

Kabala Ward- (Kaduna North LGA)

Madakiya Ward – (Zangon Kataf LGA)

Recall that before the State and Local Government elections which were planned to hold on the 22nd and 24th of March, 2020 respectively, there were court injunctions restraining the party from conducting the elections and various litigations on irregularities during the ward congresses. While preparations were on going, the COVID-19 pandemic set in and there was a circular from Kaduna State Government restricting large gatherings which automatically put the process on hold.

Again, While observing the Covid-19 lockdown, the cancelled ward congresses couldn’t take place and the four-year tenure of the Local Government and State executives of the party expired on the 10th of May, 2020. The NEC of the party, in order not create a vacuum automatically appointed the outgoing  state executive members to serve as caretaker for a period not exceeding 90 days. This kind of decision was taken in 25 states chapters of the party. At this point, because there were 6(six) contestants for the position of the state party chairman and many contestants in other state positions, petitions were written and complains were made calling for the NWC to reconstitute the caretaker committee in state and exclude all contestants so as to create a level playing ground for all.

The National Working Committee released the approved ward congress list which was circulated among party members. After some weeks, the NWC released another ward congress list which has some names substituted comparing with the first list. In some cases, the entire names of ward executives were replaced with new names. This second list has also gone viral among party members in the states. The multiple ward congress lists had since generated a new controversy within the party which led to the question “Which one is the authentic list?"

To proffer solution to the crises emerging from the ward Congress, an elders' committee was set up under the leadership of the former Governor, Muktar Ramalan Yero. After consulting with the various party stakeholders, they came up with the following resolutions:

The National Working Committee of the party should dissolve the outgoing executives whose tenure has expired and serving as caretaker committee and appoint fresh and neutral caretaker committee members who are not contestants in any of the congresses.  

The National working committee of the party should produce the authentic ward congress list for the conduct of Local Government and State congresses. The purpose of the authentic ward congress list is to solve the crises generated by the two lists earlier released by the NWC. 

Withdrawal of all court cases to enable internal reconciliation in the party. 

Withdrawal of all suspensions and expulsions of party members by the outgoing state caretaker committee.

Establishment of State Elders' committee as provided by the party constitution.

The Bashir Dutse ma’s led caretaker committee (CTC) was appointed by the NWC on 14th of August, 2020 and inaugurated in the party’s headquarters Abuja on the 20th of August, 2020 with the sole responsibility of running the affairs of the party in Kaduna state until a new executive is elected for a period not exceeding 90 days (3 Months). On the same day, the supposed authentic list was handed over to the CTC by the leadership of the party and after crosschecking the list,  the following findings were made:

Lere LGA -  Lazuro ward , Lere ward , Abadawa ward, Ramin Kura ward, Yarkasuwa ward were found to have contained changes. Names were substituted 

Soba LGA - Richifa ward, Garu ward, Danwata ward, Soba ward. Names were substituted 

Kaduna North LGA- Gabasawa ward and Kawo ward. Some names were also substituted 

Giwa LGA – Yakawada ward. Some names were also substituted 

Another Report of the Appeal committee was attached with the new list of ward congresses. On the new report, Madakiya ward was excluded from the list of wards where congresses shall be repeated. But after deliberations, the CTC agreed that as stated in the initial report, the ward congresses should be repeated in the following areas: 

The entire 13 wards in Zaria LGA

Damakasuwa ward of Kauru LGA

Kauru East Ward - (Kauru LGA)

Tudun Wada west (Unguwan Ma’azu) of Kaduna south LGA

Kabala ward of Kaduna North LGA

Madakiya ward of Zangon Kataf LGA

As newly inaugurated members of caretaker committee, we agreed on the following immediate line of actions:

Visit the major leaders of the party, re-introduce ourselves, seek their corporation and support to solve the problems in the party

Resolve the crises in the affected wards before conducting the local Government and State congresses.

Upon returning to Kaduna, the caretaker committee meet with the following party leaders on Monday 24th August, 2020

H.E Muktar Ramalan Yero

Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi

Amb. Kazaure

H.E Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi

Hon. Isa Ashiru Kudan.

There was a consensus in our discussion; that the caretaker must be seen to be neutral, fair and just to all members of the party. 

We also had plans to visit Sen. Danjuma Laah, H.E Arc Namadi Sambo, House of Rep members and House of Assembly members who are members of party from the state. 

On the 25th of August, 2020, while deliberating on how to resolve the crises that was birthed from the ward congresses, the chairman of the caretaker committee received a letter dated 24th of August, 2020 from the National Working Committee directing the caretaker committee to proceed with preparation to conduct LG congress on the 26th (Which was the following day) and the State congress on 29th (Saturday) August 2020.

We grumbled among ourselves because of the short notice but because of it was a directive from the National Executive, we continued with arrangements knowing that the timing was not the best. Some of us asked questions like, “If you know you will ask the caretaker committee to conduct elections in two days, why then allocate 90 days to it?”

The Local Government congress committee and the caretaker committee met  on the day of the LG election (26th August, 2020) around 12 noon at Hotel 17. At the same time, the Local Government returning officers were waiting to receive the photocopy of result sheets and then proceed to conduct the elections.

On the same day of the elections, a court order restraining the local Government and State congresses from holding was obtained by some members of the party. Some of the caretaker committee members were served on 26th of August, 2020 (Same day of the elections) while others were served on the 27th of August, 2020 (While results were being collated).

The appeal committee arrived and were intimated that there was an an active court order. They could receive petitions/complains since their duty is part of the election process. They submitted their report to the NWC stating that the court injunction has restrained them from collecting petitions.

The caretaker committee has since suspended the state congress which was scheduled for Saturday, 29th August, 2020 citing the court order as the reason. The matter on court injunction was to be heard on 3rd of September, 2020 but the judge adjourned the hearing to 16th of September, 2020 because there was confusion on which lawyers should bstand in for some respondents. The Judge also extended the court order stopping the local government and state congresses until the matter is heard and determined 

Solutions to the crises in Kaduna:

The outstanding ward congresses in Zaria,  Kaduna South, Kauru, Zangon Kataf, Kaduna North Local Government areas should be transparently conducted

The wards in Soba, Lere, Kaduna North, Giwa where some or all of the elected executives were substituted should be resolved through provision of the original ward result sheets or through mutual political solutions.

Wait for the outcome of the court decision on the order restraining the conduct of Local Government and State ccongresses.

Consultations with critical party leaders and Stakeholders involved in the crisis should continue until lasting solutions are found.

To avoid crises when conducting ward, local government and state congresses, the party congress guidelines and constitution should serve as the compass during every exercise. Where consensus is adopted, it should be transparently recorded and where it fails, a transparent election should be conducted. We must ensure strict compliance with provision of congress guidelines and party constitution.

All contestants and interested parties must build a strong spirit of sportsmanship by promoting transparent elections and ready to accept the outcome where it didn't favour as the larger population is hoping to see a united PDP that will take over power in 2023 and deliver the dividends of good governance. 

The guidelines on how to conduct congresses as provided by PDP is summarized bellow so as to enlighten the party members and encourage them to support strict compliance for the purpose of reducing future party crisis arising from congresses:

GUIDELINE FOR THE CONDUCT OF CONGRESES FOR THE PURPOSE OF ELECTING PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AT LGA LEVEL RELEASED BY DIRECTORATE OF ORGANIZATION AND MOBILIZATION OF PDP (2020)

The Congress Committee shall decide on the venue for the Congress provided that such venues shall be located at the headquarter of the LGA ( page 20 item g)

The Congress Committee shall ensure wide publicity of Congress venue ( page 20 item h)

Candidate for election must be duly committed by registered financial members of the party

At the LGA level, at least 2 (two) registered members from the wards in the LGA or as prescribed under the relevant section/nomination form.

All nominations must be on the prescribed nomination form issued by the national working committee through the Directorate of organization and mobilization or party Congress Committee which must be submitted by the directorate for processing

Nominations at LGA shall close at least 7 days to the start of the election.

After accreditation of voters, voting and announcement of result after elections, candidate who schooled a simple majority shall be declared winner

At the conclusion of the exercise, the chief collation officer (i.e secretary of the congress election committee) shall collate the result of each office into the executive summary sheet (ESR01-03) and transmit as follows:

Original Copy – National Secretariat

Blue Copy – State Secretariat

Pink Copy – LGA Secretariat 

Local Government Appeal Panel    -    shall consider complaints/petitions/disputes arising from the conduct of the LGA congresses and make recommendations for consideration by the National Working Committee (NWC)

The petition must be received in written by the committee within 24 hours

The committee shall give opportunity to the party concerned to perceive their cases before deciding anything

The appeal committee pronounce on the appeal(s) within 24 hours of hearing

The committee shall communicate its decision to the candidates and all the parties concerned, and must give a copy of the report/decision to both petitioner and respondent

The NWC on behalf of NEC shall have the final authority in any appeal panel report and shall reserve the right to uphold or set aside the report after deliberately 

SCREENING OF STATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ASPIRANTS

There shall be a screening committee to be appointed by the NEC of the part on the recommendation of NWC whose sole responsibility shall be to screen the aspirants for the state executive committee

The screening committee shall consist of a chairman and 4 (four) members, at least one of whom shall be a woman; and one Legal Practitioner

The result of the screening shall be announced and a copy prominently displayed at the state secretariat of the party.

Any aspirant aggrieved by the decision of the screening committee may appeal in writing to the Screening Appeal Committee panel within 48 hours from the time of the announcement of the result of the screening and the screening appeal panel shall pronounce its decision on the appeal within 48 hours from the receipt of the petition

The screening appeal panel shall consist of chairman and  two members one of whom shall be a woman and the other a legal practitioner who shall be appointed  by the NEC on the recommendation of NWC of the party 

Only aspirants cleared  by the screening committee or whose appeal the screening appeal panel has upheld shall be qualified to participate or contest in the state congress 

The state congress shall be held at the state level. The venue shall be at the headquarter of the state and the planning committee shall publicize the congress venue candidates for the state congresses must be duly nominated by registered financial members of the party

For the chairman and state secretary at least by two (2) members from each of the LGA in the state, while for other state officers, at least by tow (2) registered members in each LGA in their respective senatorial districts or as prescribed by relevant section/nomination Forms

Nomination shall close at least 7 days to the start of the election.

All nominations must be on the prescribed Nomination Form issued by the NWC through the Directorate of organization and mobilization or party congress committee which must be returned/submitted back to the directorate for processing.

After accreditation of voters, voting and announcement of result(s), candidates who scored a simple majority shall be declared winner

At the conclusion of the voting exercise, the chief collation officer (i.e secretary of the congress election committee) shall collate the result of each office unto the executive summary sheet and transmit as follows:

Original Copy – National Secretariat

Blue Copy – State Secretariat

Pink Copy – LGA Secretariat 

State Congress Appeal Panel    -    shall consider complaints/petitions/disputes arising from the conduct of the LGA congresses and make recommendations for consideration by the National Working Committee (NWC)

The petition must be received in written by the committee within 24 hours

The committee shall give opportunity to the parties concerned to present their cases before deciding anything

The appeal committee shall pronounce on the appeal(s) within 24 hours of hearing

The committee shall communicate its decision to the candidates and all the parties concerned, and must give a copy of the report/decision to both petitioner and respondent(s)

The NWC on behalf of NEC shall have the final authority in any appeal panel report and shall reserve the right to uphold or set aside the report after deliberations.

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