JONATHAN FAULTS PDP'S SUSPENSION OF NNAMANI, MASARI, OTHERS
THE Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, sharply disagreed with the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party over the suspension of 19 key members of the party on Thursday, reliable sources who spoke to our correspondent, said on Sunday.
The PDP leadership led by the National Chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, had visited Jonathan on Friday to intimate him with the action.
An authoritative PDP source said that Jonathan told the PDP team that it was pointless coming to the Villa to inform him of its action since he had already read about it in the newspapers.
He said, 'The Acting President was very calm, but he told the party's leadership that he had already read the actions of the party in the newspapers; and that if that was the purpose of the visit, event had overtaken it.
'Not only that, he said that the party's constitution must be followed in whatever is done, and expressed hope that the party would be able to defend its actions anytime it is called upon to do so.
'The Acting President also told the team that there were those not invited, but were suspended and that he doubted if the party's constitution did not allow room for fair hearing.'
The source, who spoke just as governors elected on the platform of the party scheduled an emergency meeting on how to counter alleged moves to remove Ogbulafor from office, said the PDP chairman had a difficult time explaining the suspension.
The suspended topshots of the party comprised two former Presidents of the Senate — Chief Ken Nnamani and Chief Adolphus Wabara — a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Masari; a former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili; and a former Transport Minister, Mr. Abiye Sekibo.
Also suspended were an ex-Presidential aspirant of the party, Owelle Rochas Okorocha; the PDP governorship candidate in Abia State, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; a former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa; a former governorship candidate of the party in Imo State, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Ararume.
Others are Chief Tony Ukasanya; Chief Sunny Iroche; Senator Emmanuel Agboti; Senator Sylvanous Ngele; Alhaji Awal Tukur; Mr. Bawa Bwari; Prof. Alphonsus Nwosu; Chief Bernard Eze; and Chief Chris Ekpeyong.
The move to sack Ogbulafor is spearheaded by the PDP Reform Group, a body comprising the suspended members. The reform group is said to have the sympathy of Jonathan.
It was learnt that the PDP governors would meet in Abuja at 10pm on Monday (today) ahead of the National Executive Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Another PDP source claimed that the governor's meeting was to checkmate any plot to sack Ogbulafor during NEC meeting on Tuesday.
Our correspondent learnt that the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had made calls to his colleagues in the PDP to arrive Abuja early for the meeting at the Kwara State Governor's Lodge.
The source, who is close to the meeting claimed that the move to charge Ogbulafor today before an Abuja High Court for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government of N170m was part of the plot to remove him.
'The governors are apprehensive that if Ogbulafor is arraigned on Monday for graft, he might not be allowed to preside over Tuesday's NEC meeting. So the meeting is to work out the strategies to ensure that he was not removed,' he said.
The source, who declined to be named, added that the governors, would, after the meeting, proceed to the Presidential Villa where they would present their position to the Acting President.
It was learnt that some of the governors had approached Ogbulafor and pledged their loyalty to him.
Nnamani, who described their suspension as irregular, argued that since the constitution of the party allowed them to remain members for a period of one month before they could lose their privileges, they would attend NEC meeting on Tuesday.
He said, 'These people are running a party without knowing what the constitution of the party is all about.
'They rushed to the television to announce our suspension without studying what the constitution says concerning such issues. The party is derailing and we must do something quick about it.
'If they could do that, what then is the function of NEC of the party at the ward level? Some people acted in anger without recourse to the constitution. Our constitution, if valid at all, would not prevent us from doing our normal duties in the party until we appear before the disciplinary committee.'
Nnamani said it was such blunders that made the Ogbulafor-led NWC to dissolve several state chapters of the party, citing the case of Plateau State as example.
The dissolution of the Plateau State exco was annulled by a High Court on Friday.
Further, Nnamani explained, 'It is the same impunity in several states. You don't dissolve state executives without the approval of NEC. But he had done that in several states like Imo, Zamfara and Plateau States.'
He wondered how it would be possible for the PDP to rule for 60 years as being boasted by Ogbulafor at different fora when the party could not even manage its own affairs.
However, Ogbulafor has explained that the suspension of Nnamani and others was informed by the need for the leadership of the party to demonstrate that it was not a 'toothless bulldog.'
Ogbulafor, who spoke with journalists in Abuja on Sunday, said the action of the NWC would be brought before NEC for ratification.
He said before the decision was taken, several people had labelled the leadership of the party as a toothless bulldog.
'It is the same people that are saying the party needs reform, (that are saying) that the party is a toothless bulldog. So, we have to show that the party exists and the party has a constitution, ' the PDP chairman said.
Asked if those suspended would be eventually expelled from the party, he replied, ' I don't know. It depends on the decision of the chairman of disciplinary committee. The constitution is there. It stipulates what should be done. I cannot not sit here and dictate.'
He also debunked the allegation that the decision of the NWC was hasty.
Ogbulafor said, 'No, it is not hasty. We invited them; we published it in the papers. After all, if the courts want to serve you, they can publish it the papers. That is assumed to be service.
'It was in the papers and once you put it in the papers, the onus is on them to come to the party national secretariat and just explain to the NWC the intentions of the forum they are trying to put in place.'
On plan of suspended members to attend the NEC, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Alkali, said that the party would enforce the suspension until they appeared before the disciplinary committee.
'No going back on the suspension. It will be enforced until they appear before the disciplinary committee, which will be constituted at the right time,' Alkali said.