Mixed Reaction Trail Extension Of Nasarawa PDP Exco

BY VICTORIA IKEANO

Mixed reactions have trailed decision of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national working committee to extend by three months, tenure of the party’s executive members in Nasarawa state. The erstwhile state PDP chairman, Hon. Francis Orogu is now designated Chairman Nasarawa State PDP Caretaker Committee. Hon. Orogu confirmed to this correspondent, receipt of a letter to that effect from the Abuja national headquarters, explaining that the reason was to avoid a vacuum since the Nasarawa chapter was yet to conclude its state Congress election and the current Exco tenure was about to elapse. Nasarawa Eye gathered that 22 other state chapters in similar positions enjoyed same extension as did the six national vice chairmen and zonal working committee members whose tenures expired on May 14.
It would be recalled that Nasarawa state PDP like its 22 other counterparts was preparing for its state congress when the coronavirus pandemic forced a suspension of all PDP Congresses and gatherings at both national and local levels. Before then some aggrieved party members had faulted the ward and local government congresses, alleging that it did not hold in some wards and did not follow the party’s guidelines. Some 25 of them wrote petitions against the congresses while some others went to court seeking to restrain the party from further going ahead with the congresses. Thereafter, three prominent ‘foundation members’ were suspended – Senator Solomon Ewuga, Barrister Musa Elayo and Hon. Ogoshi Onawo. The trio challenged their suspension. Hon. Orogu had dismissed all allegations against him in conduct of the congresses insisting that they followed due process, including all extant rules and regulations of the party. Supporters of Orogu and his executives hail the PDP national working commmitte’s extension of the current state PDP’s exco tenure. They say it would enable the Orogu-led exco focus on its assignment and continue with its “good works”. Those on the other side are dissatisfied. One of them said, “The state Executive Committee’s tenure has ended and the national headquarters granted them three months extension as Caretaker Committee to superintend over an election in which they are candidates… so the problem in the party will only escalate.
Meanwhile findings by Nasarawa Eye show that the current crisis within the party had been brewing since the party’s primary election to pick its candidate for the 2019 general elections. The party had zoned its governorship ticket to the northern senatorial zone, the first in history of party politics in the state. PDP officials maintain that this forced the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) to also zone its gubernatorial slot to the zone. The zone comprises of Nasarawa Eggon, Akwanga and Wamba local government councils. Among the many persons that sought the PDP’s ticket were Senator Solomon Ewuga, first deputy governor of the state and a former minister; Senator Patricia Akwashiki, who it was gathered . was persuaded to step down by some traditional rulers; Hon. David Ombugadu then House of Representatives member who eventually clinched the PDP ticket to the surprise of some. Senior party executives that spoke to this correspondent, justified his choice which they remarked was on merit. According to them factors that helped him was his youthfulness, his constant support to the party both financially and otherwise as well as his performance in terms of the “many” projects he executed in his constituency. It eventually lost at the polls to the incumbent, APC’s Engr. Abdullahi Sule. Then began accusations and counter accusations with top party officials accusing some of its senior members from the northern zone and others of not doing enough to rally support for its flag bearer while they in turn accuse the party of fielding an “inexperienced” candidate. In a telephone chat with this correspondent, Senator Ewuga stated, Was it not because of the fact that they denied me that PDP lost Nasarawa? I have never lost election in my constituency …do you know that virtually all persons who won election in the House of Assembly was because of my intervention… I intervened in Karu, in Jenkwe, even in Obi (Adokwe’s constituency) … the returning officer wanted to give it to APC, I refused. They had to call me several times”. Political observers opine that the fact that the APGA governorship candidate, former Information Minister, Labaran Maku was from same zone and tribe as the PDP flagbearer helped in no small measure to split the votes that could have accrued to the PDP and also contributed to its defeat.
The Ward and Local Government congresses only served to bring to the fore the burgeoning ripples within its fold. Asked if they could not just allow the Orogu-led PDP Exco to serve out its two terms as is the convention, critics of the Chairman replied: “Do you say because of convention you are going to allow a bad person continue in office”? They also accuse him of being arrogant and dictatorial. He denies these, adding that while he is amenable to dialogue, he would not allow the party to be “humbled” by any person.
According to the chairman before he assumed office some four years ago, the party had only one out of its four originally elected members in the state house of assembly as the others had decamped to the APC. “Today we have seven. This is no mean achievement considering that we were pitched against a ruling government”, he intimated.

Meanwhile controversy is trailing a statement by chairman of the PDP Board of trustees, Senator Walid Jibril, himself an indigene of Nasarawa state on the first step towards resolving the crisis. Alhaji Jibril had in a statement urged that all court cases be withdrawn followed by lifting of suspensions to pave way for dialogue. While the state PDP Exco stuck to this, the aggrieved party members said he said otherwise in a newspaper report, that is, that the suspensions should be lifted before withdrawal of cases in court. When this correspondent sent him the text with request for permission to so quote him in my next report, he replied, “Don’t add anything for now until my next press release”. Both Ewuga and Elayo say that they .are still waiting to be contacted by the BOT chairman.