Nigeria’s ruling party, the PDP, is in deep crisis.
A federal court ruling sacking former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as the National Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Friday, has jolted a ruling party troubled by a deluge of internal wrangling and suspicion, leaving room for even more uncertainties and guesswork.
Ruling on a suit filed by the Chairman of Ogun State PDP, Adebayo Dayo, the Judge, Abdul Kafarati, said the election of Mr. Oyinlola as secretary violated the party’s stipulated procedure.
Mr. Kafarati said that the former governor could not have emerged as the nominee of the PDP since two courts of competent jurisdiction had nullified the congress in which he was chosen.
The judge ruled that Mr. Oyinlola, who defeated longstanding candidates to clinch the post in a race he joined in the final minutes last March, can no longer be recognized as the National Secretary of the PDP, and should therefore vacate office immediately.
The judge warned that the decision the PDP and Mr. Oyinlola, to jettison earlier nullifications by the courts, was a criminal conduct, punishable by jail terms.
The ruling, coming amid intense intra-party intrigue, as the party faces crises in electing a new Board of Trustees Chairman and a new executive in Adamawa State, with Mr. Oyinlola a major player in both scheming, quickly raised concern about the implementation of the court decision.
Mr. Oyinlola rejected the ruling, filing an appeal and asking for a stay of execution.
“The whole world saw the PDP National Convention held in Abuja where Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was elected National Secretary,” his lawyer, Toyose Oyekunle, said shortly after the ruling.
“The election was conducted in the open at the Eagle Square Abuja and one wonders how the court arrived at its decision that Prince Oyinlola was elected at the Zonal Congress held in Oshogbo, Osun State.”
For the rest of Friday, party officials avoided comments on the development as it became apparent new strategies were being worked on. The party spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, refused to respond to his calls, and later turned off the phone.
The party’s usually animated main office in Abuja, took on a somber look while workers quietly discussed the matter.
But more than ever, the court decision, though not clearly linked with the big issues of BOT and Adamawa exco troubling the party, signaled that the self-acclaimed Africa’s largest political party, was far from reversing all of its distress as leaders have argued the past days.
Since Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan has held series of meetings with party officials, and state governors, who are pushing for the removal of the party’s national chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
Mr. Oyinlola, said to be backed by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has reportedly aligned with that quest, after leading what seemed a dissident party executives to reverse Mr. Tukur’s sanctioned dissolution of the Adamawa state exco.
That proved a blow on Mr. Tukur, and by extension, Mr. Jonathan.
In all of it, the party officials, including Mr. Tukur, and the governors, said all was well with the party.
But as the concern over the sacking of Mr. Oyinlola unfolded Friday, news emerged that the powerful PDP governors, were decided on Mr. Tukur’s removal, and were shopping for a replacement.
A former minister of works, Hassan Lawal was being considered, a source said.
It is not clear if President Jonathan would allow for the removal of Mr. Tukur, who got the position only by the president’s intervention after being rejected by governors even in his own North East zone of the PDP.