With calls for the removal of the state Exco of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has concluded four-year tenure, stakeholders of the PDP in Edo State appear set for a showdown. Victor Osehobo writes
These are trying times for the PDP at both the national and the Edo State levels. The party, which won the presidential elections and was coasting to victory in the state assembly, lost out to the APC, which won the Presidential elections, with sudden decamping of key actors. This development has led to the recent calls for the resignation of the entire state executive, by stakeholders, an action, which has led to the emergence of pressure groups in the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State. However, conscious of the dangers ahead, the State Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, recently embarked on reconciliation and mobilisation drive seeking to bring together all aggrieved members.
Orbih who inaugurated the 17-member committee with Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the chairman of DAAR Communications as chairperson, said the committee is also to mobilise supporters and members of the party across the state for the 2016 governorship election. Soon after the committee was set up, Dokpesi said, “A sizeable majority of the people of Edo state are PDP, in the heart, soul and mind. Their current frustration stems from how certain things have been done in the past. We have failed to deliver on the letters and spirit of equity, fairness and justice.”
He said the committee, which, “is an all important one” whose “efforts would go a long way to boost the support base of PDP in the state”, had members chosen, “based on their track record of experiences in politics to bring about the much needed reconciliation and mobilisation for support for our party.”
Charging the members to spare no effort at ensuring that the dreams and aspirations of the PDP are realised in order to enthrone real change in the polity of the state, Orbih said, the PDP was prepared to take over the Edo government House through the ballot come 2016. Chief Dokpesi also urged the PDP members and Leaders in the state to tell themselves the truth as its recent setback and solely members caused current opposition status in the state. “Our penchant for undermining well known democratic practices, lack of internal democracy, the crave for personal interests to override the general good of the party and the determined posturing of self before others, are to mention a few, the root causes of our political dilemma in the state.”
Dokpesi called for joint efforts by all party members at all levels, as “democrats”, who, “are ruled by popular choice regardless of personal and individual choices and preferences. Democrats are usually conservative who have a long record of history to draw from and always play by the rules.” He pledged that they would muster all the energy, wisdom and sagacity to effect reconciliation amongst our warring and feuding members” as well as restoring of the voice of the people with a common objective and focus.
The committee had barely started work when leaders of the Party in Edo North under the aegis of PDP Adherents (Edo North Must Win), called for the dissolution of the State and local government executives of the party. In letter addressed to the National leadership by Edo North PDP leaders led by former member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Abolagba, the members called for the immediate sack of the Chief Dan Orbih-led state executive of the party and other executives in all the 18 local government areas of the state.
The letter, which was signed by Abolagba, SS Mayaki and 18 other leaders across the six local governments of Edo North, and was read to journalists at a well attended rally in Auchi, called for the constitution of caretaker committees at all levels to temporarily run the affairs of the party and organise congresses that will be totally free and fair.
They alleged that the current leadership of the party across the state has failed to win any election in the past six years and therefore stressed the need to elect new leadership of the party at all levels so that the party will focus on the 2016 governorship election in the state. “Edo North PDP leaders should be allowed to determine its political future rather than its political future being determined by non Edo North leaders or Edo North leaders perceived to be loyal to some national leaders of the party,” the leaders said.
The ‘Edo North Must Win’ adherents lamented what they described as mass exodus of their members to the APC, regretting that rather than find solution to the problem, the current leadership of the party in the state “have continued to embark on actions capable of causing disunity and destruction of the party in Edo state and Edo North in particular.
“Having looked at the situation which is unacceptable, we have come to conclusion that the present leaderships of the party at all levels in the state cannot lead the party to victory in future elections neither can they bring about unity among members.
Therefore we are asking them to go so that we can put our best people in power ahead the 2016 governorship election in the state,” the leaders added in the letter.
Meanwhile the pilot phase of the electronic registration exercise organised by the Peoples Democratic Party and scheduled to commence in Edo State last week Wednesday suffered a setback, as some party members kicked over the proposed N1,000 to be levied on each member as the registration fee. The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, had on August 23 announced that the party’s National Working Committee had approved the resuscitation of the online registration of its member, using Edo as a pilot for the project.
The party had also explained that the project, which would be handled by the PDP e-Membership Registration Committee and headed by Chief Dokpesi, was aimed at returning ownership of the party to its members and strengthening the various structures of the party. In a meeting held at the party’s state secretariat, he explained that each member would be issued with a card containing their biometric information, including banking details, at the end of the registration.
He noted that as many as 250 machines would be deployed in Edo North, where the project would kick off, to ensure that the PDP registered as many members as were willing to join its fold, adding that the party would engage the services of the local government and ward chairman to make the project effective.
He was however greeted with resentment and murmuring from some of the members present, when he announced a fee of N1, 000 to be paid by each member into a Skye Bank account, for the exercise. “In the far north of Weppa-Wanno, I think we have been sensitising the people and, as of today, all the women that are on the register have been so sensitised and have actually been paying into Skye Bank for this e-registration. It is N1, 000. If you like you, you can pay the N1, 000 by your debit card. If you like, you can do it by transfer from whichever bank that is based in Nigeria, details of which will be provided,” he said.
But one of the party members in Oredo Local Government Area, who did not want the name mentioned, described the fee an expensive, adding that bulk of the party’s supporters resided in the rural areas. “That fee is too much for many of us. I do not expect a market woman or farmer, who earns little, to pay that amount just to be a member,” he added. However, the acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the end of the meeting, later in the evening, said that the party would work out details of the procedures for the exercise. He also said that the party had resolved carry out a digital reform in order to re-position itself as a national political party.
“The most important thing that everybody has accepted, they have agreed that we must migrate from analogue to digital. In digital, we are able to access everybody. And the people at the local level, through their handsets, can access us on a two-way interaction and this is the way the world is today. INEC has been reformed, the political parties must be reformed; our party must be reformed. We must comply digitally and that is why we are here to interact with our members. The party will now belong to all. As long as you register, you are a member of the party and you have equal rights.”
Already pressure groups, championing the election of a new Exco for the PDP in Edo, have thrown their weight behind the National Working Committee test running of its planned e-registration of party members with Edo state. In a joint statement signed by Messrs. Sam Esemuede and Osaze Jesurobo, for the two groups, namely Edo New Dawn and Edo PDP Roundtable respectively, they said if well and successfully implemented, it will form a formidable database for an enduring democracy and eradicate impunity in the party.
They appealed to well meaning members of the party to embrace the exercise as it is aimed at beefing up the membership of the party in readiness for next year’s governorship and local government polls in the state. They also asked the National Exco of the party to set up Caretaker Committees from wards to the state level to superintend the forthcoming congresses of the party, since the four tenure of the present State Exco headed by Chief Dan Orbih has completed its tenure. The groups then expressed, “their implicit confidence in the ability of the party’s National body to provide an enabling environment for free, fair and transparent congresses at all levels in Edo state to enthrone vibrant, proactive and energetic executive Committees.”