Enugu State is in the news for the wrong reason, once again, and the state’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is at the receiving end this time.
For over two weeks, forces loyal to the Sullivan Chime administration have consistently suppressed the rumours that the Chairman of the State PDP, Engr. Vita Abba had been flown overseas on a medical emergency. He is one of those whom the Governor had allegedly promised to hand over power to, but only to eventually favour Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. The other person hitherto regarded, as heir apparent was the driver of the Enugu chicken impeachment and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh.
Enugu was therefore jolted when the State Governor, Sullivan Chime and the State Secretary of the PDP hurriedly convened a meeting of the State Executive Council, SEC, of the party to announce the sudden resignation of Engr. Vita and the purported appointment of the Managing Director of the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Mr, Ikeje Asogwa, as his replacement.
Typical of Enugu in the last few years, due process was thrown overboard, while impunity and lawlessness regained momentum. First, the Deputy Chairman of the PDP in Enugu, Elder David Aja was, from his outcry in the media, totally sidetracked in the whole process. He was not even as much as informed or invited to the meeting. His own words: “Someone informed me of a meeting of the State Executive Council holding behind my office and I decided to go there and ascertain what was happening and on getting there, I saw Governor Sullivan Chime and some members of the party already seated. On inquiry, I was informed that the state Secretary of the party, Steve Oruruo convened the meeting and I decided to sit down and listen. The meeting was informed that Abba has resigned and that the meeting was called to select a new state chairman”.
“I told them that what they were doing was null and void since the meeting was not convened by me. They rejected my submission claiming that they have the right under section 47 (6) of the PDP constitution to convene the meeting.”
Although the purported letter of resignation is dated 20th October wherein Vita hinged his resignation on the desire to run for the House of Representatives seat, Enugu people know that the Enugu cabal has still not told the people the truth about Vita Abba’s health and whereabouts. Instead, the cabal is trying to use section 47(5) of the PDP Constitution to perpetrate an illegality.
Section 47(5) provides that “Any officer elected into the Executive Committee of the Party at any level may resign his or her office by giving thirty days notice in writing to the appropriate Executive Committee, except in the case of resignation for the purpose of vying for an elective office which shall be effective within the period stipulated in the guideline issued for such elective office by the State Executive Committee in respect of Local Government elections.
Section 47(6), which the Enugu cabal relies on provides that “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the Party, the Executive Committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or zone where the officer originated from, pending the conduct of election to fill the vacancy”.
However, it is clear that Chime and his men are progressing in error. First, the meeting to appoint the said replacement ought to comply with Section 35(1) of the party Constitution. Section 35(1) provides that “There shall be a National Chairman who shall be the Chief Executive of the party, and his functions shall be to: (a) Summon and preside over the meetings of the National Convention, the National Executive Committee, the National Caucus and the National Working Committee of the party. Section 35(3)(b) provides that the Deputy Chairman shall “Deputize for the National Chairman in the latter’s absence”. This applies with equal force to the States.
The section is unambiguous about the fact that only the Chairman of the State Executive Council (SEC) and the Deputy Chairman (in the absence of the Chairman), are duly empowered to convene a SEC meeting.
Furthermore, section 24(1)(a) of the PDP Constitution (on the Establishment and Composition of the State Executive Committee, SEC) makes it clear that the State Chairman of the party is the Chairman of the SEC while the Governor and Deputy are members by virtue of section 24(1)(c). They cannot therefore convene a SEC meeting. The same goes for the State Secretary. In this case, the Governor in collusion with the Secretary convened a SEC meeting to which the Deputy Chairman was not even invited.
Section 45 of the PDP Constitution which spells out the process for resignation and transmutation of powers in the event of the resignation of any official of the party has not also been respected. According to Section 45(1), “If a National Officer of the Party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the National Secretary all records, files and other properties of the Party in his or her possession”. Subsection 2 clearly states that “In the case of the National Chairman, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Chairman who shall, without prejudice to Section 45 (6) of this Constitution, act as the National Chairman pending the election of a Replacement”. Very importantly, Subsection 4 provides that “This provision shall apply mutatis mutandis to other levels of the Party structure”.
Furthermore, Chime is a lawyer and I doubt he did not know that Section 47(6), which he relied on, is not an island entire of itself. It cannot be taken in isolation of other relevant provisions on the PDP Constitution. For instance, how can Section 47(6) be activated unless there is a validly convened meeting of the SEC? Can we put something on nothing and expect it to stand?
Lastly, Nigerian’s should also watch the Musa Yar’Adua and Chime’s 2012 long overseas treatment scenarios playing out over the absence of Vita Abba. Chime’s kitchen cabinet of poor cooks has kept sealed lips over the nagging question of Engr. Abba’s whereabouts and state of health. They are instead only interested in how to actualise their 2015 ambitions. Everyone who is praying for Engr. Abba (even though he allowed himself to be overused by the Chime cabal) knows that contesting NASS election is the last thing on his mind right now. Instead of allowing power to transmute constitutionally, Chime’s cabal is subverting the party’s constitution and foisting Mr. Ikeje Asogwa as Chairman to ensure that the Deputy Chairman does not act as Chairman even for one day. All this, because he is from the same area as Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
This theater of the absurd playing out is one big impunity, which if allowed to fester, would not only set a harmful precedent, but could be the final straw that could break the PDP in the State. The PDP should not allow this impunity to stand.
Okereke lives in Enugu