Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may be constrained to invoke articles of its constitution to contend with threats to its electoral fortunes by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his four aggrieved colleagues, a senior party leader, who pleaded anonymity, has revealed.
Vanguard gathered in Abuja yesterday that the new thinking within the party leadership is unfavorable for platitudes.
The party leader, who spoke in confidence, said: “Wike and his group have already caused the party damage with their conduct and utterances as things stand. Section 58 (1) of our party constitution is clear on the powers to discipline errant members at any level.”
The section referenced reads: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the party shall have power to disciple any member who says or does anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt, (f) engages in anti-party activities.”
However, the party leader explained that the process and procedures as contained in the document, does not confer these powers on an individual.
According to him, whoever is accused of committing an offence must be availed an opportunity to defend him/ herself before a properly constituted panel.
This, he noted, must be after such a person or persons are warned both verbally and in writing.
He, however, noted that these steps can be skipped in cases of gross or serious misconduct which could attract summary dismissal.
Specifically, the party leader said, “If you look at Section 59 1 (h) of the same constitution stipulates that if any member ‘engages in any conduct likely to cause disaffection among members of the party or is likely to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient conduct of the business of the party;‘ he commits an offence and is liable on conviction to measures including suspension or even expulsion.”
Another party source, however, said: “We had hoped that some form of settlement would be arrived at but this, to some of us, appears far-fetched Wike and his group from all indications have made up their minds.
“For us, we cannot descend to the point of dancing naked in the market square like they would like us to, we have an election ahead of us the last thing we can afford is this needless distraction. The party has its method of dealing with such issues; we’ll let it handle it.”
The Rivers State Governor, and his counterparts Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), have stuck to their guns in insisting that a southerner replaces Ayu since the party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the Director-General of his campaign, Aminu Tambuwual are northerners.
An announcement is being expected from Wike and members of his group on their preferred choice for President in the coming days.
Some party leaders are angling to move against the five governors should they go ahead with the threat to announce one of the party’s opponents as their choice.
Chapter 10 of the PDP Constitution which stipulates Disciplinary Procedure within the party states: with the issue of discipline states: 57(1)Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, there shall be a Disciplinary Committee of the Party at every level consisting of seven members with proven integrity, one of whom shall have legal background.
(2) The Disciplinary Committee shall be appointed by the appropriate Executive Committee of the Party.
(3) The Working Committee at any level of the Party, and the Executive Committee (at the Ward Level) may, after preliminary hearings, suspend a member from the Party for a period not exceeding one month, during which period the member so suspended. shall lose his right to contest any lection, and shall be referred to the appropriate Disciplinary Committee.
(4) Where an allegation is made against a member of the Party, the Disciplinary Committee shall inform the member in writing of the allegations made against him and the place and time of hearing the case against him or her
(5) A member who appears before a Disciplinary Committee shall be given opportunity to present his case orally or in writing either in person or through a counsel of his choice and shall be allowed to call witnesses.
(6) Any decision taken against a member who has not been informed of the charges against him or has not been given any opportunity of defending himself shall be null and void.
(7) Notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee, shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, Deputy Governors or members of the National Assembly.
Provided that nothing in this Constitution shall preclude or invalidate any complaint submitted through the National Working Committee to the National Executive Committee concerning any person whatsoever.”