In a move to try to resolve the crisis that has rocked the Peoples Democratic Party at the national and regional levels, the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, on Thursday met with the suspended national secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh, behind closed doors. It was the second time Mauzu and Oyinlola would be meeting since January, when Muazu replaced Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as PDP chairman.
The meeting took place about 8pm at PDP’s alternate office, Legacy House, Maitama, in Abuja, and had in attendance some members of the party’s National Working Committee.
THISDAY gathered that the meeting was part of efforts to achieve a final resolution of the crisis rocking the party before its midterm national convention billed to hold in the last week of May. The planned national convention is not an elective convention, but it would be used to pass a vote of confidence on the NWC and ratify Muazu’s selection as national chairman. He was chosen by the National Executive Committee of the party on January 20.
It was also gathered that the ongoing zonal rallies of the PDP would be rounded off with the midterm convention.
According to a source that spoke with THISDAY, “It is after the PDP midterm national convention that President Goodluck Jonathan will officially declare to contest for the 2015 presidential election. The rallies at the zones and the mid-convention are being used to sensitise the people for the eventual declaration of the president for the presidential election.”
Ahead of the president’s declaration, the party is believed to be making frantic moves to reconcile aggrieved members, including five of its governors, who defected to All Progressives Congress last year. The meeting with the former governor of Osun State and the ex-speaker was, apparently, meant to persuade them and other stakeholders in the South-west to return to the party and fully participate in its affairs at all levels in the march towards next year’s general elections.
The source, who was at the meeting, said, “The mood of the former Osun State governor was not that of someone insisting on becoming the national secretary. Yes, his appeal is pending at the Supreme Court, but his body language at the meeting did not seem to support the return to office as the national secretary. He is a friend of the national chairman and he is using that advantage to appeal to him to let go in the spirit of national reconciliation.”
PDP may be planning a safe landing for the suspended national secretary if he agrees to forego the office and withdraw his appeal at the Supreme Court. Oyinlola’s court-ordered removal last year was widely believed to be part of an onslaught against loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The source said, “Many things have happened since the suspension of Oyinlola as the national secretary. The spirit of things now is reconciliation, which is give and take. Professor Oladipo Olawale has been appointed as his replacement and it is expected that he would be ratified at the midterm national convention as the substantive national secretary of the party.
“What we are looking at now is for Oyinlola to accept to withdraw his suit at the Supreme Court and other things will follow.”
Oyinlola is alleged to be showing a favourable disposition towards the PDP olive branch.
On Obasanjo’s alleged insistence on the reinstatement of Oyinlola as a condition for reconciliation, the source said, “If Oyinlola eventually agrees that he is withdrawing his suit from the Supreme Court, then the matter is over. Will Baba force the Prince to become the national secretary when he says he is no longer interested? This is all politics and everyone will be taken care of at the end of the day.”
Oyinlola and Bode Mustapha, also an Obasanjo loyalist and former PDP national auditor, are currently at the Supreme Court challenging their removal by the NWC. The Court of Appeal had on November 6 last year reinstated Oyinlola as the national secretary but the party refused to obey the order.
Mustapha is challenging the NWC and the recognition of Adewale Adeyanju as the national auditor. He sees such recognition as a contravention of a stay of execution on his removal granted by the Court of Appeal.