I was fascinated by one opinion article headlined “Amaechi, Wammakko: Who’s next?” which appeared in a national daily on Friday June 7, 2013. The reason is that the article was published the same day some national newspapers also published comments by two-time governor of former Midwest and Bendel states and founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia. Going by the present disposition and logic in the ruling party, Dr. Ogbemudia’s comments qualify not for suspension but expulsion.
Dr. Ogbemudia, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) told newspaper reporters in Benin City last week that the PDP Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, speaking on behalf of the party early in May this year, lied when he said and was duly reported that “In 2007, Adams Oshiomhole begged to be given an opportunity under the umbrella but we considered his governorship aspiration an assault on the existing zoning formula in the state and quietly turned him down. Again in 2012, Adams once more came cap in hand and our great party again rejected him”. According to the revered political leader, “this statement is untrue. Due to the effort to bring peace to Edo PDP and bring more people to the party, I led a delegation of myself, Senator Oyofo, Dr. Willie Ogbeide, and three others to persuade Oshiomhole to come to PDP and he told us that if he comes to PDP, his friends in the media will kill him. I was therefore embarrassed when I heard that PDP said he came to them and they rejected him.” My fear for Dr. Ogbemudia stemmed from the fact that both himself and Metuh are leaders of PDP and it seems that dissent, in the party, is outlawed and punishable with suspension. If you are still wondering why Dr. Ogbemudia’s rebuttal of the PDP barefaced lie is cause for worry then a rehash of recent suspensions will enhance a better understanding of the Ogbemudia debacle.
Last week Wednesday, the National Working Committee of the PDP rose from its 338th meeting in Abuja, with a suspension order placed on Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamako for what the party described as “act of insured nation”. According to the same National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Elisa Metuh, the Sokoto State Governor shunned the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party when he was called to appear before it to answer some questions. Wamakko was alleged to have failed to pick Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s telephone call. Nigerians already know that some governors had been penciled down for suspension/expulsion for offences ranging from their alleged roles in the defeat of the infamous Jang gang at the recent Nigeria Governors Forum election to their perceived disloyalty to the 2015 presidential ambition of President Goodluck Ebelle Jonathan.
The Wammakko suspension brings to two the number of such punitive actions meted on governors elected on the platform of the party in two weeks. Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was suspended from the party about four days after winning re-election as Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum on Friday May 24, 2013. The official reason given by the party for moving against Governor Amaechi is his alleged refusal to obey an order to rescind the state government suspension of a local government chairman, a matter that is still properly before a court of competent jurisdiction in Rivers State. However, it is common knowledge that the PDP was merely being economical with the truth hinging Amaechi’s suspension on the imbroglio involving the local government and the state. The Governor’s offence is his effrontery in contesting and winning the chairmanship of the NGF when the party had asked him not to contest the election. Governor Amaechi is contesting his suspension in court. Wammakko may also head for the court to challenge his suspension.
The question, who’s next, therefore, is not difficult to proffer an answer to going by the present character and temperament of the leadership of the PDP. Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia’s legendary candor may put him in Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s range for the hammer for putting records straight with respect to the attempt by Chief Olisa Metuh to rubbish the image of the performing governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. It is, however doubtful if either the party or the presidency can muster the courage to move against Dr. Ogbemudia who has become an institution in the party.
His comments may already have drawn the ire of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party as it may have been behind the grounding of a helicopter ferrying the governor to Anambra State on Friday for the funeral of the wife of Senator Ben Obi, a PDP chieftain and adviser to the President. Governor Oshiomhole was already airborne when the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, called the chopper back to Benin airport for alleged non-payment of landing and aerodrome fees, a step the pilot described as unusual in his 35 years of flying. Even after the tax had been paid, the chopper was detained on the tarmac for over an hour, a development which led to Governor Oshiomhole disembarking and travelling by road to his Iyamho home instead.
Next in line for Tukur’s guillotine must be Niger State Governor, Dr. Aliyu Muazu Babangida who Governor Yisa Yuguda has accused of betrayal of the party’s arrangement for the confirmation of the nomination by consensus of Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, as chairman of the NGF last month. Other governors who may be axed for their alleged roles in the NGF saga include Adamawa governor, Murtala Nyako and Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. For every action there is/are reactions and how the Peoples Democratic Party responds to them will determine its fortune/misfortune in 2015. Nigerians are waiting.