Nigeria: Plot to oust ruling party head intensifies

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Head of the Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faces compulsory resignation after a rebelling faction of the party demanding reform have charged him with fraud. The accusation and a summon for a court appearance have come ahead of an executive meeting of the ruling party which is contemplating its options for a candidate for the country’s presidential election in 2011.

Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Mr. Vincent Ogbulafor, illegally awarded $1.5m (£1m) in federal funds when he was Minister of Special Duties — Economic Affairs — under former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the PDP reformists have claimed.

The accusations have come in the wake of internal conflict within the PDP, however, Mr. Ogbulafor who would have to resign if found guilty, is, reportedly, to be arraigned May 3 at an Abuja High Court on a 16-count charge. He has denied the charges.

According to party sources, the court arraignment was a plot to prevent the party Chairman from presiding over the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. “If he had been remanded in the prison, some members of NEC would move a motion that the National Chairman should resign to face his prosecution for corruption charges,” a party official told This Day newspaper.

“Before the case would come up next week, the 50th edition of our NEC meeting would have come and gone. So, the plot to stop Prince Ogbulafor from presiding would have failed,” he said.

The PDP has been thrown into frenzy ahead of the country’s 2011 presidential election, and analysts have described the latest allegations and the call for Mr. Ogbulafor’s resignation as part of the struggle within the party for control and reforms.

The rebelling faction of the PDP began their renegade against the mainstream party demanding reforms and the suspension of corrupt members.

Experts say the PDP have critical decisions to make as the national elections approaches following the fact that President Umaru Yar’Adua is sick and unlikely to stand for re-election; and acting President Goodluck Jonathan is a southerner. [The PDP has said its candidate must be from the north].

However reformers within the party, who demand good governance ahead of tribal politics, transparency and change in the choice of leadership, have began a revolt calling for far-reaching internal reforms.

The rebellion against the status-quo is being led by some of the party’s senior bureaucrats, including powerful former state governors and ex-cabinet ministers.

The rebelling faction had announced the suspension of the group’s leadership which included former speakers of the Senate and lower house of parliament, Ken Nnamani and Aminu Bello Masari, and now demand the resignation of the party’s leader.

“PDP must revisit all facets of our party constitution that militate against transparency and internal democracy within the party and effect immediate reforms,” a statement from the nonconforming faction read.

The PDP strives to make fundamental break with past mistakes in order to realize the optimum potentials of the Country; and build a qualitatively better society based on the principles of democracy, human rights and social justice under the rule of law.

Most Nigerians question the party’s commitment to restructure the country in the spirit of true federalism and responsible tiers of government, so as to achieve a just and equitable society; and resolve such fundamental issues as proper devolution of powers between the three tiers of government.

The PDP holds as its manifesto a mission to build a modern democratic state founded on Justice, Equity and Fair play, but it insists that a northerner must fly its flag in the forthcoming elections in line with the tribal/zonal politics in place in the Nigerian political field, irrespective of values, policies and credibility of other qualified candidates.

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