The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has begun moves to whittle down the power of its chairman.
Investigations showed that the proposal to strip the national chairman of some of his enormous powers was contained in a memo to the National Executive Committee of the party by the Chairman of its National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The memo was given to all members of NEC on Tuesday at its 74th meeting, which was held at the party’s national headquarters.
The members were asked to give the documents to officers and influential members of the party in their states in order to have their inputs before passing them into law.
Makarfi, in the memo, titled ‘Draft proposals for constitutional amendments’, said the memo was as a result of the adoption of the report of the PDP Strategy Review and Inter-Party Affairs Committee.
He said because of this, “it has become imperative that the PDP Constitution (2012 as amended) be amended to reflect some of the recommendations.”
The proposed amendments are expected to be passed at the party’s non-elective national convention slated for August 12 in Abuja.
In one of the proposals, titled ‘Removal of the power of the national chairman to summon (convene) the national convention’, the party wants the NEC to be the sole determinant of national convention without it being “summoned” by the national chairman.
The proposed amendments read in part, “Modifying Section (1)(a) and inserting a new Section(1)(b) to take away the power of the national chairman to ‘summon “ the National Convention, which appears in conflict with the power of NEC to ‘convene’ the National Convention in Section (31(2)(a).
It said this was in line with “August 2016 Port Harcourt proposed amendment”.
The former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, had invoked the power conferred on him in Section 35(1) of the party constitution to call off the then May, 2016 convention of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The section reads, “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.”
If the proposed amendments scale through, the next chairman will also not be a signatory to the party’s bank accounts anymore.
Up until now, the national chairman is a mandatory signatory to the party’s bank accounts.
Under the topic ‘Revising signatories to the party’s accounts’, the party proved that “consistent with contemporary best practices, it is proposed that the present situation, where the chairman is a mandatory signatory to the party’s bank account with either the secretary or the treasurer, be replaced with the treasurer being mandatory signatory, with either the secretary or financial secretary.”
This will replace Section (55)(3) of the party’s constitution.
The party also proposed the reintroduction of Section (47)(6), which was revised in the December 2014 national convention, in which the appropriate executive committee’s appointment of a person from the area or zone of the former occupant of an office “to serve out the tenure of the officer” instead of “pending the conduct of election to fill the vacant post.”
The proposed amendment also seems to be preparing a soft landing for those who had left the party and those who might want to join it from another party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Under the procedure for rejoining the party, the proposed amendment states that the return of those who had left it before should be made automatic.
This is contrary to the old order whereby those returning are placed on probation for a period of not less than a year.
The proposal therefore called for the deleting of Section 8(8)(b), Section (8)(9) and modification of Section (8)(8) to make rejoining and readmission into the party by a member, who had left, automatic upon his submission of a written application to that effect to his ward secretary.
But it said, “Whereas, readmission is automatic, waiver requirements for contesting elections and enjoying political appointments remain, and, if thought necessary, would be strengthened.”
Also, the party is proposing that Section (50)(4)(7) be amended by reducing the period of membership for seeking the party’s ticket and political appointment from two years and one year respectively to a “uniform of six months unless the appropriate executive committee, at its discretion, gives a waiver to the contrary.”
The party is also proposing the election of two national chairmen for the party, one from the North and another from the South.
However, “in the event that the National chairman ceases to hold office or when absent for any reason,” the proposal stated that the vice-chairman from the region of the national chairman would act pending when a substantial chairman would be elected.
Meanwhile, the North-Central zone of the party met at the Command Guest House in Abuja on Wednesday night and resolved to set up reconciliation committee to wade into the crisis rocking the party in the zone.
At the meeting were a former President of the Senate, David Mark; a former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmadu Ali; former governors of Kogi State, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada; their Benue and Plateau states counterparts, Gabriel Suswam and Senator Jonah Jang; and a former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu.