An elaborate summary of the Secretary D-37 and former Attorney General of Benue State Dr. Alex Adum’s responses during the PDP National Platform WhatsApp loop Strategic Engagement Meeting:
1. Supreme Court Judgment on 25% Mandatory Requirements in FCT: Dr. Alex Adum began by discussing the Supreme Court judgment related to the 25% mandatory requirements in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He opined that the heart of the matter revolved around the interpretation of section 134(2) of the CFRN 1999. The central question was whether the word “AND” in the section implied a conjunctive or a disjunctive meaning. He firmly believed that it conveyed a conjunctive meaning. In simpler terms, this meant that to win a presidential election, a candidate had to achieve 25% of the vote in 2/3 of the 36 states of the federation and also in the FCT.
Dr. Adum highlighted the unintended implications of this judgment. First, it effectively increased the number of States from 36 to 37 without a constitutional amendment. Additionally, treating Abuja as a State implied the need for establishing State administrative structures in the FCT, including the appointment of an elected governor or mayor. The status of Abuja natives would have to change from “no man’s land” to full indigeneship, and Abuja would need recognition as the 37th federating unit of Nigeria. Area Councils would have to become Local Government Councils, and the constitution would require amendments to accommodate these changes. These implications demonstrated the far-reaching impact of the Supreme Court’s decision.
2. Indiscipline in PDP: Dr. Adum addressed the issue of indiscipline within the PDP. He emphasized that, based on the PDP’s constitution, no significant legal obstacles were preventing the Party from taking disciplinary actions against members who engaged in misconduct. The failure to activate disciplinary measures against influential members, known as the “G5,” was, in his view, more of a political decision than a legal one. He detailed several reasons contributing to this incapacity, including how the NWC members were appointed, their lack of experience in Party management, their financial dependency on Party stakeholders, and the need to revisit the Party’s funding structure to empower ordinary members. Dr. Adum also recommended revisiting the membership registration project to automate membership dues and enhance member engagement.
3. Disciplining Governors and Former Governors: Dr. Adum addressed the question of whether governors and former governors who openly sabotaged the PDP were greater than the Party and if they could be disciplined. He reiterated that they were not greater than the Party and could be disciplined. He, however, explained that the reason for their lack of punishment was multifaceted. He pointed out that political considerations played a significant role. Additionally, the current Party funding structure, which allowed governors and influential stakeholders to finance the Party, created a power dynamic that influenced the Party’s actions. He proposed moving away from this funding model and returning to membership funding, essentially crowd-funding, to empower ordinary members.
4. Hope for Democracy and Electoral Act 2022: Dr. Adum shared his thoughts on the hope for Nigerian democracy in the face of challenges. He believed that hope lay in the hands of citizens who needed to take action and remain vigilant. He expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s judgment regarding the disqualification of a prominent politician, Tinubu, and the blatant disregard of the Electoral Act 2022. He noted that the Supreme Court’s focus on procedural law, rather than substantive law, raised questions about the judgment’s fairness. He also expressed concerns about the perception of the international community and their potential prioritisation of strategic interests over moral considerations.
In particular, he emphasised that the Western world might be more concerned about their strategic interests than the morality of the situation. Dr. Adum concluded that vigilance and citizens’ actions were essential to hold the government accountable.
5. Rivers State Situation: Regarding the situation in Rivers State, Dr. Adum provided a concise explanation. He described it as the process of demystifying a political godfather by his protege, suggesting a power struggle and political maneuvering within the state.
6. Supreme Court Judgment on Tinubu: Dr. Adum responded to a question about the Supreme Court’s judgment regarding Tinubu, who was accused of submitting fake results to INEC. He expressed disappointment with the outcome, stating that the decision was primarily a technical judgment that did not adequately address the evidence presented. He mentioned the emphasis on procedural law over substantive law and suggested that the Western world might prioritize their strategic interests over moral concerns.
Additionally, he criticized INEC’s failure to conduct the election in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, despite their public statements about electronic result transmission. He contrasted the situation with other countries, such as the UK and the USA, where justice was a primary focus. He proposed a reform where INEC should not be a defendant in election petitions but rather a court witness, and election petition litigations should be concluded before swearing in.
7. PDP’s Lack of Disciplinary Structure: Dr. Adum explained that the PDP did have provisions for discipline in its constitution. He mentioned that the party had, in some instances, expelled members but pointed out that the disciplinary process was not always straightforward. The NWC suspended members before directing them to appear before a disciplinary committee, a process he considered unusual. Dr. Adum believed that this approach contributed to some members obtaining restraining orders against the Party’s disciplinary actions.
He recommended that the Party should discipline her members, especially those involved in key actions, as this would set an example and demonstrate that there were consequences for inappropriate behaviour within the Party.
8. Navigating Conflicting Dynamics in PDP: In response to a question about the seemingly conflicting dynamics in the PDP, Dr. Adum acknowledged the challenging situation. He saw it as a necessary phase for the rebirth of the new generation of PDP. He believed that, despite the difficulties, the enthusiasm and energy displayed by young PDP members were reasons for hope. He expressed optimism that off-cycle elections and the resolution of gubernatorial election petitions could spark a rebirth of the Party. Dr. Adum considered this phase as a natural process where the old had to make way for new growth, and he held faith in the potential for positive change.
These responses offer a comprehensive understanding of Dr. Alex Adum’s viewpoints on various critical issues within the PDP and Nigerian politics.