A fresh crisis is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party over the insistence of some of its members to contest its presidential primarywith President Goodluck Jonathan.
But the national leadership of the party has refused to sell its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms to two other presidential aspirants.
Two of the aspirants, Dr. Abdul-Jhalil Tafawa-Balewa and Prof. Akasoba Duke-Abiola, were at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Tuesday to purchase the forms, but they were turned back.
First to arrive was Tafawa-Balewa, who hails from Bauchi State. He is also the son of Nigeria’s First Republic Prime Minister, the late Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa.
It will be recalled that all the caucuses of the party, including the National Executive Council had endorsed President Jonathan as its sole presidential candidate.
Tafawa-Balewa had on September 21 condemned the action, which he said was a plot by the leadership of the party to frustrate other presidential aspirants.
He insisted that he would not be intimidated by such a decision and vowed not to be cowed.
He wondered the type of democracy that was being practised by the PDP.
He had asked, “What type of democracy do we have? Is the PDP a communist party? Where is the place of internal democracy?”
On Tuesday, Tafawa-Balewa stormed the party’s national secretariat with his supporters and bank tellers, with which he had hoped to purchase the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.
The bank tellers indicated that he deposited N22m into the account of the party with Zenith Bank.
The breakdown of the fees showed that he paid N20m as nomination fee and another N2m for the expression of interest form.
He paid the money into the party’s account Number 1012436478 with the Zenith Bank.
Rather than being issued his forms, the aspirant claimed that he was told by officials of the party that the forms were not ready.
The party is expected to stop the selling of forms to all the aspirants on Thursday (tomorrow).
Tafawa-Balewa said he was told that all other forms were on sale except the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.
He said, “I have paid for my forms. I was however told that they don’t have the forms ready. No matter, I am still here. I will send some of my people here on Thursday to come and pick the forms.”
He said he went to the office of the Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and the National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, but was denied the forms.
Asked whether he was not aware that all the party organs had endorsed the President, Tafawa-Balewa said those organs were mere little organs of the party and were not superior to its Constitution.
Speaking on the refusal of the party to present her with her forms, Duke-Abiola, who is one of the widows of the late Chief MKO Abiola, described the action of the party as questionable.
Displaying the Diamond Bank Teller with which she paid her N2m to the party’s bank account, Duke-Abiola wondered why the party would issue her receipts and refused to sell the forms to her.
Female aspirants, like her, are expected to pay just N2m for the expression of interest form while the nomination form is free for them.
The party claimed it took the decision to encourage female aspirants to run for elective offices.
The presidential aspirant said she was told by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and Mustapha that the party printed only one form.
She said, “I have the receipt from the party after paying my money. But they said they printed only one presidential nomination form, even though the guidelines do not say that.
“The NOS and the National Chairman said the party printed only one form. I asked that they should give the one they printed to me since I was there. They laughed and said whether I didn’t know who they printed it for. This is a fraud.”
She said that she would not ask for a refund of her money, but that the party must sell the forms to her, having paid for them since she said there was vacancy in Aso Rock.
In his reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said he was not aware that the aspirants came.
He said he would need to find out from Mustapha before he could react to the allegations.
Asked if the party would sell presidential forms to other aspirants, he said he would also consult Mustapha.
“I will have to find out from the national Organising secretary, because I’m not directly involved in the selling of that forms. I’m only involved in the management of the image of the party,” he said.