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9 January 2007

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National Conscience Party (NCP)
Lagos State Chapter

BEFORE THE OBAYUWANA LED NEC LIQUIDATES THE NCP.

Text of a statement delivered by Segun Sango, the Lagos State chairman of the National Conscience Party at a press conference held on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at the legal chambers in Lagos of Gani Fawehinmi, the NCP founder and first National Chairman. This press conference was attended by representatives of 25 media organisations, including 6 television stations, and widely reported in the following day's Lagos media.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, you are welcome to this special Press Conference. Under normal circumstances, this Press Conference ought to have been called to make a public presentation of our party's programmes and activities so that the electorates can have the chance to know what an NCP government in Lagos State will mean for the masses. Unfortunately and most regrettably, the Dr. Osagie Obayuwana led national leadership of our party has, in the past few days, taken certain fundamental steps which, if not properly addressed, will make a complete nonsense of the party's campaign in Lagos State or any other state for that matter.

Firstly, against the party's political background and the decision of last December's party National Congress to field its own Presidential candidate, the Obayuwana led NEC has teamed up with some other political organisations/parties to proclaim the All Nigerian Peoples' Party (ANPP) Presidential candidate, General Mohammadu Buhari, as the candidate which members of the NCP and Nigerian masses should vote for in the forthcoming general elections.

Secondly, unable to win the support of the Lagos State NCP to this act of political and organisational betrayal, the Obayuwana led NEC has resolved to instead liquidate the party in Lagos State. In this regard, it has fixed what it calls "Unity Congress and Primaries", a non existing organ under the party constitution for January 13, 2007, purportedly to elect a new state executives and Gubernatorial candidate for the Lagos state NCP.

Against this background, the Lagos State NCP strongly maintains that the Obayuwana led NEC totally lacks the power to trade off the mandate, given by the National Congress of the party which held at Dennis Hotel in Abuja on December 20, 2006 to Obayuwana and Mallam Yunusa Tanko as Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates respectively, to General Buhari or any other Presidential candidate for that matter, without first of all coming back to the party to seek permission/authority for such a grave step.

The Lagos State equally asserts that the party's NEC, under the NCP constitution, totally lacks the power to attempt to organize a state congress for the Lagos State NCP or any other state chapter of the party across the country.

ADOPTION OF GENERAL BUHARI

On December 20, 2006 in Abuja, the NCP National Congress picked Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, the party National Chairman and Mallam Yunusa Tanko, National General Secretary, as its presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.

Tragically without renouncing this mandate, and without holding any other congress meeting to enable the party reverse its decision in this respect, if necessary, the Obayuwana leadership has shamelessly and treacherously been holding nocturnal meetings with other self-serving elements from other organizations on how to create a mega party platform for the election of General Buhari as president in the false hope that some of them will get either elective/appointive positions as their own reward for this self-serving exercise.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, this conduct of Obayuwana led NEC represents a fundamental betrayal of the NCP political ideal as well as the integrity of the party structure. By adopting the Presidential candidate of another political party, the Obayuwana leadership has created a monumental political problem for other candidates being sponsored by the NCP who will now have to face the opprobrium of the members of the public who will perceive them as a flock of sheep without a shepard.

As far as we in the Lagos NCP are concerned, Messers Obayuwana and Tanko are the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates chosen by the NCP national congress and as such, they have no political, moral and constitutional right and power to trade off the party mandate with any other Presidential candidate of any party whatsoever.

In 2003, the founding National chairman of the party, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with late Jerry Gopye as his running mate, was picked by the party National convention as its Presidential candidate. Today, it is a matter of pride to recall that even though, General Buhari also ran as the Presidential candidate in the said elections, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and his running mate did not trade off the party mandate with General Buhari or any other Presidential candidate for that matter for whatever reason(s).

Here, we wish to state that the reason why Chief Gani Fawehinmi decided to fight the battle from the beginning to the end was because of his understanding that NCP is a party primarily committed to the emancipation of the masses and for that reason, it's a party that must be prepared to fight for its ideas through tick and thin.

We therefore call on all genuine NCP members across the country who joined this party with a view to creating a distinct and an untainted political banner for the emancipation of the masses, via abolition of poverty in the midst of plenty, to resist with all legitimate political, constitutional and democratic means at their disposal, the unprincipled direction in which NCP is being driven under the Obayuwana leadership.

PLOT TO LIQUIDATE LAGOS STATE NCP

As a result of a long running battle against the Obayuwana led NEC right wing drift, the party national leadership has marked down the Segun Sango led Lagos NCP for liquidation. At the July 22, 2006 National Coordinating Council (NCC) meeting which held in Kaduna, the Obayuwana led NEC purportedly expelled Segun Sango and 3 other principal officers of the party from Lagos State. These are Messrs Wale Balogun, the democratically elected Deputy National Chairman (DNC) for South-West, Sina Odugbemi, General Secretary and Yaya Ademola, Research Director.

Due to the implacable opposition of the party rank and file members in Lagos State, alongside the uncompromising opposition of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the founder and founding National Chairman of the party, the politically motivated and totally unconstitutional disciplinary actions taken against these leaders and others from Oyo and Osun State chapters of the party were reversed by the NCC of the party which held on December 9, 2006 at Chief Gani Fawehinmi's chambers, 35, Adeniran Ajao Estate Anthony, Lagos State where this press conference is holding. However, now that the Obayuwana leadership has realised that its former, unconstitutional disciplinary actions taken against us in the past have not cowed us, particularly with respect to its unilateral and arbitrary act stated above, it has now decided to finally liquidate the entire Lagos State chapter of the party.

This, the leadership hopes to achieve through an unconstitutional contraption called "unity congress and primaries". In a letter dated December 21, 2006 but which was only delivered in the late afternoon of January 5, 2007, Mallam Yunusa Tanko, the National General Secretary in a letter addressed to "Comrade Segun Sango, Lagos State chapter Chairman", the Lagos State NCP was invited "to the Lagos State congress and primaries to elect members of the State Executive Council and the Gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State National Conscience Party (NCP)".

The most relevant part the above cited correspondence states, "Following the consideration of reports on the state of the party in Lagos State at the National Congress held on 20th December 2006 at Denis Hotel, Abuja, the following resolutions were arrived at:

"1. That a Unity Congress and Primaries be conducted for members of the party in Lagos State for the purpose of unifying all aggrieved members in Lagos State".

2. That the Congress be held on Saturday 13th January 2007.

3. The following leaders were appointed as members of the Electoral Panel:

i. Barrister Eze Eluche - National Legal Adviser

ii. Barrister Chima Williams - National Dep. Legal Adviser

iii. Mallam Isa Abdullahi - National Director of Mobilizations

All other NEC members are to attend as supervisors.

To this end, you are hereby invited to participate at the said Congress coming up as follows:

Date: Saturday 13th January, 2007

Place: Sky Power Ground (Behind Bishop Vinning Memorial Anglican Church, GRA, Ikeja).

Time: 10.00am prompt.

Please you are to come along wit the comprehensive list of all the members in your possession with their membership forms of proof of identification for accreditation".

Before going to the major acts of unconstitutionality which this correspondence epitomizes, permit us to make some quick preliminary remarks on some general points concerning its contents. Firstly, the correspondence in issue claims that the proposed "unity congress and primaries" being slated for January 13, 2007 for Lagos State NCP was in pursuance of the resolution of the national congress/convention of the party which held on December 20, 2006 at Dennis Hotel in Abuja. This is absolutely a false claim. What really happened was that two persons, namely: one Mr. Selfpickin Gbajumo falsely introduced himself at the meeting as the Lagos State NCP Chairman. Another person called Obafunwa Christopher, a Nigerian based in U.S and who came to the party meeting for the first time on December 9, 2006 also falsely introduced himself as the party Governorship candidate in Lagos State for the forthcoming 2007 general elections.

Against these false claims, the two representatives of Lagos State NCP at the said congress, Messrs Demola Yaya and Sina Odugbemi instantly stood up to protest the aforementioned misrepresentations. But unfortunately, instead of the Obayuwana leadership to instantly correct this misrepresentation, Dr. Obayuwana, presiding officer, merely called on somebody, a NEC member, apparently based on a pre-planned arrangement, to make a proposal for the resolution for this otherwise straight forward matter. Expectedly, the NEC member asked the congress to mandate NEC to look into the protest of the 2 Lagos State representatives to prevent the re-occurrence of such an embarrassing scenario at future NCP official meeting.

Very regrettably, it is this general request for an administrative sorting out of the claims at stake that is now been dubiously used as a basis for the convocation of an unconstitutional gathering being called "a unity congress and primaries". But assuming, without conceding, that this in fact was what the congress in session actually resolved, then certain pertinent questions still ought to be asked and answered in this regard.

One, can the national congress of the NCP, an organisation which, itself, is based on a constitution validly authorize an action(s) which is/are unconstitutional or totally beyond the power of any given organ of the party under the party's constitution? Two, in view of the fact that there exists a standing State Executive Committee of the party in Lagos State, which, in actual fact, was elected in accordance with the relevant provisions of the constitution and for a specific tenure of office, (a fact which the National General Secretary himself, Mallam Tanko, recognised by addressing the correspondence in issue to "Comrade Segun Sango, Lagos State chapter Chairman"); then, under what constitutional provision(s) is the proposed "unity congress and primaries" being organised? The other pertinent questions are: Who are these "aggrieved members"? What is the specific nature of their "grievances"? Can these "grievances", if any, be addressed within the legitimate party structure without a resort to an extra constitutional measure of "a unity congress and primaries"?

Suppose that we in Lagos State NCP accept the proposal for an unconstitutional contraption called "unity congress and primaries", for the purpose of avoiding a principled confrontation with the regime of political and constitutional impunity being instituted by Obayuwana, Femi Falana and Lanre Banjo, etc, how would this prevent any other set of "aggrieved members", say in the next one month after the January 13 "unity congress and primaries" from demanding for another "unity congress" to unify the new set of "aggrieved members" with the State Executive Committee expected to be elected by the so-called "unity congress and primaries"?

We in the Lagos State NCP therefore totally reject and oppose the call for "a unity congress and primaries" for Lagos the State NCP as fixed for January 13, 2007. There is absolutely no provisions under the NCP constitution for such an organ and that neither the National Congress nor the NEC is vested with constitutional responsibility to organize a "State Congress" not to even mention an unconstitutional contraption called "unity congress and primaries".

Furthermore, we in Lagos State NCP totally reject the invitation to participate in the so-called "unity congress and primaries" fixed for January 13, 2007 in Lagos by the Obayuwana led NEC on the basis of the following constitutional provisions of the party.

THE ELECTORAL PANEL

One, in the letter in issue, Mallam Tanko named the following party leaders as members of the "Electoral Panel" appointed to conduct elections at the said "unity congress and primaries". These are "Barrister Eze Eluche, (National Legal Adviser); Barrister Chima Williams, (National Dep. Legal Adviser); and Mallam Isa Abdullahi, (National Director of Mobilizations)". In addition, the letter in issue equally invited "All other NEC members to attend as supervisors".

We wish to state with all emphasis at our disposal that the appointment of these NEC members to conduct and or supervise the elections to be held at the so-called "unity congress and primaries" runs flatly against Article 9.2.5 of the party constitution which states: "All elections shall be organized by Electoral Panels. An Electoral Panel to conduct election at the next annual meeting of the concerned Congress shall be set up at every annual congress. An Electoral Panel shall work on an ad-hoc basis and shall commence its work not later than 4 months before the annual meeting of the Congress at which it is to conduct an election while it shall stand defunct on the completion of the election and composition of a new electoral Panel" and Article 9.2.6 also states, "The National and State Electoral Panel shall consist of a Chairperson, a Secretary and three other members while the Local Government and Ward Electoral Panel shall consist of a Chairperson, a secretary and one other member. No officer of the party whether elected or appointed shall be eligible to be a member of an electoral Panel". Even, if only on this ground alone, the so-called "unity congress and primaries" fixed for January 13, 2007 by the Obayuwana led NEC is a total nullity abinitio. The above cited constitutional provision in part states: "No officer of the party whether elected or appointed shall be eligible to be a member of an Electoral Panel".

The point should be stressed that this constitutional provision was inserted to prevent party executive officers from misusing their positions to put up an Electoral Panel for the purpose of conducting a pre-determined election. But here, in a most blatant violation of the constitution, a supposed "Electoral Panel" and "supervisors" exclusively made up of NEC members have been put in place for the purpose of an election. We say that an election conducted by these elements will be an illegal exercise abinitio.

Secondly, the letter in issue states: "Please you are to come along with the comprehensive list of all the members in your possession with their membership forms for proof of identification for accreditation". Firstly, this statement suggests that there is other membership list in the possession of other persons apart from "Segun Sango, Lagos State chapter Chairman". This is not just a trivial observation. The Lagos State NCP has only one membership list. Therefore, the request for the "comprehensive list of all the members in your possession" ought to have requested for the comprehensive list of all the members of the party in Lagos State and not the one in Segun Sango's possession. Here, we wish to state categorically that the Lagos NCP is one corporate body with only one membership list.

Therefore, the Obayuwana led leadership ploy in this regard should be made clear. A similar letter must have be written to the so-called "aggrieved members" to equally bring along the list of all members in their own possession too. And on the basis of a supposed combination and addition of these lists, "accreditation" for the purpose of the elections slated for the proposed "unity congress and primaries" will be based.

Here, we wish to state emphatically that a free-for-all "identification" and "accreditation" of this character, as a basis for the convocation of a "state congress" is totally at variance with the relevant provisions of the party constitution which deal with the convocation of a state congress. Here, we wish to cite Articles 6.1.1, 6.1.2, 6.1.3 which state as follows:

6.1.1: "The State Congress shall be the highest organ of the Party at the State level"

6.1.2: "It shall be composed of members of the State Coordinating Council and a proportional number of delegates per Local Government membership of the Party. The State Executive Committee shall decide the number of delegates to represent each Local Government".

6.1.3: "The State Congress shall exercise at the State level powers similar to those of the National Congress and shall conduct its activities in the same manner as stipulated in this Constitution in respect of the National organ".

Very evidently from the aforestated constitutional provisions, any congress or purported "state congress" not convoked on the basis of these constitutional provisions will be nothing but a parody of a congress. We in the Lagos State NCP therefore totally disassociate ourselves from the rent a crowd gathering being planned to kill the party in Lagos State.

Another reason why we in Lagos State NCP will have nothing to do with the proposed unconstitutional gathering being tagged "unity congress" is the fact that we have a leadership duly elected by a properly convoked state congress in 2004. It should be recalled that the Lagos State Congress was held on September 18, 2004 in compliance with the National Secretariat directives to that effect, in preparation towards the National Convention of September 25, 2004. In line with Article 9.1.1 of NCP Constitution which states that, "All elected officers of the Party shall hold office for a period of 3 years after which they will be eligible for re-election subject to the possibility of recall or removal of officers on the conditions stipulated in article 4.1.3 (b) of this constitution", the tenure of the Segun Sango led Executive Committee in Lagos State will not end until September 2007.

UNITY PRIMARIES

The letter in issue also made reference to what it calls "Unity Primaries". To say the least, this is a very ambiguous phrase. For record purposes, the Lagos State Chapter of the party held a special congress to elect Mr. Lanre Arogundade, one of you, as its Governorship candidate for the 2007 general elections on December 16, 2006 at the Women Development Centre (WDC), Agege, Lagos State. In addition to delegates chosen on the basis of the party constitution, in attendance at the said congress were also the founding National Chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) representative, Mr. Akinwunmi Akinbohun.

Here, we wish to stress the fact that the nomination forms of Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the governorship candidate elected by the State Coordinating Council and State Congress respectively was, in fact, submitted by Mallam Yunusa Tanko, the National General Secretary at the INEC National Headquarters in Abuja in the company of Mr. Demola Yaya, the Lagos State Research Director of the party around 10.30pm of December 15, 2006. in fact, the INEC has already released the official list of the Governorship candidates for Lagos State for the 2007 general elections and Mr. Arogundade was rightly stated as the NCP Governorship candidate in the said list. Therefore, talking about another so-called "unity primaries" in this circumstance is nothing but an act of mischief bothering on absurdity.

CONCLUSION

It is disheartening that at a critical time the party ought to have been in the thick of preparation for the 2007 general elections, the national secretariat has contrived an unwarranted distraction. Living up to its bidding as the most viable chapter of the party in the country, the Lagos State Chapter is fielding many genuine and active members as candidates for gubernatorial, state and federal legislative elections. We expect the national leadership to join hands with the Lagos Chapter to bring to the public a popular and programmatic campaign that would present the party as the viable alternative for political power both in Lagos State and at federal level. This expectation is one of the reasons we remain implacably opposed to the attempt of the Obayuwana led NEC of the party to trade off the party's mandate on the Presidential election with General Muhammadu Buhari or any other party's Presidential candidate for that matter. Apparently to wade off our opposition and secure a smooth sail towards this treacherous political agenda, the national secretariat is aiming at liquidating the viable party structure in Lagos State. We refuse to be intimidated. We shall never succumb to any form of political blackmail and treachery.

Up till this moment, despite our opposition to the political summersault of the national leadership along with the other principled disagreements, at no time has the Lagos State NCP leadership declared itself a parallel national executive. To therefore seek to use inaudible murmur of a few members who have been totally inactive within the party since the highly rigged 2003 general elections, as a basis for an indirect dissolution of the Lagos State Executive Council is nothing but a gross misconception of powers of the NEC of the party under the constitution.

The struggle continues.
Segun Sango
Chairman
Sina Odugbemi
General Secretary