The crisis rocking the leadership of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) took a turn for the worse on Tuesday, with the suspension and counter-expulsion of senior members of the party.
In the latest crisis, a faction of NNPP loyal to Founder of the party and Chairman of its Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, delivered the first blow by announcing the suspension of the party’s presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential election, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. The NNPP National Working Committee (NWC) was also suspended by the BoT.
The suspensions followed similar moves by the Kwankwaso group, which on August 25 said it had suspended Aniebonam and the national publicity secretary, Agbo Major.
BoT Secretary, Babayo Muhammed Abdullahi, who announced Kwankwaso’s suspension during a press briefing on Tuesday in Apapa, Lagos, said he had been suspended for six months over anti-party activities. But it was a jab sharp enough to draw blood.
In a swift counter move, the Kwankwaso faction announced it had expelled Aniebonam and some other party members with immediate effect. It alleged at a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on Tuesday in Abuja that Aniebonam; National Publicity Secretary, Agbo Major; and Ope Aluko were engaged in anti-party activities.
The Kwankwaso faction accused Aniebonam of creating a parallel group within NNPP with a view to causing disaffection. It also upheld motions to extend the tenure of the acting National Chairman, Mallam Abah-Kawu Ali, and to redesign the party’s logo.
It stated, “At the National Executive Committee meeting of the NNPP held in Abuja today, August 29th, 2023, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, Agbo Major, and several others were expelled from the party.
“The NEC also moved several other motions relating to the logo of the party, the amendment of the constitution, ratification of the state caretaker committees, and suspension of two articles in the constitution of the NNPP 2022.
“At the meeting were the Executive Governor of Kano State, the National Chairman, Distinguished Senator Kawu Ismaila, Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Buba Galadima, and many others. NEC noted that there were suspended (now expelled) persons who purportedly held a Board of Trustees meeting in Apapa, Lagos, this morning.”
The party’s only governor, Abba Yusuf of Kano State, said he would continue to work closely with Kwankwaso in his effort to reposition NNPP.
Addressing the NEC, the national secretary of the party loyal to Kwankwaso, Olayoku Dipo, said NNPP was in the process of setting up a properly constituted BoT in line with its constitution. Dipo also alleged that NNPP’s logo affected its fortunes at the February election, but it commended the NWC for its role in stabilising the party.
Kwankwaso’s suspension was, reportedly, put to a voice vote by members at a special general assembly in Lagos, which also appointed new national officers headed by Major as acting National Chairman, and Comrade Ogini Olaposi as acting National Secretary, alongside about 18 others.
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the meeting in Lagos, on Tuesday, Abdullahi accused Kwankwaso of meeting secretly with President Bola Tinubu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, without the BoT’s authorisation.
He announced that Kwankwaso had been stripped of the NNPP national leader status by the board, saying the purported suspension of the NNPP founder was a flagrant violation of the party’s constitution.
Abdullahi stated that Aniebonam had resigned as BoT chairman and a new BoT chairman, Tope Aluko, was elected, with himself (Abdullahi) as new BoT secretary, while High Chief Tony Obioha was elected BoT spokesperson.
Abdullahi said the pre-election Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Kwankwasia Movement, The National Movement (TNM), and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) had been rendered void by the actions of the NWC.
He stated, “The purported suspension of the founder is a flagrant gross violation of the NNPP constitution such that it is tantamount to recklessness and irresponsibility on the part of the incompetent NWC.
“The BoT decided that material evidence in the public sector affirmed that Kwankwaso was involved in anti-party activities in various meetings, suggest political discussions with the president, Atiku, and Obi without authorisation from the board.
“This has earned him six months suspension pending the outcome of the investigation by the disciplinary committee. The BOT insisted that (due to) the avoidable violation of MoU between NNPP, on the one part, and Kwankwasia, TNM and NAGAFF, on the other, (it) has no other choice than to withdraw from the partnership. It is, therefore, (pertinent) to state clearly that the MOU has been rendered void.”
The acting chairman, Major, who also spoke with newsmen, said his team would hit the ground running by healing the wounds created by the suspended NWC members.
Major said, “The party would remain the most ordinary friendly party in the country and we urge other members that are displaced for one reason or the other to return to its fold.
“We don’t intend to shut anybody out or censor anybody, but we want to ensure that we remain on track and maintain our people-oriented ideology.”
Juliet Akoje in Abuja