By Chibuzo Ukaibe |
Moves to remove the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has sparked concerns of a major crisis within the party, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered yesterday.
This came as feelers from the chairman’s camp indicated that he would resist any plot to push him out of office before the end of his tenure in December.
Although the party leadership denied reports of a split within its ranks and that talks to remove Secondus and others months to the end of their tenure were illogical, it was gathered that the plot to oust Secondus was already causing a crack within the party.
The main opposition to the chairman, it was learnt, is from an influential South-South governor who has allegedly reached out to some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) on the matter.
Those angling for Secondus’ removal cite the litany of crises in PDP states, especially in the South West and his inability to be decisive in addressing issues.
While they also blame him for the gale of defections from the party, they point to the crisis surrounding the minority leadership in the House of Representatives which led to the suspension of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and six others.
It was further gathered that the plot had included a move to advocate for the appointment of a caretaker committee just like in the All Progressives Congress (APC) if his removal succeeds.
But it was also learnt that the national chairman enjoys the support of some other governors and top party chieftains who are insisting that he completes his tenure which ends in December.
Their concern, it was gathered, is that any move to force him out at this point would plunge the party into a major crisis in the mould of the Markarfi/Sheriff friction which crippled the party for almost 15 months.
A month-long legal tussle had ensued over the leadership of the PDP shortly after the party lost the 2015 presidential election, as it was split between camps loyal to former Kaduna State governor Senator Ahmed Makarfi and former Borno State governor Ali Modu-Sheriff.
Secondus and the current party leadership were elected into office in December 2017 to serve a four-year term.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) expressed concern that any move to unduly remove the national chairman could cause a major friction in the party, stressing that it is better to allow his tenure run its course.
He said, “It would be counter-productive to force the chairman out of the party at this point, we cannot afford a repeat of the Markafi and Sheriff crisis that almost brought our party to its end.
“He has to be allowed to finish his tenure by the end of this year. Now whether or not he will be allowed to return is another matter.”
A former member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) who also confirmed to LEADERSHIP Sunday the moves to humiliate Secondus out of the position warned that it would spell disaster for the party.
The party chieftain who did not want his name in print said, “It would be better for the national chairman to serve out his term so that we don’t plunge the party into a bigger crisis as we approach an election year. Don’t forget, the Anambra election is just around the corner.”
But party insiders told our correspondent that the chairman has resolved to fight to retain his seat.
A party source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the recent lifting of the suspension on Elumelu and others as well as the scheduling of congresses were parts of the moves to assuage feelings among aggrieved members who may have been recruited to push him out of office.
The NWC had last Friday lifted the suspension on Elumelu and six others just as it also fixed zonal congresses for the six geo-political regions for March 6.
The source stated that the chairman had been reaching out to influential members of the party, including some top former army generals over the move to unduly remove him from office.
In a terse reaction, the media aide to Secondus, Ike Abonyi, said: “The national chairman is not aware of any plot because there is no room for it.”
Also reacting to the development, the deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Prince Diran Odeyemi, described any move to remove Secondus and the NWC as illogical, adding that such reports were sponsored by those who want to distabilise the party.
Odeyemi who also described reports of a rift within the PDP as false, said, “It is a complete rumour without substance. There is no plan for that anywhere. We have been in office for the past three years and our time will end in December. We will soon start planning for the next national congress.
“So, if we have been there for the past three years, it will be illogical to start talking about removing the current NWC or the national chairman. Such insinuation is the wish of people who want to destabilise the PDP, but they have failed”.
Reactions from the PDP BoT chairman were still expected at the time of filing this report as calls and messages sent to his mobile lines were not replied.