Embattled national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Uche Secondus yesterday maintained his ground that he won’t resign from his position, saying he has done nothing wrong to be forced out of office.
Secondus’ insistence on completing his tenure by December this year is coming against the backdrop of calls by nine members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and a youth group for his resignation as PDP national chairman.
But the call for his ouster was opposed by PDP national legal adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem, and Senator Seriake Dickson, even as the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, refuted report of the call for Secondus’ resignation by the PDP House of Representatives Caucus.
As of yesterday Secondus’ fate was still hanging in the balance as meeting of PDP governors, which lasted over six hours, failed to provide a clear indication about the political destiny of the embattled national chairman who was invited by the governors to brief them on the crisis rocking the party.
But a source privy to the meeting told LEADERSHIP that the governors deliberated on plans for the national convention as a measure of assuaging the concerns within the party.
The source noted that the concern was not so much about Secondus finishing his tenure but that he would influence the composition of the national convention committee to secure a return.
It was gathered that there is a proposal for the early conduct of the convention possibly in October as well as the setting up of an independent national convention committee.
It was also learnt that the prospect of a caretaker committee is still on the cards.
The governors would hold an expanded meeting with the party Board of Trustees (BoT) today after which a final resolution would be made on the matter.
The PDP BoT at the heat of the feud between Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and Secondus, had last week set up a committee comprising governors, BoT members, National Assembly caucus and other party organs to find a lasting solution.
Addressing journalists at the end of their meeting at the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja yesterday, Sokoto State governor and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, expressed the readiness of the governors to continue the meeting until the issue was resolved.
“We discussed extensively on matters of the moment concerning our party and we have collectively resolved to continue to work together in unity. This meeting will continue tomorrow (today) with other stakeholders. Very soon, Nigerians and indeed, all of you will hear our resolution but we are working towards resolving all issues, as a family. By the grace of God, we are going to achieve that,” he said.
Secondus, who joined the meeting hours after it started, insisted that he won’t resign from office.
Asked if he would throw in the towel, the national chairman who left the meeting barely 10 minutes after he arrived, said, “No, I am not going to resign”.
The meeting was attended by Governors Aminu Tambuwal, Oluseyi Makinde, Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Okowa, and Godwin Obaseki of Sokoto, Oyo, Rivers, Delta and Edo states respectively.
Others at the meeting include Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Adamu Fintiri, Bala Mohammed, Udoh Emmanuel, Douye Diri and Darius Ishaku, governors of Benue, Enugu, Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Taraba states respectively.
Earlier, six out of the 18-member National Working Committee (NWC) insisted that Secondus must resign.
While Section 29 (3) of the amended PDP constitution provides that only the national chairman or a summon of 2/3 of NWC members can convene a meeting of the committee, the nine members met at a popular hotel in Abuja, with six of them appending their signatures for the removal of Secondus. The meeting was attended by Sen. Suleiman Nazif, deputy national chairman (North), Sen. Umar Ibrahim Tsauri (national secretary), Alh. Mai Adamu Mustapha (national auditor), Abdulahi Maibasira (national financial secretary) and Hon. Sunday Udeh-Okoye (national youth leader), Amb. Taofiq Arapaja (national vice chairman (South West), Chief Ali Odefa ( national vice chairman (South East), Chief Dan Orbih (national vice chairman, South South) and Chief Theophilus Dakas, national vice chairman (North Central).
At the meeting, Nazif, Mustapher, Udeh-Okoye, Arapaja, Orbih and Dakas, unanimously reiterated their call for the resignation of Secondus as they appended their signatures to boot.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the party officials highlighted the significance of their meeting.
The communiqué reads: “Sequel to the meeting held on the 3rd of August 2021 at Legacy House where members of the National working committee, NWC, sat and decided that a meeting of the National working committee (NWC) should be held on the 8th of August 2021 at Hilton to further deliberate on the matter bedeviling the party, the meeting held and extensively deliberated.
“Nine members of the National working committee agreed that the National chairman Prince Uche Secondus has grossly mismanaged the party, is highly incompetent, has factionalized the party and has lost the confidence of members of the party.
“The matter of his resignation was put to vote. Six members voted that he should resign and three members abstained from voting. Therefore, the meeting resolved to forward the resolution taken on the 8th day of August to the Governors’ Forum, the Board of Trustees BoT, and the National Assembly caucus of both Houses of Representatives and the Senate.
“We call on all members of the party to remain calm as the party leadership is working tirelessly to resolve the leadership crisis”.
Reacting to the development, the party’s national legal adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem, pointed out the illegality of the said meeting of the NWC members, saying “by Section 29 (3) of the constitution of our party, it is the national chairman or a summon backed by two-third members of the NWC that can validly convene a meeting of the NWC.”
He continued: “Sub-section 4 provides for two-third members of NWC to form a quorum for a meeting of the NWC. As a bona fide member of the NWC, to the best of my knowledge, I was not aware of any meeting of NWC summoned by the National chairman or in the manner provided aforesaid.
“It is therefore of grave concern, and indeed, very sad to read the above position purportedly taken by some distinguished members of NWC in utter disdain and violation of clear extant provisions of our constitution.
“The issue of resignation of any officer of our party at any level is a personal decision as stipulated in Sections 45(1) and 47 (5). There is no provision of our constitution which donates powers to any organ, individuals or group of persons to ask an officer of the party to resign for any reason whatsoever as was purported in the so-called press release.
“The power to remove any member of the NWC and indeed any national officer is reserved in the national convention which is due for December 2021.
“The said press release is an unfortunate assault and blatant violation of the provisions of our constitution and so it is illegal and unconstitutional.
“This is more so when the purported meeting was said to have been convened on Sunday August 8, 2021 against the widely published position taken by the BOT advising members and leaders of our party to maintain peace until a committee set up has deliberated on the raging controversies.
“This bad press caused the party at this critical time is most uncalled for, needless and wanton and must be discontinued if we are mindful of the interest of the party,” he added.
Meanwhile, the party’s House of Representatives caucus said it is yet to meet over the crisis rocking the party.
This was contained in a statement signed by minority House leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.
Elumelu said, “The attention of the minority caucus, particularly members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the House of Representatives, have been drawn to news reports purporting to be the intervention and outcome of an online meeting of the PDP Caucus in the House regarding the current leadership challenge within the party.
“If such a meeting held, it was without the knowledge of the leadership of the minority caucus, and therefore in breach of established procedure.
“Meanwhile, we are working in concert with organs of the party to ensure sustainable resolution of the current challenges that will be in the overall interest of the party and Nigerians.
“We appeal to all party faithful, particularly PDP members in the House of Representatives, to exercise caution and patience as the party addresses the present leadership challenges.”
Youths Demand Secondus Resignation
Meanwhile, PDP youths yesterday aligned their voices with the calls for the removal of the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Marching peacefully across major streets of Abuja, the youths under the aegis of Save PDP Group, arrived the Wadata Plaza, national secretariat of the party, demanding the immediate sack of Secondus.
They cited the recent defections of some governors from the party’s fold to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Secondus’ leadership style, among others.
Bearing various placards with inscriptions such as, “Uche Secondus Must Go”, “We have lost confidence in your chairmanship”, “We cannot afford to lose more governors” among others, the youths called on the national chairman to heed the call and quit his office to pave way for the repositioning of the party ahead of the 2023 general election.
Addressing journalists at the party’s secretariat, leader of the protest, Comrade
Tamunotonye Inioribo accused Secondus of polarising the party for his own selfish interest, saying he is to blame “for the defection of three governors and dozens of Senators from the party.”
But in a short statement signed by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, the national chairman said nothing so far has warranted his resignation from the party position.
He stated: “Those tiny minority calling for his resignation should come clean and tell party members across the country his offense and why he should resign.”
He pledged to remain focused and committed to the ideals of the party particularly as it prepares for the 2023 general elections.
However, former governor of Bayelsa State and Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Seriake Dickson has said only a national convention of PDP can remove Secondus.
Dickson said the purported statement by some NWC members who went outside the constitution of the party and convened a meeting in a hotel room without the knowledge, consent and presence of the chairman is uncalled for.
“I want to draw the attention of PDP leaders, members and Nigerians at large that the meeting was the action of a few party officers and does not represent a valid resolution or decision of the National Working Committee known to the PDP constitution.
“By the PDP constitution, only the national chairman of the party can summon and preside over meetings of the organs of the party especially the NWC of which he is chairman. So the purported meeting and the outcome therefore are part of the plot to contrive a needless crisis in the PDP,” Dickson said.
Dickson said it is part of the scheme to call a dog a bad name to hang it and call on the general public to note that the statement signed by 3 members of the working committee and 3 Vice chairmen of the party (as indicated in the press release) does not constitute a valid resolution of the National Working Committee.
“By the way, the NWC has 19 members and only 6 of them signed the statement leaving out the majority of 13 who were not at the meeting and the chairman who was not aware, who did not attend, who did not authorize and who did not preside over the said meeting and therefore it is not only a nullity but an act of gross misconduct.
“It is all an effort to contrive a crisis in the party to further the ulterior objective of those who are funding it, the intent of which is to cause a major crisis in the PDP.
“Secondly, my attention was also drawn to a purported statement by the Reps Caucus. As Nigerians and all PDP leaders know, the minority leader of the Reps is Honorable Ndudi Elumelu not Hon Kingsley Chinda, and members of the House of Representatives caucus have already spoken that they did not hold any such meeting and the chairman of the caucus, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, has rightly issued a statement which is in the public domain that he did not summon or preside over such a meeting.
“I call on the national chairman to utilise all options and powers available to him under the constitution and to take steps to ensure that no officer or member no matter how highly placed usurps, or impedes the exercise of his rights, powers and duties as national chairman or is allowed to plunge the party into another needless crisis,” Dickson added.