The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slumped into a fresh leadership crisis yesterday as the split within the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over the fate of its national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, deepened.
Barely hours after seven deputy National Working Committee (NWC) members resigned their positions on grounds of unfair treatment by the party leadership, the national youth leader of the party, Sunday Udeh-Okoye, called for Secondus’ resignation as national chairman of the main opposition party.
The seven deputy national officers who resigned are Diran Odeyemi, deputy national publicity secretary; Ahmed Bello, deputy national legal adviser; Umoru Hadizat, deputy national women leader; Divine Amina Arong, deputy national auditor; Hassan Yakubu, deputy national organising secretary; and Irona Alphonsus, deputy national financial secretary.
They cited exclusion and “bad treatment” exhibited by the PDP national chairman since the election that brought the current leadership of the party to power in 2017.
But the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party had activated its conflict resolution mechanisms to address the grievances raised by the national youth leader and the deputy NWC members.
In same vein, Secondus has lashed back at Udeh-Okoye, noting that any attempt to set up an interim leadership in the party few months to the general election are planning to take the party back to Egypt.
The fresh crisis comes barely days after party leaders, including former vice president Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President David Mark began moves to arrest the rising crisis of leadership within the party.
LEADERSHIP learnt that relations between Secondus and his political ally, River State governor, Nyesom Wike, had soured of late, with Wike leading the campaign for Secondus’ resignation, blaming him for the poor management of the party which has led to defections of three governors.
Secondus, on his part, has declined to take a hard stance against the governor.
The tussle, which has since split PDP governors and Board of Trustees (BoT) along lines of Wike and Secondus’ supporters, has intensified against the backdrop of the national chairman’s intention to seek a second term when his tenure ends in December.
LEADERSHIP gathered that party chieftains are split over the sacking the NWC before its tenure expires later this year.
While some governors and BoT members cautioned against creating a constitutional crisis that would be exploited by the ruling party, the other camp, fearing that the party would suffer more negative impact, has called for the setting up of a caretaker committee.
It was learnt that a governor from a North Central state was approached to head the caretaker committee but he turned it down because he does not want to be distracted from his senatorial ambition in 2023.
Attempt by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, to intervene in the feud appears not to have yielded much result so far.
However, fresh crisis erupted yesterday after the seven national party executives tendered their resignation, prompting the party leadership to summon an emergency meeting to address the issues.
And rising from the meeting, the national youth leader, Sunday Udeh-Okoye, pointedly called on Secondus to resign.
He said, “Mr. Uche Secondus, the national chairman of the party, is incompetent of managing the affairs of this party; he lacks managerial capacity to manage PDP.
“He had made sure that many departments of the party do not function as effectively as they ought to function. Mr. Chairman has nothing to offer the party, only to come here and deceive us.
“There is a sharp division in our NWC right now, not only me; many more NWC members are more aggrieved than myself.
“Today I have asked him in our NWC meeting to resign his position as the chairman of this party because he cannot lead this party to victory.
“I am also asking the leaders, the governors, the founding fathers, the youth, the women, to rise up to rescue our party from the hand of an incompetent leader like Secondus because he is not willing to take us to anywhere. He is just there to make sure that he enriches himself.
“I am here to make it very clear to all Nigerians that if Secondus does not resign from the party, I am going to leave the party for him to eat the party and own the party. The governors, if they don’t wade into this matter right now, I assure Nigerians that within the next three, four days, my letter will be public.”
On how many NWC members are asking Secondus to resign, he said, “Seven deputies have already resigned their positions today because of Secondus; many more people are also going to resign in the NWC because of Secondus.
“Right now I can tell you that no fewer than eight to ten persons within the NWC members are very aggrieved with Secondus but I have taken my stand because I cannot sit here and one man who ought to respect his age and respect the oath of the party that he has sworn to protect, to defend, to work for the interest of the party, will keep making sure that the party does not go anywhere.”
Udeh-Okoye added that some members are in the process of exploring the impeachment clause on Secondus.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, chairman of the deputy NWC members, Diran Odeyemi, who is the deputy national publicity secretary of the PDP, confirmed their resignation, saying they resigned because they had been poorly treated by the party.
Odeyemi who said he was in London, however, denied that their action was tied to the fight between Wike and Secondus.
He said, “As you are talking to you, I am in London. I am the chairman of all the deputies for administrative purposes. We have had our grievances for a long time and if the other six have agreed to resign, I have no option than to align myself with them.
“As far as we are concerned, we do not know Wike but we know Secondus and his leadership. We were not instigated by anybody to resign. We have not been carried along by the Secondus-led leadership. Nobody has told us to resign. We are not fighting anybody’s war,” he said.
Another deputy who resigned but pleaded anonymity told LEADERSHIP that for the past three years, they have not been treated fairly fund-wise by Secondus-led NWC.
He said, “They have been meeting governors and getting money from them and we have not been carried along. They met Atiku Abubakar twice in Dubai and we were not carried along at all. Assignments are held and we are not carried along.
“I think it is better for the deputy position to be scrapped. Secondus does not appreciate us at all. He does not think we exist. We don’t want to share in anybody’s war.”
Reacting however, Secondus, who spoke through his media aide, Ike Abonyi, wondered why it took the youth leader almost four years to realise that the chairman needs to resign.
He said, “Regarding the press conference of the Youth leader who is realising after three and half years that Secondus is incompetent, that Secondus is enriching himself, it took him three and a half years and four, five months to the convention, it is very unfortunate because he has operated as the youth leader of this party since December 2017 with Secondus as national chairman and has worked with him but suddenly, few months to convention, he suddenly discovered that Secondus is incompetent, that Secondus is enriching himelf?
“I want to assure members of the party that the structure of the party is intact and Prince Secondus is the national chairman and anybody who resigns, his position will be filled the next day and this party will work to victory in 2023. There is no going back about it.
“All those who are looking for interim government few months to a general election are taking us back to Egypt and nobody is ready to go back to Egypt. We have passed through this road before and we don’t want to go back there.”
However, the party’s spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan assured that the party had taken note of the grievances raised by the youth leader and the seven deputy national working committee members.
He said, “The National Working Committee of our great party at its meeting today (yesterday) received the notice of resignation from deputies who are elected members of the National Executive Committee.
“The meeting of the National Working Committee and the deputies immediately took place to dialogue on the issues that were raised. The party will look into the grievances raised by members of NEC as well as members of the National Working Committee.
“The internal conflict resolution mechanism of our party has also been immediately activated to put these issues behind us. We call on all the leaders, stakeholders and members of our great party to remain calm as we collectively resolve these issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, amidst the crisis in the party, the expanded caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during its meeting in Màkurdi, the Benue State capital, passed a vote of confidence on Governor Samuel Ortom and reaffirmed their support for him as leader of the party in the state.
The state PDP chairman, John Ngbede, moved a motion for the vote of confidence on the governor, and it was seconded by a chorus from all the caucus members.
Ngbede said the PDP has total confidence in the ability of the governor to lead the party to victory in the 2023 general election.
According to him, gubernatorial aspirants on the platform of PDP have an enormous task to ensure that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state is sustained as it is the only antidote to the invasion and occupation of the people’s land.
Governor Ortom , in an address, said PDP is waxing stronger with the array of defectors from the All Progressives Congress, APC, and other political parties into the PDP.
The governor urged PDP members to remain steadfast and faithful, even as he urged them to open their arms and receive those coming from opposition parties.
He stated that he derives his strength and courage from the support from Benue people, saying he remains committed to do more for Benue people following the new vote of confidence on him.
Governor Ortom charged gubernatorial aspirants of the PDP to continue to work together by promoting the interest of the party above personal interests.
At the meeting, National Technical Officer of the PDP from Benue State, Mr David Mzer briefed the expanded caucus on the coming e-registration.
Similarly, the PDP zonal stakeholders in Niger State said they are ready for the congress scheduled for next weekend.
The stakeholders of the party in the three Senatorial Zones Niger East, Niger North and Niger South yesterday rose from zonal stakeholders’ meetings in Bida, Minna and Kontagora and resolved that the congress should continue as scheduled.
The stakeholders commended the National Working Committee for approving and fixing the 7th of August, 2021, for the state congress.
They also resolved that no positions should be shared because PDP is a democratic party where all are free to vie for any position in accordance with the party’s constitution and guidelines,
The stakeholders, therefore, reaffirmed their support for elective congress in order for delegates to freely choose their leaders without hindrance and that every leader should fall back to their locality.
The meetings were attended by Senator Zaynab Kure, Professor Jerry Gana, Hon. Baba Shehu Agaie, former speakers, commissioners and council chairmen in Niger South, while former Deputy Governor Dr. Shem Zagbayi Nuhu, former minister Abubakar A. Tanko, party leaders, and elected and appointed past officers of the party attended in Niger East and Niger North respectively.
PDP Govs Call For Calm
The PDP Governors’ Forum said it has received with regret and sadness the recent rumblings in the PDP.
The governors thereby called on all members of the party and indeed all stakeholders to remain calm in the face of the developments.
Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in a statement, said, “We plead with all aggrieved persons and those with the interest of the PDP at heart to keep their gunpowder dry, as efforts are being made in consultation with members of the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to resolve all contending issues.
“To this end, the PDP Governors’ Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the affairs of the party and the way forward.
“The PDP, as the only remaining hope of the nation for good governance, must show an example to Nigerians and also take advantage of the current disarray in the APC and its rudderless government.”
More Angst Over APC Congresses, as Gov Buni Escapes Mob Attack in Kano
Meanwhile, the situation in the Kano State chapter of the APC took a worrisome dimension yesterday as the party national delegates of the state narrowly escaped a mob attack by youths who were protesting the outcome of Saturday’s ward congresses in the state.
The angry youths, in their hundreds, were spotted in a circulated video yesterday on rampage to convey their displeasure over the party’s consensus process adopted in Kano.
They stumbled on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led delegates in white Hilux bus along the State Road near Government House in the metropolis.
The ruling party on Saturday elected 27 ward executives in each of the 484 wards across the 44 local government councils of Kano under consensus arrangement, a development that has since raised dust, with some interest groups in the party showing their angst.
In their hundreds, the angry youths were seen making their way back from the APC state headquarters on Maiduguri Road along Hotoro Quarters where they went to deliver the result of their parallel ward congress to the party leadership.
The party loyalists, who had staged peaceful protest at the state headquarters because of the absence of party leadership to receive them, incidentally transferred their aggression on the delegation led by Dr Tony Macfoye.
The incident led to a gridlock on the busy state road and it took the intervention of security personnel attached to members representing Municipal and Dawakin-Tofa/Tofa/Rimin-Gado federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada and Hon. Tijani Abubakar Jobe respectively, to rescue the vehicle conveying the APC national delegates from being set ablaze.
Our correspondent gathered that the delegates who were earlier attending to the outcome of the congress at the state secretariat suddenly relocated to the personal office of Prince Abbas, the state chairman.
Addressing journalists earlier at the party’s secretariat, Chairman of Congress Committee in Kano Municipal, Mr Zaharadeen Muktar, regretted the absence of the party leadership, particularly the national delegates, at the secretariat on arrival at the state headquarters.
According to him, “We have the results of the elected executives of 484 wards in the state but the party delegates from headquarters are not here to receive us. This is contrary to the instruction of the party headquarters”.
The committee had elected parallel ward congresses at Sharada and Jobe wards, the constituencies of members representing Municipal and Dawakin-Tofa at the House of Representatives where the delegates did not to monitor.
The APC Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) had earlier kicked against the outcome of the recent Ward Congress in Kano, insisting that the exercise lacked democratic process.
The group accused the state government of turning APC leadership to another operating unit of government.
The chairman of BSO, Alhaji Shehu Dalhatu, told journalists in Kano that BSO vehemently rejected the consensus arrangement adopted by the party under the guidance of the state government.
Dalhatu said justice was not served before the resolution was reached, stressing that there is nowhere in the APC constitution where consensus arrangement should be adopted by few selected people.
The strong ally of President Muhammad Buhari described as most unfortunate the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who, he said, convened meetings with selected few in the party and invoked the idea of consensus.
Countering the position of Alhaji Dalhatu however, state APC secretary, Zakari Sarina insisted that the party consensus arrangement was adopted after wide consultations with stakeholders in the party.
Mr Sarina, who refuted allegations of lopsidedness against some party members in Kano, disclosed that the Buhari Support Organisation was invited and was part of the agreement on consensus arrangement.
While exonerating Governor Ganduje of meddling in the affairs of the party, Mr Sarina explained that the government had never appointed any executive member of the party at the ward level.
Although he believed the party’s decision may not be accepted by the entire members of the party, the state scribe urged the aggrieved members to lodge their complaints for approximate action.
A fresh crisis also brewed yesterday in the Enugu State chapter of the APC over the outcome of the last ward congresses of the party held in the state.
The Enugu State Caretaker Committee chairman of the party in the state, Dr. Ben Nwoye has already inaugurated the supposed members of the ward executives and delegates who were elected last Saturday during the congresses of the party at ward level.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that the chairman of the committee sent from Abuja to conduct the exercise, Dr. Ijeomah Arodiogbu has submitted another result to the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja.
Sources said Ijeomah is claiming that the state chapter of the party lacked the powers to inaugurate the winners.
While inaugurating the newly elected officials from the 260 wards in Enugu State, the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party in the state, Dr Ben Nwoye advised them to go back and be in charge of the party at their different wards.
He told the jubilant officials that their names had already been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission that supervised the exercise last Saturday.
He commended them for remaining true party faithful and charged them not to be intimidated by anybody as they remain true leaders of the party at the ward level.
Nwoye insisted that the collective interest of the leaders of the 260 wards in Enugu State APC is far better than the inordinate ambition of any particular person, hence the need for them to be in charge.
Earlier, a chieftain of the APC and former Southeast spokesman of the party, Hycinth Ngwu described last Saturday’s ward congresses as peaceful and successful.
He commended Nwoye on the peaceful manner he and members of his executives prepared for the exercise and reminded the elected officials and party faithful that in the state that the party remained supreme.
He assured them that the choice of people must prevail, reminding them that in Enugu State, the APC led by Nwoye remained the only leadership that the party had.