By CHIBUZOR UKAIBE, Abuja
The second largest organ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) passed a vote of confidence on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party last Thursday. But that gesture was instructive and insightful in light of unfolding events within the party.
For followers of events within the main opposition political party, the past few months have been tough for the NWC led by chairman Prince Uche Secondus.
Besides the herculean task of managing the day to day activities of the party, the frictions among power brokers in the party had put the NWC on the edge of sorts. The NWC has since had to maneuver through a maze of political intrigues and allegations of financial impropriety.
At the turn of this year, moves to remove Secondus emerged. The move according to party sources was instigated by a governor from the South South who, having fallen with Secondus, was set to ensure he is removed.
It was learnt that the campaign, driven by the politics of 2023, is to stop the Secondus-led NWC from returning to the party leadership ahead of the national convention this December.
With the intrigues for his removal mounting, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that too party leaders intervened, urging against any power change that would through the party into a leadership crisis reminiscent of the post-2015 tussle between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff camps which brought the party to its knees.
Nevertheless, while the Secondus-led NWC was being tackled for not handling frictions within the state chapters timely and properly, a memo surfaced early this year accusing the Secondus led NWC of managing party funds generated in the last three years.
The memo which was purportedly sent to party leaders by the national auditor, Adamu Mustapha, said his department was denied access to all the party’s financial transactions since 2017.
As ripples began to build over the purported memo, the PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described it as false.
Not long after, Mustapha, the national auditor denied accusing the national chairman of the party of financial impropriety.
The party zonal congresses provided a hiatus of sorts to the unfolding intrigues over party finances until a fresh allegation emerged barely days ago.
This time, it was raised by former commissioner for information in Edo State, Prince Kassim Afegbua, who filed a petition at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) demanding that an investigation be done into a purported N10bn generated by the party in the 2019 general election cycle.
Again, the national publicity secretary of the party, Ologbondiyan, refuted the claim, saying the party generated N4.6bn and that all financial transactions by the NWC was approved by the National Executive Committee (NEC), the second largest organ of the party, the Board of Trustees and governors of the party.
What’s more, he said that the party had submitted its audited accounts to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has the mandate to vet the financial books of all political parties in the country.
However, while Afegbua insisted on the claim, Secondus through his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, has asked the petitioner to retract his publication, apologize and pay a sum of N1 billion as damages within 48 hours (from Thursday) or face a legal action.
However as the drama continue to unfold, the vote of confidence by the party’s NEC on Secondus and his team will serve as a soothing balm to say the least, especially as this is the first time in the party history that a party leadership has stayed this long within the mandate of it’s tenure.
It was learnt that the motion for vote of confidence was moved by the former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, and was seconded by former minister of foreign affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi.
But how far reaching can such a motion go in the face of the unfolding intrigues in the party, especially as the clamour for power shift in party leadership mounts, is another matter.
On his party, a party chieftain from Gombe State, Salisu Magaji, said “The NWC of the party are matured and are respected leaders of the party. Majority of them are founding fathers of the party. So if they pass a vote of confidence on a leadership just trust that leadership.”
He however underscored the concerns within over moves to sack the leadership unconstitutionally.A political analyst, Mike Obiekwe however, stated that the vote of confidence would not amount to much, if the leadership does not inspire it’s members.
“I am not a member of the party, but a vote of confidence in any leadership has to reflect on whether or not it can still inspire it’s followers. If that does not exist then, whatever kind of endorse would only be cosmetic at best.”
Feelers from within the party indicate that the battle is far from over, if anything, they are just beginning as the December national convention approaches.