Cold comfort for Secondus as PDP governors, lawmakers, NWC hold different positions

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Ime Akpan

Governors elected on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met yesterday while nine of the 18-member national working committee members congregated earlier on Sunday over crisis rocking the party and emerged with different positions on the fate of the party’s national chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus.

Equally, not every PDP lawmaker in the national assembly had taken a common position on the fate of chairman.

The governors’ meeting which took place at Akwa Ibom House in Abuja was convened at the instance of the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal following the resignation of seven stalwarts of the party and the growing calls for Secondus’ resignation.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Tambuwal said the governors had resolved to back the party in its march towards greater unification.

“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 (Tuesday) 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.

The meeting was attended by all the PDP governors with the exception of the deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mr Mahdi Aliyu Gusau.

They were Messrs Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

Others were Messrs Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).

For its part, the NWC members rose from its meeting in which six of the nine attendees voted for Secondus’ resignation for alleged mismanagement of the PDP.

An unsigned statement released after the meeting pointed out that those who wanted Secondus to quit believed that he is “highly incompetent, factionalised the party and has lost the confidence of members of the party.”

“Sequel to the meeting held on the 3rd of August 2021 at the legacy house where members of the national working committee sat and decided that a meeting of the national working committee should be held on the 8th of August 2021 at Hilton to further deliberate on the matter bedevilling the party, the meeting held and extensively deliberated, 9 members of the NWC agreed that the national chairman Prince Uche Secondus has grossly mismanaged the party, highly incompetent, factionalised the party and has lost the confidence of members of the party.

“The matter of his resignation was put to vote; 6 members voted that he should resign and 3 members abstained from voting. Therefore the meeting resolved to forward the resolution taken on the 8th day of August to the governors’ forum, the BOT, the national assembly caucus of both house of reps 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,” the NWC said.

Those who attended the NWC according to the statement were Mr. Suleiman Nazif; deputy national chairman (north); Mr. Umar Ibrahim Tsauri, national secretary; Mr. Mai Adamu Mustapha, national auditor; Mr. Abdulahi Maibasira, (national financial secretary, and Mr. Sunday Udeh-Okoye, national youth leader.

Others were Mr. Taofiq Arapaja, national vice chairman south west), Chief Dr. Ali Odefa (National Vice Chairman (South East), Chief Dan Osi Orbih (National Vice Chairman (South South) and Chief Theophilus Dakas National Vice Chairman (North Central).

It was also revealed that those who voted in favour of ousting Secondus were Nazif, Mustapher, Udeh-Okoye, Arapaja, Orbih and Odefa while three members abstained.

However, Secondus, in an earlier statement from his media office, said he would not succumb to pressure to resign. “I can confirm to you that I will not resign,” adding that he remained focused in his determination to move the party forward.

Meanwhile, the PDP caucus in the house of representatives has disclaimed the report that it met online and called for the resignation of the party’s chairman.

Minority leader of the house, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, who debunked such report, described it as “embarrassing.”

“The attention of the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, has been drawn to false and misleading publications, purporting that the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives met online and resolved that the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, should resign.

“The publication is, indeed, embarrassing to PDP lawmakers in the House of Representatives, as no such meeting took place.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no online meeting or any meeting in any form whatsoever of PDP members in the House of Representatives was held, to discuss, let alone arrive at any decision regarding the national chairman or any issue related to the disagreements in the PDP.

“Our caucus in the House of Representatives is fully aligned with the intervention and decisions of the Board of Trustees (BoT), the elders and leaders of our party, in finding solutions to the leadership challenges confronting our great party and we await the outcome of their intervention.

“While we caution those behind this false and misleading publication to retrace their steps and desist from such, we also urge our party leaders, critical stakeholders, PDP members, teeming supporters, and the general public to completely disregard the said publication.

“We call on all PDP members to remain calm and focused as the elders and leaders of the party will come out with solutions at this critical time,” he said in a statement.

However, some members of the caucus had earlier in a  communiqué signed by its Messrs Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) and Chukwuka Onyema (PDP, Enugu), called for Secondus’ resignation after holding a virtual meeting last Saturday.

They blamed the recent woes befalling the party on the “bedroom managerial attitude” of Secondus.

The caucus also accused Secondus of not carrying party members along adding that if he was allowed to continue in office in the next three months the party would be in grave danger.

The lawmakers noted that “to many, the national chairman seems much more contented with occupying the office and therefore preoccupied with holding onto his position rather than preparing for next elections; this explains for his inexplicably missing endless opportunities that ought to have been utilized for consolidating a viable opposition; skewing party congresses to favour personal future ambition and frustrating genuine party members across states which has resulted in mass exit of party members at the national assembly.”

It further stated that “there is no clear road map, blueprint or policy programme for the PDP by the chairman, thus the party is allowed to flow with the tide, only showing up with weak press releases once in a while without commensurate sustainable action.”

According to the communiqué, the PDP lawmakers resolved that the PDP house caucus “Formally asks the board of trustees and the Governors’ Forum of the PDP to ensure immediate and firm resolution of current challenges so as to enable a re-engineering, re-focusing process that would restore party members and millions of other Nigerians’ hope and confidence in the PDP as an alternative to the current dysfunctional, irresponsive and rudderless government of APC with its attendant suffering, miseries, political deceit, economic woes, insecurity and all-round disappointment foisted on millions of Nigerian families across the federation, and;

“Urge the current national chairman Prince Uche Secondus) to consider making the necessary personal sacrifice worthy of a leader in the party’s current and future interest with a firm assurance of honourable regard and appreciation by the party leadership now and in years to come, by honourably resigning his position as party chairman immediately, to allow the party an early start.”

The caucus asked the board of trustees of the party and the PDP Governors Forum to commence the re-engineering of the party.

However, a member representing Bayelsa West in the senate and former governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, faulted calls for the chairman’s resignation.

Dickson, in a statement, flayed the purported meeting by some members of the party’s national working committee 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.

He stated that 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. It is part of the scheme to call a dog a bad name to hang it. The general public should note that the statement signed by some members: three members of the working committee and three 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 six 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”.

He also disagreed with a purported statement by the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives calling on Secondus to resign saying the authentic caucus leader, Elumelu, had disowned the said statement.

“As Nigerians and all PDP leaders know, the minority leader of the House of Representatives is Hon 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.

“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. Therefore, Nigerians should disregard the reported decision of the purported rep caucus meeting.

“All this is to create a media frenzy backed up with the sponsored demonstrations at the party secretariat on Monday which are designed to force the chairman to resign in order to set up a caretaker committee which is illegal. Happily the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has issued a statement a short while ago that he will not resign. I support this decision fully as it is backed by the PDP constitution.”

He also stated that going by the PDP constitution, the chairman can only be removed from office at the national convention of the party.

“By the PDP constitution, a vote of no confidence even by a duly constituted NWC or other organs of the party does not remove a Chairman. The Chairman is voted for and can only be removed by the National Convention unless on his own volition, he chooses to resign.

He said the embattled PDP national chairman had, since the party lost power at the centre in 2015, labored to keep the PDP afloat.

“Since we lost the 2015 elections, Secondus has labored to keep the party in spite of harassment, campaigned round to support candidates without the so called ‘taxation’ which has been put to an end in the party. He is one of the most experienced political party administrators in the party and in the country right from his days as NPN youth leader till date. He has seen it all and done it all. The whole issue is that Secondus insists that party decisions should be taken by all stakeholders and not by a few especially decisions about the direction of the party in 2023.

“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,” he added.

He, therefore, called on all leaders of the party at all levels to rise up and ensure that the party is not plunged into unnecessary crisis.

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