98th NEC fallout: Damagum remains PDP chair as Atiku, Wike shift battle to August 

Contrary to expectations of a likely showdown at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held Thursday in Abuja, the gathering ended peacefully with stakeholders restating needs for total reconciliation and stability within the party.

At the meeting were the party’s flag bearer in the 2023 presidential poll, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, as well as former governor of Rivers state who currently serves as the FCT minister in the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, Nyesom Wike, incumbent Rivers state governor, Siminlayi Fubara, and other gladiators like Chief Bode George and the former chairman of the party, Mr. Uche Secondus.

The trio of Atiku, Fubara and Secondus are sworn political enemies of Wike.

While the FCT minister worked against Atiku’s interest during the 2023 polls, Secondus has refused to forgive Wike over his alleged role in his removal as the PDP national chairman just as Fubara is at war with his predecessor.

Though the NEC meeting ended without any of the party leaders throwing tantrum at themselves, they are however, billed to meet at the next NEC meeting scheduled for August 2024.

 The well-attended NEC meeting temporarily caused gridlock as adjoining roads leading to the Wadata National Headquarters of the party were closed to vehicular movement.

…NEC’s resolutions

The NEC charged members to work in unison and return PDP back to power, saying the APC government had let Nigerians down in its handling of the country’s economy, insecurity and the newly hiked electricity tariffs among others.

 In the communiqué issued after the meeting and read by the PDP national publicity scribe, Debo Ologunagba, the party commended the collective resilience, steadfastness and commitment of members towards its unity, stability and sustenance.

The communiqué said: “NEC commends all the Organs of the Party for their collective resilience, steadfastness and commitment towards the unity, stability and sustenance of our great Party despite daunting challenges.

“NEC also commends members of the PDP, with particular reference to the youths and women for their courage in resisting the antics of the divisive and anti-people All Progressives Congress (APC), especially, its desperation to emasculate the opposition and foist a one-Party State on our nation.

“NEC expresses concern over the ill-implemented policies of the insensitive APC administration, leading to worsening insecurity, harrowing economic hardship, soaring unemployment rate, high cost of food and other necessities of life with pervading misery and despondency across the country. 

“NEC expresses serious apprehensions over the spate of acts of terrorism and violence including the escalated cases of mindless killings, mass abduction of innocent Nigerians and marauding of communities in various parts of the country.

“NEC condemns the insensitivity, nonchalance, incompetence and arrogance in failure of the APC administration which continues to conduct itself in a manner that shows that it has no iota of interest or commitment towards the wellbeing of Nigerians. 

“NEC also condemns the creeping totalitarianism and tendencies towards a One-Party State which is inimical to the peace, stability and corporate existence of our nation as well as the development of Democracy and good governance in the country.

“NEC, after due consideration demands that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should urgently convene a special National Security Council meeting to proffer a holistic solution and measures to curb the disturbing insecurity with its attendant negative consequences on our national life.  

“NEC also demands that President Tinubu should immediately rejig his Economic Team to bring in persons of proven integrity and competence without bias and vested interest to assist in repositioning the economy.

“ NEC further demands that the Federal Government should review all policies and programmes which are stifling the economy with suffocating effect on the lives of citizens; including the increase in price of fuel without cushioning measures, hike in electricity tariff, increased taxation and implementation of adverse fiscal policies.

“NEC charges all Organs, leaders, critical stakeholders and indeed all members of the PDP to close ranks, put aside every personal or group interests and work together in the overall effort to reposition and return the PDP to power at the center in the interest of the Nigerian people. 

“Consequently, NEC received and approved the Timetable for Party Congresses across the country.”

“NEC also approved the Reconstitution of the Party Disciplinary and Reconciliation Committees to further ensure the stability of the Party.

“Similarly, NEC approved the extension of the life of the Party Constitution Amendment Committee to allow it to receive new amendment proposals for inclusion in its deliberation and final report for consideration by NEC.

“NEC commended the efforts of the National Working Committee in its effort towards rebranding the Party including the new look PDP Logo which is widely accepted by Party members and Nigerians in general. NEC charges all Party members to continue to work together for the success of the PDP for the benefit of Nigerians and sustenance of Democracy in our country,” Ologunagba added.

Answering questions from reporters on the Damagum’s fate, the party’s publicity scribe said: “Our party emphasizes the need for reconciliation and stability within the party at this time. Therefore, the issue of the National Chairman, Damagum, has been deferred to the next NEC meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for August 15, 2014.”  

…No implosion, Bala assures

Fielding questions from journalists after the meeting, the acting chairman of the party, Ambassador Umar Damagum and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Bauchi state governor, Abdulkadir Bala Mohammed, assured there would be no implosion or dissenting voices in the party whether now or in the future.

Damagum, who survived the onslaught from a section of the party, said: “This is not a matter of life and death. I am still an elected member of this NEC. Even. If I revert to deputy national chairman, I’m still a member of the NWC. The issue of surviving or not does not emerge.”

On the forthcoming governorship election, the acting party chair said: “We have been active and diligent despite the challenges that have arisen in various forms. We have two elections approaching in Edo and Ondo. We are optimistic that following the upcoming primary in Ondo, the future of that election looks promising for us. We have performed admirably to the extent that we can confidently say that in that election, with our collective efforts, we will emerge victorious.”

On its part, Governor Mohammed said:“You can see there was no dissension and rancour. It was planned that the party would have an implosion. PDP is more than that; we have gone beyond all these idiosyncrasies. This party is a united party that is guided by experience and constitutionality. There were a lot of permutations and mischievous thinking outside there. But we looked at all the issues and we worked along our guidelines and constitution. There is no problem or dissension among members.”

 …BoT queries tenure

Earlier in his opening address at the meeting, Chairman PDP Board of Trustees, former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, said the party was preparing to put its house in order and rescue the country from the APC.

He said: “Together, we have the power to surmount any obstacle, overcome any challenge, and realize our collective vision of a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive party ready to take over power at the centre in 2027.

“Nigerians are currently passing through a perilous time and their earnest expectation is for us as a Party to put our house in order and effectively lead the charge to rescue our nation from the stranglehold of the All Progressives Congress.

 “I must address a matter that weighs heavily on our collective conscience, the leadership of the party as it stands.”

On the circumstances that led to the exit of Dr Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman, he said “the current acting Chairman has spent over a year in office whereas as the usual practice of the party, the region from whence the national officer hails from should have produced a viable candidate to complete the tenure of the former national officer.

“Furthermore, the contentious issue surrounding the office of the National Secretary has regrettably sown seeds of discord within our party. The ambiguity surrounding this position has led to confusion and internal strife, hindering our collective efforts to pursue our noble objectives.”

Wabara further noted that “the remedies for these two issues are embedded in our party’s constitution, but intentional legal disputes have rendered the implementation of these constitutional remedies unattainable.

“It is incumbent upon us to resolve this matter with utmost urgency, guided by transparency, fairness, and the best interests of our party and its members.

“As we stand on the cusp of a new era, marked by the impending expiration of the Ward and LGA executive structures of our party across several states, we are presented with a pivotal opportunity to reinvigorate and reposition our party for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”