PDP crisis: Will Secondus get Oshiomhole treatment?

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Will National Chairman Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Uche Secondus go the way of sacked Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)?

This is one question that will be answered in the fullness of time as the leadership crisis facing the opposition PDP deepened Monday with some stakeholders calling for the sack of the embattled party chair.

How Oshiomhole was booted out

At the height of the APC crises, some party chieftains insisted Oshiomhole must go if the party was to make any reasonable inroad and shore up its support base following a string of electoral losses it suffered under his leadership.

For instance, it is on record that the loss suffered by the APC in Zamfara state following protracted rift between the Abdulaziz Yari-led faction and that led by Senator Kabiru Marafa, was blamed on Oshiomhole’s handling of the row.

The result was that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the PDP candidate, Muhammad Bello Matawalle as the duly elected governor.

Matawalle has since defected to the APC.

Similarly, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) under Oshiomhole was also faulted for ‘pushing’ Edo state Governor Godwin Obaseki out of the party, with the governor later joining the PDP.

With these and other pockets of crises within some chapters of the party, the National Executive Council (NEC) met and dissolved the party leadership under the former Edo state governor.

 Secondus’ travails     

Similar scenarios are playing out in PDP as the crises get messier Monday with 6 out of the 18-member NWC signed in support of the compulsory resignation of the party chair, Prince Scondus.

At a meeting late Sunday night in Abuja, the six NWC members agreed that “Secondus has grossly mismanaged the party, highly incompetent, factionalised the party and has lost the confidence of members of the party.”

Making their position known in an unsigned statement, they said:  “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.”

They called on all members of the party to remain calm “as the party leadership is working tirelessly to resolve the leadership crisis.”

 “In attendance were Senator Suleiman Nazif – deputy national chairman (North), Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri – National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Adamu Mustapha – National Auditor, Abdulahi Maibasira – National Financial Secretary, Rt. Hon. S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye – National Youth Leader, Ambassador Taofiq Arapaja – National Vice Chairman (SW), Chief Dr. Ali Odefa National Vice Chairman (SE), Chief Dan Osi Orbih -National Vice Chairman (SS) and Chief Theophilus Dakas National Vice Chairman (NC).

 “Those who voted in favour that Prince Uche Secondus should resign were: Senator Suleiman Nazif – Deputy National Chairman (N). Alhaji Mai Adamu Mustapher -National Auditor, Rt. Hon. S.K.E Udeh- Okoye, Ambassador Taofiq Arapaja – National Vice Chairman (SW), Chief Dan Orbih National Vice Chairman (SS) and Chief Dr. Ali Odefa National Vice Chairman (SE),” the statement further said.

When contacted, a few NWC members, who attended the meeting and  spoke to  Blueprint under anonymity  confirmed the statement.

Youth group

Similarly, a group – Save PDP Group and Coalition of PDP Youth Groups -protested Monday in Abuja and called for Secondus’ removal.

Leader of the group, Mr Tamunotonye Inioribo, while addressing journalists Monday in Abuja, said the protest was organised by a coalition of different PDP support groups dissatisfied with the leadership of Secondus.

Inioribo who accused Secondus of polarising the party for his own selfish interest, said, “Under Secondus, the PDP Governors Forum, National Working Committee and other organs are divided.”

The protesters were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions such as “Secondus Must Go”, “we have lost confidence in your chairmanship”, “we cannot afford to lose more governors” among others.

 Reps too…

Also, the PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives, asked the party chair to quit office so the party could commence preparation ahead 2023 general  elections.

in a statement jointly signed by its leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, and his deputy, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, the lawmakers said Secondus should “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.”

It also appealed to the party’s BOT and the Governors Forum 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.”

The caucus said it arrived at the decision at the end of a virtual meeting of members Saturday August 7, 2021 over current concerns on the party’s leadership.

They  accused Secondus of placing personal interests above building a vibrant opposition political party as expected in a democratic setting, noting that “PDP members and millions of Nigerians nationwide anticipate vigorous and well coordinated issue-based national opposition in preparation for a national convention and the 2023 elections.”

“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.

“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.

“The lax and bedroom managerial attitude of the Chairman who runs the party from his home and only surfaces in the party office for meetings, coupled with several promises without commensurate action has led to inept management of complaints, despondency amongst members and consequently an exodus of members of the party at all levels, including a member of the Board of Trustee of the party. 

“Whilst these misfortunes befell the party and concerned party members are busy trying to stem the tide, the party Chairman has carried on as if all is well and does not appear to see the caldron awaiting the party if it continues on that trajectory”, the caucus’ statement said in part.

National vice chairs join call

In the same vein, the party’s national vice chairmen are also asking for Secondus’ resignation.

 In a statement Monday in Ibadan, the party’s national vice chair in the South-west, Ambassador Taofeek Oladejo Arapaja, said the decision was the outcome of an emergency meeting of the national vice-chairmen held in Abuja Sunday to review developments within the party.

The statement said the meeting also urged stakeholders to remain steadfast “as PDP remains the hope of Nigerians.”

Arapaja listed the resolutions to include; “That the National Chairman of the party Prince Uche Secondus, Should resign and save the party from further disintegration being witness presently in the party.

“That the resignation of its national officers is as a result of the inert leadership of the National Chairman, and as well the movement of Governor of the party to the failed ruling party.

“They as well resolved that all Party stakeholders and party faithful should remain calm and resolute to the party as the party is the only hope of all Nigerians.

“The resolution was jointly signed by the National Vice-chairman of people Democratic party (PDP) from South-wWest Zone Ambassador Taofeek Oladejo Arapaja, South South Zone Chief Dan Osi, South-east Chief (Dr) Ali Odefa and North-central Dankas Shau.

Reps’ minority leader differs

But contrary to the caucus’ position, the House minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu said there was no meeting where such decision was taken.  

In a statement Monday, Elumelu said: “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.”

I won’t quit -Secondus

Amidst the tension generated by the call for his resignation, the party chair insisted he would not quit office.

 In a statement Monday by his special adviser on media, Ike Abonyi, the embattled party chair said: “Nothing so far warrants his resignation from the party position and those tiny minority calling for his resignation should come clean and tell party members across the country his offense why he should resign.

 “He said he will remain focused and committed to the ideals of the party which he swore to protect and defend upon his election to lead this great party 44 months ago.”

‘Call violation of extant laws’

 Backing  Secondus also, the party’s legal adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem said  the call for his resignation was unconstitutional.

 In a statement in Abuja, he said: “By Section 29 (3) of the constitution of our party it is the national chairman or a summon backed by 2/3 members of the NWC that can validly convene a meeting of the NWC. 

 “Subsection (4) provides for 2/3 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 am 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) & 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 powers 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.”

 Dickson backs Secondus

 Also drumming support for Secondus, Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP Bayelsa West) said the party chair cannot be stampeded out of office.

Dickson, who stated this Monday in a personally signed  statement in Abuja, said only National Convention of the party can remove Secondus as chairman and not antagonistic  NWC members.

 He said the call for Secondus resignation by some members of the party was orchestrated and aimed at throwing the party into needless  crisis ahead of the 2023 general elections.

 According to him, “the purported call made by the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives for Secondus resignation is a ruse as the leader of the caucus , Hon Ndudi Elumelu , had issued a rebuttal.

 The statement reads: “My attention has been drawn to a purported statement by some members of the 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. 

“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. 

“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:  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. 

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

Govs determine fate today

Meanwhile, governors elected on the PDP platform, would continue their meeting today (Tuesday) to decide the fate of the party’s embattled chair.

They had earlier met Monday at the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro District, Abuja, but couldn’t conclude deliberations at the end of their meeting.

 Secondus arrived venue of the meeting a few minutes after 4 p.m.

Last week, the PDP Governors’ Forum appealed for calm over the leadership crisis currently bedevilling the party.