John Alechenu and Daud Olatunji
20 August 2021
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Wike’s group kicks as Secondus plans Oct national convention shift
There were strong indications on Thursday that power blocs in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had sidestepped some of the agreements reached at the party’s expanded National Executive Committee meeting held on Tuesday, August 10.
It was gathered that though it was agreed at the meeting that the party’s national convention should hold in October, the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee was advancing reasons why the date was no longer feasible.
But sources in the party said the rival power bloc led by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, dismissed Secondus’ excuse, saying it was a ploy to sit tight.
It was gathered that based on the fresh crisis in the party, it might hold another NEC meeting next month.
Recall that crisis hit the PDP two weeks ago following alleged moves by a group within the party to remove Secondus on the grounds that he was plotting to install his loyalists as members of the National Convention Committee to ensure his re-emergence as the national chairman.
The PUNCH had on August 11 reported that the PDP, at its expanded NEC meeting held the previous day, reached a middle-of-the-road agreement to satisfy the warring groups.
According to the report, the party rejected moves by the Wike group to remove Secondus.
To pacify the Wike group, the party moved the national convention, which was initially scheduled for December, back to October.
A source in the party, stated on Thursday, “This is the premise upon which the peace pact was built. Members of Wike’s group sheathed their swords, because the convention was shifted to October, but from all indications, Secondus is not ready for any convention in October.”
It was gathered that the NWC had been unable to reach a consensus on the schedule of activities to be presented to NEC ahead of the setting up of the zoning and national convention planning committee.
This, our correspondents gathered, was largely responsible for the rescheduling of the NWC meeting to next Tuesday.
Based on a truce brokered by governors and other party leaders after last week’s expanded NEC meeting, the Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said among other things, “All processes leading to an early national convention in October be immediately activated by relevant party organs, especially the National Executive Committee.
“The meeting requested the NEC to immediately constitute a zoning committee for party offices and another committee for national elective offices.”
A party leader, who confided in The PUNCH, explained that not much progress was made in the direction of convening a NEC meeting to set up the zoning and convention committees.
The source said, “To be quite honest with you, we, like most party members, are worried about the fact that we still have outstanding congresses in nine states and the Anambra State governorship election coming up on November 9.
“We cannot, as a party, afford to go into the Anambra election with a divided house. We are also uncomfortable with the disposition of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who has literally washed his hands off the Anambra election.
“Be that as it may, we will soon constitute the national campaign council and the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, may head it.”
Another source at the meeting said, “Whatever we do, we must take into account the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“We have issued notices of our activities for the Ekiti and Osun elections. Most of the activities will be held between September and October. By the end of October, we will be heading for the Anambra election, which is on November 6; then, we can talk about our convention. We are likely to convene another expanded meeting to explain the situation to our leaders.
“One thing is certain, all members of this party, irrespective of tendency, are committed to the stability and growth of the PDP.”
However, one of those opposed to Secondus, who also spoke in confidence for fear of retribution said, “It is clear that the issues our leaders tried to deal with are still there.
“We agreed that NEC should constitute the zoning and convention committees immediately; go back to the communiqué read by Governor Tambuwal after last week’s expanded meeting, but what is happening today?”
It was further gathered that the seven deputies, who resigned their positions, had withdrawn their resignation letters and would be attending the NWC meeting slated for Tuesday.
When contacted, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Diran Odeyemi, who is one of those who resigned, confirmed this development.
He said, “We resigned because we were not fairly treated. We accused the national chairman of not playing the role of a leader, but his response was that the constitution does not give us any role other than working with our principals or in their absence, acting on their behalf.
“We still accused him of not involving us; we informed him that as a leader, he should have found a way of involving us in administering the party, because we were elected and we represent people, who are members of our party.
“He admitted at the end of the day, apologised and assured us that that particular aspect of the constitution would be addressed. With that and with follow-up calls by members of the BoT and our respected leaders and elders, we had no choice (but to return).
“In my case, I represent the South-West; we have an election in Osun very soon and I don’t have the support of leaders at home that I should resign, so also in Oyo State. The decision of my constituency is that since you’ve made your point known and an apology has been tendered and a promise of redress has been made, you have to pull back.”
Meanwhile, the national chairman of the party, Secondus, on Thursday, held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta.
The meeting, which lasted for more than one hour and ended at 2.06pm, was held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
A source at the meeting told one of our correspondents that the national chairman took his time to narrate his ordeal and troubles in running the party to the former President.
The source added that Secondus was able to convince Obasanjo to intervene to settle the crisis.
The source said the former President maintained his stance that he was not interested in partisan politics, but his doors were open for advice.
It was also gathered that the meeting between Obasanjo and Secondus was a fallout of an earlier meeting held in Minna, Niger State.
“He (Secondus) narrated his ordeals to Obasanjo and urged him to intervene and save the party from collapse. Although the former President said he had left partisan politics, he stated that he would always offer his advice,” the source stated.
While addressing journalists after the meeting, the PDP Chairman said he came to see Obasanjo as an elder statesman in order for him to advise the present government.
He said, “I am here with members of my team as well as the PDP executive in Ogun State to tap from the wealth of Baba’s knowledge as a statesman.
“It has been very difficult lately because Baba is a global personality, resolving issues across the world. In fact, the last place I learnt Baba visited was Afghanistan; despite the situation in that country, he went there and came back alive.
“So, my team and I are very grateful and we give glory to God. We have discussed Nigeria. Nigeria first before any other thing. Yes, we belong to a political party, but if we don’t have a country, where do we practice democracy?
“We need to have a peaceful country where democracy can strive and at this point, we need Chief Obasanjo to come in with solutions.
“We are aware of insecurity, the poor economy, banditry, kidnapping all over the country; and we can’t continue to watch without reaching out to the elders so that they can come to gather and advise the present government. That is the duty of a statesman.”
Obasanjo, on his part, maintained that though the situation of Nigeria was very bad, it was not irredeemable.
“Every right-thinking individual knows that the Nigerian situation is very bad, but it is not irredeemable,” he stated.
Obasanjo stated that Secondus did not visit him because of partisan politics, but because he was concerned about the situation of the nation.
He said, “You have not visited me because of partisan politics, but you have visited me as a person, who is concerned about where Nigeria is and where Nigeria may be descending into if the right action is not taken.
“And I couldn’t agree with you more; every right-thinking Nigerian and every lover of Nigeria will agree that Nigeria is not what it should be today, unless there is something else wrong with them.
“The situation is bad, very bad, but the situation is not irredeemable. That is where the hope lies. The situation is very bad, but it is not hopelessly irredeemable.”