John Alechenu and Leke Baiyewu
10 August 2021
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The fate of the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Uche Secondus, on Monday remained uncertain as a meeting of the party’s governors ended in a stalemate.
The PUNCH gathered that the governors, at the meeting in Abuja, could not agree on whether or not, Secondus should resign his position before the party’s national convention in November.
Also on Monday, the party’s National Working Committee was divided with six members calling for Secondus’ immediate resignation.
Members of the House of Representatives caucus of the party also disagreed on the call for the chairman’s resignation.
Recall that a crisis rocked the country’s main opposition party last week when seven members of its National Executive Committee resigned over their opposition to Secondus’ style of leadership.
Although some of them later withdrew their resignation following the intervention of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, which met on Thursday, chieftains of the party led by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, insisted on Secondus’ resignation on the grounds that he was plotting his re-election ahead of the party’s next national convention.
The BoT at its Thursday’s meeting set up a 35-member elders’ committee, which would meet on Tuesday (today) to resolve the crisis.
The PDP governors’ meeting on Monday was held for the governors to agree on a position ahead of today’s meeting of the party’s elders.
It was gathered that Wike, who was leading the anti-Secondus forces, tried to convince his colleagues that were backing the embattled national chairman to dump him.
It was, however, learnt pro-Secondus members led by the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, stuck to their position, insisting that the national chairman should be allowed to end his tenure.
After the meeting, which started at 10am at the Akwa Ibom State Governors Lodge, Asokoro, and ended at 4:07pm, Tambuwal told reporters that the parley would continue on Tuesday.
We will continue meeting tomorrow, issues will be resolved as a family –Tambuwal
He said, “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 be continuing tomorrow with other stakeholders.
“Very soon, Nigerians and indeed all of you will hear our solution but we are working towards resolving all issues, as a family and by the grace of God, we are going to achieve that.”
The press briefing, however, came to an abrupt end when a reporter asked if it was true that the governors passed a vote of confidence in the Secondus-led NWC.
Wike, who stood behind Tambuwal shook his head, obviously indicating such an action was not taken.
But Sokoto State governor said, “Thank you gentlemen,” and led his other colleagues into their separate waiting vehicles.
Other governors who attended the meeting included Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo), his Delta and Edo state counterparts, Ifeanyi Okowa and Godwin Obaseki respectively.
Others are Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu, (Abia); Adamu Fintiri (Adamawa); Bala Mohammed, (Bauchi); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).
Protesters at PDP national secretariat, demand Secondus resignation
As the governors were meeting, a group of young members of the party stormed the national secretariat of the party to demand the immediate resignation of the national chairman over alleged incompetence.
The members, under the aegis of Save PDP Group, were at the Wadata Plaza, to register their displeasure.
Most of the protesters carried placards with inscriptions, such as “Uche Secondus Must Go”, “We have lost confidence in your chairmanship”, “We cannot afford to lose more governors” among others.
Addressing reporters during the protest, the leader of the group, Tamunotonye Inioribo accused Secondus of leading the party towards destruction.
He said, “We cannot watch one individual destroy what so many Nigerians sacrificed to build.
“Under his watch, so many of our leaders from the north to the south are leaving this party. We have lost governors, National Assembly members, BoT members and ordinary members. If Secondus remains, we may be left with nobody else by 2023.”
Six NWC members insist on chairman’s resignation
In a related development, nine out of the 19 members of the NWC held a meeting late on Sunday. Six of them were said to have voted in favour of the call for the resignation of the national chairman.
Those at the meeting included the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif; National Secretary, Umaru Tsauri; National Auditor, Mai Adamu Mustapha; National Financial Secretary, Abdulahi Maibasira and the National youth leader, S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye.
Others are National Vice-chairman (South-West), Ambassador Taofiq Arapaja; National Vice-Chairman (South-East) Chief Ali Odefa; National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Chief Dan Orbih; National vice chairman (North-Central), Chief Theophilus Dakas.
Those who voted in favour of the call for Secondus’ resignation were Nazif, Mustapher, Udeh- Okoye, Arapaja, Orbih and Odefa. Others abstained.
Those who called for Secondus’ resignation said they based their action on their conclusion that he mismanaged the party.
These were contained in a WhatsApp statement sent to select party members.
It read in part, “Members of the NWC sat and decided that a meeting of the NWC should be held on the 8th of August 2021 at Hilton to further deliberate on the matter bedeviling the party, the meeting held and extensively deliberated, nine members of the NWC agreed that the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, had grossly mismanaged the party, highly incompetent, factionalised the party and had lost the confidence of members of the party.
“The matter of his resignation was put to vote, six members voted that he should resign and three 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 Representatives and the Senate.”
NWC meeting illegal – National legal adviser
However, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem,
an ally of the national chairman, described the meeting as illegal.
Enoidem said, “I just saw the above (the statement by anti-Secondus NWC members) somewhere and as a committed member of this party and by the special grace of God, a member of NWC, I have the following points to make:
“By Section 29 (3) of the constitution of our party, it is the national chairman or a summons backed by two-thirds of members of the NWC, that can validly convene a meeting of the NWC.
Subsection (4) provides for two-thirds of members of the 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, I am not aware of any meeting of the 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 the 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 gives 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.”
PDP Reps split as Elumelu disowns anti-Secondus lawmakers
The PDP members in the House of Representatives were also divided over moves to remove the national chairman.
Recall that the Leader of the PDP caucus in the House, Kingsley Chinda and his Deputy, Chukwuka Onyema, in a statement on Sunday said the caucus at a meeting on Saturday called for Secondus’ resignation.
But in a statement on Monday, the House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, faulted the anti-Secondus lawmakers.
Elumelu said members of the PDP caucus in the House had yet to meet on the leadership crisis in the opposition party. He, therefore, dismissed the call for Secondus’ resignation.
Faulting the Chinda-led group, Elumelu stated that the purported meeting by the anti-Secondus lawmakers was “without the knowledge of the leadership of the minority caucus and, therefore, in breach of established procedure.”
Only national convention can remove Secondus – Dickson
In a statement on Monday, a former Governor of Bayelsa State and senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson, faulted a statement by some members of the NWC, who called for the resignation of Secondus.
Dickson described as illegal,l the meeting convened by the NWC members, saying only the national chairman could convene such a meeting.
He stated, “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 pars 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 6 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 authorise 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 faulted a statement by the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, who on Sunday asked Secondus to resign.
He stated, “As Nigerians and all PDP leaders know, the minority leader of the Reps is Ndudi Elumelu not Kingsley Chinda, and members of the House of Representatives caucus have already spoken that they did not hold any such meeting and the Chairman of the caucus Ndudi Elumelu has rightly issued a statement which is in the public domain that he did not summon or preside over such a meeting.”
I will not resign, Secondus vows
In a statement in response to calls for his resignation, Secondus said he had done nothing wrong to warrant his resignation.
He said this in a statement titled, “Why I will not resign-Secondus”, was signed by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi, in Abuja, on Monday.
It read, “The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, has said that he will not resign his position.
“Prince Secondus said in a short statement from his media office that 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 offence why he should resign.”