Estimated reading time: 22 minute(s)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors will today decide the fate of National Chairman Uche Secondus after consultation with party elders.
The main opposition party remained polarised yesterday over Secondus.
The party’s governors met yesterday on the raging controversy. After the meeting they announced that the decision will be taken today.
The party’s House of Representatives caucus is divided.
A huge protest was staged at the secretariat yesterday, asking for Secondus’ exit.
All the 13 PDP governors attended the meeting, which was held at the Akwa Ibom Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
The governors are: Tambuwal; Darius Ishaku (Taraba); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
Other were Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Duoye Diri (Bayelsa); Ifeanyi Okowa Delta); and Wike.
A source said the situation was so tense that the governors could not even attend the inauguration of the e-Registration platform of the party fixed for yesterday.
The source added: “The governors have indicated that they will meet with PDP elders (three representatives from each of the six geo-political zones), principal officers of the National Assembly from PDP, former principal officers of the National Assembly, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibril, among other stakeholders.
“All those concerned have been notified of the enlarged meeting with the governors on Tuesday (today) in Abuja. These governors technically shifted the D-Day.
Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Tambuwal, who spoke briefly with reporters, said the governors and other stakeholders had resolved to work together in unity in the interest of the party.
Tambuwal declined answering a direct question on whether the party chairman would stay or be removed. The governors invited Secondus to the meeting about 40 minutes before it ended.
A source said the party would have to choose between Secondus and the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who is championing his removal.
The source further hinted that in weighing the options, the governors and other stakeholders would have to consider who, between the chairman and the Rivers governor, is considered more strategic to the party’s future ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The move to unseat the chairman has also further split members of the National Working Committee (NWC). Nine members of the 18-member NWC were said to have held a meeting at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Sunday, where six of them purportedly voted that Secondus should resign.
The six officers are: Deputy National chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif; National Auditor, Mai Adamu Mustapha; National Youth Leader, Sunday Udeh-Okoye; National Vice Chairman (Southwest), Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman (South-South); Chief Dan Orbih; and National Vice Chairman (Southeast); Chief Ali Odefa.
The meeting was said to have forwarded the decision of the six officers to the PDP Governors’ Forum, the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the National Assembly Caucus.
But National Legal Adviser Emmanuel Enoidem, described the meeting where six members voted for the removal of the chairman as illegal.
According to him, by virtue of Section 29(3) of the PDP Constitution, it is the National Chairman, or a summon backed by two-thirds of members of the NWC, that can validly convene a meeting of the body.
In a statement, Enoidem said: “As a bona fide member of the NWC, to the best of my knowledge, I 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 the NWC in utter disdain and violation of clear extant provisions of our constitution.
Secondus media adviser, Ike Abonyi, said in a statement, shortly before Secondus heeded the call from the governors to appear before them, that: “The tiny minority calling for my resignation should come clean and tell party members across the country my offense why I should resign.”
Secondus said he would remain focused and committed to the ideals of the party which he swore to protect and defend upon his election to lead the party 44 months ago.
House of Representatives Caucus maintained that Secondus should resign to save the opposition force from collapse.
The caucus made the call in a communique signed by the Chairman, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP- Rivers), at the end of an online meeting on the current crisis rocking the party.
Chinda said that the call followed the accusation of inept leadership against Secondus, which was frustrating party members across the country.
According to the lawmaker, the situation has resulted in mass exit of PDP members at the National Assembly from the party.
He said: “We urge the chairman 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 regards and appreciation by the party leadership now and in years to come.
“This he will do by honourably resigning his position as party chairman immediately, to allow the party an early start.”
But a section of the House PDP Ccaucus has disclaimed the calls.
In a statement, Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu, said: “If such a meeting held, it was without the knowledge of the leadership of the Minority Caucus, and therefore in breach of established procedure.”
Elumelu said PDP lawmakers in the House were “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.”
Some protesters staged a peaceful demonstration at the PDP Secretariat, insisting on Secondus’ resignation.
The placard-carrying protesters, mainly youths, gathered at the main entrance of the secretariat and the adjourning streets with placards as they chanted solidarity songs.
They bemoaned the recent defection of some prominent members of the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC), blaming the PDP chairman for the defections.
Some of them were heard saying: “Secondus must go”, “we can’t lose Wike to APC”, “we can’t lose Makinde to the APC”.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “Uche Secondus Must Go”, “We have lost confidence in your chairmanship”, “We cannot afford to lose more governors”.
Leader of the protesters, Tamunotonye Inioribo, accused the PDP chairman of polarising the party for his personal interests.
He blamed Secondus for the string of defections that has hit the party, especially the defection of three governors and many members of the National Assembly.
Also, at their meeting in Abuja yesterday, PDP governors deferred their decisions on Secondus’ fate till today.
House of Representatives PDP Caucus maintained that he should vacate office in the interest of the party.
The chairman ruled out the possibility of resignation, saying calls for his removal were unwarranted.
Former Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson condemned calls for Secondus’ resignation as protesters stormed the party’s secretariat in Abuja demanding for his resignation.
But, Senator Dickson, who represents Bayelsa West in the Senate, said the “illegal” National Working Committee (NWC) meeting and that of the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives, and the protest, were part of the plot to contrive a needless crisis in the PDP to set up a caretaker committee, which is illegal.
According to him, the chairman of the party could either be removed by the national convention or choose to resign on his own volition.
He said: “Let me also bring to the attention of all that 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. So I call on all leaders of the party that this is perhaps their last effort to save the PDP.
“Like me, most of us have paid dearly and have paid our dues since 2015 when we lost the presidential elections, and like me, we should all not rest on our oars or leave any stone unturned in the bid to strengthen and reposition the party.