THE caucus meeting of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on August 27 was presided over by the Acting National Chairman Yemi Akinwonmi despite the reinstatement of National Chairman Uche Secondus by a Kebbi State High Court earlier on August 26.
The development suggests that the Kebbi State High Court’s reversal of Secondus’ suspension by a Rivers State High Court has not ended the leadership crisis in Nigeria’s leading opposition party.
The ICIR learnt that Secondus was not present at the August 27 caucus meeting, which held at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja.
Reasons for Secondus’ absence was unclear as he was expected to chair the meeting following the Kebbi State High Court ruling that overturned the Rivers State High Court order which restrained him from parading as the national chairman and a PDP member.
Secondus had returned to his office as PDP national chairman immediately after the Kebbi State High Court issued the counter order on August 26.
However, speaking at the commencement of the caucus meeting on August 27, Akinwonmi, who was named acting national chairman just before Secondus was reinstated by the court, disclosed that he was served with a letter when he arrived for the meeting.
But he did not reveal the contents of the letter.
“I came here this morning and a letter was served on me. Coincidentally, I met the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) and told him, and he told me he received a copy of the same letter,” Akinwonmi said. The acting national chairman said the concerned letter would be discussed at the caucus meeting.
*PDP national convention to hold October 30 and 31
After the caucus meeting, Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal announced that following a recommendation of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), the party’s national convention would hold on October 30 and 31 at a yet to be determined venue.
The development means that the party intends to go ahead with the resolutions of the August 10 stakeholders meeting where it was agreed that the Secondus-led executive committee should set processes in motion to conduct the national convention in October, rather than December, the earlier scheduled date when Secondus’ first term in office was supposed to elapse.
The resolutions reached at the caucus meeting, as announced by Tambuwal, was silent on Secondus’ position as national chairman but an eight-man panel led by former Senate president David Mark was set up to work towards the withdrawal of all the pending court cases to ensure that normalcy returned to the party.
“I appeal on behalf of this body to all well meaning members of our party in the interest of the party to sheathe their swords and let us embrace peace because Nigeria is waiting for PDP, and I believe that we have the capacity to resolve whatever issues we have internally,” Tambuwal added.
A Rivers State High Court presided by Justice O. Gbasam had, on August 23, granted an interim injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as chairman and member of the PDP.
The order followed an ex parte application in suit No: PHC/2183/CS/2021 filed by Ibeabuchi Ernest Alex, Dennis Nna Amadi, Emmanuel Stephen and Umezirike Onucha against Uche Secondus (1st defendant) and the PDP (2nd defendant).
The court also ordered Secondus to refrain from calling, attending or presiding over any meeting of the PDP, or any committee of the party at the ward, local government or state level or calling for any ward, local government or state congress of the party.
Secondus was also restrained from setting up committees for congresses or participating in any activity of the PDP whatsoever whilst on suspension, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
But a new twist emerged in the leadership crisis when a Kebbi State High Court, on August 26, ordered Secondus to return to his position as the national chairman of the PDP.
The presiding judge Nusirat Umar gave the order while ruling on an application filed by three concerned members of the PDP – Yahaya Usman, Abubakar Mohammed and Bashar Suleman – in a suit numbered KB/AC/M. 170/2021.
The judge said she was satisfied that an interim order should be granted on the purported suspension of Secondus pending the determination of the case.
Akinwonmi, deputy national chairman (South) and Suleiman Nazif, deputy national chairman (North) had both laid claims to the the party’s leadership after Secondus’ suspension by the Rivers State High Court.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Kola Ologbondiyan later announced Akinwonmi as the party’s acting national chairman on August 26, only for the Kebbi State High Court to reinstate Secondus a few hours later.
A PDP group, backed by Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike, has been pushing to remove Secondus from office before the party’s national convention.
The convention, where Secondus is expected to seek election for a second term, was initially scheduled for December but it was moved forward to October after party stakeholders, including the PDP Governors Forum and members of the BOT, deliberated on the crisis in the party at a meeting on August 10.
The resolutions reached by the PDP stakeholders at the August 10 meeting was seen as a middle ground arrangement for the pro-Secondus and pro-Wike camps as the embattled national chairman was to remain in office to conduct the national convention, though he lost two months of his scheduled tenure in office.
The stakeholders resolved that Secondus should immediately commence processes for the national convention in two months.
However, tensions resurfaced after reports emerged that Secondus was not ready to conduct the national convention in October but was insisting on staying in office until December – the original date of the national convention.
But going by the resolutions reached at the August 27 caucus meeting, the party would go ahead with the stakeholders’ resolution by holding the national convention in October.
The PDP was thrown into crisis after the resignation of seven national officers of the party on August 3 led to calls for Secondus’s removal.
Secondus’ opponents claimed he lacked the competence required to lead the PDP to dislodge the ruling APC in the 2023 presidential election.