FOLLOWING the resignation of seven national officers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a group including members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) has asked the National Chairman Uche Secondus to resign.
Speaking on behalf of the ‘rebel group’, PDP National Youth Leader Sunday Ude-Okoye in an interview with The ICIR on August 4 said Secondus should resign because he had not shown the competence required to lead the party to victory in the 2023 general elections.
The seven PDP national officers that resigned on August 3 are the deputy national financial secretary, deputy national organising secretary, deputy national legal adviser, deputy national publicity secretary, deputy woman leader and deputy national auditor.
In separate letters addressed to PDP National Secretary Unaru Tsauri, the seven national officers blamed Secondus for their resignation. They accused the national chairman of marginalisation.
But PDP national youth leader Ude-Okoye, who appears to be spearheading the move to oust Secondus, took the matter a notch higher by accusing the national chairman of incompetence and demanding his resignation.
PDP had been hit by high profile defections in recent times, with Ebonyi State governor Dave Umahi, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade and Zamfara State governor Bello Matawalle all moving to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ude-Okoye blamed Secondus for the defections.
The PDP national convention, where the party would elect national officers, is scheduled for December 2021 and Secondus is expected to run for a second term in office. But Ude-Okoye said the national chairman should not stay in office until the convention.
“Secondus has failed and Secondus should resign. He has to leave so that another capable hand can come on board to lead us to the convention and lead us to victory. We are losing our members on daily basis. If he does not leave now many of our members will continue leaving. Our party is going down. If he loves the party he should step down,” Ude-Okoye said in the interview with The ICIR.
Secondus was among PDP chieftains that prevailed on former national chairman Ahmed Muazu, a former governor of Bauchi State, to resign after the party lost the 2015 presidential election.
Ude-Okoye added, “When Ahmed Muazu led us into opposition (after losing the presidential election in 2015) Secondus and his men asked him to resign and he resigned. Secondus mounted the podium. So what is wrong in telling Secondus to resign today because most of our governors have left? What is wrong in telling him to resign because most of our senators have left?”
* Secondus not effective as opposition leader… PDP youth leader
The PDP national youth leader further claimed that Secondus was not effective in his role as leader of the national opposition. According to him, Secondus was unwilling to confront President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government.
“This is not a rebellion. A group of PDP members is saying that Mr. Chairman is incompetent because he has not been engaging with Nigerians as opposition leader since he was elected. He has not gone on membership drives across the states of the federation. He has not resolved crisis in any state of the federation since he became the national chairman. Since he became the national chairman he has never gone to non-PDP states to encourage our members. He has not engaged the country using the media on daily, weekly or monthly basis. Mr. Chairman has not come out to tell citizens that the present administration does not mean well for Nigerians. He is only interested in enriching himself, he does not want to engage in any programme that will lead to him having an altercation with the ruling party. He only warns Buhari against rigging elections. If Buhari rigs the election what happens? He only criticizes Buhari in our NEC meeting and he is saying he is an opposition leader.”
* Rivers governor Wike fingered as mastermind of plot to remove Secondus
There are reports that Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike was bent on removing Secondus, who he heavily supported to emerge national chairman in 2017. It is believed that Wike is eyeing a presidential or vice presidential ticket in 2023 and being from the same state (Rivers) as the party’s national chairman would undermine his chances.
In a statement released on August 4, Secondus’s media office suggested that Wike was behind the bid to oust the national chairman. But the statement did not mention the governor by name.
Ude-Okoye told The ICIR that Wike was not sponsoring the push for Secondus’s removal.
But he added, “Agreeing without conceding that Wike is behind us, was it not the same Wike that took him (Secondus) round the country and made him national chairman? So Wike was a saint when he funded you (Secondus) and now because Wike is saying you are a failure, that you are not doing well, he is now a bad person?”
In a statement titled ‘Who is after Secondus and why is somebody in love of caretaker?’ released by Secondus’s Special Adviser on Media Ike Abonyi on August 4, a “strong chieftain” of the PDP believed to be Wike was blamed for the fresh crisis in the party.
The statement said Secondus’s team was privy to intelligence that the ‘strong’ party chieftain was bent on hijacking the party structure and was deploying all devious means to try and diminish the person and character of the national chairman in a bid to achieve the ambition.
“Few months to National Convention anybody who means well for this party and who is a true democrat should respect the constitution of the party and approach issues dispassionately,” the statement added while assuring that every reasonable step is being taken to protect the image and status of the party.
Wike’s Chief Press Secretary Kelvin Ebri did not respond to enquiries by The ICIR concerning the governor’s alleged role in the crisis. Ebri did not respond to phone calls and messages.
* Wike cannot hijack PDP national structure… Former national legal adviser
Meanwhile, a former PDP national legal adviser Mark Jacob said Wike would not succeed in his alleged quest to hijack the national structure of the party.
Speaking on Arise News Television on August 4, Jacob reacted to the alleged moves being made by Wike to remove Secondus and hijack the party at the national convention.
“The mechanism put in place by the PDP makes it difficult for any individual to sit down anywhere and say he will dictate what will happen at the convention,” he said, noting that while there was nothing wrong in Wike having the ambition to influence the outcome of the convention, whether he will succeed or not is another issue entirely.
Jacob, who was equally a former commissioner for justice in Plateau State, added that removing Secondus would be difficult unless he chooses to resign.
“The party provides for how a sitting national chairman can be removed and unless he decides to resign, it is difficult to get him removed without following formal laid down provisions of the constitution of the party.”
But he observed that there were instances in the past when PDP national leaders were coerced or encouraged to resign when issues became very unbearable.
However, Jacob advised those who are seeking to oust Secondus to wait until the convention.
“You can’t remove Secondus by force or by using a handful of people. The structures of the PDP are so strong that you cannot pocket this political party at the national level. Others have tried and failed. Nobody has that capacity no matter how many millions you have. Whether people like it or not they must go to that convention,” Jacob stressed.
The unfolding crisis in the PDP is a result of personal selfish interests of stakeholders, Jacobs further observed.
“Some individuals are struggling to take charge of the process of emergence of political office holders,” he explained.
The crisis could cost PDP the opportunity of taking effective advantage of the failings of the Buhari-led APC government in the 2023 elections, Jacob warned.