EMBATTLED former National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Uche Secondus was absent when the party’s outgoing National Working Committee (NWC), which he led, held a valedictory session in Abuja on December 8.
The new NWC of the PDP, which was elected at the recent national convention in October, will take over the affairs of the party from December 10.
It is expected that PDP Deputy National Chairman (South) Yemi Akinwonmi, who was appointed acting chairman after Secondus’ suspension in August, would undertake the formal handover to new National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu, a former Senate President.
The handover would mark the beginning of the tenure of new national officers who PDP members hope would reposition the party and lead it to victory in the 2023 general elections.
However, while Ayu and the new PDP executives take the centre stage, Secondus would be in the background, pushing ahead with the legal battle to overturn his sack from office.
Secondus has not given up his quest to return to office to complete his tenure as national chairman of the PDP.
* Secondus wants Supreme Court to reverse sack and return him to office
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt had, on October 29, dismissed an appeal filed by Secondus challenging his suspension from the PDP and removal as national chairman.
Secondus had asked the appellate court to restrain the PDP, its officers and representatives from holding or conducting the national convention pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal.
He also asked the court to grant him the right to preside over the convention, where he planned to seek a second term in office before the protracted clash with a group of party stakeholders led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike resulted in his suspension and removal from office.
But the panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Simon Isammani dismissed Secondus’ prayers and allowed the national convention to go ahead, leading to the election of Ayu and other new national officers of the party.
The verdict of the Port Harcourt Court of Appeal came as a major relief for the PDP and it was believed that Secondus had finally lost out in the leadership crisis that was rocking the party, but the matter took another turn as the former national chairman headed for the Supreme Court.
In the appeal he filed at the Supreme Court, numbered SC/CV/1048/2021, Secondus is asking the apex court to nullify his suspension and restore him to the office of PDP national chairman to complete his tenure.
The Supreme Court had fixed December 6 to hear the appeal but the suit was adjourned to December 7 after it was discovered that one of the defendants in the case, South-South Zonal Chairman of PDP Dan Orbih, was not in court and was not represented by a lawyer.
At the hearing on December 7, the five-member panel of of justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mohammed Musa Dattijo granted an application by Secondus’ lawyer Oba Maduabuchi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to serve court processes on the defendants through substituted means – by pasting the documents on the walls of the PDP head office at Wadata Plaza, in Abuja.
The processes Secondus intend to serve on the defendants include: the notice of appeal filed on November 8, 2021, the record of appeal transmitted on November 11, 2021 and the appellant’s brief of argument filed on October 18, 2021.
The Supreme Court is to fix a new date to hear the appeal after the court processes have been served on the defendants.
* Ayu foresees turbulent journey as PDP national chairman
Meanwhile, at the valedictory session for the outgoing NWC on December 8, incoming PDP National Chairman Ayu noted that leading the party was going to be a difficult assignment.
“The journey ahead is going to be turbulent and rough,” the former Senate President said.
Ayu’s emergence as PDP national chairman was lauded by party members who believed he had the capacity to lead the party in the right direction.
But addressing the outgoing NWC, Ayu admitted he would not be able to do it all by himself.
He said he would require all hands to be on the deck in order to succeed.
According to him, he would run an all-inclusive administration.
“Many people have attributed to me all sorts of capabilities. I’m sorry, I am not Jesus Christ, neither am I Prophet Mohammed, I am only a team leader,who believes firmly that to run a big political party of this nature, you must work with everybody.
“We must most work as a team; there will be no divisions. We will not allow any divisions. And that will extend to all other members of the party. We intend to run an inclusive administration.”
Ayu specifically sought the cooperation of members of the outgoing NWC, who he said discharged their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.
* Former national chairman offers advise to incoming NWC
As the Ayu-led NWC takes over the affairs of the party, a former National Chairman of the PDP Okwesilieze Nwodo has advised the incoming national officers to build a culture of transparency and accountability.
Nwodo, who was governor of Enugu State on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) during the Third Republic, spoke in an interview with The ICIR.
Drawing from his experience as PDP secretary-general and later national chairman, Nwodo said, “Let them (new PDP executive committee) start a tradition that is sustainable and strengthen the internal dynamics of handling party funds through the financial secretary, auditor and treasurer, and keep their books clean. My books were clean, that was why I invited Akintola Williams to audit the party accounts. I wasn’t afraid of submitting accounts to INEC at the end of the year or to the national convention. Every money was spent according to a heading. It can be done, it is not rocket science.”
“If they establish that tradition everybody who is given money as chairman of a committee to run a project in the party, that committee must retire the money it was given. If they saved money, pay it back into the party’s account. If they overspent their budget and it was confirmed, money is provided for whatever they overspent. That is how things are done. Why can’t it be done in a party? And anybody who doesn’t do this, let them call the EFCC and if he is found guilty let them prosecute him. That is when people will sit up.”
In a report by The ICIR, Nwodo had said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should investigate the management of funds in Nigerian political parties.