THE NATIONAL Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would go ahead as scheduled after suspended national chairman Uche Secondus failed in his bid to stop the event.
The convention, where the party will elect new national officers, is holding at Eagle Square in Abuja on October 30 and 31.
Secondus had, in an appeal he filed at the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal to challenge his suspension by a Rivers State High Court, sought an interim injunction to restrain the PDP from holding the national convention.
Secondus also asked the court to return him to office as national chairman of the party, thereby empowering him to preside over the convention.
But, ruling on the matter on October 29, the panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed Secondus’ appeal for lacking in merit.
The appellate court held that Secondus had voluntarily relinquished his position as national chairman since he did not challenge his removal at ward and local government levels.
The ruling was unanimously endorsed by the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Simon Isammani.
* Relief for PDP
The outcome of the appeal filed by Secondus comes as a welcome relief to the PDP on the eve of its scheduled national convention.
Uncertainty had surrounded the convention ever since Secondus insisted on going ahead with the court case despite attempts by party leaders to prevail on him to drop the suit.
The PDP Governors Forum, the umbrella body of state governors elected on the party’s platform, and members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) had all urged Secondus to withdraw the case to enable the party hold a hitch-free convention.
But the embattled suspended national chairman refused, insisting on going ahead with the litigation.
The party had set up an eminent person committee, headed by former Senate President David Mark, which was charged with getting party members to withdraw all pending court cases.
Secondus’ insistence on continuing with his suit meant that the committee did not succeed in the assignment.
The party was finalising arrangements for the convention amid fears that an unfavourable ruling would scuttle the event, which members of the party hope would reposition the PDP ahead of the 2023 general elections.
About 6,000 delegates are expected to participate in the convention, and most of them have already arrived in Abuja from different parts of the country.
With former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu already emerging as consensus candidate for the position of national chairman, the convention is expected to be a smooth and hitch-free affair.
Chairman of the PDD Governors Forum and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwual said the governors were working to ensure that all the national officers for election emerge through consensus at the convention.
* Secondus loses out
The dismissal of his suit by the Court of Appeal indicates that Secondus has finally lost out in the leadership tussle that had rocked the PDP in the build-up to the National Convention.
Secondus had planned to seek a second term as PDP national chairman at the convention, but he had to contend with spirited opposition from a group of party stakeholders led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Wike group accused him of lacking the competence required to lead the PDP as a national opposition party and tried to force him to resign.
Secondus refused to resign, but the Wike group resorted to court orders to get him out of the office.
However, there were indications that Wike’s alleged presidential or vice presidential ambition informed his desire to remove Secondus from office.
Wike had almost single-handedly sponsored Secondus to emerge as national chairman but, going by party power calculations, being from the same state as the party’s national chairman would undermine his chances of emerging as the presidential or vice presidential candidate in 2023.
Secondus is from Rivers State. He was Rivers State PDP chairman from 2002 to 2008.
Secondus had not performed the functions of PDP national chairman since he was suspended in August, and in his absence, the party had set all motions in place for the National Convention.
Already Iyorchia Ayu has been chosen as the consensus candidate for national chairman, and it is expected that he will be sworn in at the convention.
* Secondus gone the Oshiomhole way
The ICIR had reported that Secondus might go the Oshiomhole way as his travails mirrored the chain of events that preceded the removal of former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole.
Oshiomhole was suspended by the APC leadership in his Etsako Ward 10 in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State for alleged anti-party activities in November 2019 before an Abuja High Court, relying on the development, ordered his suspension as APC national chairman in March 2020.
Oshiomhole’s end as APC national chairman came after a panel of the Court of Appeal in June 2020 dismissed his appeal against the order of the Abuja High Court which suspended him from office.
Secondus was initially suspended and reinstated by the orders of a Rivers State High Court and Kebbi State High Court, respectively, before a Cross River State High Court sitting in Calabar on August 27 barred him from returning to office as the national chairman of the party.
The Cross River State High Court order meant that Secondus could not preside over the August 28 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the PDP where the decision was taken to hold the national convention on October 30 and 31.
Secondus has not returned to the office of the national chairman since then. His chances of returning to the position further narrowed after the party’s leadership suspended him at Ward 5 in Ikuru town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, on August 31.
With Secondus suspended, the Deputy National Chairman (South) Yemi Akinwonmi was recognised as acting national chairman.
It is expected that Iyorchia Ayu would formally take over as national chairman at the national convention.