Wednesday, August 25, 2021 8:58 am
By Richard Elesho
Those expecting an early resolution of the leadership problems in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may have to wait long as the crises over the leadership of the main opposition party ahead of the 2023 general election seem to be getting messier by the day.
For one, the Wadata House headquarters of the party in Abuja was virtually turned into a market on Tuesday with different hues of protesters in support and against the continued stay of Prince Uche Secondus led National Working Committee, NWC of the party.
A court in Rivers had also a day before restrained Secondus from parading himself as PDP helmsman.
However, the drama continued with two persons laying claim to the office of the National Chairman of the party following the court order.
Elder Yemi Akinwonmi takes over in Lagos
Early Tuesday, the Deputy National Chairman (South) of PDP, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, believed to be in support of Secondus had issued a statement declaring himself the acting national chairman of the party citing Section 45 (2) of the PDP Constitution as he was making his way from Lagos to Abuja.
HE said, “Our attention was drawn yesterday evening (Monday) to a court order, which purports to restrain our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, from summoning and presiding over the meetings of the organs of the party.
“Section 45(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party empowers me to summon and preside over party meetings in the absence of the national chairman.
“In the foregoing circumstances, as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party, after consultation and in exercise of the aforesaid powers, I hereby deem it fit and proper to postpone the National Working Committee meeting earlier scheduled for today (Tuesday) until further notice to allow for broader consultation in the overall interest of our party.”
Nazif Takes Over In Abuja
But few hours later, the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif, also told journalists that he is in charge of the party.
Nazif who is believed to be one of those championing the removal of Secondus from office after a meeting at the PDP national secretariat spoke to the media, declaring that he as taken over the leadership of the party following the court order from a High Court in Degema, Rivers State.
Some members of the opposition party at the meeting present at the meeting included PDP National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri; National Auditor, Adamu Mustapha; National Vice Chairman, South-South, Dan Orbih; his South-East counterpart, Ali Odefa; National Vice-Chairman, South-West, Toafeek Arapaja; and National Youth Leader, Sunday Ude-Okoye.
“Consequently, the NWC hereby calls for an emergency NEC meeting on Friday, August 27, 2021, at 10am prompt to deliberate on matters affecting the party. You are all aware that the PDP is a law-abiding party, the party that follows due process. So, we have received this order and this is it.
“And in line with the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, and I quote Section 35, 3 a-d, ‘Functions of a deputy national chairman: there shall be two deputy national chairman, one shall come from the northern part, while the other from the southern part of the country. The deputy national chairmen shall perform the following functions: 1) assist the national chairman in the discharge of his duty. 2) Perform such other functions as may be assigned to them.
“3) In a result of resignation, removal, death, incapacitation or absence of the national chairman, a deputy national chairman from the region part of the country where the national chairman originates from shall assume office as the national chairman in acting capacity without prejudice to Section 47 (6) of the party Constitution. 4) In the absence of the national chairman and the deputy national chairman from the region or part of the country where the national chairman originates from, the other deputy national chairman shall act as the national chairman without prejudice to Section 47 (6) of this Constitution.
“On this note, distinguished NWC members, I hereby take full charge of the Peoples Democratic Party as chairman in an acting capacity,” Nazif declared.
He said he decided to take over because the deputy national chairman (South), has been incapacitated and has not been attending the NWC meetings in the last nine months.
“As you know, in the absence of the deputy chairman (South), I take full charge; so, I am hereby calling for an emergency NEC meeting for August 27, 2021, by 10am prompt to deliberate on the new development.
“And I believe all the leaders of this party, the owners of this party, will be in attendance and that our governors and former presiding officers will be part of the NEC meeting to deliberate on all pending issues.”
“Let me make this very clear that this meeting was called for 2pm and like I said, the deputy national chairman, South, has been incapacitated and did not attend any meeting in the last nine to 10 months as far as the NWC is concerned.
“He has not been in communication with any member of the NWC for the last 10 months. This party must continue its process.
“And if I am not available, someone else will take over. If the national chairman is not available, someone will take over; if the deputy national chairman, South, is not available, the deputy chairman, North, will take charge.
“This is the resolution that was passed by the expanded caucus. And this was the resolution passed by the NWC at our last meeting and we all agreed that there would be a meeting today, a meeting that was supposed to be presided over by the national chairman; unfortunately, the court order came from a competent court and stopped the chairman from acting as the chairman of the party.”
I’m sick, but…
But drama continued as Akinwonmi later arrived at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja from Lagos in the evening.
He reiterated his takeover as the chairman of the party, while also admitting that he was ill at a time.
“The PDP has a good succession order. The National Chairman, Uche Secondus, is the head of all of us followed by the Deputy National Chairman 1, which I am.
“It is the call of duty that caused me to be here. I come to address you as the acting national chairman. All other meetings conducted in which I was not here are null and void. At the appropriate time, I will arrange for a proper meeting of the party.”
Speaking to the media soon afterwards, Akinwonmi admitted that he was ill at some point, but that he was better now.
“Sickness is not the friend of anybody. I was coming to Wadata House here and I had a stroke; I was in Cedar Crest Hospital for three months. I’m getting better now; my recovery rate is up to 70 per cent now. I trekked from the car park to this place,” he said.
He had the support of the National Secretary of the party, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri who was also part of the meeting earlier called at the same building by Nazif.
No factions in PDP
But Tsauri said that there were no factions in the PDP.
He stated, “Today, we are here to adopt the doctrine of necessity as the PDP is a law-abiding party. The meeting that was held this afternoon was because I sent the notices for the meeting yesterday (Monday). We were not aware of the judgment of the court in Port Harcourt.
“The meeting was fixed for 2pm; unfortunately, the Deputy National Chairman (South) had not arrived at the time and in line with our constitution, at such times, his counterpart from the North presided over the meeting.
“There is no division. We have given our lawyers the judgment; they will look at it and advise us. After this meeting, I will sit with Akinwonmi and prepare for NEC; after the NEC, we will prepare for the convention, which will be held very soon.”
The drama will certainly continues for some days to come.