…as govs, leaders split over plot to remove Secondus
By OLUSESAN LAOYE
What could be a defining crisis is currently brewing among the rank and file of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and this has put the party seem to be in search of its soul over who succeeds Mr. Uche Secondus, the party chairman, whose term is coming to an end, who some powerful people in the party have perfected plans to remove.
The move not to give Secondus a second term ahead of the 2023 Presidential race is gathering momentum with every passing day, a situation which is further dividing members.
The party is now fighting tooth and nail to resolve series of crises rearing their heads one after the other in the past six months.
Just as the party is trying to settle the internal wrangling, which has started causing the defections of some party big wigs to the ruling All Progressives Congress, it is also battling to ensure that Nigerians repose confidence in the party so that they would be able to win the 2023 Presidential election.
Already, the Nigerian populace from all indications seem to have lost confidence in the two major political parties of the PDP and the APC that have controlled power since 1999 when this current political dispensation began. The PDP had ruled for about 16 years, while the present APC has been now at the saddle for spent six years.
From the impression of Nigerians, especially the youths, during the end SARS protests, they appeared to have been fed up with the two political parties that have been dominating the pace with the same sets of people, recycling themselves from one party to the other to gain power, the same process which they have started now ahead of 2023.
The party is now divided along two major blocks, the North and the South. The two power blocks have again split into fragments. The North is sharply divided, while the same has happened in the South. Political observers believed that what is causing the division revolves around the interested personalities who want to have a shot at the presidency, both in the North and the South.
Already, the South believed that since the North is now having a bite, which would last eight years, it should be its turn which was even the arrangement in the parry after the 2019 presidential election.
It was believed that the North should let go and give the South the chance. But events in the past few months have pointed to the fact that some people in the North are still interested in the presidency and have been mapping out strategies to position themselves ahead of 2023. Part of the positioning from both ends, the North and the South, is who occupies the position of the chairman and where it should come from.
This is what is presently causing problem for the present chairman Secondus whose tenure finishes next year December. Al though he still has one solid year to spend, there are scheming in the party to edge him out before his tenure by those who do not feel safe if he completes his tenure and may be re- elected as chairman.
Those in that group believed that his re-election will scuttle their interests and jeopardise the chance of the South from getting the ticket of the party to run for the Presidency in 2023
Some people, especially those in Atiku’s camp wants Secondus retained, while other groups consisting of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Ben Ayande of Cross Rivers, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Seyi Makinde Oyo State and others are bent on getting Secondus out.
The permutation going on presently according to a party chieftain, is that if Secondus is retained, the chances of the South would become very slim to get the party ticket because the South which has been looking forward for the ticket can’t have the chairman of the party and as well still have the presidency.
But the Atiku’s camp backing Secondus believe that this would be in their favour and wants to as well ensure that he gets a second term as chairman.
Even Governor Wike who has been with Secondus and instrumental for his emergence, appeared to have withdrawn his support for Secondus because of the Southern interests, especially the South-South where he comes from.
Right now, in the PDP, it appears that the battle to get the party’s ticket would be between the entire North and, the South-South and the South East. The South West appears not to be in the game as no aspirant has shown serious interest in the party.
The only person who had earlier shown interest is Chief Olabode George, but no one knows what he is up to now since there has not been much from him lately. With what is going on, the National Working Committee of the PDP presently may be consumed as frantic efforts are being made to look for who would replace Secondus.
Those who wanted him out especially some governors said that he has allowed some of their colleagues and leaders to dictate the pace and they were controlling him as if they own the party. Other allegations against him were that he has failed to hold the party together and has been unable to settle the crises in the the South west, North East and North West.
He was also alleged to be favourable to a particular aspirant especially Atiku, and that he is being controlled by some people at the expense of others.
They also argued that Secondus is weak and the weakness is already causing the defections of some prominent party members to the APC, the cases of Dogara, the Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi who claimed that he left PDP because of injustice done to the South East by the PDP since 1998 which Secondus has failed to address.
It was further believed that Secondus’s attitude would lead to more people decamping from PDP and this would pave the way for the APC to reduce the PDP to carcass before 2023.
It was argued that from what some leaders have observed, they want to get Secondus out before his tenure and they are plotting a vote of no confidence on him anytime from now, so that an interim executive would be installed that would conduct the next congress in January 2022.
The opposition for Secondus is now so intense that those in the Eastern parts of the country are not happy with him for trying to deprive the region of the presidency by supporting aspirants from the North.
He was castigated for saying that the party would not go the way of zoning but leave the presidential ticket open to everybody. This was interpreted to mean that he made the statement in favour of Atiku rather than being categorical about the zoning arrangement which now favours the South East.
Although Governor Makinde of Oyo State is one of the PDP governors that wants Secondus out, it appears that the South West chairmen are solidly behind Secondus and that was why those in Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Lagos have pledge their loyalty to him and dissociated themselves from whatever might be the actions of Governor Makinde against Secondus for handling the crisis between him and the former Governor of Ekiti State shabbily.
Whatever may be the case, the National Publicity of the PDP Kola Ologbediyan has reacted that the party is not after positions now but wants to focus on how to win the 2023 presidential election and that has been the goal “now that we still have one solid year to enable the people have confidence in us in what we are doing now to reposition the party.”
Also Secondus has disclosed that the PDP would not discriminate against any person that may want to contest presidential election on its platform in 2023.
Mr. Uche Secondus and Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, made these remarks after a two-hour meeting held at Ramat House, Bauchi recently.
Apart from Secondus and Tambuwal, PDP Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Nazif Gamawa and a former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, among others, also attended the meeting where the statement was made.
Secondus promised to provide level-playing ground for all the party members, describing PDP as very democratic party that is all accommodating.
“There is no room for discrimination. Everyone is qualified, both young, old, governors, non-governors are qualified to contest and we have the space for everyone; if you win, you become our candidate. The door is open to everybody.”
Meanwhile this statement did not go down well with a coalition of South-East Youth Leaders.
Secondus had recently declared that the presidential ticket of the PDP would be thrown open to all interested aspirants.
The PDP chairman’s declaration came despite the fact that by the zoning arrangement of the party, the position should be zoned to the South by 2023. Not happy with Secondus’ declaration, the South-East group, on Monday chided the PDP chairman.
In a statement signed by the President-General and Secretary of the coalition, Goodluck Ibem, and Kanice Igwe, respectively, they accused Secondus of pursuing a selfish goal.
“How can Secondus wake-up to say that a party that believes so much in zoning, a party that enshrines zoning of political offices in its constitution has suddenly thrown away that section overnight simply because he, Secondus, must be re-elected as National Chairman. This his egocentric game plan will not work.
“PDP is morally and constitutionally obligated to zone the presidential ticket of the party to the South-East geopolitical zone because it is the only zone that has not produced Nigerian President before.
“The people of the South-East have paid their dues in the development and advancement of the country and now is the time for the party to pay back Ndigbo for its years of support and solidarity to the PDP,” the group said.
.Notwithstanding, Secondus recently told NEC members that his team had done well in three years. He said: “When the current National Working Committee (NWC), under my watch came into office nearly three years ago, we based our programmes on 3Rs, to reposition, rebuild and to regain.
“I can confidently report to NEC that the programme is on course. We were able to reform the party ahead of the 2019 general election enough to take us to victory if the APC regime had allowed the will of the people to prevail.”
“The number of PDP governors increased from 11 to 16 and would have been more if not for APC’s electoral abracadabra in Osun, Kano, Kogi states and climaxed in Imo state with the shocking Supreme Court ruling.”
He added:”In our last NEC meeting in February, some far-reaching decisions were taken, including the rationalisation of the party workforce to bring it to a realistic level as an opposition party. I wish to report that this was successfully carried out by the committee headed by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state who did a good job and deserves commendation”.