The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) seven deputy national officers that resigned from their positions on Tuesday, citing the attitude of Prince Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the party, seem to be sheathing their swords.
Their action had foregrounded the crisis that engulfed the party which came to a head on Tuesday.
Sources at the party’s Abuja national secretariat told World Africa that peace seems to be returning to the embattled party after several prominent leaders intervened in the matter.
A source had told World Africa on Tuesday that the crisis in the party was as a result of those seeking to pick the presidential and vice presidential tickets of PDP in the 2023 election.
Another source had also told World Africa that the resignation of the deputy national officers on Tuesday was bankrolled by an influential governor in the South-South and two of his colleagues, who have been at loggerheads with Secondus over the running of the affairs of the party, to give semblance of a crisis-ridden party.
On Wednesday, the national chairman met the aggrieved deputy national officers and appealed for calm.
It would be recalled that Diran Odeyemi, deputy national publicity secretary; Ahmed Bello, deputy national legal adviser; Umoru Hadizat, deputy national women leader; Divine Amina Arong, deputy national auditor; Hassan Yakubu, deputy national organising secretary; and Irona Alphonsus, deputy national financial secretary, all resigned from their positions on Tuesday.
The officers, who cited “bad treatment” exhibited by Secondus since the election that brought the current leadership of the party to power in 2017, also alleged that there was a lack of financial transparency in the leadership.
Secondus appealed to the national officers to sheathe their swords, as the tenure of the National Working Committee (NWC) led by him will end in the next four months.
A source at the meeting, which was held at the party’s national secretariat, told World Africa that some of the aggrieved members have made U-turn on their resignation move, adding that they promised to reconsider their action.
According to the source, Secondus told the aggrieved national officers that they started together and there was the need to end together in peace.
In their meeting on Tuesday night, it was also gathered that the NWC members, who met with party stakeholders and some Board of Trustees’ members, resolved to go back to their constituents on how to resolve the crisis rocking the party.
It was gathered that there was no timeframe on the meeting of the NWC with their constituents.
Speaking to World Africa on Wednesday, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said Secondus in a meeting spoke to the aggrieved national officers the way a father will speak to his children. He said he appealed to them to sheathe their swords and reconsider their stance.
He said at the end of the meeting, the aggrieved members said they should be excused to reconsider their position and get back to the NWC.
“We had a successful meeting last night and today, we had another meeting of the NWC where the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, met with the aggrieved deputies who have expressed all sorts of grievances.
“He spoke to them the way a father will speak to his children and at the end of it all, the deputies told the NWC members that were present that they will want to go and reconsider their position and they will bring a feedback. That is where we are right now”.
In a related development, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a former Minister of Transport on Wednesday said attempts by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to forcefully remove Prince Uche Secondus, the national chairman is an invitation to chaos and disaster.
Speaking with our correspondent, Babatope, a former member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), said the Rivers State governor who is a member of the party cannot think he can unilaterally install and remove the national chairman of a party the way he likes.
“It is a pity if Wike believes he can install a chairman and remove him as he wishes. It is an exercise that can never succeed. It is going to fail. To remove Secondus at this late hour, just few months to the end of his tenure is an invitation to chaos and disaster”, he said.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday denied insinuation that his recent visit to Port Harcourt necessitated the move to sack Secondus.
Atiku said it is ridiculous to say he is the one behind the move to sack Secondus when he is promoting peace and stability in the party.
In a telephone chat with newsmen, Media Adviser to Atiku, Paul Ibe, said, “It is a beer parlour talk, it is also mischief. Why will a former vice president be behind the plot to sack PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus? What will be his interest?
“Someone who has commenced the process of having conversations with stakeholders of the party on reconciliation. A man who has encouraged processes aimed at ensuring peace and stability in the party.
“The trip he made to Port Harcourt, he held similar one in Delta. And he has more in the offing. Why will he promote peace and stability in the party and be behind moves to sack Secondus? It’s ridiculous for anyone to talk about this.
“Atiku understands the constitution of the PDP and what the party stated about tenure for party leadership. So he cannot be working against something that he understands and promotes. That is not how democrats behave, those are anti-democratic behaviour and that is not who he is. Whoever is saying this, should know that this is a beer parlour talk and unnecessary mischief.”
Asked about his effort to resolve the crisis rocking the party, he said, “The crisis is related, we cannot isolate one from the other. He recognises that there are issues, like in every party administration. When you have more than two persons, people will have different positions, so the important thing is how to resolve them. And he has commenced the movement to resolve the issues.
“Atiku is an individual. Yes, a major stakeholder in the party, and he has taken steps to bring everybody together to see how these issues can be peacefully resolved. They are all related, either the one that happens now or before. They are all part of the larger problem facing the party.”
Again, former governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, had on Tuesday and Wednesday met with Secondus on the crisis rocking the party.
Dickson, in a statement after meeting with Secondus, warned that attempt by few people to hijack the party will lead to implosion.
Senator Dickson, who was the former chairman of PDP Reconciliation Committee, said that he has observed for some time the growing tension, recriminations and outright attack on the national chairman and members of the National Working Committee by some leaders of the party.
“One has refrained from making statements because we believe that the party has internal mechanisms and levels of leadership that will handle it and I was, in fact, aware that BOT members, governors and other elders, reconciliation committee, collectively and individually, have been making efforts to resolve some of these disputes and challenges affecting the stability of the party.
“As we are all aware, some officers of our party, resigned yesterday and we should thank them for their services but if their resignation is aimed at causing crisis in the party then we should all condemn it and those behind it.
“By the party’s constitution, the appropriate authority, the NWC, is empowered to make replacements. I therefore call on the national chairman and other members of the NWC in accordance with the constitution of the party to immediately make appropriate consultations from the states and zones from which these officers have resigned and forthwith make those replacements subject to ratification by the NEC.”
Dickson said that an emergency NEC meeting should be convened which should take appropriate decisions to stabilise the party, adding that if there is any member of the working committee who wants to resign such a person should consider the overall interest of the party and have a rethink.
“If, however, any NWC member goes ahead to resign, the resignation should be accepted and consultations be made by the chairman and NWC to fill those positions as temporary vacancies subject to ratification,” he said.
The former governor urged the national chairman and NWC members to utilise their powers under the constitution to discipline erring members involved in the nefarious plot to destroy the party.
He said PDP is bigger than any individual and should no longer tolerate people with inordinate ambitions to destroy the party which belongs to all Nigerians, adding, “People with ambition must know that unless the party is stabilised and strengthened, their ambition will be of no consequence even if they pocket it.”
He said if the PDP shrinks from a party for all to a party for a few, it would lose its selling point and many members and leaders will have no option than to review their membership.
“We are not a ruling party at the centre. We don’t have the time, resources and mechanisms to resolve problems that will arise from a caretaker committee which will throw up more problems before the party convention and primaries at the centre and across the states.”
Also speaking, Secondus revealed that plot to hijack the party structure is reason behind the crisis.
Secondus, in a statement by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, asked, “Why is it that few months to national convention of the party, somebody is routing for a Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the party?”
He said, “The media office of the national chairman is privy to an intelligence that the strong party chieftain bent on hijacking the party structure for destruction is still on the lose with the main agenda of denting the image of Prince Uche Secondus, the national chairman.
“Reports reaching this office shows clearly that this character is deploying all devious means to try and diminish the person and character of the national chairman with a view to having his way of ultimately hijacking the structure for his disproportionately large ambition.
“We, therefore, wish to alert the general public particularly media houses and party stakeholders to look out for strange deployment of luring gifts from this destructive ‘Father Christmas’ all aimed at having a grip on the soul of our party by having a caretaker committee.
“What continues to shock many party observers is the real reason behind the desperation of this man to get at the national chairman and the quantum of public funds being expended to achieve this illicit goal few months to the national convention.
“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.”