Date for Uche Secondus exit agreed
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Date for Uche Secondus exit agreed

…Buni’s headship of APC legally settled — APC govs

…APC leaders drag party to court in Ondo over ward congresses

…Thugs invade APC secretariat in Enugu, seize NTA, TVC cameras

By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Clifford Ndujihe, Anayo Okoli, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu & Chinedu Adonu

Stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, handed the embattled National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, a two-month life line.

He would no longer be forced to resign as being canvassed by some members of the National Executive Committee, NEC, National Working Committee, NWC, House of Representatives Caucus, youths and governors.

However, instead of December 6, 2021 when his four-year term will end, he has about 80 days to remain in the saddle as the stakeholders have fixed the end of October for the national elective convention of the PDP.

The stakeholders, comprising 13 governors, the Board of Trustees, BoT and other organs of the party, brought the convention forward in what is seen as a move to placate anti-Secondus forces, who have been pushing for his removal in the past few months.

The soft-landing for Secondus came as governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, threw their weight behind the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, of the APC, saying the question of his eligibility to serve as caretaker chairman even when he is still Yobe State governor, has now been legally settled by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the crises ravaging the APC deepened in Ondo and Enugu states, yesterday. While aggrieved members took the party to court over the last ward congresses in Ondo, thugs invaded APC secretariat in Enugu as some members of the State Working Committee, SWC, announced the removal of the caretaker committee chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye.

How stakeholders saved Secondus

Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting, which lasted for two and a half hours, Sokoto State governor and Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, said a NEC meeting will be held next week, after which a convention planning committee will be constituted.

His words: “This meeting has agreed that immediately, a NEC meeting should be convened for the party to constitute the national convention planning committee and the national convention should be held latest by the end of October.

“As members of the BoT, members of the governors’ forum, members of former governors forum, former ministers, former senators, former presiding officers of the National Assembly and various stakeholders, we are very happy to announce that we have discussed all matters and we have resolved to continue to work as a united family.

“Also, the zoning committee for the party should also be constituted by the same NEC immediately. The NEC of the party shall meet most likely next week and all the issues will be addressed. Secondus, in his capacity as chairman of the party, will convene the NEC meeting,’’ Governor Tambuwal announced.

The meeting was attended by all 13 PDP governors, including deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mohammed Mahdi Gusau, former Senate presidents, Senators David Mark and Bukola Saraki.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State who chairs the PDP e-registration committee, told leaders of the party that less than 24 hours after the scheme was flagged off, over 10,000 Nigerians had registered as new members of PDP.

If Secondus conducts the convention and leaves in October, he will be the longest serving and second national chairman of the PDP to serve out his tenure after Col Ahmadu Ali, who also did four years.

Apart from Chief Audu Ogbeh and Dr Bamanga Tukur, who did three years, most of the other chairmen did two years or less and were forced to resign.

Late Dr Alex Ekwueme, the protem national chairman was in the saddle for less than a year in 1998. He resigned to vie for the Presidency shortly after the PDP was registered in 1998.

Other past chairmen of the PDP include: Chief Solomon Lar (1998 -1999), Barnabas Gemade (1999-2001), Audu Ogbeh (2001-2004), Ahmadu Ali (2005-2008), Vincent Ogbulafor (2008 -2010), Okwesilieze Nwodo (2010); Haliru Mohammed (2010-2011), Kawu Baraje (2011-2012), Bamanga Tukur (2012-2014), Adamu Muazu (2014-2015), and Ali Modu Sheriff/ Ahmed Makarfi (2015-2017).

No PDP governor is defecting again

Earlier in his opening remarks, Tambuwal charged Nigerians to dismiss insinuations that more governors will defect from PDP ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He said: “You can see clearly that 13 of 13 of your governors, your ambassadors are in this meeting, fully committed to not only resolving the issues at hand but also working assiduously toward delivering good governance in our respective states and moving our party forward.

“Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, we have resolved, we are committed to remaining in PDP. Disregard any rumour, every rumour that any of these distinguished leaders is going anywhere. We are in PDP, we are going to remain in PDP and by the grace of God, we shall be working together to salvage Nigeria.

“If you say you’re going somewhere, where will you go to? The All Progressives Congress is not a party. They do not have ward structures as we speak. They do not have local government structures as we speak. They do not have state structures as we speak. They do not have national structure as we speak.

“APC has never had, and is not having a Board of Trustees. So where are you going? Are you defecting to Federal Government? Federal Government is not there because if it is there, ask my colleagues, who are in APC. One of them came out to say that when his students were abducted he saw no help.

‘’He received no help from the Federal Government, and he is APC governor. So what are we talking about?

“There is no party to defect to, there is no government to defect to. We had better remain and work together, reinvent our party, and work towards the establishment of government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are committed to resolving all the issues we have, and you will soon hear from us, what our own views and position are as your children, as people that you have facilitated and helped to put in office, and not your financiers.”

Anti, pro-Secondus protests

Meanwhile, protesters, yesterday, again besieged the national secretariat of the PDP, calling for Secondus’ removal.

The protesters, under the aegis of Arewa PDP Support Group, displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Red card Secondus”, “Secondus should resign”, “ Secondus must go now” while chanting “Secondus Must Go”.

Leader of the group, Yahaya Salisu, explained that they were demanding Secondus’ removal over his failure to strengthen the party since his election in 2017.

Reading a letter addressed to the Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) dated 10th August 2021, signed by the National Coordinator and National Secretary, Hon. Desmond Minakaro, the leader said, “the national leadership of Arewa PDP Support Group met with its 19 Northern states coordinators in Kaduna on 5th August 2023 and deliberated extensively on the state of affairs of our party, PDP.”

According to him, “after hours of deliberations and overall assessment of the crisis rocking the party and a possible way forward, we arrived at the following decisions:

“That our beloved PDP is currently bleeding and that is unacceptable to us. It must not be allowed to continue bleeding.

“That with the information available from both factions within the NWC and the recent resignation of about seven national officers of the party, it is obvious that someone is trading with the integrity and soul of our party.

“That our findings revealed that the national chairman of our party, Uche Secondus is the reason behind the present crisis within the party, due to his bad leadership style and misappropriation.’’

“We wish to call on the national chairman, Uche Secondus, to resign with immediate effect, so as to save our party from total collapse, as already, we have lost governors, BoT members, national officers, Senators, House of Representative members and many others.’’

However, another set of youths also protested at the party’s secretariat, saying that Secondus must finish his term. They carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Secondus Must Finish His term,” “Secondus Must Stay,” “We say No To use of Money to Hijack our Party,” “Secondus 4+4 is Divine Agenda,” and “Secondus Won Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo, Zamfara, Imo, Edo. Una Don forget?”

Buni’s position as Caretaker Chairman now legally settled, APC Govs declare

In the APC, Governors of the ruling party once gain the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC clean bill of health.

The position of the governors was contained in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Abuja and signed by their chairman, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

READ ALSO: Secondus, square peg in round hole — Owokoniran, South-West PDP scribe
The meeting was held under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF. Just days ago, the Forum had also declared support for the Buni-led CECPC.

State of the party

The Forum said it reviewed progress being made by the APC caretaker committee in the effort to rebuild structures of the party at all levels and commended members of the committee for the successful conduct of ward congresses across the country.

Accordingly, the Forum reaffirmed its support for the Caretaker Committee to proceed to conduct Local Government, State Congresses and National Convention, in line with the mandate of the National Executive Committee, NEC.

CECPC validity

The Forum said it was further briefed on the July 28, 2021, judgment of the Supreme Court on Ondo State 2020 Governorship election and “recognizes that the legal status of both the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee as well as its composition has been legally settled.”

The Forum had earlier commended the Supreme Court for the timely release of the written judgment and expressed gratitude to the APC legal team for the successful defence of APC’s electoral mandate in Ondo State.

“Having reviewed progress in the party, Forum commends all party members for commitment to the process of rebuilding the APC and urges them to give support at all times. In particular, Forum notes with satisfaction reports from various states of commendable mobilization and participation in the July 31, 2021 ward congresses. All the states reported successful conduct”.

Aggrieved Ondo APC leaders drag party to court over congresses

Meanwhile, aggrieved leaders of the APC in Ondo State have dragged the party, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the National Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Malai Buni, to court over the outcome of the last congress of the party in the state.

Some councils have kicked against the congresses, alleging manipulation of the lists by leaders in the constituencies.

The leaders in lfedore, in the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Akure, joined the State party chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, chairman of the Ward Congress Committee of APC, Mr Gboyega Isiaka and others as defendants.

Led by Idowu Adebusuyi and Segun Boboye, the aggrieved leaders through their lawyer, Mr Dauda Abdulkadir, asked the court to nullify the ward congress of the party held at Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.

According to them, “the congress held in the council area violated article 20(a) of the APC which stipulates that all party posts shall be filled by way of democratically conducted elections or by consensus at the wards levels.’’

They prayed for an order “setting aside all actions and decisions taken by respondents in the purported Ward Congress held on Saturday 31st day of July, 2021” in Ifedore Local Government.

Also, they prayed for an “order of injunction nullifying, voiding and setting aside the purported Ward Congress conducted on July 31 and an order restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, officers, privies assigns and whatsoever call giving effect to the purported Ward Congress conducted on 31st , July, 2021 in Ifedore local government.”

The aggrieved leaders in their application before the court said the State Caretaker Committee failed to conduct any congress in the local government while names of some people were imposed on the majority members of the party.

According to him, “those imposed on the local government were not known to majority members of the party and this action would spell doom for the party in future elections, not only in the council but in the entire state.

Addressing newsmen after filing the suit, Adebusuyi said INEC was not represented during the Ward Congress conducted in the three zones of the local government.

Adebusuyi however said he would withdraw the suit if the leaders of the party are ready to listen to them and cancel the manipulated list and allow election to be conducted where there is no consensus.

“We are not ready to decamp from the party; all we are saying is that the party should do what’s right. lf the party believes we are not important and fails to do the right thing, the case in court will continue but if they do the right thing, the case will be withdrawn from the court.’’

Enugu APC crisis deepens

In Enugu, aggrieved members invaded the APC secretariat with thugs when the SWC Chairman, Ben Nwoye, was briefing the press and forcefully took the TVC and NTA news crew cameras.

The aggrieved members, who stormed the secretariat together with some men carrying AK-47 rifles stormed the secretariat and disrupted the SWC meeting.

The TVC reporter and camera man who struggled with the thugs before they were overpowered, followed them to a destination where all their recordings were deleted.

The reporter, Dele Ajayi, lamented how he was manhandled by the thugs, saying: “This is terrible. They deleted everything I recorded. If they are having problem, they should resolve it and not fight the media.”

Earlier, Nwoye, announced suspension of Eugene Odo, Flavour Eze, Ada Ogbu and El Aja as the resolution of SWC of the party over anti-party activities during ward congress.

He also disclosed that the suspension was necessary following report and recommendation of the investigative and disciplinary committee.

Nwoye also raised alarm over missing result sheets during the ward congress in Enugu on July 31, 2021. He said that Dr Ijeoma Ariodiogbu displayed the sensitive materials on Friday but later packed all the sensitive materials and went away.

“This meeting was to discuss the preliminary report of the investigative and disciplinary committee on the disappearance of result sheets during APC Ward Congress in Enugu State.

“Based on the report, the committee made the following findings, that there is high level conspiracy as some of the party leaders hijacked the result sheets through the congress committee chairman, Dr Ijeoma Ariodiogbu, that Hon Eugene Odo, Ada Ogbu, Flavour Eze and Hon El Aja were directly in position of collecting fictitious names, that Eugene Odo, Princess Ada Ogbu and other co-cospirators influenced the chairman to hand over the sensitive materials to them.

“Based on this findings, the committee made some recommendations, that Hon Eugene Odo, Flavour Eze, Princes Ada Ogbu and El Aja should be suspended from the party and that the investigation should continue to find out other party members involved.

“That same report should be forwarded to Imo State APC to commence investigation on the activities of Dr Ijeoma during the ward congress in Enugu. The report should also be forwarded to the National Chairman to investigate Dr Ijeoma over his conduct during the congress in Enugu”, he said.

He disclosed that the investigative and disciplinary committee was put together immediately the party leadership in the state noticed foul play which was chaired by Chief Anike Nwogu, Dr Oby Aji as secretary and Chief Chuks Adibe as member.

Contacted, Odo said that Nwoye had been suspended yesterday morning and had no right or power to suspend anybody, stressing that Nwoye should be addressed as former chairman. He said that over 40 members of the party moved the motion for his suspension.

In like manner, Mr Flavour Eze said his suspension is baseless, stressing that he voted and monitored the election with his principal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Indeed, Nwoye’s removal was announced by Assistant Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, Mr Chikwado Chukwunta, who along with 41 of the 57 members of the committee addressed journalists in Enugu on the development.

According to Chukwunta, the decision to remove Nwoye was taken to save the party from further “implosion considering the crisis which had torn the party into factions since 2015.”

He explained that both the State Executive Committee, SEC, and SWC had noted with great concern, the alleged role of Nwoye in the crisis rocking the party.

Chukwunta said the removal of Nwoye from office was in line with Article 21 (A) of the APC constitution which stipulated guidelines on how to remove such party officers.

The new leaders alleged that Nwoye went against the party constitution by unilaterally swearing in officials who purportedly emerged victorious at the July 31 ward congress of the party.

“The conduct of Nwoye on August 2, 2021 just two days after the ward congress, is alien to the constitution of the party and a flagrant disregard of party guidelines for the ward congress.

“The appeal panel of the party had not sat to look into grievances of party members when Nwoye purportedly inaugurated the ward officers”, they said.

According to Chukwunta, the action of Nwoye over time had created factions in the party which he said had made it not to have won ordinary councilorship seat in the state since 2015.

He alleged that Nwoye was trying to stoke another round of crisis in the state chapter of the party at a time the party was putting its house in order, saying they would not allow him to weaken the party again.

“We are carrying out this obligation in order to rescue the party from further implosion. Nwoye went against the constitution of the party which he swore to protect. We no longer have confidence in him due to his leadership style which has made the party a laughing stock in the state. We are only interested in rescuing the party and to produce a chairman who will lead us to success in 2023,” Chukwunta said.

Reacting to the removal, Nwoye described it as “a ruse”, and further described those who announced his removal as impostors.

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