Fresh peace panel set up to resolve the crisis
• Members split on Wike, Secondus feud
• Wike’s presence generates controversy as the party confirms his membership of BoT
• PDP national officer withdraws resignation
After four hours of tension-soaked meeting in Abuja intended to resolve the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there seems to be no end to the crisis threatening the tenure of the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, as its Board of Trustees (BoT) failed to reach a consensus on the way forward.
The BoT, rather said it would set up a fresh reconciliation committee to address the issues.
The meeting, which was presided over by the chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, failed to reach a truce. It was also unable to recommend sanctions or commendations for any of the parties involved in the crisis.
Consequently, the party opted for further consultations with PDP Governors, National Assembly members, the National Working Committee (NWC), former governors, former ministers, among other stakeholders.
Two former Senate Presidents, David Mark, and Bukola Saraki, who briefed journalists after the meeting, skirted around issues as they carefully crafted their responses to journalists’ inquiries.
Mark described the meeting as cordial and fruitful. He said the board resolved to set up a committee not just to resolve issues related to recent resignation of seven deputy national officers of the party, but to make PDP more united.
He denied the rumour that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was summoned to the meeting, saying the governor was a member of the board and he attended as a member.
Asked if the current NWC of the party would be allowed to complete its tenure, another former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the committee members would meet between 48 to 72 hours for a way forward.
Saraki advised against making a point out of who attended the meeting for the first time, saying “as a member, I was attending for the first time in a long time. We all came together to address some issues and because of the urgency of the matter, we agreed to set up this committee urgently. Within the next 48 hours to 72 hours, the committee will meet, and at the end of the meeting, the country will see the direction the party is going.”
A camp within the party believed to be spearheaded by Wike, is up in arms with Secondus, calling for the removal of the party chairman from office. The crisis has divided the party into two opposing camps, with one camp seeking Secondus’ ouster, while the other wants the chairman to serve out his tenure, which ends in December.
Although it was held behind closed doors, a snippet of what might have formed the agenda of the meeting was deduced from excerpts of the party chairman’s address during the opening ceremony.
Secondus had, during his address, pointed out that it would not augur well for the party if resolutions reached by the meeting were contrary to the smooth running of the ongoing process that would lead to the next party convention expected to hold in December.
The likely inference from his remark was that the present NWC, which he presides over, ought to be allowed to serve out its tenure.
But the chairman was interjected midway into his address by a member of the BoT, Mr Abdul Ningi, who drew his attention to the presence of journalists at the venue and asked him to save his comments for the meeting proper.
IN March 2021, the BoT and the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP hurriedly passed a confidence vote on Secondus following agitations for his removal and setting up of a Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the party till December.
But rather than being categorical in resolving the crisis between aggrieved NEC members that resigned on Tuesday and the NWC, the board subjected the matter to a further meeting with the selected members of other organs.
It was learnt that members used the opportunity of the BoT meeting to engage in frank talks. A former minister who attended the meeting said Governor Wike received serious bashing for being too hostile to Secondus.
“For instance, Wike’s ‘tax collectors’ remarks as well the one where he called Secondus a liar were cited as not good enough.
“Those who spoke on the side of Secondus believed that Wike should be more cautious in matters concerning the National Chairman so that the image of the PDP could be protected. However, there were others who cautioned that the leadership of the party should be more circumspect.”
The source disclosed that some members urged the PDP national leadership to display readiness to address issues raised against its management style. “In all, I think we were able to make progress because in line with suggestions made, an agreement was eventually reached to constitute an independent committee to take a far-reaching decision on how to resolve the crises,” he stated.
However, the presence of Wike at the BoT meeting, which he had not attended in a very long time, raised concerns as observers expressed degrees of sentiments. While some believed that he might have been invited to the meeting, others said he came uninvited.
But national leaders of the party, including the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the BoT Chairman and David Mark clarified that Wike was a member of BoT and attended in that capacity. Wike left after the meeting without talking to journalists who attempted to interview him.
Against the assumption that Wike was summoned, Mark said the Rivers governor “was not summoned, he is a member of BoT and he came as a member of BoT,” a position corroborated by the BOT Chairman, Senator Jibrin.
Among aggrieved national leaders of the party in attendance at Thursday’s meeting were the National Secretary, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri, and the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif.
Curiously, no mention was made about the seven national officers who announced their resignation on Tuesday. When asked to explain why the meeting was silent on them, Mark told journalists that the peace committee to be set up would address all matters comprehensively.
On whether the next meeting will put an end to constant defection and resignation of members, Mark said: “It will not only stop the current crises, it will lead to providing a better environment to make us far more united and make us stronger as a party.”
Also at the meeting were the National Secretary, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri; former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara; former Kaduna Governor, Ahmed Makarfi; former Niger Governor, Babangida Aliyu; former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki; Chief Tom Ikimi; former Katisna Governor, Ibrahim Shema; former Cross Rivers Governor, Liyel Imoke; Chief Olisa Metuh; and former Osun Governor, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
MEANWHILE, Diran Odeyemi, one of the seven deputy national officers that resigned on Tuesday, has withdrawn his letter of resignation.
Odeyemi, who is the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, has pledged to work with the National Chairman to ensure a successful national convention, where a new set of leaders will be elected.
In a letter he personally signed dated August 4, 2021, and addressed to the party’s National Secretary, Odeyemi stated that his decision was in view of the activation of the internal conflict resolution by the party leadership.
The letter reads: “I write to withdraw my letter of Resignation as the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of our great party. This decision is taken in view of the activation of the internal method of resolving issues by our leaders across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“I also wish to state expressly that whatever embarrassment the resignation has caused the party, its leaders, members and supporters is highly regretted.
“Most importantly, in view of the fact that the tenure of myself and other members of the present National Working Committee (NWC) will expire in another three months, it is my view that the boat should not be rocked under any guise.
“Consequently, I pledge my loyalty and commitment to the party and the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC, and will continue to play my roles to ensure a successful National Convention, which will usher in new national officers.”
National Youth Leader of the party, Sunday Udeh Okoye, had on Tuesday, stirred the hornet’s nest when he told journalists that “Mr. Uche Secondus is incompetent in managing the affairs of the party. He lacks managerial capacity to manage PDP. He had made sure that many departments of the party did not function as effectively as it ought to function. There is a sharp division in our NWC right now, not only me, many more NWC members are more aggrieved than myself.