*Insists his tenure ends December
*Party crisis deepens as another court sacks national chairman
*NEC meets September 9 for approval of zoning of offices, convention committees
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The 92nd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took place yesterday in the absence of the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.
Secondus last night insisted that his four-year tenure would end in December.
NEC, however, asked the six-man committee headed by the former Senate President, Senator David Mark to meet with stakeholders to resolve the matter.
It also adopted October 31 as the date of the national convention scheduled in Abuja, as recommended by the 40th meeting of the National Caucus of the party held on Friday.
The NEC also resolved to meet again on September 9 to adopt recommendations for the zoning of offices for the convention.
Before the meeting, Secondus in a deft political move, asked the Deputy National Chairman (South), Mr. Yemi Akinwomi, to preside over the NEC meeting of the party in his stead.
Secondus, however, clarified last night that he has not resigned from his position but was only obeying court order.
He had been fighting for survival as the party’s chairman.
A Rivers State High Court had restrained Secondus from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.
Barely 24 hours later, a Kebbi State High Court reinstated him as the chairman of the party.
But few hours after returning to his desk, a Cross River High Court stopped him from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party and also restrained him from presiding over the NEC meeting that took place yesterday.
Secondus in a letter to Akinwomi, said: “I hereby request you to preside over the National Executive Committee meeting of the party, taking place today, 28th August, 2021@ noon, in my absence.”
The interim order from a Cross River High Court was issued by Justice Edem Kufre, on Friday upon an application brought by a member of the party, Enang Wani, ahead of the PDP NEC.
Secondus had obtained a Kebbi High Court order to return to his desk as national chairman last Thursday following an earlier injunction obtained against him from a Rivers State High Court.
Briefing journalists after yesterday’s NEC meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “NEC has resolved that Abuja will be the venue of the PDP National Elective Convention slated for October 31, 2021.
“NEC is to meet on the 9th of September to approve the various nominations into the respective national convention committees,” the spokesman of the PDP said.
According to the PDP spokesperson, “NEC emphasised the indivisibility of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and stressed the need to remain united as a party as we work assiduously towards removing the inept, indolent and corrupt APC from government, come 2023.”
Ologbondiyan said that the NEC meeting of September 9 will come up with recommendations on zoning and composition of the various convention committees.
He said that NEC urged members to continue to make personal sacrifices in the overall interest of the party while commending the PDP governors’ effort in inaugurating landmark projects in all states of the federation where the party has been handed over the responsibility of government.
According to Ologbondiyan, the NEC urged Nigerians to take a cue from the deliverables in the respective states as a sign of the improvements that the party wishes to deliver when elected in 2023.
He said the party boasts of more experienced hands in party politics as well as governance, saying that its internal crisis management mechanism is far better than the operations of the APC as a party and even as government.
He added that NEC commended all party members for their various involvements in resolving issues that have recently occurred in the party and expressed confidence that the PDP has earned the trust of Nigerians once again and that the party will do better when allowed to lead the nation.
Also, he said that NEC condemned the media gagging and the attempt by the APC and President Buhari’s government to promote obnoxious laws against the freedom of speech as well as media practice in Nigeria.
NEC, he said, condemned the harassment and intimidation of media outfits in a desperate ploy by the APC to stifle free speech.
Speaking at the opening session of the NEC meeting, the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal commended members of the party for their support.
He said: “As your ambassadors, we thank every one of you, our leaders, and our members across the country, for your support for your prayers, for all of the successes we have recorded in our state. Of course, you know, whenever I hear of any major event activity, or commissioning a project is happening only in PDP states, we shall continue to do our best. And we assure you of our total loyalty to our party.
“Concerning the issues of the moment, challenges, disputes, and disagreements are part of life, and indeed, politics. But what is important is how they are resolved. We have activated all mechanisms that we have in PDP, to resolve all of our issues. And as the chairman of PDP said, I concur.
“We shall continue to hold together, remain together because we are the hope of the people of Nigeria and Nigerians are looking forward to PDP and we cannot afford to fail them.
“The challenges are quite many and we need to continue to work together as a family. We are going into warfare and we must go to a warfare united, you cannot win if you are divided. So let’s not lose hope. We must remain focus with our eyes on the ball. And we shall, by the grace of God, score that goal,” Tambuwal explained.
Also, the Senate Minority Leader Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said: “I want to assure you that as members of the National Assembly, we are with our party. The chairman and Deputy Chairman have this morning made statements to show that there is no crack in PDP.
“As we were coming yesterday, I think we’ve seen from the news that there were alternate chairman, deputies, and all that. But today, I think it’s clear to everyone that PDP is one and we’re moving forward. I want to thank our chairman of the governor’s forum for assuring us that PDP will take over the government in 2023. Nigerians are looking for us.
“Nigerians are tired of that party that doesn’t even have a board of trustees, not to talk of any other organ of the party. Nigeria’s are tired of the party that is looking for a word to gag you the press, in an interview that was done that showed clearly how things are going bad in this country, and people are being summoned to answer queries at the NBC, which has never happened in this country. And so PDP is coming, Nigerians wait for PDP, and in 2023 give us your votes and will we deliver you back to where we came from.
Also, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in his speech said, “If you look at PDP, it has the most experienced people in this country, whether in the executive wing, whether in the legislature, whether, in party administration, we have the most experienced and most competent individuals in this party.
“Therefore, PDP in internal crisis management is far far more efficient and far better than APC and the APC government itself. So, I want to use this opportunity to commend and thank everybody who has been involved in trying to resolve the recent crisis. And Nigerians should no longer be in doubt, of our sense of patriotism, and our sense of commitment to get this country moving again.
“We are being taken aback by the APC government and we have shown to Nigerians that, when we are trusted again, we will do even much better than we had done before,” Atiku said.
I Have Not Resigned, Says Embattled PDP Chairman
Meanwhile, Secondus last night debunked rumours making the rounds that he had resigned from his position.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Ike Abonyi, the embattled PDP national chairman said it was not true that he has resigned but was obeying the interim order by the Cross State High Court sitting in Calabar.
He added that as a law-abiding citizen who has been an adherent of rule of law as a basis for democracy, he had to stay away in respect for the courts.
“Media office of Prince Uche Secondus wishes to correct erroneous news circulating that he has stepped down as the National Chairman of the PDP.
“Prince Secondus by his unavoidable absence at the party’s NEC meeting on Saturday was merely obeying an interim order from Cross River State High Court.
“As a law abiding citizen who has been an adherent of rule of law as a basis for democracy stayed away in respect for the courts.
“Prince Secondus’ four-year mandate to lead the party given on December 10, 2017 ends by December, 2021.
“By this release, the media office wishes to urge media houses and members of the public, particularly beloved members of PDP, to disregard any news suggesting that he has stepped down,” the statement stated.