Fresh battles rage for soul of PDP, APC ahead 2023

• Court asked to nullify APC states congresses, dissolve Buni-led caretaker committee
• Secondus’ leadership of PDP crashes as 10 NWC members disown him, seven others resign
• PDP: Crisis is being addressed, governors call for calm
• APC woos seven PDP national officers
• Buni’s APC delegates escape mob attack in Kano
• A’Ibom APC SEC passes No Confidence vote on Nat. Sec. Udoedehe
• Osun progressives ask Buni to reject outcome of congresses

Titanic battle for the soul of Nigeria’s two dominant political parties, ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got fiercer yesterday, as the days race towards the lifting of embargo on 2023 politics.

At stake is the battle to control the parties’ machinery ahead of intense horse trading and politicking heralding the selection of presidential flag bearers.

On APC’s flank, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been asked to sack the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC and nullify all the actions taken by the committee so far.

The request forms part of the reliefs in a suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/1824/2021 filed by Okosisi Emeka Ngwu, who claimed to be a member of the APC.

Listed as defendants are the APC and all members of the CECPC, including Buni, Isiaka Oyetola, Ken Nnamani, Stella Okorete, Sani Bello, Dr James Lalu, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, Akinyemi Olaide, David Lyon, Abba Ali, Prof. Tahir Mamman, Ismail Ahmed and Senator Akpan Udoedehe.

The plaintiff raised four questions for the court’s determination: Whether there is any organ of the APC known as CECPC created in or by the Constitution of the party; whether the organisation known and called CECPC is one of the organs created by Article 11 of the Constitution of the party; whether pursuant to section 87(4) (b) (1) of the Electoral Act (as amended), any other organ of a political party can validly appoint a date for the holding of a congress for the purpose of nominating the governorship candidate of the political party apart from the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party; and whether a valid candidate or officer of the party can emerge from a congress fixed by any other organ of a political party outside the NEC of a party.

Ngwu particularly wants the court to dissolve APC’s CECPC, arguing that there is no organ of the party or any such organisation in the party’s Constitution. He also wants a declaration that unless an election is conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act and by an organ known to the party’s Constitution, no valid candidate can emerge from such a primary.

Ngwu further urged the court to grant an order setting aside all actions and decisions taken by members of the CECPC.

He stated, in a supporting affidavit, that he had wanted to contest for the National Chairman of the party in 2018 after the tenure of the then national chairman expired but was prevailed upon to allow Adams Oshiomhole to be returned unopposed.

Ngwu said he was prevailed upon to sheath his ambition because he (Oshiomhole) had only four years to be in office and then he will contest the election for the position of the national chairman.

“After just two years, I was surprised to hear that the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee had been dissolved and a contraption known as Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee had been created by an unknown person and Mai Mala Buni asked unilaterally to head the committee.

“I was surprised as by the Constitution of the party, the NEC would be in office for four years until June 22, 2022. The CECPC is unknown to our party’s constitution and it is operating without reference to the party’s Constitution,” the plaintiff stated.

The suit is coming on the heels of the dissenting judgment of the Supreme Court on the petition filed by the PDP candidate in the 2020 Ondo governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, against the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the APC.

The apex court had, in a minority judgment of three justices, questioned the validity of the Buni-led CECPC and declared it illegal. It held that the party erred by allowing a sitting governor to hold the position of party national chairman in clear breach of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

ON PDP’s flank, it was more confusion to the fold when no fewer than 10 top members of the National Working Committee (NWC) passed a no confidence vote on Uche Secondus, national chairman of the party. There are 19 members of the NWC in the party.

Things got worse for the party as following the no confidence vote, seven national officers tendered their resignations, anchoring their decision on the failure of Secondus to carry them along since they came to office in 2017.

The seven are 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.

National youth leader of the party, Sunday Udeh Okoye, disclosed to journalists at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja that he and nine other NWC members have lost confidence in Secondus’ leadership.

But Secondus dismissed the claims of those working against him as untrue. He threatened to replace whoever resigns immediately, as he claimed he still enjoys the support of majority of governors of the party and stakeholders.

MEANWHILE, enlarged meeting of stakeholders in the party was being convened last night to exchange views and take far-reaching decisions on the development.

At his own press conference, Okoye said: “Mr. Secondus is incompetent in managing the affairs of this 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.

“There is a sharp division in our NWC right now, not only me, many more NWC members are more aggrieved than myself. Today (Tuesday), I have asked him in our NWC meeting to resign his position as the chairman of this party because he cannot lead this party to victory.”

Okoye added that measures are being put in place to ensure that Secondus is removed before the party is destroyed.

But the national publicity secretary of the PDP said yesterday that the conflict resolution mechanism of the party has been activated to look at the crisis in the party.

Ologbondiyan said: “The NWC at its meeting today received the notice of resignation from deputies who are elected members of the NEC. The party will look into the grievances raised by members of NEC as well as members of the NWC. We call on all the leaders, stakeholder and members of our great party to remain calm as we collectively resolve these issues.”

In a separate press briefing yesterday, Secondus, represented by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, told journalists that Okoye and the aggrieved PDP leaders were being sponsored by those he described as power drunk politicians desperate to have their way at all costs.

Abonyi said: “Regarding the press conference of the Youth Leader who is realising after three and half years that Secondus is incompetent, it is unfortunate because he has operated as the youth leader of this party since December 2017 with Secondus as National Chairman and has worked with him but suddenly, few months to convention, after the game of this morning, in some part of Abuja, he suddenly discovered that Secondus is incompetent.

“I want to assure members of the party that the structure of the party is intact and Prince Secondus is the National Chairman and anybody who resigns will be replaced the next day and this party will work to victory in 2023.

“All those who are looking for interim government few months to general election are taking us back to Egypt and nobody is ready to go back to Egypt. We have passed through this road before and we don’t want to go back there.”

Few hours after tendering their resignations as national officers of the PDP, the APC has established contact with the affected officers with a view to convincing them to switch camps, it was gathered.

Uche Secondus

HOWEVER, governors elected on the PDP platform on Tuesday night called on all parties to the crisis to shield their swords. In a late statement by the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, it was pointed out that the rumblings were highly regrettable.

“The Forum has received with regrets and sadness the recent rumblings in the PDP,” the statement said.

Disclosing that an emergency meeting of all PDP governors was being convened to address the matter, the Forum called on all members of the party and indeed all stakeholders to remain calm in the face of the developments.

“We plead with all aggrieved persons and those with the interest of the PDP at heart to keep their gun powder dry, as efforts are being made in consultation with members of the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to resolve all contending issues.

“To this end, the Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the affairs of the party and the way forward.”

The statement noted that the party as the only remaining hope of the nation for good governance must show an example to Nigerians and also take advantage of the current disarray in the APC and its rudderless government.”

IN Kano State, national delegates of the APC narrowly escaped a mob attack unleashed by irate youths yesterday, following the outcome of Saturday’s ward congresses of the party.

The angry youths, in their hundreds, went on rampage to convey their displeasure over the party’s consensus process adopted for ward congress in the state when they stumbled on the Buni-led delegates spotted in a bus near Government House.

The ruling party on Saturday elected 27 ward executives each at the 484 wards across the 44 local government area under consensus arrangement, a development that has since raised dust; having been kicked against by some interest groups in the party.

The APC Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) had earlier kicked against the outcome of the ward congress in Kano, insisting the exercise lacked democratic process. The group accused the state government of turning APC leadership to another operating unit of government.

Chairman of BSO, Alhaji Shehu Dalhatu, told journalists that BSO vehemently rejected the consensus arrangement adopted by the party under the guidance of the state government. Dalhatu said justice was not served before the resolution was reached; stressing that there is nowhere in the APC Constitution where consensus arrangement should be adopted by a few selected people.

The strong ally of President Muhammadu Buhari described as most unfortunate the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who he said conveyed meeting of selected few in the party and invoked the idea of a consensus.

Countering the position of Dalhatu, the state APC secretary, Zakari Sarina, insisted the party’s consensus arrangement was adopted after wide consultation with stakeholders in the party. Sarina, who refuted allegations of lopsidedness against some party members in Kano, disclosed that members of the BSO were invited and were part of the agreement on consensus arrangement.

IN Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde yesterday promised that he would address all grievances within the state chapter of the PDP with a view to making the party more formidable and well-positioned for victories in future elections. He maintained that stakeholders of the party in the state must never allow their grievances to get to the point of destroying the party, while urging everyone to put their misgivings behind them.

The governor stated these at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, during a meeting between the party’s stakeholders and the PDP National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee, led by former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Other members of the reconciliation committee in attendance included former President of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Governors of Cross River and Gombe States, Senator Liyel Imoke and Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo and former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola.

Governor Makinde, who stated that he has been doing things that are fair and could promote brotherliness and strengthen the party in the state, noted that since the grievances within the party have persisted, it meant that the party must try again to solve the problem.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting, the chairman of the reconciliation committee, Dr. Saraki expressed delight with the outcome of the meeting, which he termed a family meeting of the PDP. He stated that the meeting resolved that all stakeholders should work together under the leadership of Governor Makinde to ensure the victory of the PDP in future elections in Oyo and at the national level.

The former Senate President added that the efforts being made by his committee were aimed at consolidating on the formidability of the PDP in Oyo, stating that with the calibre of people that attended the peace meeting, he was sure that a new dawn had started for the party.

Aside from Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, who attended only the first meeting held at Carlton Gate with the Saraki committee, the likes of Ajibola Muraina, Femi Babalola and some leaders failed to show up at both Carlton Gate Idi Ape and Presidential Villa, at Governor’s House.

Olopoeyan was noticed walking out after the first meeting ended, but was said to have deliberately been absent with the Reconciliation Committee met with the governor.

Speaking with The Guardian, Olopoeyan said: “Saraki gave Makinde August ending to meet the demand of aggrieved party members, but I am not requesting for anything. Makinde’s attitude has pissed me of. He has betrayed me. I am no longer interested in his overtures. All I want is for the party to be formidable and another person to win the PDP ticket in 2023.

Efforts to reach the Vice National Chairman Southwest zone were not successful. He didn’t pick his call.

IN Akwa Ibom State, some members of the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the APC have passed a vote of no confidence on the National Secretary of the party, Senator John Udoedehe. They have also suspended the Dr Ita Udosen-led State Caretaker Committee of the party for their role in last Saturday’s crisis-ridden ward congress.

The members who were led by a national caucus member of the party, Group Captain Ewang (rtd) told newsmen in Uyo that they have also declared as null and void the purported suspension of 17 caretaker committee chairmen of the party by Udosen.

The State Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC, Dr. Ita Udosen, had earlier yesterday announced that the State Working Committee of the party had suspended the chapter chairmen for opposing the credibility of the ward congresses, which purportedly held last Saturday.

But Ewang told a press conference that the SWC has no powers to suspend the chapter chairmen as the State Caretaker Chairman and his team had earlier been suspended by chapter chairmen of the party in the state.

The former military administrator of Rivers and Ogun states insisted that there were no ward congresses in the state.

THE last has not been heard of the controversy surrounding the conduct of the APC ward congresses held in Osun State. Yesterday, members of the Osun Progressives (TOP) enjoined the Buni-led caretaker committee to reject the outcome of the ward congresses held in the state in its entirety.

The group in a statement by Mr Adelowo Adebiyi, described the exercise supervised by Mr Gbenga Elegbeleye-led committee deployed from the APC national secretariat, as a sham.

The group claimed that that the Governor Gboyega Oyetola-led Ilerioluwa faction of the APC compromised members of the Elegbeleye-led Ward Congress Committee to do its bidding.

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