By Dirisu Yakubu
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has pledged to keep his right foot on the throttle, to power the party’s vehicle headlong in its preparation for the 2023 general elections. Having superintended over the affairs of the main opposition party since December 2017, Secondus has recorded a handful of strides, with electoral victories in states hitherto in the control of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
No one will forget in a hurry, Secondus in-roads into the camp of the APC a few years ago which culminated in the return to the PDP fold of eminent politicians like Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal, Samuel Ortom and Abdulfatai Ahmed. That singular decimation of the ruling party’s camp would go on to sow seed of discords between the APC former national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and notable figures of the party. That discord eventually consumed Oshiomhole as he was forced to give way to a caretaker committee chaired by the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni.
The past two weeks were not particularly rosy for the PDP boss however, following allegations of financial impropriety against him by a member of the party and former Commissioner of Information in Edo State, Prince Kassim Afegbua.
Afegbua had penultimate Monday, stormed the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, ABUJA, praying them to cause Secondus to account for the sum of N10 billion, he claimed accrued to the PDP front the sales of nomination forms for the 2019 general elections.
National publicity secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, immediately stepped in to “put the records straight.” The scribe while dismissing Afegbua claims, noted that the party realized the sum of N4.6 billion and not N10 billion, even as he stressed that the PDP had since complied with the requirement of the law by submitting its audited account to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In spite of the clarification, the former Edo commissioner addressed yet another press conference where he alleged among others that the PDP resorted to calling him names because he sought explanation on how the party is being run.
To his relief, the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the PDP rising from its 91st emergency meeting last week, passed a vote of confidence on the Secondus-led National Working Committee; a big statement considering the position of NEC as the highest organ of the party.
“NEC unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus as well as the members of the National Working Committee, NWC,” a part of the communique read at the end of the meeting.
At the NEC meeting, Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed left no one in doubt as to where governors elected on the platform of the party stand when he said: “Some people have been trying to cause some trouble in the past two weeks. We are not with those people. We are with this national working committee and we will continue to work with them to rebuild the party,” he said.
Not left out is the conscience of the party, the Board of Trustees, BoT, whose secretary and former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara pledged the readiness of the body to work with Secondus ahead of the party’s national convention due in December this year.
“The Board of Trustees will ensure that a fluent and uninterrupted operation of all the organs of the party, particularly the National Working Committee, NWC, remains in place leading up to a successful convention in December 2021,” it said in a communiqué issued recently.
The BoT further planned to hold a meeting with the NWC for the sole purpose of cementing relationship and mutual cooperation for the wellbeing of the party.
With the foray into opposition camps by the PDP National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee chaired by Bukola Saraki, there is little doubt the party was serious in its claim a fortnight ago that some members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the APC are on their way to the PDP.
It would be recalled that a few weeks ago in Makurdi, former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana and ex-ambassador to the Republic of Gambia, Esther Audy returned to the PDP with the pledge to mobilize Nigerians in their domains to the party ahead of the 2023 polls.
Secondus has been vociferous in the condemnation of the APC-led government in the wake of worsening insecurity in the country.
Ahead of 2023, the NWC is currently studying report of its 2019 general election review committee which was submitted a few weeks ago. Secondus has since promised to implement those recommendations capable of repositioning the party and making it stronger for the big test.
With the vote of confidence, the PDP chair is now set to continue to pilot the affairs of the party particularly with the Anambra State governorship election slated for November 6. A month later, the party would converge for a delegate election to select members of a new NWC. Although, yet to declare intent to renew his tenancy of Wadata Plaza, there is no doubt that Secondus has won for himself a legion of supporters among whom are governors, federal and state lawmakers, and opinion leaders, many of whom have a big say on what becomes of the country in 2023.