…As Oyinlola faces rivalry from S/West PDP chieftains
By Dirisu Yakubu, ABUJA
The inability of the various organs of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to broker truce between suspended national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike is casting doubt over the possibility of holding the national election convention of the party next month, Vanguard gathered on Monday.
It would be recalled that the embattled chairman recently approached the Abuja division of the Appeal Court, praying it to quash two High Court orders restraining him from parading himself as the chairman of the PDP. Secondus had also urged the appellate court to declare that his tenure ends in December, 2021, following the ratification of the elective convention earlier slated for December to October 31, 2021 by the 93rd National Executive Committee, NEC meeting.
While he has so far stayed away from the party’s national secretariat in obedience to a Cross River state High Court’s ruling affirming his earlier ouster by the Rivers state High Court; Secondus is patiently awaiting the determination of his prayers by the Appeal Court to determine his next move.
A national officer of the party who spoke with Vanguard in confidence said unless the appellate court rules in favour of the party, Secondus may drag PDP into another round of controversies particularly in connection with the dateline of the elective convention.
He said, “It (crisis) is not yet over because no one knows what the court would say. Secondus would have presided over the 93rd NEC meeting if the court had granted his prayers. That did not happen. But should the court rules in his favour, he will most certainly reverse some of the decisions already taken by the Yemi Akinwonmi-led National Working Committee. Specifically, he is likely to shift the convention date to December.”
According to him, the only hope the party has at the moment is for both parties to withdraw their suits but with Wike insisting that he does not trust Secondus to honour his pledge of not seeking re-election despite agreeing to withdraw his suit; the party currently finds itself at a crossroad.
He continued: “Secondus is now out to play the spoiler. He knows he is out but with a ghost of chance to bounce back. His fate now lies with the appeal court but like I said earlier, it would have paid the party if all suits are withdrawn.”
He also noted that though it would now be difficult for Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Samuel Ortom to sustain their support for Secondus given their recent appointments as chairman and deputy chairman of the zoning committee respectively, “a few governors who are not very comfortable with the leadership style of Governor Wike are urging Secondus to go the whole distance, assuring him that he has a chance to stay in office until December,” he added.
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that though the zoning committee is “tipping the South” for the office of the national chairman, it is not going to micro zone as it is being speculated by many.
A highly-placed source told Vanguard that it would be left for the three geo-political zones in the South to agree on which of the zones should get the plum office; even as he added that the South-West “may get the nod over the other two.”
According to him, Governors Nyesom Wike and Seyi Makinde of Rivers and Oyo states respectively are backing former Osun state governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the chairmanship, noting however that should the party settles for the South-West, “some leaders from the zone will contest the ticket with Oyinlola,” stressing that the former governor has two things going against him.
“Oyinlola’s closeness to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida (retd) does not sit well with some leaders of the party. He is seen as a chronic loyalist of these retired Army Generals and it is being felt in some quarters that these men (Obasanjo and Babangida) will literally determine the direction of the party should Oyinlola becomes the PDP chairman.
“The second factor likely to count against him is the fact that he returned to the PDP not long ago. He was instrumental to the victory of Buhari (Muhammadu) and only returned when it became clear that the All Progressives Congress, APC, did not give him what he wanted.
“A good number of party chieftains made up of former governors, ex-Ministers, and erstwhile National Assembly members are insisting that loyalty to the party should be rewarded. This is the situation of things but let’s not pre-empt the zoning committee,” he added.
Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, hitherto national vice chairman (South) of the party has since taken over the management of PDP affairs as acting national chairman in obedience to Section 45 of the PDP constitution.