With the recent defection of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, and the realignment of forces between former Governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke within the PDP, Chuks Okocha writes that the 2023 general election will no longer be an easy ride for any political party in the State.
The drama by the seven national deputies of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who resigned last Tuesday could best be described as the height of an attempt by some individuals to hijack and distract the leadership of the party. It also showed the resilience by the main stakeholders to keep the party united and afloat.
The members of the Board of Trustee (BoT), National Executive Committee (NEC), and the Governors elected on the platform of the party, all rallied round to state in clear terms that the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus cannot be bullied around, except he decides to step down on his own volition.
Also, the party came out to explain that the deputies operated or acted outside the PDP constitution as they knew what was in the party’s constitution before they contested for the offices they occupied.
By the party constitution, the deputies are nothing but spare tyres, who apart from being members of NEC, have no visible functions in the PDP constitution.
It was also worrisome that the deputies who were elected since 2017, only woke up four months to the end of their tenure to realise that they were marginalised.
The main opposition party has also clarified that they are not even members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The dramatised resignation was also viewed as selfish, as one of the deputies argued that they were treated as nobody.
Asked to clarify his position, the officer said, “The most annoying part is that during Christmas and Sallah festivities, the NWC would visit our Governors. They would collect money and other items but I can tell you that they don’t share anything with the deputies. To him, we are just a necessary evil to be tolerated but never to be catered for. We all have our constituencies and our followers but from the way we are being treated, it appears they see us as nothing but appendages forced on them by the party’s constitution.”
It also appeared that the deputies didn’t even read the PDP constitution to know their duties.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in an interview with THISDAY, had stated the constitutional duties of the NWC clearly, and the deputies are not even members of the NWC as they claimed.
Meanwhile, a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP, Mr. Mark Jacob who was the Kaduna State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, has argued that Secondus cannot be bullied out of office, except he chooses to resign.
He also said that there are laid-down constitutional provisions to remove a National Chairman.
Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel, Jacob listed the conditions precedent for the removal of a National Chairman.
The PDP NEC member said that “the conditions for the removal of the National Chairman that is duly elected is stated in the constitution, except when the National Chairman in question decided to resign on his own volition. He cannot be bullied out of office”.
Jacob noted that any NEC member, who has any grievance against any NWC member must bring it to the NEC for attention, adding that, “in this case of the deputies that resigned, they never complained or brought any issue to the NEC for any attention or for it to be addressed.”
Jacob also stated that the deputies are not members of the NWC of the party.
He described the resignation of the deputies as highest display of selfish and personal interest.
“They have been in that position since their election in 2017, what made them to hurriedly resign now,” he queried.
Reacting to the resignation, the NWC said that it had reviewed the state of the party, with a view to creating an atmosphere that would engender stability within the party.
The NWC also disclosed that it had already activated the internal conflict resolution mechanism of the party to ensure amicable resolution of all issues. It urged all members of the party to remain calm while assuring that the party remains stable, working with the majority of Nigerians to end the inept administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), come 2023. It was for this reason that the NWC commenced a last-minute rapprochement to convince the deputies to reconsider their resignation.
At a meeting, Secondus urged the deputies to rethink their move as it would be better to conclude the race they started as a team in 2017 when their tenure will end by November 2021.
Also, the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson said that the party cannot stand the risk of a Caretaker Committee in the face of the 2023 general election. Dickson, representing Bayelsa West senatorial zone, was also Chairman of the PDP Reconciliation Committee from 2013 to 2020 and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
“We have observed for sometime the growing tension, recriminations and outright attack on the National Chairman and members of the National Working Committee by some leaders of the party. One has refrained from making statements because we believe that the party has internal mechanisms and levels of leadership that will handle it and I was in fact, aware that BoT members, Governors and other elders, reconciliation committee, collectively and individually, have been making efforts to resolve some of these disputes and challenges affecting the stability of the party.
“As we are all aware, some officers of our party, resigned yesterday and we should thank them for their services but if their resignation is aimed at causing crisis in the party then we should all condemn it and those behind it.
“By the party’s constitution the appropriate authority, the NWC is empowered to make replacements. I, therefore, call on the National Chairman and other members of the NWC in accordance with the constitution of the party to immediately make appropriate consultations from the States and zones from which these officers have resigned and forthwith, make those replacements subject to ratification by the NEC.
“An emergency NEC meeting should be convened which should take appropriate decisions to stabilize the party. And if there is any member of the working committee who wants to resign, such a person should consider the overall interest of the party and have a rethink. If however, any NWC member goes ahead to resign, the resignation should be accepted and consultations be made by the Chairman and NWC to fill those positions as temporary vacancies subject to ratification.
“The National Chairman and NWC members should utilise their powers under the constitution to discipline erring members involved in the nefarious plot to destroy the party. PDP is bigger than any individual and should no longer tolerate people with inordinate ambitions to destroy the party which belongs to all Nigerians.”
Dickson noted that the party’s window of opportunity to take over power in 2023 is fast receding as a result of these self-inflicted challenges.
PDP’s success in its effort to regain power in 2023 will depend on how it handles these self-inflicted challenges.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Chucks Okocha and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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