SINCE its formation in 1998, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been enmeshed in several crises both at the state and national levels. While in power for 16 years, the party managed to survive the crisis that bedeviled it, using state resources and power.
But following the party’s loss of the presidency to the opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 general elections, numerous crises have erupted in the party in a quick succession.
It all started with blame game over who and what was responsible for party’s loss of the presidency in the last election. While some party chieftains blamed the party national leadership, others attributed the party’s loss to the choice of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party candidate in the election, contrary to the party’s zoning principles. Since then, the party has moved from one crisis to another, all in a bid to find its bearing as an opposition party.
Prominent among the crises include the massive defections of its members to the APC, call by the Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose and Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode for the party leadership to resign for sabotaging Jonathan’s second term ambition, the party national leadership’s call for Fani-Kayode to be punished, failed attempt to reduce workers at the party national secretariat, loss of some National Assembly seats at the Appeal Court, the arrest and trial of some of its members over alleged corrupt practices, call by some members of National Working Committee (NWC) for the acting chairman of the Board Of Trustees (BoT) Bello Mohammed and the national publicity secretary Mr. Olisa Metuh to resign, for being tried for allegedly receiving money from the ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others.
IMMEDIATELY after the 2015 general elections, the party’s national chairman and former governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Muazu was under pressure to resign his position. He was accused of working against the success of the party during the polls.
Muazu later resigned his position in May last year, citing pressing family matters as reason. But unlike the party’s tradition, where a chairman who has not completed his tenure of office left, he will be replaced by somebody from the same zone with him, Uche Secondus from South-South succeeded Muazu in acting capacity.
It will be recalled that when the party’s national chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor from Abia State resigned his position in 2010, he was succeeded by the former governor of Enugu State, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo. Also when Chief Bamanga Tukur from Adamawa Northeast Nigeria resigned as the party chairman ahead of the 2015 general elections, he was replaced by Muazu, who is also from the Northeast region like him.
Many party faithful especially from the Northeast region have questioned Secondus’s stay in office in contravention of the provisions of the party constitution.
Gulak’s Judicial Adventure
RELYING on the provisions of the party’s constitution and its tradition, the former Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak from Adamawa Northeast region last year instituted a suit against the Secondus’ continued stay in office as acting national chairman.
In his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf held that the position of the Acting National Chairman of the party was zoned to the northeast, hence could not be occupied by Mr. Secondus, who is from the South-south.
Justice Baba-Yusuf upheld the prayer of Mr. Gulak that Mr. Secondus was occupying the position of the Acting National Chairman of the party illegally. He, therefore, ordered the Acting Chairman to vacate the office within 14 days and directed that the plaintiff or any other party member worthy of that position should take Secondus’ place.
The Court Judgment
ALMOST 40 days after the judgment was delivered, neither the party leadership nor the party stakeholders has made move to implement the court order.
Having waited for long without any action, Gulak on Wednesday stormed the headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take over as chairman.
He said he was assuming office after another court on Wednesday ruled against Mr. Secondus’ suit seeking to stop the execution of the December 16 ruling. Gulak said PDP must not be left “headless” following the ruling.
He said his immediate task as acting chairman is to “take the party back to the people.” He said members of the party would be taken along in the administration of the PDP.
Battle For The Soul Of PDP
WHILE the party governors have condemned Gulak’s action, saying that soon the party organs will produce a new leadership for the party, some party stakeholders have accused the governors and national assembly members of playing the ostrich when it mattered most.
A party stakeholder and national vice chairman of the PDP South-south, Dr. Cairo Ojugbouh described Gulak’s action as a storm in tea’s cup.
On whether Secondus’ continued stay in office is in order, the party leader said that the party is waiting for the people of Northeast zone to produce a consensus candidate for the position.
He disclosed that the imbroglio in the party would be resolved next week.
In a related development, a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Southeast zone yesterday disclosed to The Guardian the reason the former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak stormed the headquarters of PDP, Abuja on Wednesday to take over as chairman of party.
Contrary to the Gulak’s claim that his action was on the basis of the ruling of Justice Baba-Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, who, on December 16, ordered the acting chairman of the party, Uche Secondus to vacate office and allow him or anyone from the northeast region to take over, the ex-national chairman said Gulak was only acting on self-preservation.
According to the ex-PDP national chairman, while the judgment of Husseini Baba-Yusuf is in line with the provisions of party constitution, the two governors of party from the Northeast zone; Mr. Dairus Ishiaku (Taraba) and Ibrahim Dankwanbo of Gombe State are not in support of Gulak’s candidacy for the position.
The ex-national chairman said: “The party’s constitution is very clear on how to replace or appoint a national chairman in case of removal, death, or resignation.
“Section 47, Subsection 6 of the PDP constitution as amended in 2012 says: “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the party, the executive committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or zone where the officer originated from pending the conduct of election to fill the vacancy.
“The truth is that the two governors of the party from Northeast zone have thrown their weight the party’s acting national vice chairman from the zone, Hon. Mohammed Wakil.
“A position that did not go down well with Gulak and his supporters who went to court to obtain judgment in favour of the zone. So Gulak’s move was to ensure that he benefitted from the court before March when the tenure of the present executive will expire.’
The Guardian investigations also revealed that the party’s failure to retain the presidential seat in the last election has divided the party between the North and South.
A source in the party’s national secretariat who pleaded anonymity disclosed that since the party’s loss of the presidency in the last elections, the centre could no longer hold.
“Constitutionally, there is no way the present leadership of the party led by Uche Secondus would have stayed in office till now, if not that they are being supported by the governors and National Assembly members from the South that are in the majority.
“The party governors and national assembly members from the south felt that their Northern counterpart betrayed them during the last election by voting massively against the PDP in the North, which made the party to lose the presidential seat.
“That is why they are supporting Secondus led leadership to ensure that a chairman from the South will emerge at the March convention,’ the party source said.
Also in the same vein, the ex-national chairman of the party said that the reason the Secondus has refused to vacate office or call National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, is to secure his office till the March convention when the office would be zoned to the South South zone.
“Most of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) have concluded plan to contest positions that will be zoned to their respective zones in the forthcoming national convention. That was why they have refused to allow the Northeast zone to present Alhaji Adamu Mauzu’s successor since he resigned from office ”
On why the party stakeholders have remained silent on the development, the ex-chairman said that the governors and the national assembly members are dictating the pace in the party now because they have financial wherewithal to fund the party.
He, however, condemned Gulak’s action, stressing that even if the court has ruled that Northeast zone should produce the chairman, Gulak cannot present himself or forcefully assume position of chairman without NEC’s approval.
One Party, Three Chairmen
AFTER their meeting in Abuja recently, the PDP governors condemned Gulak’s action and ordered Secondus and Gulak to step aside, so that the national secretary of the party, Dr. Wale Oladapo would take over the office in acting capacity. But members of the party’s NWC and Gulak have opposed the directive of the governors. While Gulak has insisted that by the ruling of the court he remained the authentic party chairman, members of the NWC have said that Secondus remains their acting chairman.