There are signs of growing opposition to the leadership of Uche Secondus as national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over the lack of clarity on where he stands on the zoning of the party’s presidential ticket for 2023 elections.
The Interview reliably learnt that frustrations against the party chairman are building up on several fronts with some party members open to the possibilities for his ouster. On one front are party members said to have personal grievances with Secondus. And they mobilising against the chairman.
But the national publicity secretary of the party, Kola Ologbodiyan, has dismissed all insinuations saying he hasn’t seen or heard any party member calling for the ouster or replacement of the party chairman. He said, “I will not go into any such discussions. There are rules guiding how party officials are replaced.”
However, according to party sources, the inability of Hon. Kingsley Chinda of Rivers State, to secure the position of minority leader in the House of Representatives and how the party’s leadership has managed the fallout is reportedly behind the disaffection of most party members with personal grievances.
And it has the potential to tear the party apart.
The national chairman of the party is also from Rivers and both he and Chinda are believed to have been backed by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who is a major financier of the party but has frequently lost out in key battles at the level. Much of the crisis is believed to be driven by Wike’s unwillingness to accept that outcome even some top party leaders believe they should.
The party had initially supported Hon. Chinda to be named minority leader only to see Hon. Ndudi Elumelu named by that position by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. It would later suspend Elumelu for going against the party’s wishes. Party leaders would later set up a committee to investigate what went wrong and to move forward. Different meanings are have read into the committee’s inability to submit a report.
To this, Ologbodiyan said, “I knew this was where you were going with the questions. As far as the party is concerned, the committee is yet to submit its report. When it submits its report, the party will take a decision. The party has an organised way of coming to decisions. We should wait for that decision.”
On a second front are stakeholders who fear Secondus would press for the zoning of the Presidency to the north. These are senators and a number of state governors who believe the party needs to make clear its presidential ticket for the next general election will be zoned to the south, the southeast in particular.
A source who spoke to The Interview raised concerns about Secondus’ willingness to sacrifice a possible southeast presidency and even jettison zoning for his own personal interest to remain party chairman.
Ike Abonyi, the special adviser to the national chairman says he was not aware of any calls to replace Secondus or even the existence of a crisis in the party.
He said, “I don’t see a crisis. There are many unresolved problems in politics. If they are not resolved, it doesn’t amount to a crisis.”
On zoning, Abonyi said, “The party is not in a rush. 2023 is four years away. We just came out of an election. We are at the point of reviewing what happened at the last elections.”
The official position of the party is that zoning has not been discussed at any organ or meetings of the party. According to Ologbodiyan, “The NWC of the party is not aware zoning is causing any fears in the party. Anybody reading into zoning is just speculating.”
The party’s publicity secretary added that it was beyond the powers of an individual to say where the presidential ticket will be zoned. He said, “There are various organs of the party and they haven’t sat.”
In the same way, he dismissed any suggestion that Secondus or any party leader is already committed to an Atiku Abubakar candidacy in 2023. Ologbodiyan said, “I just told you, we haven’t reached that level. Our passion, drive is about reform. As from January 2020, we are going full blast on how to effect this reform.”
But according to party insiders, the third group unhappy with Secondus has given the party chairman conditions for their support in any showdown to make him replaced as party chairman. The bulk of this group is reportedly made up of a younger generation of northern stakeholders of the PDP.
Secondus, they fear is pro-Atiku, PDP’s presidential candidate at the general elections earlier this year. One member of the group who spoke with The Interview on condition of anonymity said it was getting clearer Atiku wants to contest again.
The former Vice President has even dispatched Abdul Ningi, a former senator from Bauchi, across the country to lay the groundwork for sixth attempt at the presidency in 2023 and even provided Ningi with a brand new SUV.
While this northern group is happy Secondus is inclined to zoning the presidency to the north, it is only willing to back Secondus if he could guarantee Atiku will not again emerge PDP candidate in 2023. The PDP candidacy, they believe should not be dependent on money flow.
The source, an Adamawa native and top party stakeholder said, “The opportunities given to Atiku cannot be limitless. He was given an opportunity as far back as 1993. He was given another opportunity by Olusegun Obasanjo to be Vice President in 1999 and it ended in disaster. In 2007, the Action Congress gave him one and he didn’t make it. Again in 2019, he was given another.
“The next presidential election, upcoming fight for power, pungent struggle for the hold of leadership in the country will ultimately be a fight between the old forces, who will be looking to retain power within themselves and against an emergent, determined younger elites of the country.”
The position of the group, he said is that the old forces form of politics has been brutal and most times, primitive and its destructive tendencies, is today clearly being frontally challenged by new progressive power blocs such that, for example, blocs within the party like n-PDP.
The leadership of the party or its chairman, he said, should not be seen to be in the way. “At the end of the day, to all intent and purposes, PDP may again in 2023, like in 1999, lead in the shift of political paradigm in Nigeria and in our national politics.”