…as they differ on peace terms
The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have worsened following a disagreement between the two main gladiators – Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the suspended National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus – over a peace term proposed by the governor.
The governor, in the peace plan he gave the eight-man reconciliation panel headed by Chief David Mark, insists that Secondus must quit as national chairman; his tenure expires on October 31; he can no longer attend meetings of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Council (NEC) Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Caucus henceforth; and should withdraw his case at the Kebbi State High Court which had restored him to his position as PDP chairman.
But the embattled chairman and his backers regard the conditions as “awkward, one-sided and unacceptable.”
Secondus is said to believe strongly that his mandate remains sacrosanct and that his suspension by court from his ward in Rivers State is illegal.
He is also of the firm conviction that no individual is empowered by the PDP Constitution to remove a party officer and that Wike cannot excise him (Secondus) from NEC, NWC other statutory meetings of organs of the party.
While he is willing to withdraw court case, Wike must show concrete commitment to peace by withdrawing the court case against him (Secondus) too.
With both sides unwilling to compromise, party sources hinted last night that it was becoming obvious that the only option left for the aggrieved parties to settle the crisis is litigation.
Elders of the party are however said to be worried that leaving the crisis for the courts to resolve could cost PDP the 2023 elections.
Consequently, the Mark committee may meet with Secondus and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) tomorrow or Tuesday.
The panel is expected to submit its report on or before the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party on Thursday in Abuja.
The NEC is expected to take a final decision on the crisis in the party.
The Nation gathered that Wike gave his terms when he met with David Mark’s committee in Port Harcourt.
According to a source, the governor restated his commitment to peace and stability in the party but declared that Secondus should not be allowed to be part of the meetings of the NWC, NEC, Board of Trustees and National Caucus meetings.
He insisted on October 31 as the date for the National Convention.
He said if the conditions were met, PDP’s problems and cases would be over.
The source said: “The governor listed his terms which he felt will help resolve the PDP crisis and pave the way for a smooth, free and fair national convention.
“After listening to his terms, members of the panel promised to get back to the governor.
“But his options were untenable to Secondus and his backers because they amount to technical removal of the PDP chairman.
“They alleged that Wike has not conceded anything other than lip service commitment to end legal disputes.”
A source in Secondus’ camp dismissed Wilke’s terms as unacceptable.
The source said: “He is desperate to ensure that Secondus does not complete his term in office. And we know he has no genuine case in court. The so-called restraining order is unfortunate; it cannot stand.
“On our part, Secondus is willing to withdraw his case in court but without conditions. Wike has not shown any commitment to peace.
“A few days after Mark panel’s members left him, Secondus was suspended at the Ward level in a kangaroo manner when the PDP constitution is clear on the procedures to follow.
“The reality is that the intervention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria has made Wike’s camp to be jittery. No court will issue an ex parte order again or recklessly.
“Were it not for his respect for the party and elders, Secondus would have preferred to go the whole hog of the legal process. There is no way the suspension can stand. But in politics, one must learn to concede.”
It was gathered that party leaders are worried over the consequences of lingering court cases on the chances of the party in 2023.
“You can see how leaders like ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso are already raising the red flag on how the party is sliding into brinkmanship.
“All our leaders believe that judicial process cannot solve the problem at hand. This was why the Mark committee was set up,” a BOT member said.
It was similarly gathered that Mark panel members will meet with NWC members between Monday and Tuesday.
A source close to the panel said: “NWC members have been put on notice that Mark and his team will have audience with them and Secondus.
“The committee is actually expected to submit its report for NEC consideration. So, as critical stakeholders, the panel opted to seek their inputs too.
“NEC is going to meet on Thursday in Abuja to take a definite position on the crisis in the party.”
Former governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Friday warned the warring parties in the PDP that their conduct is capable of tearing the party apart.
The PDP chieftain said in a BBC Hausa interview that the party does not need any crisis at this time it is losing members.
“Now the strength of the party has reduced and in the end what will happen is that it will tear us apart,” he said.
“You see, the result will not help us since we do not have a president and we do not have many governors.”
He urged party members to wait and let the chairman end his tenure as he has only one month left. Kwankwaso also advised party leaders to focus on their people and see ways they can help them.
Secondus on Wednesday expressed willingness for an out-of-court resolution of the crisis that led to his suspension from office.
The embattled chairman told the Mark Committee that he was forced to approach the Kebbi High Court for a counter-injunction in response to the one initiated in Rivers State.
Secondus is said to have backed up his claim with Article 59 (3) of the party’s constitution which stipulates that no executive committee, whether at ward,
local government, state or zonal level, can remove or sanction any member of the party’s National Executive Council.