The Deputy National Chairman (North) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Suleiman Nazif, has declared himself the acting national chairman of the party further deepening the crisis rocking the main opposition party.
This follows an order of a Rivers High Court restraining Uche Secondus from parading himself as the occupier of the position.
Mr Nazif, a former senator from Bauchi State, declared himself national chairman at the party’s headquarters hours after his southern counterpart, Yemi Akinwonmi, laid claim to the position.
The court sitting in Port Harcourt had on Monday issued the order restraining Mr Secondus not only from parading himself as national chairman but also from taking part in any activity of the party while the order lasts.
Relying on Section 45 (2) of the PDP Constitution, Mr Akinwonmi had declared himself national chairman pending the determination of the restraining order on the embattled Mr Secondus.
Being from the south as Mr Secondus, Mr Akinwonmi is next in line to the national chairman, going by the party’s constitution.
“Our attention was drawn yesterday evening to a court order which purports to restrain our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus from summoning and presiding over the meetings of the organs of the party.
“In the foregoing circumstances, as Deputy National Chairman (South) of the People’s Democratic Party, after the consultations and in exercise of the aforesaid powers, hereby deem it fit and proper to postpone the National Working Committee meeting earlier scheduled for today until further notice to allow for broader consultations in the overall interest of our party,” a statement by the ‘office of the national chairman’, said.
However, a few hours later, relying on Section 47 (4) of the PDP Constitution, Mr Nazif convened a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) which was attended by seven out of the 18 members of the organ.
The section states: “In the absence of the National Chairman and the Deputy National Chairman from the region part of the country where the National Chairman originates from, the other Deputy National Chairman shall act as National Chairman without prejudice to 47 (6) of this Constitution”.
At the meeting, the former senator pronounced himself the national chairman, explaining that Mr Akinwonmi “had been ill and incapacitated as a result of which he (Akinwonmi) would not be able to carry out the duties of national chairman.”
Mr Nazif also said Mr Akinwonmi had not attended the NWC meeting and other party activities “in the last nine months”.
“On this note, distinguished NWC members, I hereby take full charge of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Chairman in an acting capacity,” he said.
“We have waited this morning for the Deputy National Chairman (South) who has been incapacitated, who has not been attending NWC meeting in the last nine months and I believe there was a communication between the deputy national chairmen (south).”
Mr Nazif also announced that the National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet on 27 August by 10 a.m. during which it would discuss matters affecting the main opposition party.
According to him, “Like you know, in the absence of the deputy chairman south, I take full charge, so I am hereby calling for an emergency NEC meeting on the 27th August, 2021, 10 am prompt to deliberate on matters affecting the party.
“And I believe all the leaders of this party, the owners of this party, that will be in attendance are our governors, former presiding officers will be part of the NEC meeting to deliberate all pending issues.”
Mr Nazif overruled Mr Akinwonmi’s earlier declaration that the NWC meeting had been suspended until further notice.
My position- Nazif
Speaking with journalists, Mr Nazif explained why he took over as acting national chairman.
“Let me make this very clear that this meeting was called for 2 p.m,” he said.
“As I said, the Deputy National Chairman (South) has been incapacitated and did not attend any meeting in the last nine to 10 months as far as NWC is concerned.
“He (Akinwonmi) has not been in communication with any member of the NWC for the last 10 months. And like I said, this party must continue its process.
“And if I am not available, someone else will take over. If the national chairman is not available, someone will take over. If the deputy national chairman south is not available, the deputy chairman, north will take charge.
“This is the resolution that was passed by the expanded caucus. And this was the resolution passed by the NWC in our last meeting and we all agreed that there will be a meeting today.
“The meeting was supposed to be presided over by the National Chairman. Unfortunately, the court order came from a competent court and stopped the chairman from acting as chairman of the party.”
Ruptured by crisis
The leadership crisis in the main opposition party deepened a few weeks ago when some members of the party demanded the exit of Mr Secondus.
Members of the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives led by Kingsley Chinda (Rivers) were among who asked him to resign.
The crisis took a new dimension when seven deputy officers of the NWC resigned their positions and demanded Mr Secondus’ exit for alleged incompetence. But the embattled national chairman vowed to hold on to his position.
At the height of the crisis, some party organs, including the Governors Forum and the Board of Trustees (BoT) held meetings to wade into the crisis.
At one of the joint meetings of the governors, BoT members and other senior members of the party at its national secretariat in Abuja, it was decided that the national convention should be moved from December to October this year to calm frayed nerves.
New members of the NWC are expected to be elected at the convention.
Mr Secondus-led NWC was elected in December 2017 and should round off their tenure by December this year.
There are allegations that governors elected on the platform of the party are divided over demands for Mr Secondus’ exit.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...