The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last week, passed vote of confidence on the National Working Committee (NWC). ONYEKACHI EZE writes on the intrigues and horse trading that secured the victory
For the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus and his colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, it was a political masterstroke recently.
After months of suspense, intrigue and horse-trading, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, which is the second highest decision making organ, passed a vote of confidence on them. At the end of an emergency NEC meeting last week, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told journalists that “NEC unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus as well as members of the NWC.
“NEC further cautioned party members at all levels to be wary of agents of distractions and division while praising the effort of the NWC for being focused and purpose driven in piloting the affairs of the party,” he added.
This assurance is what Prince Secondus and the party’s national leadership needed to guarantee an end of tenure. The PDP NWC was elected in December 2017 for a fouryear tenure, which elapses in December this year.
When he addressed media executives in December 2020 to mark the third year of his PDP-led leadership, Secondus had boasted: “At the risk of being seen as blowing our own trumpet,
it’s necessary to note that this NWC is the first in transparency and accountability, the first to function effectively for three years without any scandal or dent of corruption; the first also to successfully render account of its monetary expenditures to both NEC of our party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as statutorily required.”
It appeared this was what his traducers were waiting for to launch the attacks on the party’s leadership. Few months after, PDP which had enjoyed relative peace, began to slide into internal crisis.
The leadership was accused of sundry offences, ranging from poor management of the party’s affairs to creating conflicts in state chapters. There were reports of planned sack of the entire NWC before the end of its tenure, to be replaced with a caretaker committee like the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did.
Those behind the plot were afraid that allowing the NWC to set up a planning committee for the December’s elective national convention might work against their interest. This was attributed to the brewing crisis.
And to give bite to this, there was an allegation of alleged mismanagement of N10 billion realised from the sale of nomination forms in 2018. However, the party’s National Auditor, Mai Adamu Mustapha, who was linked the report, quickly called a press conference to deny it.
Mustapha said his memo was misrepresented to achieve a sinister purpose against the party. He added that “all the issues raised in the memo were exhaustively deliberated at the NWC meeting and that the deliberation was conclusive because on all the items raised, approvals were sought and granted by both the NWC and NEC of our great party.
“l want to state clearly that I did not make any allegations of any form of financial impropriety against the national chairman neither did I allege any form of misdemeanor on any member of the NWC.”
However, his explanation was not enough to calm frayed nerves. A former Commissioner for Information in Edo State and a chieftain of the party, Prince Kassim Afegbua, few days before the NEC meeting, petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC), exhuming that same N10 billion fraud allegation against Prince Secondus.
Afegbua further alleged that the PDP national chairman floated a company, Morufu Nigeria Limited, as a front for diversion of the party’s funds. But Ologbondiyan said the sum of N10 billion quoted by Afegbua was fictitious, as the PDP generated only N4.6 billion “and raised a budget for its expenditure, in line with all known financial regulations of our party.”
He added: “This budget passed through the organs of our party and received the approvals from the NWC, the Governors’ Forum, the Board of Trustees as well as other organs of the party. In addition, our party has since submitted the audited account of its financial expenditures to the INEC for 2019, in line with statutory requirements of the law.”
The PDP spokesperson further denied knowledge of any account under the name of Morufu Nigeria Limited. Some members of the PDP, who reviewed the NEC’s position, are of the view that Secondus has worked hard to earn the confidence vote passed on the party executive. Since the crisis broke out, he deployed all the arsenals at his disposal to win the confidence of organs of the party on his side.
Also, the conscience of the party, the Board of Trustees (BoT), which met immediately the crisis broke out, gave the NWC a clean bill of health. In a communiqué at the end of its meeting, the BoT assured of its commitment “not to allow any mischievous trends or strain to clog the working relationship between all members, particularly at the top management level of the party.”
The communiqué, which was read by a former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, further assured that the board will “ensure that a fluent and uninterrupted operation of all the organs of the party particularly the National Working Committee (NWC) remains in place leading up to a successful convention in December 2021.”
The PDP Governors’ Forum also met within the same week and passed a confidence vote on the NWC. Now that the NE Against these backdrops, party faithful expect the NWC to remain focused on strengthening the PDP for the 2023 general election. The crisis seemed to have affected activities at the party’s national secretariat. Secondus had during his third year media briefing, listed the rebuilding process he had initiated since he took over the reins of the party and how it had helped to reposition the PDP.
According to him, “by the time our reform programme came on stream, the party had become an attractive brand to accommodate the influx of new members that included the entire leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly then, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, others members of the parliament at federal and state levels as well as three incumbent state governors of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto who joined us.”
However, Nigerians are yet to see much of the rebuilding process this year. Instead, PDP is losing members to the APC.
For a party that is preparing to take-over from the ruling party in 2023, this is the time to heighten the tempo.
An anonymous member of the party in a statement circulated on social media, said PDP should be seen to “consciously undertake a number of reforms to firmly reposition the party and make it a viable alternative for Nigerians, who are dying in the hands of the Buhari-led APC.” He, however, regretted that such had been the case.
No doubt, the crisis in the PDP has slowed down the party’s activities; however, now that it has been resolved, Nigerians are waiting to see an opposition party that is ready to offer them a better alternative in the 2023 general election