By Hon. C.I.D. Maduabum, LLM


The PDP Governors Forum has been playing a leadership and constructive role in the PDP and even the nation, especially since Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, emerged Chairman and H.E. Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Vice Chairman, in 2020.

They started by rotating its monthly meetings in various States to help re-invigorate the PDP in those States and indeed the nation. The Forum has worked very hard to reposition the Party as a force for good governance and accountability, through its Communiques and pronouncements that set the Agenda for discuss in Nigeria. Indeed, its declarations in Makurdi, Ibadan, Uyo and Bauchi meetings are regarded as landmark interventions in Nigerian politics.

Recently, when problems threatened to overwhelm the Party, it also stepped in to steady the ship of state of the Party. All these efforts by the PDP Governors is not an attempt to hijack the party as some erroneously posit, but a patriotic attempt to provide leadership and reposition the party for the great task of removing the inept APC led Federal Government at the centre.

Rumblings in PDP
The media was inundated by stories of rumblings in PDP as a result of Notice of Resignation of some national officers of the party on the grounds of dissatisfaction with how the party was being administered by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

Assurances by senior officials of the party did not calm frayed nerves.

Following these developments, the PDP Governors had in a statement by Gov. Tambuwal, Chairman of the Forum, called for calm and pleaded “with all aggrieved persons and those with the interest of the PDP at heart to keep their gun powder dry, as efforts were being made in consultations with members of the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to resolve all contending issues”.

He announced: “To this end, the Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the affairs of the party and the way forward”.

Intervention of PDP Governors:
The PDP Governors stepped in. The Governors met and proffered a solution when no one had an answer. No one apparently knew what to do.

The PDP Governors met consecutively for 2 days to break the ice. There was major consultation of all the stakeholders at the Akwa Ibom Governors Lodge, venue of the meeting.

All the Governors of the party were physically present at all the meetings. By the second day, the Governors invited the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus. Other leaders of the party later joined, including former leaders of the National Assembly including the doyen of the group, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, Senator Pius Anyim, Senator David Mark, Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara and Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

Current leaders of the National Assembly, including Senator Abdullahi Danbaba and Senator Philip Aduda, Rt. Hon. Adesegun Abdel – Majid and Hon. Kingsley Chinda also attended. The Board of Trustees, (BOT), was represented by its Chairman, Senator Walid Jubrin, and the Secretary of the BOT, Senator Adolphus Wabara, at this consultative meeting summoned by the Governors.

In a show of leadership and ingenuity, the Governors offered a way out to meet the exigencies of the situation. They sought for an early National Convention in October 2021, even though the tenure of the Uche Secondus’ National Working Committee (NWC) would expire on 9th December, 2021.

All the stakeholders agreed with the Governors on an early National Convention and informally also agreed that none of the present NWC members led by Uche Secondus would present themselves for re-election. The 92nd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting eventually held on 28th August, 2021 and adopted all the Resolutions engineered by the PDP Governors.

Other components of the agreements include;
a. That the Constitution, traditions and practices of the Party should be strictly adhered to in finding solutions to any problems.

b. That all parties should sheath their swords in the greater interest of the PDP and the need to RESCUE Nigeria from the avoidable National malaise and drift occasioned by the APC administration.

c. That all processes leading to an early National Convention in October be immediately activated by relevant Party organs, especially National Executive Committee (NEC).

d. That the Party should redouble efforts to provide a credible alternative leadership for Nigeria as it still remains the only hope for the Nigerian people for good governance.

e. The meeting requested the NEC to immediately constitute a Zoning Committee for Party Offices and another Committee for National elective offices.

f. The meeting expressed appreciation to party elders for their commitment and wisdom in handling party affairs.

Conflicting Court Orders:
As we all know, leadership problems threatened to derail the party as a result of conflicting Court Orders and attempted resignation of some members of the National Working Committee of the Party. The National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, was suspended by an ex parte Order of Degema High Court in Rivers State. The restraining order was given by Justice O. G. Basah.

The matter took a different turn as Justice Nusirat. I. Umar, a vacation Judge of the Kebbi State High Court restored the embattled National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to his position through another contrary ex parte Order.

The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Party, Elder Yemi Akinwomi, had assumed leadership of the PDP in acting capacity, following the earlier restraining order on Secondus by a court of coordinate jurisdiction in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He was forced to suspend indefinitely, the scheduled National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the party.

Before matters could settle, another injunction was granted by a Cross River High Court also barring the PDP from allowing Secondus to function as National Chairman or preside over the NEC meeting of the party. The interim order was issued by the court, presided over by Justice Edem Kufre, upon an application brought by a member of the party, Enang Wani, ahead of the PDP’s NEC.

There was absolute confusion as a result of this state of affairs.

One of the knotty issues that arose was who would preside over the NEC meeting in view of the latest Calabar High Court Order that barred Prince Secondus from parading himself as National Chairman.

In order to solve the logjam since Secondus had since returned to office following the Kebbi Court ruling and the hand over back to him by the Acting National Chairman, Prince Yemi Akinwonmi, Prince Secondus, in a rare show of statesmanship, voluntarily asked the Deputy Chairman (South), to preside over the NEC meeting as Acting Chairman in his stead. In a press statement issued on 28th August, 2021, he said: “I hereby request you to preside over the National Executive Committee meeting of the Party, taking place today, 28th August, 2021 @ 12 noon, in my absence.”

This statement was made apparently in consultation with the PDP-GF to find a way out. The 92nd NEC meeting held without any hitch. Once again, the party dodged the bullet.

Then, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) intervened and summoned all the Chief Justices of the States where the Ex parte Orders were obtained to appear before him and the National Judicial Council (NJC). This action effectively stemmed the tide of the menace of conflicting Court Orders. In fact, the Kebbi High Court quickly discharged its Order and the Calabar High Court Order also elapsed.

Meanwhile, the Degema High Court Order had progressed to a stage where a judgement was delivered upholding the suspension of the National Chairman, Uche Secondus. He appealed. But pending the appeal, he stayed away from his duties as Chairman and the Acting National Chairman held forth.

And so, the NWC continued the activities of the party without Prince Uche Secondus.

PDP Governors and NEC meetings:
Another NEC meeting was scheduled for the party to agree on the venue and other modalities for the National Convention. Prior to the 93rd NEC meeting, the PDP-GF met on 8th September, 2021 to provide leadership and direction to the party. As is the tradition, the PDP-GF was requested by PDP’s NWC to provide the leadership of the National Convention Organising Committee (NCOC) and the Zoning Committee.

Consequently, the Forum nominated the following for the National Convention Organising Committee (NCOC):

i. Gov. Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State as Chairman
ii. Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa State as Deputy Chairman and
iii. Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State as Secretary

For the Zoning Committee, the PDP-GF presented:
i. Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State as Chairman
ii. Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue State as Deputy Chairman and
iii. Barr. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Deputy Governor, Zamfara State as Secretary

The 93rd NEC meeting adopted these proposals and empowered the NCOC to, in consultation with other stakeholders, constitute other Sub Committees. Once again, the PDP-GF saved the day with very capable officers.

The Zoning Question:
The next battle was on the thorny issue of zoning of party offices. The Gov. Ugwuanyi Committee swung into action immediately after the 93rd NEC meeting. It held its first meeting in Enugu on Thursday, 23rd September, 2021. The meeting was well attended but two tendencies emerged from the meeting.

The first was those who insisted that S.7 (3)(d) of the PDP Constitution required that party offices should, consistent with zoning and rotation principle, move from North to South and from South to North, in pursuance to the principle of equity, justice and fairness. The second tendency was championed by those who relied on S.47 (1) of the PDP Constitution which guaranteed 2 terms to incumbents. According to them, even if no incumbent was running, the Zones that occupied the office for one term had the right to conclude the term of the incumbents. The Enugu meeting was thus sharply divided and inconclusive. The meeting was adjourned to Abuja for 30th September, 2021, but mandated the leadership of the Zoning Committee to consult the PDP-GF. They felt that the input of the PDP Governors was of crucial importance as the Governors had consistently played a leadership and stablising role in the party.

The PDP-GF summoned an emergency meeting which held on Wednesday, 29th September, 2021. The PDP-GF emergency meeting concluded that the Zoning Committee should concentrate only on the zoning of party offices and not government offices in the Executive and Legislature.

This consultative meeting apparently sided with those who canvassed that all offices currently held by officials in Northern Nigeria should rotate to Southern Nigeria and vice-versa.

Once again, the Governors signposted a workable solution to douse tensions in the party. And so, the Abuja Zoning Committee meeting was held with bated anticipation. There was tension everywhere. However, due to the deft management of the meeting by H.E. Gov. Ugwuanyi and assisted by H.E. Gov. Ortom, tension was diffused and the PDP-GF suggestion was upheld.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, read by its Chairman, H.E. Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the Committee said:

“1. The National Zoning Committee of the PDP was given the mandate to zone National offices to be contested by all PDP Members of the Party at the PDP National Convention of the Party scheduled for October 30/31 2021 by the National Executive Committee of the Party.

2. That the mandate of the Committee does not include Zoning of the offices of the President, Vice President and other Executive and Legislative offices of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And the decision of the Committee to zone the Party offices does not in any way affect the executive and legislative offices in Nigeria.

3. That zoning of offices on PDP has traditionally been between the North and South of Nigeria.

4. The decision of the PDP Zoning Committee is in line with the Constitution of the Party on Zoning and rotation of Party and national offices in the interest of justice, equity and fairness. Consequently, the current offices being held by officers in the Southern Zones of the country, namely, South West, South East and South-South zones, should swap places with the offices currently in the northern zones of Nigeria, namely, North West, North East and North Central zones. …

6. We shall pass on our recommendations to the National Executive Committee of the Party through the National Working Committee of the Party.”

The 94th NEC meeting was summoned specifically to deal with the party zoning question. Fortunately, PDP NEC upheld the Zoning Committee’s recommendations. The Governors’ intervention had worked again.
Micro-Zoning Issues:
The next challenge was the distribution of offices allotted to Northern and Southern Nigeria. Once again, the Governors provided leadership to a rather difficult issue. In Northern Nigeria, three different meetings were held in the Bauchi State Governors Lodge, to forge a consensus. Eventually, each zone namely North West, North East and North Central were asked to produce one candidate each for National Chairman. H.E. former Gov. Ibrahim Shema emerged from the North West; H.E. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu emerged from the North Central and former Sen. Abdul Ningi emerged from the North East.

In the eventual meeting that was held on 14th October, 2021, Sen. (Dr.) Iyorchia Ayu emerged as the consensus choice of the Northern Region for Chairman. Other States in the North produced consensus candidates for the various offices allotted to them. The Zones where consensus failed is in the North East for the position of the Deputy Chairman, North and National Youth Leader from North West. This was confirmed by the Chairman of the Northern Zoning Committee meeting, H.E. Gov. Umaru Finitiri of Adamawa State, in a press briefing. It is to be contested by Alh. Umaru Iliya Damagun of Yobe State and Hajiya Inna Maryam Ciroma, former Minister from Borno State.

In Southern Nigeria, the Governors took leadership and micro zoned the offices to various zones.

It was learnt that the leaders of South-South voluntarily conceded the top posts to the South East (National Secretary) and South West (Publicity Secretary) and Deputy National Chairman (South) in order to strengthen the party in these two zones, since the South-South zone has 5 Governors already.

In the South-East, after a few rumbles, the zone led by Governors Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu, settled for former Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo) as the Zonal Candidate for National Secretary and Sir Obi Okechukwu, FCA (Anambra) for National Auditor, which are the two NWC positions zoned to the South East. The National Auditor’s position is being contested by two other candidates.

In the South-West, the office of the Deputy National Chairman (South), the Publicity Secretary and even the Deputy National Secretary are being contested by different persons as the consensus option seems to have failed. The sole Governor in the South West, H.E. Seyi Makinde, tried his best to reach a consensus, but divisions seem to have persisted. It is hoped that a resolution will be reached before the National Convention proper on 31st October, 2021. Maybe, the PDP-GF would have to intervene to resolve outstanding issues in some of the zones to ensure a smooth National Convention.

Facilitation of PDP Activities and the National Convention:
Of the 15 Committees set up by the NCOC, the Governors provide the leadership of at least 7 of them. They were inaugurated at a ceremony in Abuja on September 23, 2021.

The Sub-Committees are:
i. Constitution Amendment Committee – Gov. Udom Emmanuel
ii. Special Duties (Finance) – Gov. Nyesom Wike
iii. Accreditation – Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa
iv. Publicity – Gov. Godwin Obaseki
v. Venue – Gov. Mohammed Bala
vi. Contact and mobilization – Gov. Darius Dickson Ishaku
vii. Electoral – Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri
with Gov. Diri Douye as Deputy Chairman

It should be noted that the Zoning Committee, with Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Chairman, and Samuel Ortom as Deputy Chairman, was set up by NEC itself and is not a Sub Committee of the National Convention Organising Committee.

The highlight of the activities of the NCOC and majority of the Committees headed by the Governors is that they have all mobilised their members, provided a sense of belonging to members and in most instances, sponsored the meetings and paid honourarium for Committee members as a way to motivate them to participate.

It is speculated that the huge logistics and financial undertaking required for such a gigantic effort as a National Convention where over 4,000 delegates are expected, may be borne mostly by the Governors and some other stakeholders.

This does not mean that the party has been handed over to the Governors. No. Far from it! It means that the Governors are stepping forward to fill a vacuum in leadership until such a time the party is well structured and organised, which we hope the 2021 National Convention will achieve.

Unresolved Issues:
Two issues remain unresolved that has capacity to unravel the carefully orchestrated and well organised National Convention, under the leadership of H.E. Gov. Fintiri, with his indefatigable deputy, Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa State as Deputy Chairman, and Gov. Seyi Makinde as Secretary.

The first is the status of the suspended National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who is still in the Appeal Court. Only recently, his lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN issued a direct threat to the Convention in the following words:

“On 10 September, 2021, the high court of Rivers state delivered its judgment in the suit whereby Prince Uche Secondus was, inter alia, restrained from performing the functions of the office of national chairman of the PDP.

“An appeal has been filed and entered against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt judicial division.

“In addition, an application on notice has been filed in which Prince Uche Secondus is seeking, inter alia, the following orders.

“The application has since been served on you and other respondents in the appeal. Notwithstanding the service of the application for injunction, it has come to the notice of our client that the PDP and its officers continue to prepare to hold the national convention on 30 and 31 October, 2021.

“Quite apart from the fact that such contumacious conduct would impinge on the integrity of the party, we would on our part, swiftly take steps to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to nullify any decision, action or step taken at such convention.”

Secondly, the inability of some Zones, particularly the South West, to reach or engineer some form of consensus in the nomination of their candidates, poses its own problems.

It is hoped that these emerging threats will be resolved by the Governors and all stakeholders working together for the greater good of the party and the nation.

The 2021 National Convention presents a unique opportunity for the PDP to get its acts together, identify critical issues of good governance, security and other malaise plaguing the nation with a view to offering solutions on a solid way forward to the nation. The nation and people have suffered for too long under the poor leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari led APC Government. PDP cannot afford to fail this time. The Nation demands it.

Hon. Maduabum is the Director-General, PDP Governors’ Forum.

27th October, 2021.

CULLED From “PDP GOVERNORS”, A publication of PDP Governors Forum

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