PDP In To Fresh Crisis
Gulak, NWC Clash Over Secondus’ Tenure
Fresh crisis is brewing within the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the continued stay in office of Prince Uche Secondus as the Acting National Chairman of the party has been called to question.
Former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, yesterday stormed the party secretariat to demand an immediate restoration of the National Chairman’s seat to the North-East.
Gulak who brought a letter of intent to become the PDP National Chairman on behalf of the North East zone insisted that Secondus who took over the seat in acting capacity following the exit of Adamu Mu’azu, has overstayed and should vacate the office in accordance with the party’s constitution.
However, the party’s officials led by the party’s National Secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo, in response to Gulak’s demand said the former Presidential Aide was ignorant of the party’s constitution provision.
The move by Gulak to get Secondus pushed out of office is a continuation of the crisis, which has been brewing in the party as the rumours about the North East caucus wanting the chairmanship position back continues to gain ground.
Gulak who met behind closed doors with the National Secretary, Prof. Oladipo, told journalists at the party secretariat afterwards that he was at the party secretariat to submit the letter of intent to occupy the position zoned to the North East.
He told newsmen that the continued stay in office of Secondus was illegal considering the fact that the party’s constitution makes it mandatory that in event of a resignation of a party official, the occupier of the position in acting capacity can only be in office for a maximum of three months, after which the zone to which the position belonged, should be allowed to submit a replacement.
PDP had enjoyed just a fragile peace since losing the 2015 general elections to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
The defeat of PDP was instantly greeted with widespread disenchantment within the ranks of the party, leading to calls from various influential leaders for the resignation of its national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, and the dissolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) Members of the PDP NEC had spiritedly rejected the blame for the dismal failure of the party at the elections, insisting that they would not resign their positions.
Even PDP governors had requested the removal of Mu’azu, with Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, leading the assault.
Indications that Mu’azu was hanging on borrowed times first emerged at a post-election meeting of the South West Zonal caucus called by Fayose in Ado-Ekiti.
Rising from the meeting, two national officers from the zone were requested to resign their positions, but the National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, had instantly issued a statement rejecting the position of the zonal caucus.
Oladipo had said he would not resign because the failure of the PDP in the last election was not the fault of the NWC as they were sidelined.
Olisa Metuh berated Fayose for leading the call for the sack of the NWC despite being one of its biggest beneficiary.
Metuh said the NWC stood by Fayose to ensure that a transparent primary was held in Ekiti in 2014 because it believed he had the support of the people.
Fayose, however, defended his call for the dissolution of the NWC, saying he had evidence that Muazu helped the APC to win the elections.
“In saner climes, when a war commander leads his troops to an embarrassing defeat, such commander does not need anyone to tell him that he needs to leave the war front for another commander to take over, Fayose had said, just as he lamented that the NWC members, especially the national chairman, were refusing to allow new people to manage the party after managing it to its first national electoral failure.
“How do we explain the PDP losing so scandalously in Bauchi State, despite the presence of the national chairman, Federal Capital Territory minister and the state governor?
“I am even more particular about the National Chairman because he sold the party to the opposition. I have cogent evidences of his unholy alliance with the opposition before the elections and if they go any further, I will expose all his underhand deals,” he said.
Muazu had to throw in the towel when the loud calls for his head would not abate. He resigned in May, citing serious health challenges, and thus paved the way for the emergence of Secondus.
According to Gulak, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party was mandated by the constitution to make the demand for a substantive replacement for the vacant office from the affected zone.
The current NWC headed by Secondus, he alleged, is holding on to the office illegally by refusing to call a meeting of the NEC since March when the party lost the general elections.
The constitution of the party stipulates that the NEC meeting shall be held quarterly.
His words: “My visit was to bring in writing to the notice of the party, my intention to replace the former National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu after his voluntary resignation.
“As a member, and by virtue of the constitution, I know there’s a vacancy. So it needs to be filled and I’m here to fill it. We need, vibrant, bold and courageous leadership in PDP.
“The resignation of the former chairman was done voluntarily. And maybe due to the disastrous outing of the party in the last election he decided to resign as a man who wants to take responsibility for his actions.
“The position of the constitution is that, when a principal officer of the party resigns, the replacement should come from the zone where the former officer had come,” he said.
Reminded by newsmen that the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has canvassed that Secondus should be left to complete the tenure of Muazu which expires next March, while the seat should be zoned to the South West at the next convention, Gulak came down hard on the governor, saying he lacked adequate knowledge of the provisions of the party’s constitution.
“Fayose should avail his mind to the provisions of the party’s constitution. If he had, he should have known that a replacement for the resigned chairman should come from the North East. I didn’t say so, the party’s constitution did.
“If the National Secretary had resigned, then it would have been natural for the successor to come from the South West,” Gulak argued.
He denied being pushed by any interest group to raise the dust, saying: “I believe, I’m enough a force in this party to push myself.”
However, the party’s National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, in reaction to Gulak’s purported letter said that he (Gulak) knows nothing about the party.
He denied seeing him at the Secretariat let alone receiving any letter from him.
The claim by Gulak that Secondus tenure has expired, the PDP scribe said, was a misinterpretation of the party’s constitution, adding that the constitution only gives the three-month tenure to a caretaker committee and not the Acting National Chairman of the party.
“Gulak should know that the current acting Chairman is not leading a Caretaker Committee, and the constitution provides that he, being the Deputy National Chairman, should assume office in the event that the chairman is not there. And there is no time limit for such situation as this. So there is no vacancy for anybody to come and occupy until the NEC decides on what to do at a congress.
“Dr. Gulak is a lawyer, and so is the acting National Chairman; and they both, I believe, should be conversant with the party’s constitution,” he said.
The National Legal Adviser of the party, Barrister Victor Kwon, also shed light on the constitutionality of the matter, citing relevant sections of party’s constitution to buttress the NWC position.
“Section 47(6) of the party’s constitution enables the NEC to, in the event of any vacancy nominate somebody to occupy the position. And there’s is really no time limit under Section 45 (2) where an acting national chairman may cease to act.
“So, it’s still within the constitutional provision that the acting national chairman continues in his capacity until a congress is called by the NEC and a nomination is made thereto,” he said.
Oladipo also clarified that the current NWC had not found it expedient to call a NEC meeting because there were no serious issues beyond the capacity of the NWC to handle within the party.
He disclosed that the NWC, besides holding its weekly meetings, had also been holding series of meetings with party members who belonged to the NEC, Board of Trustees (BoT) as well as National Caucus, and therefore, did not find it necessary to call the NEC meeting.
Also contributing to the issue on the invitation of the National Secretary, the National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, stated that NWC was waiting for the Ike Ekweremadu-led Committee’s report before it could summon NEC meeting.
“We are waiting for Ekweremadu-led Committee report to know the next step to take. The decision to make an appointment from anywhere lies with the NEC,” Metuh said.