From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Prior to the emergency meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC), last Thursday, there was anxiety among party chieftains as to what would be the outcome of the meeting, as it relates to the National chairman, Uche Secondus and the entire National Working Committee( NWC).
The NEC meeting was called to mainly discuss issues relating to the November 6 Anambra governorship polls, rising insecurity in the country, as well as other party matters.
Three days earlier, former Edo Commissioner for Information, Kassim Afegbua, had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ( ICPC) seeking a probe of the party’s finances.
Specifically, Afegbua demanded for a probe into N10 billion allegedly realised from the sale of presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies’ nomination forms from 2017 till date.
Regardless, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in his immediate reaction had dismissed Afegbua’s petition as “spurious and irresponsible”.
Ologbondiyan, who spoke at a press conference at the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja, stated that the opposition party has always carried out due process in the management of its finances.
“The PDP did not raise Afegbua’s fictitious sum of N10 billion as alleged by him. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP generated the sum of N4.6 billion and raised a budget for its expenditure, in line with all known financial regulations of our party.
“As a law-abiding political party that respects the doctrine of rule of law and transparency, the budget was presented to the National Executive Committee (NEC) where it also received a final approval.
“It is imperative to state that all the sums received and budgeted for passed through the due process of approval by the necessary organs of the party.”
Ologbondiyan’s explanation, not withstanding, party stalwarts were still anxious as to what the reaction of NEC would be to the allegations against the PDP leadership.
This is especially as Afegbua, had at a press briefing, in Abuja, a day to the meeting, stated that “people in the NWC, the NEC, the party’s governors and other key stakeholders are with me on this journey. I am just the one holding the flag, “ he had stated.
Expectedly, there was anxiety as to what would be the outcome of the parley by the party leaders. However, at the NEC meeting, reprieve came for the National Chairman and other members of the NWC as NEC passed a vote of confidence on them.
The party organ had adopted a motion, said to have been moved, by Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, for a vote of confidence on the National chairman and his team.
The opposition spokesman, who briefed journalists, after the meeting, said NEC apart from passing a vote of no confidence on the Secondus-led NEC cautioned party members “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.”
The vote of confidence is instructive as the NEC, which consists of governors elected on the platform of the party, National Assembly members, state chairman of the party among others is the second highest organ of the opposition party; next only to it’s National Convention.
Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who stood in for the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, at the last NEC told journalists, at the end of the NEC meeting that the opposition remains intact.
“PDP is the only party that is organized, you can see we just ended the NEC; there is no any rancour, there is no any conflict and you can see the array of human capital here.
“And if we go back a little further, you will see how the PDP was able to conduct it’s recruitment process and we have been able to deliver the dividend of democracy,” Mohammed stated.
Analysts say the vote of confidence is a reprieve for the NWC, which has been in the eyes of the storm over sundry issues.
Before Afegbua’s petition to the anti-graft agencies, there have have been tension in the opposition party over plots to pull the rug of the feet of the NWC.
However, in a bid to manage the issues in the party, leaders of the party have repeatedly said there is no rancour within the PDP. They were quick to blame the ruling All Progressives Congress( APC) for trying to instigate a crisis within its fold.
Daily Sun gathered that ahead of the 2023 general elections, there have been intrigues and power play in the opposition party, as party leaders with the eyes on the PDP presidential ticket struggle to outwit one another.
As part of the tussle for supremacy in the PDP, an influential group within the party moved against the NWC.
The group, apparently latching onto the crises in some state chapters of the opposition, is accusing the NWC of not managing the party’s affairs well.
Informed sources said although the tenure of Secondus and other members of the NWC is expected to elapse on December 2, 2021, the plot was to sack them before expiration of their tenure.
According to the plot, a caretaker committee will be put in place to organize the December Convention to elect a new NWC.
A source told told our correspondent, that plot against Secondus, and his team, “is part of ongoing power play ahead of the next general elections and not because of anything he had done or failed to do.”
Nevertheless, some party leaders have cautioned against anything that will trigger crisis in the opposition party.
However, the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), recently, moved to douse tension in the opposition party. The BoT, at its meeting in Abuja, in March passed a vote of confidence on the NWC and declared total support for the party leadership.
The Secretary of the BoT, Adolphus Wabara, who presided over the meeting told journalists, that the board will support the NWC members in their activities until the December 2021 convention, where new leadership of the party will be elected.
According to Wabara, the Board resolved “to 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 Board of Trustees will also ensure that very harmonious relations exist between the organs of the party.”
However, the question is how far can the votes of confidence by the two organs of the party, go in the face of serious horse-trading among party leaders ahead of the next general elections.
Analysts, as well as party leaders, say the opposition party must unite and guard against the pitfalls of the past, especially in the run-up to the next general election.
The minority leader, House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, in his speech before the NEC went into a closed door session, had urged PDP leaders to shun anything that will distract the party at this time.
According to him, Nigerians are looking unto the opposition party for succour, in the face of the myriad of challenges confronting the country, under the APC-led Federal Government.
Consequently, Elumelu stated that it was imperative for the PDP to remain united and shun every form of distraction.
“There is need for our party to remain stable. We therefore call on our leaders and critical stakeholders to unite in support of the NWC in the onerous task of piloting the affairs of our great party for the task ahead.
“Leaders of our party, ladies and gentlemen, Nigerians are waiting; they are queued behind us for direction. The onus now lies on all of us to remain united, focused and not allow any distractions at this critical time,” he said.
Pundits say beyond the vote of confidence, the Secondus led NWC must intensify efforts in calming frayed nerves and uniting aggrieved members of the party. But whether those who want them out will back down is another issue all together.