Ahead of the 2023 presidential elections, there are indications that there may be no opposition due to the infighting within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Lately, PDP has been engulfed in crisis which is centred around leadership issues following moves to remove Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of the party.
Secondus had alleged that a strong chieftain of the party was bent on hijacking the party from him, and many political analysts have accused former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike of being behind the party’s internal crisis.
Atiku and Wike recently met in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital recently.
But, Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate in 2019 has denied being behind any move to remove Secondus from office.
Atiku had noted that the meeting with Wike was aimed at reconciling aggrieved PDP members and not to plot Secondus’ removal.
Wike, on his part, has remained silent on the agenda of the meeting even though he had on many other occasions lambasted the party Chairman for not doing enough to keep its organs together.
The Rivers governor, who is believed to be the major financier of the opposition party, is said to have been angered by the recent defections of party heavyweights to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and lack of coordination within the Secondus-led National Working Committee of the main opposition.
However, many stakeholders within the PDP believe that Governor Wike is the architect of the party’s internal crisis and the main reason some of the party chieftains decided to seek political succour elsewhere.
Wike, according to analysts, has been derailing in recent months and has turned himself into a demigod within the party, which some party members believe is because he is the financial backbone of the party.
They recalled that during the 60th birthday celebration of Liyel Imoke, a former Governor of Cross River State, Wike publicly embarrassed Secondus, describing him as a serial liar and one that could not be taken for his words.
It will be recalled that Gov Wike single-handedly brought in Chief Secondus to stable the ship in 2017 when Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was accused of being a mole planted by the APC was at loggerheads with Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi on who to occupy the party’s seat.
Then, Sherif had also felt betrayed and vowed never to step down as the acting NWC chairman of the party because Governor Wike, then Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, among others, had sometime in 2015, gone to him, pleading that he became Chairman of the party but later turned against him completely.
In the same vein, Secondus has vowed never to step down as the party Chairman. In a brief statement earlier in the week, the Ikwere-born politician said he has not done anything to warrant the campaign for his sack.
Secondus described those fighting him as the minority, urging them to come clean, adding that such people must tell members of the party across the country his offence and why he should resign.
But internal sources, however, revealed that Governor Wike is fully prepared to fight the battle to the end with his arsenal being properly arranged. The Governor, according to sources, recently convinced some of the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, who issued a statement calling for Secondus’ resignation.
With the new development in the PDP, analysts believe the next general elections is likely to be an easy ride for the ruling APC even as it is obvious that many Nigerians seem not to be happy with the current government.
Some experts who spoke to DAILY POST on the issue utterly blamed both Wike, Atiku, Secondus and other bigwigs of the opposition for having the APC strive in deceit, adding that ordinary Nigerians will pay the price in the absence of a formidable opposition.
A source in the PDP NWC, who would not want to be mentioned in this report, told DAILY POST that “Some Governors want to work as governors and also do the work of the party’s National Chairman. This is against the party’s constitution and is not morally right. When a few people decide to hijack a party like the PDP, don’t you know there will be issues? Of course, there will be a fight. Who are the actual people destroying the party? Members of our party need to know. Some people left the party for another and you’re accusing the NWC chairman, but is he really the problem? These are things that journalists like you should try to find out. Who are the bulldozers in the party? You can’t be a goalkeeper and a striker at the same time in a football game. Your team will suffer a heavy loss. That’s what is currently going on in PDP. Secondus will not resign. Of course, he has done nothing to warrant a resignation. ”
An Abuja-based political analyst, Dr. Kingsley Nwosu believes that the APC may be responsible for what is going on in the PDP. According to him, “You know this government hates criticism. They have demonstrated this hatred in so many glaring ways, ranging from the shutting down of Twitter to recent directives to radio and TV houses not to air a particular kind of news. It’s obvious. People have been arrested and detained for speaking (the truth) about this government. So, don’t be surprised to hear that the APC administration will do anything to plant moles in the main opposition in order to divert their attention from criticising or checkmating them. That’s by the way, now people must be allowed to do the work they are hired to do. From all indications, some governors are trying to reduce the national chairman of their parties to their errand boys. Then when this party Chairman refuses, they become bad eggs. They’ll be chased around and asked to resign. That’s exactly what is happening in PDP. For instance, where has Atiku been since he lost the last presidential election? He abandoned the party and lived abroad and now he’s gradually returning and having meetings because 2023 is not that far again. He failed as the leader of the party. Secondus too failed. How can Governors and top members of the party you are in charge of be defecting to a weak ruling party right under your nose? We know there are more to this, but looking at it from the outside, it doesn’t present the party Chairman as a serious leader.”
For Andrew Olarotimi, a Lagos-based political expert, “The PDP has disappointed Nigerians at a time when they should be on top of their games. The party that was supposed to wrestle power from a very weak government is now fighting within itself. That’s a collapse! The PDP has disappointed Nigerians by falling apart. Wike, Atiku, Saraki, Secondus and each and every one of them should blame themselves. They should cover their faces in shame. The ordinary Nigerians are the ones losing. They’re the ones suffering from the maladministration of the current government. What more can I say, it’s a pity.”
A chieftain of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, Bamgbose had recently accused Atiku Abubakar of contributing to the current internal crisis rocking the main opposition party.
Bamgbose, while reacting to the recent meeting between Atiku and Wike insisted that the meeting showed that all was not well with the PDP.
Bamgbose described any hope of PDP wrestling power from APC as a pure fallacy, adding that the PDP had lost its opposition status.
Continuing, the 2023 presidential hopeful noted that Atiku’s total neglect of the party had badly affected the political fortunes of the party.
Also, Doyin Okupe, a chieftain of the PDP had provided his opinion on why Governors and Senators elected on the platform of the opposition party, are dumping the party for the APC.
According to him, there are many reasons for the unfortunate development, which include the fact that Atiku Abubakar, who was the party’s flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election, allegedly withdrew from the party and left the country after his defeat.
“After the presidential elections in 2019 and the victory of the APC; both at the elections and at the supreme court, the Presidential candidate of the PDP who had gained the leadership of the party by his emergence at the primaries in Port Harcourt withdrew from the party travelled out of the country for quite a while but long enough for the party to become leaderless at the very time that a strong leadership was a political imperative,” Okupe said.
He added that the absence of Atiku as the party’s leader paved way for all sorts of pseudo leaders and opportunists to emerge and started acting and pretending as leaders.
In the last few months, the opposition party has lost three state governors- Ben Ayade of Cross River, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, and their counterpart from Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle.
While the governors are defecting, several lawmakers also cross-carpeted from PDP to APC. Amid all these defections, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT, Sen. Joy Emordi also dumped PDP for APC.
With the crisis a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has been making efforts to resolve the squabbles within the party.
Saraki, who heads the reconciliatory committee of the party had severally met with some aggrieved members of the party, but he was recently detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in what many people see as another move by the APC to ensure the PDP remains wingless going into 2023.
However, speaking with DAILY POST, PDP National youth leader, Austin Okai, insisted that Secondus’ removal was important for the party to return to its glorious paths.
Okai said the PDP under Secondus has been unable to resolve the internal crisis, hence he should vacate office.
He, however, noted that Wike should be commended for his efforts in salvaging the party.
According to Okai: “Wike should be commended for speaking the minds of the people. Have Nigerians not been crying that PDP has not lived up to expectation as an opposition party? Have you ever seen Secondus holding a meeting with the PDP State chairmen? Has he ever called them for any meeting? Assuming this is a football team and you have a coach like Secondus, won’t you call for his sack?
“Before now, some of us were blaming Wike for what PDP was going through because he was among those who imposed Secondus on us. And calling for Secondus’ resignation shows that he is not who we expected him to be. I don’t know Wike but I have been calling for Secondus removal because the party under him lacks the capacity to resolve internal crisis. There have been massive defections.
“In Anambra, he refused to set up a reconciliation committee. The Saraki’s committee cannot resolve the problem, Even with them; did Governor Matawalle, Ayade, Umahi not defect while the committee was in progress? Have you ever seen Secondus carrying out some assessment across the PDP controlled states apart from selling forms and taking over the money? PDP is not leaving up to expectation. There are so many cracks within the party that is not projecting PDP for victory ahead of 2023.”