The National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for October appears to be facing fresh legal and logistics hurdles.
The hurdles, according to party sources, must first be cleared otherwise the planned convention stands the risk of being invalidated in court.
National chairman of the party Prince Uche Secondus, The Nation gathered, is already reaching out to the party’s bigwigs for their support to enable the leadership do the needful before the convention and save the party from possible embarrassment.
Secondus wants the PDP governors to consider a shift of the convention to the end of November.
The party’s National Working Committee is also shopping for members to constitute the National Convention and Zoning committees of the party.
The separate lists may be ready within the next two weeks for presentation to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
It was gathered that the NEC, including governors, will take a final decision on whether or not the party should go ahead with the convention by October ending or accept a shift by a month.
Some members of the NWC are insisting on their right to seek re-election ahead of the NEC meeting, The Nation gathered yesterday.
They said the PDP governors’ position to exclude them from vying for a second term was only advisory but unconstitutional.
A recent memo from former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the leadership of the PDP has sparked speculations about his intention to vie for the party’s presidential ticket in 2023.
Some of the hurdles raised by Secondus, according to investigation, are outstanding congresses (from ward to state levels) in over seven states; possible invalidation of the National Convention by court if the seven states are excluded; the November 6th governorship poll in Anambra State; putting a new zoning formula in place; and the need to give the 21-day statutory notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, Secondus and most members of the NWC are agreed that the request for the shift of date to elect new officers does not stop the party from appointing and inaugurating the party’s National Convention and Zoning committees.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said the October ending timeline is considered unrealistic by Secondus and most of the NWC members.
The source said: “When the PDP governors and elders met a fortnight ago to arrest the tenure crisis in the party, they did not pay attention to some constitutional and legal technicalities. They were only eager to prevail on key actors to sheathe their swords.
“For a national convention to hold, there must be ward, local government, zonal and state congresses in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). PDP is yet to conduct congresses in over seven states. This is a condition precedent which requires time.
“The implication of excluding the seven states or retaining the old executives is that the National Convention will be illegal. Any member of the party can go to court to invalidate the election of new officers.
“In fact, the PDP Constitution says the party shall be organised at the following levels: Ward, Local Government, Senatorial District, State, Zonal and National.”ADVERTISEMENT
The source also said the party has other obligations to meet for a successful National Convention.
“As part of preparations, we have to put in place a National Convention Committee and a Zoning Committee. Without an acceptable power sharing formula, we cannot hold a successful convention. You cannot build something on nothing.
“It is a legal requirement to give INEC a 21-day notice before the convention after getting our internal and constitutional procedures right. We cannot do all these before October ending,” the source said.
A member of the NWC said the organ would require more time than October ending in view of the Anambra State governorship poll.
He said:” It is strategically unwise for us to concentrate on the politics of national convention when we have a crucial election to contest in Anambra State.
“We will want to spend enough time for campaign and shuttles to Anambra to woo voters than national convention horse-trading. We know it is a constitutional obligation that Secondus and his team must go this year. Do we need to sacrifice Anambra governorship ticket because of our desperate desire to produce the national executives?”
Asked if Secondus was not trying to breach the peace terms put in place by PDP governors, the source added:” No, no. As a matter of fact, in the next two weeks, we will recommend to NEC those who should be members of the National Convention and Zoning committees.
“Secondus and members of the NWC are shopping for those to manage these two sensitive committees. They must be members with integrity.
“We are being realistic in advising NEC to shift the convention date because certain constitutional and legal factors were not taken into consideration by PDP governors and elders.
“Secondus has been reaching out to PDP governors and elders on the likelihood of November ending for our convention.
“A major challenge before NEC is the insistence by the outgoing NWC members to exercise their right to re-contest party offices. They said the decision of the governors to exclude them from vying for office was merely advisory but unconstitutional.
“It is left to NEC members to accept or reject our proposals or go ahead with the October date and get caught in legal web.”
Another source in the party described “the plan to shift the exit date by Secondus as a grave plot.”
He said: “I think Secondus and his NWC should respect PDP governors and elders. We know their game. They are adamant on December exit date.
“These people came on board on December 10. They are demanding November ending convention in order to complete their tenure in full.
“It is clearer now that they don’t want to make concessions. I believe our NEC members will not be swayed by their sentiments.”
As a far-reaching solution to the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the elders and governors of the party rescued the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus from being humiliated from office.
They rejected the demand for Secondus’ resignation and opted for what a top party source described as a 50-50 solution.
In order to pacify Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and those against Secondus, they agreed that the PDP National Convention should take place late October instead of the December exit date for the party’s executives.
Ahead of the convention, the PDP Governors Forum was mandated to suggest zoning of party’s positions.
But the governors advised against a second term ticket for the party’s national chairman, Secondus, and all warring members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
Atiku’s memo to PDP sparks speculations over 2023 presidential ambition
Although Atiku was silent on his purported 2023 ambition in the June 29, 2021 memo, the content is being linked to his presidential ambition.
An online platform, Ripples Nigeria, which published the content of the memo verbatim on Saturday, reported that it was the former vice president’s notice to the PDP of his intention to seek the party’s presidential ticket two years from now.
Atiku, in the memo, expressed profound gratitude to members of the party for the massive support given him during the 2019 elections and said the party is now better equipped to win the 2023 polls.
Nigeria, according to him, is currently in the intensive care unit.
He wants the PDP to team up with him to undertake the needed drastic surgery for a new political and economic order that would lead to the radical reinvention of the country.
His words: “It is with utmost respect that I convey to you my deep appreciation and profound gratitude for the overwhelming support and massive electoral votes cast to support our party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and my candidature for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the 2019 general elections.
“Now, we are better equipped, and all our compatriots must team up today towards a new political and economic order that should radically reinvent our beloved country.
“We are fully prepared to work in synergy to restore hope, pull Nigeria back from the brinks and relive the patriotic spirit of our founding fathers! I believe that together we would rebuild our broken fences, mend our cracked walls, restore hope, and return Nigeria to the path of greatness again. Surely, we can, and we must.”
Contacted on the phone for explanation on the memo, Atiku’s media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, claimed that the content of the memo was twisted to serve a certain purpose.
Ibe said when the time comes for Atiku to signify his intention to contest, he would not do so secretly through a blogging site.
Admitting that the memo truly emanated from his principal, he said there was nothing in it that suggested that it conveyed his intention to vie for the PDP ticket.
He said the letter contains nothing new that Atiku had not said before, adding that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other prominent Nigerians had expressed similar views on the polity.
Ibe said: “Have you read the memo? Now tell me where Atiku indicated interest in the 2023 PDP presidential ticket. You should know that when the time comes for him to make his intention known regarding the 2023 election, he will not do so secretly through a blogging site.
“The media and senior editors should not allow bloggers to set agenda for them. The memo speaks for itself and the contents were written in simple English that everyone can read and understand.”
Atiku, in the memo, insisted that the PDP actually won the 2019 presidential election, but that the election was rigged by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC).
He apologised to party members and some of his associates who felt abandoned as a result of his nine-month stay in Dubai shortly after he lost the 2019 election.
According to him, he went to the United Arab Emirates with the purpose of equipping himself with skills required to fix the country’s challenges.
“Several persons, particularly associates and compatriots, may have felt frustrated. Some have even privately expressed so, while others have publicly complained that we have left them without leadership guidance to democratic forces who have visited severe stress on our political economy. I concede that individuals are justified to hold such opinions and even more. But they are not entirely correct.
“I assuage these feelings. Yes, I may have been apparently out of regular physical presence in Nigeria. My absence was not completely deliberate. Rather, it was strategic, as I have kept close contact and monitored events in our polity, reviewing and studying the changing dynamics.
“In addition, I also tried to undertake personal educational improvement, equipping myself with new knowledge, capacity, and skills that would methodically review the appalling situation. Our nation is indeed in the intensive care unit and would require delicate surgical procedures. We are all members of that surgical team.”