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Wike Wins as National PDP Caucus Extends Damagum’s Tenure

PDP deferred leadership change and prioritised reconciliation, and unity efforts in its NEC meeting.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has continued to maintain an upper hand in the leadership crisis plaguing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a meeting of the national caucus of the party, Wednesday night, did his bidding by asking the acting National Chairman, Illya Umar Damagum, to continue in office.

By this fresh bill of health, Damagum is to continue acting in office till the next NEC meeting after today.

To this end, Thursday’s NEC meeting would have nothing to do with leadership change until the next national convention of the party.

This decision was disclosed by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, DeboOlogunagba, who said the decision was aimed at ensuring reconciliation and unity in the party.

According to him, the caucus had directed that the party management should set up a discipline and reconciliation committee to reconcile all members.

“NEC meeting will not discuss any change in leaders. Rather, attention is focused on unity and reconciliation

“Caucus agreed that all congresses in the states and local government should be concluded between June and August this year.

“Caucus agreed on the extension of the constitution review committee of the party to accept new recommendations,” Ologunagba stated.

Earlier, PDP governors, had after over four hours meeting, declared that only the NEC could decide the fate of Damagum.

This came as Chief EK Ashiekaa, SAN, lawyer to the suspended national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, in a letter to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, announced the withdrawal of Ayu’s appeal from the court of appeal.

But indication that Damagum might retain his seat became manifest when the NWC passed a vote of confidence in him to continue in acting capacity pending the national convention of the party proposed for later in the year.

At the same time, a former national chairman of the  PDP, Uche Secondus, had advised the PDP leaders assembling for the party’s 98th NEC meeting to do everything humanly possible and within the law to rescue and restore the party’s glory.

He urged them not to pander to the gimmicks of Wike, because he was only using them to remain relevant with President Bola Tinubu.

Also, on Wednesday , elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, advised leaders of the PDP to dissolve its NWC in order to save the main opposition party in the country from total collapse.

However, fielding questions from reporters at the Akwa Ibom State government house, venue of the meeting, Chairman of the PDP Governors, Governor BalaMohammed of Bauchi State, on the fate of Damagum, said” only the National Executive Committee will decide.”

He also said other issues affecting the party would be decided at the national caucus taking place at the Bauchi State Government House.

Mohammed further said the meeting deliberated on various issues of interest and concern to the forum, the PDP and issued a communiqué.

“The meeting reviewed recent developments in the Peoples Democratic Party and urged the National Working Committee of the Party to set in motion the machinery to conduct credible congresses in all the states, where tenures of party officers have expired. 

“The meeting noted that there are no factions in the PDP and everybody is working together. 

We equally want to use this opportunity to reaffirm that in Rivers State, the governors would work assiduously towards resolving all the issues in the state with a view to uniting all the stakeholders,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State, who is the Vice Chairman of the PDP governors forum.

Other governors  at the meeting were Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State, UmoEno of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Douye Diri of  Bayelsa State, Sheriff Oborevworiof Delta State, the Deputy  Governor of Edo State, Omobayo Godwins and the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ossai.

Meanwhile, in a notice of withdrawal of appeal, Ayu’s lawyer, said, “Take notice of the withdrawal of appeal that the appellant herein intends and doth hereby wholly withdraws the appeal against the respondents filed on 27th day of June 2023 vide Notice of Appeal dated the 26th day ‘of June 2023, Dated this 15th day of April, 2024 .”

The PDP lawyer, M.A. Mahoud, also sent the same withdrawal letter to the party.

Damagum had led the members of the NWC to  interact with the PDP National Ex-officio ahead of tomorrow’s NEC. 

Immediately after the meeting with the Ex-officio, they moved for another meeting with the state party chairmen from the 36 states, including FCT Abuja.

The meetings were held at the NEC Hall, PDP National Secretariat in Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, in Abuja.

Passing a confidence vote earlier in Damagum, Ologunagba, in a statement, stated: “The decision of the NWC which came at the end of its 584th meeting at the Party’s National Secretariat on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 is in commendation of the efforts and commitment of the Acting National Chairman to stabilise and reposition the PDP as the main opposition Party in Nigeria.”

The statement added that the Deputy National Chairman (South) Amb. TaofeekArapaja presided over the motion for Vote of Confidence on the Acting National Chairman, which was moved by the National Vice Chairman (South East),Chief Ali Odefa and seconded by the National Treasurer, Hon. Yayari Mohammed.

The NWC assured of its commitment in ensuring the continued stability, growth and success of our great Party at all time.

Secondus Warns Leaders against Wike

In his intervention, Secondus, a former chairman of the party, advised the PDP leaders to do everything humanly possible and within the law to rescue and restore the party’s glory.

Speaking ahead of the party’s long-awaited NEC meeting today, he said Wike’s busy bodying gimmick should not distract them as he was trying hard to create a non-existent crisis in the party to make himself relevant before Tinubu.

According to a statement by Secondus Media aide, Ike Abonye, “By deviously trying to create the impression that he is in a tussle of supremacy with the 2023 Presidential Candidate of the party and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Wike who is copiously losing political relevance everywhere from Rivers to Abuja is trying to give the impression that he is a factor in PDP and holding it for his APC interest.

“The critical structures of this party, NEC, BOT, National Caucus, forum of Governors, Chairmen of states and National Assembly caucus of the party must rise to the challenge and isolate mischief makers and meddlers like Wike and move the party forward.”

He therefore, charged the party leaders not to fall into Wike’s trick by giving him undeserved relevance which he no longer possesses.

“I expect the founding fathers and other dedicated members to rise to the challenge and return this great party to its glory by ensuring as they always do at critical moments that nobody or group is greater or bigger than this party,” he stated.

Interestingly, Secondus attendance of NEC would be decided by Justice Inyang Ekwoof a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Justice Ekwo’s decision was sequel to an appeal filed by Secondus before the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.

The court had two weeks ago issued an interim order restraining Secondus from participating in the forthcoming meeting of the PDP, pending the hearing of the substantive suit before the court.

He had made the order following an exparte application brought by one Titus Jones, a member of the PDP from Ward 5, Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State.

But the court’s decision would affect a similar suit seeking to bar sacked Rivers Governor, Celestine Omehia, and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Austin Opara, from also attending the PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting pending the hearing and determination of the main matter.

The suit filed before Justice Ekwo was filed by Precious Wobisike, a member of PDP from Ubima Ward 8, Ikwerre LGA of Rivers State.

Elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, has advised leaders of the PDP to dissolve its NWC in order to save the main opposition party from total collapse.

Clark gave the advice in a statement in Abuja while reacting to the planned meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party slated for today.

Clark, a pioneer member and leader of the party said the dissolution of the NWC, remained the best strategy to stop former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, from destroying the party.

He also advised the party’s NEC to set up a disciplinary committee to investigate the anti-party activities allegedly played by some members which led to the failure of the PDP in the 2023 elections.

“The party’s leaders should dissolve the existing NWC of the party for their anti-party activities. They should appoint an Acting National Chairman in accordance with the Constitution of the party. 

“This was what happened during the tenure of Uche Secondus, who was still in court, when the party appointed another Acting National Chairman.

“The party should immediately revisit the on-line registration of its members as it was initiated by the then National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, to save the party from depending on individuals, because as they say, he who pays the piper, dictates the tune,” he said.

He lamented that  some overzealous members of the party had hijacked it for their selfish gains. 

Clark said, “Some of us have been shouting and warning against this. I recall that in order to avoid ‘money bags’ taking over the party, instead of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, as provided by its Constitution, a one-time National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, during his tenure, proposed payment of membership dues by all members with which the party will be run. 

“The efforts of such laudable idea were frustrated. The highest decision-making organ of the party, the NEC, has not met for over one and a half years due to mischievous anti-party activities by some members of the party. No member seems to have the guts to speak the truth. This is unfortunate.

“Rumours have it that Atiku is already preparing for the 2027 presidential election. If this is allowed, PDP will collapse as the second principal party in the country today. 

“While no one is contesting his right of contesting or indicating interest for the presidency of the country as many times as he wishes, which as the last count is up to five times, he should also know that fair play is the bedrock of the game.  

“Another person that also seems to be holding or going for the jugular of the PDP, is Barr. Nyesom Wike. Honestly, I lack words to describe his actions. The nearest description I can give for his actions is political androgynous. He is neither in PDP or APC.

“He seems simply acquisitive, and the greatest enemy of PDP, manipulating it, with an intent of destroying it. Most of us supported Wike in his agitation against Alhaji AtikuAbubakar but he has gone too far in causing tragedy in PDP. 

“His anti-party activities must be dealt with decisively, by setting up a strong disciplinary committee made up a strong people with resilience to resist pecuniary gains, who are courageous to investigate his activities, and that of any other person/persons suspected to engage in anti-party activities. 

“The seeming contest for the soul of the PDP between himself and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not only ridiculous but a negation of the ideals for founding the party. Even though Nyesom Wike, had a good case considering what transpired during the last presidential primary election of the PDP, he has crossed the red line.

“Today, he is dancing naked in the market. He regards himself as the leader of both the PDP and APC in Rivers State, and that is why I described him as someone who can be referred as a political androgynous; an acquisitive person.”

Although the caucus meeting dragged till late, those in attendance included Atiku Abubakar, Nyesom Wike (his name not in the list, but he was allowed in) former national chairman, Harilu Bello, Jona Jang, and Emmanuel Bello.

Others were Adolphus Wabara, all PDP governors, former national chairman Ahmed Markafi, Emeka Ihedioha, Bode George, Ndudi Elumelu, Aminu Tambuwal, Ben Obi, Senator Akubundu (former National Organising Secretary), and all NWC members, among others.

While the meeting had yet to start, all the PDP governors had private meetings with Atiku and Wike. Other members of the national caucus were in the meeting room waiting for them.

Ologunagba while addressing the press said there was a pre-caucus meeting and it was resolved that the issue of the Rivers State caretaker committee, which Governor Siminalayi Fubara, complained about be revisited.

This, he said, was the outcome of the meeting attended by Atiku, Sule Lamido, Nyesom Wike, Chibudom Nwuche and all the PDP governors. The chairman of the PDP governors forum, Governor Bala Mohammed presided over the meeting.

But just as the main caucus meeting started, a former governor of Sokoto State, AminuTambuwal, walked out, claiming that the list had been manipulated. But the meeting continued nevertheless. 

Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah and Sunday Aborisade

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