Elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday failed to resolve the crisis in the party.
After yesterday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees (BoT) in Abuja, a 28-man panel was set up to reach a consensus on the way forward “within the next 48 to 72 hours”.
Among them are four former Senate presidents and 25 elders.
They will meet with PDP governors, BoT members, and the National Working Committee (NWC) on ways to resolve the contentious issues threatening the 23-year-old former ruling party.
They appealed to all organs of the party, officers and members to remain calm as the troubleshooting commences.
The 28 ‘wise’ elders made their plan known in a statement they jointly signed.
The four Senate presidents are Iyorcha Ayu, David Mark, Anyim Pius Anyim and Adolphus Wabara. With them is former Deputy President of the Senate Ibrahim Mantu;
The other elders include erstwhile Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara; former Information Minister Jerry Gana; former Governors Sule Lamido, Ibrahim Dankwambo and Olagunsoye Oyinlola; ex-National Chairman of the PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo; ex-ministers Odion Ugbesa and Hajiya Zainab Maina.
Another former National Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, a former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Ogiadomhe; Senate Minority Leader Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; Senator Helen Esuene, Senators Biodun Olujimi, Zainab Kure and Agboola Hosea, as well as Hajiya Adiza Adodo, are also on the peace mission.
The statement said: “In view of recent developments at the National Secretariat of our great party, we have resolved to issue this press statement urging all party organs, party officers and party members to remain calm, faithful and orderly, as we proceed with urgent consultations and initiatives to resolve the contending issues.
“We wish to firmly reassure aggrieved stakeholders that we intend to be thorough, objective, creative and balanced in our efforts to find lasting solutions to the fundamental matters arising.
“Towards this end, we have initiated moves to urgently meet with our governors, the Board of Trustees, the National Working Committee and other critical stakeholders.
“Since we all share the legitimate desires of our loyal members to offer a credible, effective and productive alternative, we have no doubt that we shall soon find positive, appropriate, pragmatic and lasting solutions to the problems facing the party.
“We shall emerge from this crisis stronger, better, and more united. This is only a temporary challenge.”
The elders assured that the PDP would overcome its challenges and provide quality leadership for Nigerians.
They added: “We assure all Nigerians that the PDP is resolute in providing qualitative leadership, sound programmes, effective implementation strategies and hope generating solutions to our national problems.
“On behalf of the elders and founding fathers of the PDP, we wish to use this medium to thank all party members and supporters across Nigeria and in the diaspora for their commitment, loyalty and strong support.”
A camp within the party, believed to be spearheaded by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, is up in arms with Secondus, calling for the removal of the party chairman from office.
The crisis appeared to have divided the party into two camps, with one camp seeking Secondus’ ouster while the other wants the chairman to serve out his tenure, which ends in December.
Although the BoT meeting was held behind closed doors, a snippet of what might have formed the agenda of the meeting could be deduced from part of the party chairman’s address during the opening ceremony.
Secondus had, during his address, pointed out that it would not augur well for the party if resolutions reached by the meeting were contrary to the smooth running of the ongoing process that would lead to the next party convention expected to hold in December.
The likely inference from his remark was that the present National Working Committee (NWC), which he presides over, ought to be allowed to serve out its tenure.
But, the chairman was interjected mid way into his address by a member of the BoT, Mr Abdul Ningi, who drew his attention to the presence of reporters at the venue and asked him to save his comments for the meeting proper.
Two former Presidents of the Senate, David Mark and Dr Bukola Saraki, who briefed reporters after the meeting, skirted around the issues.
Mark said the meeting resolved to set up a committee to look into the situation, adding that the committee would comprise the party’s governors, National Assembly members, BoT members, the NWC, former governors and former ministers.
When asked what the mandate of the committee would be, Mark said: “It will not only stop the current crisis, it will lead to providing a better environment to make us far more united and make us stronger as a party”.
Saraki said: “We all came together to address some issues and because of the urgency of the matter, we agreed to set up this committee urgently and within the next 48 to 72 hours.
“They (committee) will meet and at the end of that meeting, the country will see the direction the party is going. The commitment of everybody to attend that meeting and subject themselves to the decision of that meeting showed the interest of everybody. “The presence of all us here is because this meeting of today was important in addressing some of those issues. My own message to Nigerians is that we know the importance of this party to this nation in addressing the challenges ahead of us. So let us come together as a party and salvage this country”.
Wike, who was the first to come out of the venue of the meeting, avoided reporters waiting for his comments as he briskly walked to his waiting car and was driven away.
Secondus told the BoT to seek solutions that would make the party stronger.
“I believe that in every human endeavour where there are issues, the issues must be tabled, discussed and come up with solutions. That solution will make our party very strong”, he said.
The chairman had briefed the meeting on preparations ahead of congresses in nine states and the party’s ongoing efforts towards ensuring the success of the December convention.
Secondus added: “After the main state congresses, both the public and our party would be looking forward to a smooth and peaceful convention, which is coming up in December.
“We believe the preparation is being done in the office of the National Organising Secretary. And soon, the schedule of events, the timetable and others shall be presented before the Caucus, BoT, NEC and all organs of our party for action leading to the convention.
“This is the first time in the history of our party, regardless of divergence of opinions, that this current NWC has been in office and nearly three months to the convention that we will be ending this regime in a smooth transition that will be taking place without rancour or problem.
“Today’s meeting is critical, not only for members of the National Working Committee (NWC), but for the entire party. It is critical because a time like this is a time that we must brace up to and be able to come out very strong and even stronger”.
Chairman reports youth leader to BoT
Speaking on the leadership crisis rocking the party, the chairman reported National Youth Leader Mr Sunday Ude-Okoye, who is the foot soldier championing the call for his removal from office.
Secondus said: “Let me report to the BoT, that of truth, based on what the Chairman of the BoT have said, that seven deputy members of the principal working committee resigned.
“We met with them, the first day they brought their letters, and we also met with them yesterday (Wednesday). We quickly deployed the internal conflict resolution mechanism so that the issues did not escalate to the point that our party will be greatly damaged.
“You are aware that the National Youth Leader took a stand that is outside the conduct of our normal process of settling grievances and thereafter, he on his own, has been going on wide-scale allegations and so forth.
“We believe that issues of this nature must be handled quickly and swiftly so that we can get back to the business of conducting free and fair convention for a smooth transition.
“Because any dislocation will cost an infraction and will result in several unknown issues that may come out that we may not be able to contain, but God forbid.
“The intention is to come out that for three years and eight months now, it has been very peaceful. Not that there are no issues. The issues are the usual issues of party, both party administration and those who know the running and the power game will understand.
“I am happy to report to you that these are very critical issues that the conscience of the party and another forum will look into.
My opinion is that anything contrary to the smooth running of our party, towards the three months that is remaining will not be good enough for our party.
“Sacrifices have been made from the beginning when we came in and by the grace of God, not without an error. Because anyone that had no error is perfect.
“But as human beings, you are aware that the convention that took place in Port Harcourt was transparent. It was a convention that put the party together and it was smooth, free, fair and we went into that elections in 2019.
“I believe that all hands must be on deck because you are aware that the other party is falling apart and Nigerians are looking up to the PDP to come out stronger and prepare themselves for 2023.
“And this, by the grace of God, we all are willing and I believe that the party will come out stronger from this situation and with renewed strength, we will march forward to 2023 to rescue Nigeria from the crisis APC has taken Nigeria into.
“I believe that members of the BoT who have worked so hard from the beginning and now in collaboration with the NWC and the Governors Forum, will be able to chart a way forward, a way forward that will bring victory to our party”.
Other prominent party chieftains at the meeting included former governors, former ministers, former party chairmen among other stakeholders.
Atiku calls for calm
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called on PDP leaders to unite in the interest of the party and the country.
Abubakar made the call in a statement by his Media Adviser Paul Ibe, in Abuja yesterday while reacting to the current frictions in the PDP.
He said that the party could not afford to be divided at this critical point in time when Nigerians were desperately yearning for change.
Abubakar said that an opposition that is looked up to as an alternative could not afford to be fighting itself and lend its hands to the ruling party for its own destruction.
He urged party faithful to understand that the price of having a fragmented PDP was too high to pay, “but above all, a betrayal to the memories of the founding fathers of the party”.
The former vice president dismissed insinuations that he was fueling the crisis in the party.
Abubakar said that he was lately involved in reconciliation efforts within the party across the country and had backed reconciliation aimed at diffusing tensions in the party.
He called for calm and urged combatants to sheath their swords and give the reconciliation mechanisms of the party a chance.
Abubakar noted that the interest of the PDP far superseded that of any individual, insisting that the party would overcome its current travails for as long as all hands were on deck.
“The PDP is greater than our individual ambitions. We have to consolidate the party first before we talk about our ambitions.”
“We have to be careful not to play into the hands of the ruling party.
“We can’t afford a one-party system in Nigeria that denies our people a viable alternative for true change in 2023,” Abubakar said.
The former PDP presidential candidate warned that lack of unity and internal cohesion could help the ruling party more than the PDP.
He added that those who wanted Nigerians to continue with the current situation would also be eager to fuel the crisis in the PDP for their political advantage.
He added that PDP leaders should put personal differences aside and work for the good of the party, adding that “divided soldiers cannot fight a war and win.”
To ensure that the PDP does not repeat the mistakes of the past, Abubakar said that all contending issues in the party must be resolved through constitutional means.