By Ehichioya Ezomon
Coincidences! Ironies! Similarities! Ambitions! Retributions! These are the issues that played out in the ruling All Progressive Congress, and are tearing apart the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, as regards the national chairmen of the rival political parties.
In 2020, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was sacked as chair of the National Working Committee of the APC despite his piloting of the party to an across-board victory in the 2019 general election.
Currently, the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, is on the verge of going the Oshiomhole way, courtesy of orchestrated campaign to get him out by any means possible.
As the judiciary was prompted to “intervene” in the internal matters of the APC in 2020, the courts have been drafted in to “interfere” in the domestic affairs of the PDP in 2021, and courts of coordinate jurisdiction are issuing conflicting rulings on the same matters.
Like in Oshiomhole’s case, two Southern courts have suspended Secondus from acting or parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP, while a Northern court has reinstated him forthwith.
And as it happened in the APC crisis, aftermath of Oshiomhole’s suspension, two deputy chairmen of the PDP scrambled to occupy Secondus’s office and control the PDP secretariat in Abuja.
Interestingly, the coincidences, ironies and similarities in the APC and PDP scenarios originated from Oshiomhole and Secondus’s home states of Edo and Rivers in the South-South zone.
More concerning is that the Oshiomhole and Secondus matters are grounded in political ambition of one governor fighting to retain his position, and another governor aiming for a higher office.
Oshiomhole earned the ire of Governor Godwin Obaseki, for attempting, and eventually thwarting his nomination for re-election on the platform of the APC that Oshiomhole then superintended.
And for retribution, Obaseki reportedly instigated Oshiomhole’s suspension by 10 of a 26-man APC executive committee of Oshiomhole’s ward in his local government area of Edo State.
As Oshiomhole called the bluff of his suspension by the minority ward executive, the matter was advanced to the courts, with the lower and appeals courts affirming his suspension.
The last straw came via the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC, which sacked the Oshiomhole-led NWC, and replaced it with a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
To think that Oshiomhole and Obaseki were political soul mates, and Oshiomhole, as governor, groomed, picked, campaigned and secured victory for Obaseki to succeed him in office in 2016, only for Obaseki to ignite the fire – rekindled by APC members nursing presidential ambition – that literally consumed Oshiomhole!
Satirically, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who heads the APC caretaker committee, is mired in controversy over his eligibility for holding the position concurrently as governor, and under pressure from dissatisfied APC members to resign the chair.
Besides, the PDP has mounted attacks in Abuja and Yobe, to get Buni relieved of the offices of chairman of the APC and governor of Yobe, and, like the aggrieved APC members, the party is in court, praying for the sack of Buni from Abuja and Yobe, accordingly.
On his part, Prince Secondus has incurred the wrath of fiery Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, credited as the sole sponsor and installer of Secondus to the chair of the PDP.
So, why would Wike call for Secondus’s head, his protégée, who, as the saying goes, “has been very loyal” to the governor? Ambition! Raw and vaunting ambition that brooks no scruple!
Wike hasn’t indicated interest for any office, but his body language is unmistaken for the President or Vice President, to enhance his profile and compensate for shouldering the PDP since 2015.
Yet, there’s an obstacle to Wike getting his dream realised, and that’s Secondus, whose retention of the PDP chair beyond 2021 may put spanner in the governor’s well-oiled works for 2023.
Secondus had to go prior to the PDP national convention, as Wike allegedly fears that without his support, Secondus could swing a second term in office, and put paid to his presidential aspiration.
With Secondus back in office, the PDP would zone the presidential ticket to the North, and Wike’s ambition would be up in flames, as he and Secondus are from Rivers in the South-South.
Getting Secondus out of the way initially involved simultaneous protests by groups in the PDP for him to resign, and the sudden resignation of seven party officers, to pile pressure on him.
Several meetings by PDP stakeholders culminated in bringing forward the national convention from December to October 2021, to give Secondus a breather and soft-landing, and mollify Wike.
That didn’t work, as Secondus reportedly planned to botch the October convention. Hence, four PDP members sought an interim injunction to stop him from further holding the party chair.
Still, as the high court in Rivers State granted the plaintiffs’ ex parte application, suspending Secondus pending the determination of the substantive suit; a counter-ruling of a court in Kebbi State reinstated Secondus, in a suit brought by three PDP members.
But not before, like in the Oshiomhole case in the APC, a struggle to occupy the Secondus briefly-vacated national chair of the PDP NWC pitted two national vice chairmen against each other.
The Deputy National Chairman (North), Sulaiman Nazif, citing “incapacitation” of the Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, had usurped the post as acting chairman.
Barely three hours later, Elder Akinwonmi showed up at the same PDP secretariat in Abuja, flanked by the party National Secretary, Ibrahim Tsauri, who had accompanied Nazif earlier on.
Noting Nazif’s taking undue advantage of his indisposition, Akinwonmi declared that, “everything conducted here while I was not here is null and void,” adding that, “at the appropriate time, we will call a meeting of NEC, BoT and we will meet here.”
Akinwonmi was unanimously endorsed by the NWC, and the PDP Governors’ Forum, whose chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said the party would abide by the Rivers court dictate that Secondus should step aside.
The question then was: Would the PDP also obey the ruling of the Kebbi court that ordered immediate reinstatement of Secondus in the legal issues filed against the PDP and Secondus?
That looked unlikely as at August 27 when the PDP caucus met at the party secretariat in Abuja. With Secondus absent, Akinwonmi presided, and the October national convention was re-affirmed.
In the mix came spokesman, Ike Abonyi, refuting a report that Secondus would challenge his suspension, even as Secondus reportedly stated that, based on his reinstatement, he’d return to his seat on August 27, but didn’t show up at the caucus parley.
But social media reports claimed that Secondus resumed office on August 27, and Akinwonmi handed over to him. The News Agency of Nigeria quoted Secondus thus: “We obeyed the court order from Port Harcourt. We also obey the one of yesterday (Thursday). This is a party that follows the rule of law, that obeys court orders.”
There wasn’t a timeline to the said event, but Akinwonmi had reportedly admitted that he’s handed a letter, which he didn’t reveal its content, as he arrived for the caucus meeting on August 27.
Was that “letter” a notice of the Kebbi court ruling, which restored Secondus to his office, and had to be obeyed by Elder Akinwonmi in tune with PDP’s boast of respecting lawful court orders?
Again, not surprising, a court in Cross River State was to intervene in the PDP crisis on August 27, barring Secondus from functioning as national chairman or presiding over the August 28 meeting of the National Executive Committee of the PDP.
Perhaps, in deference to the latest court order, Secondus wasn’t at the NEC meeting, as at the time of this report, on August 28. But will he also abstain from office on August 30 (today)?
Whatever, Secondus may go the way of Oshiomhole, to complete the cycle of coincidences, ironies and similarities of events in the APC and PDP that aren’t happenstance, but contrived for political ambition, with retribution visited on the likes of Oshiomhole and Secondus for constituting “obstacles” to achieving the aspiration!
Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos