Moves by the Rivers governor Nyesom Wike to ensure that a former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, emerges as the party’s next chairman at the December convention is causing disquiet within the opposition party.
According to a dozen people who spoke with TheScoop for this report, a victory for Secondus could lead to another round of crisis within the PDP at a time when the party should be focused on rebuilding in order to mount a formidable challenge against the APC in 2019.
- The predominant feeling within the party is that the national chairmanship should go to the South West, while the South East gets the vice presidential slot.
- Among the contenders in the South West, the front-line candidates are: former education minister Tunde Adeniran, former deputy national chairman Bode George and former Ogun governor Gbenga Daniel. Also in the race from the zone are former Lagos PDP governorship candidate Jimi Agbaje, former Oyo governor Rashidi Ladoja, and Prof Taoheed Adedoja.
- The two candidates from the South South are AIT chairman Raymond Dokpesi and Uche Secondus. Dokpesi is viewed with suspicion by part members “due to the role he played during the party’s crisis under Ali Modu-Sheriff, when he was asked to spearhead the registration of an alternative political platform, but ended up filling positions with his own loyalists.” Secondus is currently the clear frontrunner due to the backing he has received from most PDP governors.
The Secondus challenge:
Party members who spoke to TheScoop accused Gov. Nyesom Wike and Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti of seeking to impose Secondus on the party.
For Fayose, the calculation is that a chairman from the South South is preferable to one from his own South West region. “The Ekiti governor is making a play to be the PDP Vice Presidential candidate. He believes that if someone from the South West becomes chairman, it diminishes his chances,” a source said.
Another source told TheScoop that, “people in the South West are unhappy with Fayose for backing Secondus. It is unfortunate because no one will give Fayose VP slot but he does not know.”
For Wike, several sources said the Rivers governor feels that he has the right to choose the party’s next chairman as he is currently the major financier of the party. His choice of Secondus, who also hails from Rivers state, is however a very unpopular one.
An official in the campaigns of one of the leading South West candidates said, “Everyone knows that Secondus is bad news for the PDP. So why is Gov. Wike forcing it? This same Secondus was acting national chairman of the party in 2015 and was supposed to be there for just three months. He refused to leave. It took a court order to force him to leave the position one year later and it was the tension he caused which led to the emergence of Sheriff as chairman. That is the same person who Wike wants to bring on the party!”
Officials from the chairmanship campaign organizations of two different candidates allege that Gov. Wike is doling out “hundreds of millions of naira” to the leaders of the PDP in different states to facilitate the election of Secondus. “Wike’s money is speaking already,” a source said. “One of our key backers from Imo state recently defected after receiving Wike’s cash. We wonder why Wike and Fayose do not learn. They were the same people who brought Sheriff upon this party.”
The Rivers governor now also has most of the PDP governors on board with his agenda.
“Only a few governors are still holding out for now. People like Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, who is not comfortable with Wike, a first term governor, upstaging him, and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe is also holding out. Dankwambo was originally in support of Secondus following an assurance he received that he would be given the presidential ticket with Fayose as running mate. But he has now changed his mind,” a convention delegate said.
It is believed that the biggest challenge to Secondus emergence as chairman is the North, where party chieftains and delegates are uncomfortable with Gov. Wike’s imposition.
Tunde Adeniran is viewed favourably by most people who spoke for this report but his alleged closeness with Ogun Sen. Buruji Kashamu is believed to be a downside for his aspirations. “Gov. Fayose has sworn that over his dead body will Adeniran emerge as the chairman. Remember that the both of them are from Ekiti,” a source said.
Bode George is also a strong challenger but his past records are not very stellar, and unlike Adeniran, he faces allegations of corruption and high-handedness. Corruption allegations are also the main negatives against the candidacy of former Gov. Gbenga Daniel who is currently facing corruption charges brought by the EFCC.
The choice may eventually come down to intense negotiations on the 9th and 10th of December when the delegates meet in Abuja. Some of the fringe candidates are hoping that the bigger candidates would cancel out each other, leaving room for one of them to be selected as the consensus candidate of the party.