Political alignments, realignments and machinations geared towards power tussle in the 2023 general elections have commenced as bigwigs in various political parties in the country are positioning themselves for the race. Political gladiators in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the leading opposition party in the country, are also not left out as intense scheming and lobbying have begun.

The PDP is already enmeshed in crisis as a result of the clash of various interests by stakeholders ahead of 2023.

The national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, is under intense pressure to resign before the expiration of his tenure in December 2021 when another national convention would be held for the election of new members of the National Working Committee (NWC).

Some PDP bigwigs are not comfortable with Secondus because of the gale of defections that hit the party in recent times. Secondus is also accused of not carrying other members of the NWC along in the scheme of things.

Others argue that the plot to oust the national chairman of the party has a 2023 political undertone.

The PDP helmsman said a few days ago that those plotting his removal were doing so to hijack the party structure ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was said to have engaged some of his colleagues in the PDP Governors’ Forum and other stakeholders as part of plots to remove Secondus. This was greeted by protests in the last few weeks, with some party leaders calling for the head of Secondus.

Seven national deputy officers of the party also announced their resignations in the process, while the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), led by Senator Walid Jibrin, swiftly waded in.

Barely four days after the BoT meeting, the governors also met in Abuja on Monday, but could not reach any meaningful resolution.

Indications have also emerged that Wike allegedly plotted Secondus’ removal to pave way for his qualification for the vice presidential or presidential race, based on zoning.

A former chieftain of the party from Osun State, currently based in Port Harcourt, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, said in a telephone chat that Wike’s alleged plot to oust Secondus was to achieve his political ambition.

“Wike wanted to be a running mate to Governor Aminu Tambuwal or run for the presidential seat, depending on zoning in the PDP. He is fighting Secondus because he believes that if he comes back for a second term, that calculation will be impotent.

“He is fighting Secondus because Rivers State or the South-South cannot produce the national chairman and vice presidential candidate of the party at the same time,” he said.

Forces behind soft landing for Secondus

Despite the intense pressure on Secondus to resign, the PDP helmsman survived. At their expanded meeting on Tuesday, the leaders helped to douse the tension by declaring that the party’s national convention should hold in October 2021.

The meeting also mandated Secondus to call for a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to ratify the processes for the convention.

The Secondus-led NWC came on board in December 2017, and their tenure of four years was supposed to elapse in December 2021.

Multiple sources in the PDP confirmed that the Sokoto State Governor and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Tambuwal; Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, among others, played key roles in ensuring a soft landing for Secondus.

It was learnt that Tambuwal had met with Secondus in his Abuja residence on Sunday before the governors and the expanded stakeholders’ meetings of Monday and Tuesday.

Credible sources at the party’s national secretariat said Governor Ortom had pleaded with Wike to give peace a chance in the interest of the party.

One of the sources said, “Ortom played a critical role to broker peace between Governor Wike and Secondus because they are close friends.”

A foundation member of the party, Alhaji Aminu Yakudima, explained that “it could be possible that some people see him (Secondus) as a stumbling block ahead of 2023 and wanted him out.”

He said, “Secondus has been a participant in Ortom’s projects as minister and governor. He insisted that the governor should get a slot.

“Before he (Ortom) became minister, Secondus also contributed to his emergence. Remember, when Secondus was a national organising secretary, Ortom was the national auditor.”

A former member of the party, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, however, described the resolutions of PDP stakeholders as “high-wired politics.”

He said, “Tambuwal played that game. He didn’t just play that game because he supported Secondus, he played it to stop the kind of crisis that would have raged in the party.”

Secondus’ political travail is said to have been engineered by Wike and some of his colleagues in the North-East and South-West. Wike and Secondus were best of friends and both belonged to the class of former Dr Peter Odili’s political family.

While Wike rose from the position of local government chairman to become the governor of the oil-rich Rivers State, Secondus clinched the position of national chairman of the party. Pundits say the political bounding and love was the reason Wike supported Secondus to clinch the position of PDP helmsman in 2017.

The feud between Wike and Secondus started in 2019 shortly after the PDP presidential primaries held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, emerged as the party’s candidate.

While Wike allegedly supported the Sokoto State Governor to become the party’s Presidential Candidate, Secondus was said to have ignored it, and supported Atiku.

Atiku defeated Tambuwal and other aspirants to emerge the party’s presidential flag-bearer for the 2019 general elections. Governor Wike was said not to be happy with Secondus’ alleged support for Atiku.

The governor was said to have reasoned that with the support he gave to Secondus to emerge the party’s national chairman, the latter was expected to reciprocate the gesture by supporting his (Wike) candidate.

Secondus’ alleged support for Atiku seemed to have climaxed the genesis of the rift between the two prominent Rivers State-born politicians. Their rift was extended to local politics during the party’s local government primaries in the state.

Wike had reportedly frustrated all the “anointed sons” of Secondus as none of the latter’s preferred candidates made it. The Governor had consistently accused the Secondus-led NWC of being inept.

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