OPINION: A moral force in the PDP leadershipArticles/Opinion, Featured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Monday, December 11th, 2017
By Sufuyan Ojeifo
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – And so, Uche Secondus, despite the hue and cry about heavy monetisation of the process and alleged plan by governors under the influence of Nyesom Wike of Rivers state to hijack the party leadership, still ended up being the national chair of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). For a vast majority of PDP members who crave a new leadership identity for the party, who believe in freshness of ideas and the infusion of new blood in the national executive committee (NEC) after the very recent saga that unraveled about the leadership following the defeat of the party in the 2015 presidential election, Secondus does not represent that sort of political revivalism.
He was a member of the old guard and was, therefore, not qualified to become national chair of a PDP in serious need of new direction and gravitas. His antecedents were not in pari material with the new ethos of freshness on which the new leadership of the party should run. He was acting national chair of the controversial national working committee (NWC) that tried to help itself with party fund when the party was down and out post 2015 general election. Besides, against the alleged bazaar into which the then leadership turned the nomination process, it becomes difficult to contemplate and locate a force of resurgence in Secondus’ individuality.
But, unfortunately, Wike and his colleagues harboured and nurtured a different agenda that sustained Secondus’ candidature. They wanted him in the absence of anyone else that suited their pre-determined political values and elitist fancies, and stopped at nothing to foist him on the party in furtherance of such parochial considerations. Though, to be fair to Wike, he did not single-handed railroad Secondus into the leadership of the party. He did so in concert with the other governors on the party platform, especially those in the southern part.
There are arguments out there to justify the emergence of Secondus from South-south zone despite the notorious fact that the party had agreed that the position of national chair be ceded to the Southwest zone. That was settled at the botched national conventions sponsored and hosted in Port-Harcourt by Wike. Even during the non-elective unity convention in Abuja said to have been sponsored by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, nothing presented itself to threaten that consideration.
But in a manner that smacks of political shenanigans, the Southwest has been dealt a fatal blow. Bode George’s very profound reactions have surmised the depth and pains of the betrayal inflicted on the Yoruba race and its stock in the PDP. The truth is that it was not that the zone did not have good candidates. The problem was that the absence of reinforcing political correctness that should have seen a PDP-controlled state in the southwest producing the national chair conspired with other secret desires to deny the zone the prized position. That was what worked against candidates from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states. There were no candidates from Ondo and Osun. Professor Tunde Adeniran from Ekiti, who could have emerged, in that circumstance, as a consensus candidate, did not have the most critical home support. Governor Fayose had never been on the same page with him and it was inconceivable how he was going to break through that wall of opposition to emerge as national chair.
The argument was that the party chairman should come from a state controlled by the party in order for the occupier of the position to operate effectively with the support and cover of the state governor. A national chair from an APC-controlled state would have been a disaster as the home state would become unfriendly and the national chair would be exposed to the vagaries of political assaults and attacks from the APC governor of the state.
The interest of the Southeast is to produce the vice presidential candidate and therefore, it did not care a hoot about producing the national chair. This encouraged an ambitious Wike to move in with his proposition to hold down the position in the South-south; and because the other PDP governors in the oil-rich zone were not interested in presenting any candidate, he was left to cover the entire field. But I had expected that Wike to present a fresh candidate from his state like Elder Felix Obuah instead of an old wine in a new wine skin.
However, beyond Wike’s enthronement of Secondus and the motivation behind it, those who know Secondus speak of his experience as a party administrator par excellence. They say that having been Rivers state chair of the PDP for eight years from 1999 to 2007 and having earned for himself the moniker of “Total Chairman” before he moved to the NEC of the party, it becomes pretty difficult to discountenance him in the choice of someone for the position. There are also talks about solid friendship, trust and reliability that exist between him and Wike.
But all those pale into insignificance in the definition of a bigger picture for the party in terms of public confidence in the PDP and the leadership that drives it, especially now that the party presents the most viable alternative platform around which support can be galvanised for a referendum against the ruling APC. Can Secondus’ leadership feed that kind of public sentimentalism?
Except the leadership works as a team, Secondus may find it difficult to define his individuality given the peculiarity of his antecedents and the conditions that produced him as national chair. Regardless of the petulance of Secondus’ choice, the new PDP NEC is robust and will benefit from the moral force of perhaps one or two persons. If there is any great thing that has happened to reinforce the credibility of the NEC and save it from any scintilla of public odium on account of Secondus’ past engagements in the old national working committee (NWC) of the PDP, it is the election of Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri from Katsina state as national secretary of the party.
What is the reason for my position? Rewind to 2006. There was an attempt by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration to amend the constitution to make a third term (tenure elongation) possible for him. Members of the National Assembly were bribed with N50 million each. As a journalist covering politics and senate, I gathered authoritatively that Tsauri was one senator who rejected the offer. It was even learnt that that when some powerful persons in government heard, they reasoned that what money could not do, plenty money could do. They increased the package and he still rejected it. He was reprimanded for being stubborn. This speaks volume about his moral force, his capacity to shun filthy lucre, and his predilection for good behaviour, prudence, honesty, accountability and financial discipline.
I am excited that right in the NEC is a watchdog whose character, attitude and disposition to issue of integrity should put the entire NEC of the PDP on its toes. The last I heard of Tsauri was in 2007 after he exited the 5th senate. I read about him recently when he began his campaign for the position of national secretary. He was reported to have promised that PDP would be rebranded towards 2019, the year that Buhari would fall in Katsina. I believe him. Methinks that Tsauri is an epitome of every good thing, including courage and conviction. With him in the NEC, the PDP leadership will be guided or, if need be, forced to do the right things, always, and Secondus and whatever antics he and his promoters plan to deploy will become secondary. I expect checkmates. If there are one or two others like him, then the PDP is secured.
- Mr. Ojeifo contributed this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org
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