Ahead of the make or break convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on December 9, former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State are at daggers drawn over Prince Uche Secondus’ bid to become the party’s national chairman.
Jonathan, our correspondent gathered, is mobilising serious opposition against Secondus, a frontline chairmanship aspirant in the party who hails from the Ijaw-speaking part of Rivers State.
The former President is said to be determined to shut down the ambition of Secondus, who enjoys the support of Wike and other South-South governors.
It was revealed that Wike is a key supporter of Secondus, a former acting Chairman of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC).
He was said to be angry that instead of closing ranks with him and other South-South governors to ensure that his fellow Ijaw brother becomes the next chairman, the former President was busy working against Secondus.
It was gathered that Jonathan’s moves against Secondus were borne out of his cold war with Wike and another South-South governor, following his belief that the duo frustrated an initial plot by his key loyalists to return him as PDP’s Presidential candidate in 2019.
Credible party sources said there was a failed grand plan by Jonathan’s loyalists, especially former ministers and other key aides who served under him, to hijack the party’s structure and pave the way for him to return as its standard bearer.
A stalwart of the PDP, who spoke in confidence, said: “Jonathan has continued to blame the failure of the plan on Wike and the other South-South governor. He believes that the duo frustrated his ambition to return as the party’s presidential candidate.
“His next move is to stop any aspirant for the position of national chairman who has links with Wike.
“He does not want Secondus, knowing that Wike is the one behind his ambition.
“Unknown to many people, Jonathan and Wike have fallen apart and Jonathan’s wife is no longer close to the governor of Rivers State.
“If Secondus is out of the way, Jonathan and his wife, Patience, will go for the structures of the PDP, especially in Bayelsa and Rivers states, to enable them to play key roles in the 2019 elections.”
It was gathered that Jonathan was aligning with the PDP elements in the north against Secondus.
The former President reportedly held various meetings with PDP stakeholders in the north, which has significant number of the delegates for the convention, to extract commitment from them that they would not cast their votes for Secondus.
The party source added: “Jonathan is serious with his anti-Secondus campaign in the north. The north has many of the delegates and presidential aspirants, and Jonathan is reaching out to all of them.
“While he is openly backing a former minister, Nenadi Usman, to become the national secretary of the PDP, Jonathan wants any chairmanship aspirant other than Secondus to emerge victorious at the party’s national convention.
“His actions are creating divisions in the party ahead of the convention. The Ijaw stakeholders in the party and the South-South are not happy with the former President for not supporting their own.
“But like he failed in his previous plots, he will definitely fail again, because Secondus is unstoppable.”
A group, the South-South Coalition for Good Governance, yesterday confirmed that Jonathan’s clandestine moves against Secondus was real, and condemned the actions of the former President.
ýThe group, in a statement signed by its Co-ordinator, Mr. John Boma-Harrison, said theý grand plot was being hatched by Jonathan, using some of his northern allies.
The group said that the former president was mobilising northern delegates against the candidacy of Secondus, despite Secondus being a southerner and a proud son of the Niger Delta.
While condemning the former President’s “divisive attitude”, they wondered why he would move against his own Ijaw brother who enjoyed the overwhelming support of majority of PDP supporters across the country.
They observed that Secondus was tipped as the possible winner because of his popularity and his rich profile in party politics, adding that nothing would stop him.
They advised the former president to desist from his anti-Secondus campaign, especially his attempt to mobilise northern delegates to vote against the candidacy of Secondus.
They also called on the former president to concentrate on playing the role of a statesman rather than engage in “subterfuge and unbridled politickingý” that would further dent his image.
They said: “We have uncovered a plot by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to scuttle the chances of the most accepted candidate for the position of national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondusý.
“We have it on good authority that the former president is using northern delegates to mobilise against Secondus who hails from the south, and an Ijaw man like him.
“We are disappointed in him, but we want to use this medium to advise him to retrace his steps.
“He is a statesman, and he should play that role.”