A crisis is brewing between Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors and National Chairman Uche Secondus over the conduct of congresses and governorship primary in Anambra State.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said governors should supervise the exercise because they are on strategic assignments.
Also, the rift between Secondus and Cross River Governor Ben Ayade has escalated, following the criticism of the national chairman by supporters that he had disrespected the governor.
Wike has been having a running battle with Secondus, who he had sponsored for chairman during the last convention.
The PDP Governors’ Forum is the most influential bloc in the opposition party.
There are speculations that the governor may not back Secondus’ bid for re-election at the next convention.
Explaining why governors should supervise the activities of the Anambra PDP, Wike said winning the November governorship poll was critical to the party.
He added that concerted efforts must be made to ensure that nobody was alienated in the nomination process.
The Rivers governor spoke at the Southeast PDP stakeholders meeting in Enugu to reconcile Anambra stakeholders ahead of the election.
Wike, who was in Enugu to commiserate with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekeremadu over the death of former Commissioner for Transport Mathias Ekweremadu, said the proposed election would offer the PDP a rare opportunity to bounce back in Anambra and consolidate its grip on the Southeast.
The governor said chieftains must be willing to make sacrifices in the overall interest of the PDP.
Wike said: “Let us have party interest, not group interest and put everything aside. Anambra used to be a PDP state, but because of wrangling and not giving in, that is what has made PDP to lose Anambra. Only two states in the Southeast, which are Enugu and Abia, are PDP today. If we add Anambra, it is a good boost for us.”
The governor warned that if PDP fails to win Anambra, it would not augur well for the party, particularly in the Southeast.
He said: “It must be done transparently. Whether the congresses or the primary itself, the governors will be in charge to come and do the election.”
He said the acceptance of the suggestion that PDP governors should supervise the Anambra congresses and primary would determine whether the NWC is serious about winning the poll.
Wike charged the PDP National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), who was present at the meeting, to ensure that processes leading to the choice of Anambra governorship candidate are done transparently to rekindle the confidence of members.
He said: “You have a critical role. Luckily, you’re from Southeast. Tell them that if we lose Anambra, there is a problem for us in the Southeast. And you know that APC is coming out strong to fight in Anambra State. So, let us work together.”
Wike assured the delegates that PDP governors would support the party in Anambra to win the election.
Wike appealed to aggrieved chieftains in court to withdraw their suit in the interest of the PDP, adding that the Anambra factions should reconcile and work in unity.
He stressed: “In the name of God, everybody keep your ego. Part of the problem is ego. Let us work as a team and deliver PDP.”
A group in the Cross Rivers PDP has warned Secondus to desist from disrespecting Governor Ayade.
The group passed a vote of confidence on the governor as the state party leader.
The group, “7-Alive,” has written a letter to the Secondus, demanding Ayade be accorded the proper respect befitting a leader of his stature.
Members of the group are from the seven local government areas that make up the Southern Senatorial District.
The local governments are Akamkpa, Akpabuyo, Calabar South, Calabar Municipal, Biase, Odukpani and Bakassi.
In a statement by members of the party, including a former state chairman, Ntufam John Achot Okon, 7-Alive said it “will no longer sit and watch the systematic devaluation of Prof Ben Ayade’s influence and leadership in the party.”
The statement reads: “We have brought this unhealthy development in PDP to you in search of justice, equity and fair play.
“We as loyal members of the party had watched in hope that the party and it’s internal disagreement ought to be handled outside the public theatre.
“Unfortunately, we have now realised that we waited and observed the deteriorating development in the party, especially as it affects Cross River State chapter.
“We, therefore, appeal to the NWC of our great party to do the right thing and bring justice to the party in Cross River State.
“Our concern is the conflicting way of handling ward and local government congresses of the party in the state.
“From May 1999 to May 2007 when His Excellency, Mr Donald Duke, was governor, all through his tenure, the administrative running, the party structure, leadership, instructions and directives on what to do and how to manage the party had always centred around the governor.
“The same norms and traditions were transmitted to His Excellency, Sen Liyel Imoke as governor of Cross River State from May 2007 to May 2015 and sustained by party faithful, owing to the fact it has become a norm, not just in Cross River, but in all other states.
“However, we have observed that His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade, has not received the same cooperation and respect from the NWC, thereby putting the party in utter confusion, lack of purpose and direction.
“It is no longer a secret that some members of the National Assembly, whose re-election to the Green and Red Chambers was facilitated by the governor, have now formed an opposition wing in Abuja, to conspire to seize the structures of the party in the state.
“The party’s constitutional provisions restrain members from going to court without first exhausting the inbuilt conflict resolution mechanism.
“We cannot belabour the party even after setting up the Senator Saraki Committee to look into the matter and even after the submission of the report. We are yet to know the findings and recommendations of that highly respectable committee.”
The group said in the light of current reality and in recognition of “the strength of the governor and his structures across the 18 local government areas,” “we make bold to caution the handlers of the party that we are not only in full support of the governor but are ready to follow his decisions in seeking redress in the face of intolerable and unnecessary machinations and aggression towards him and the party in the state.
“However, as we move towards the year 2023, it is important we reflect on our circumstances as an opposition party.
“While we pray for unity respect for leadership, and we submit ourselves to the basic principles of democracy which is respecting the voice of the majority we will resist any further attempt to disrespect the authority of the Governor Ayade as leader of the party in the state.”
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