BusinessDay
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Buni, Secondus on tenterhooks?

Leadership problem is at the core of the internal wrangling currently plaguing the two major political parties in Nigeria.

Whereas the folks in the All Progressives Congress (APC) are calling for an end to what seems an endless “caretaker committee” arrangement, some interests in the main opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are passionately crying “give us caretaker committee.” What a curious case of “one man’s meat another man’s poison!”

Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, who has been the chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), appears to be wearing a “crown of thorns”.

Buni became APC chairman of caretaker committee following the demise of Abiola Ajimobi, a former governor of Oyo State, who was in June 2020 appointed an acting chairman after the Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole.

Recall that the National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved during the meeting of the party National Executive Committee on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
The occupation of CECPC seat by Buni has been very contentious within the party, with some members arguing that the party’s constitution did not make provision for an individual to hold two executive positions at the same time in the party.

The call for his sack as the party’s caretaker committee became deafening following the recent Supreme Court judgment on the Ondo State governorship election.

Some senior party members argued that a part of the judgment calls to question the continued stay in office of Buni, a serving governor, as chairman of the Caretaker/National Convention Planning Committee of the party.

One of those who believe that Buni should not continue to lead the party is Festus Keyamo, state minister for Labour and Employment.

Among his reasons, Keyamo said: “The little technical point that saved Governor Akeredolu was that Jegede failed to join Governor Mai Mala Buni in the suit. Jegede was challenging the competence of Governor Mai Mala Buni as a sitting governor to run the affairs of the APC as chairman of the Caretaker Committee.

Read also: Of defections, flimsy excuses and politicians’ ‘monkey’ tactics ahead 2023

“He contends that this is against Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution which states that5 a sitting governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever. In other words, had Buni been joined in the suit, the story may have been different today as we would have lost Ondo State to the PDP.”

Some party chieftains align with Keyamo, insisting that urgent steps must be taken to avoid destroying the party and whatever gain it has made over the years.

Some governors elected on the APC platform have taken it upon themselves to intervene, even if to give Buni and other governors on the committee, a “soft-landing.”
It was gathered that a meeting to that effect would hold in Abuja Thursday.

Apart from Buni, who is the governor of Yobe State, other governors, who are members of the committee, are Isiaka Oyetola, Osun State governor, who represents the South-West, and Sani Bello of Niger State, representing the North-Central.

In PDP, Uche Secondus, who overwhelmingly won a keenly contested chairmanship election on December 10, 2017, at the Eagles Square, Abuja; who also was at a point regarded as the best PDP chairman ever, appears to have fallen out of favour with those that provided him the ladder with which he rose to stardom.
Secondus was said to have in veiled remarks, pointed finger at the governor of his state and former benefactor, Nyeson Wike as plotting his ouster.
Secondus, who is battling to retain his chairmanship position in the party, is being opposed by some powerful elements within the party.

The forces against him, are said to move to foil his possible re-election at the party’s national convention in November.

In a statement titled, ‘Who is after Secondus and why is somebody in love with a caretaker?’, signed by Ike Abonyi, his media adviser, he said: “The media office of the National Chairman is privy to an intelligence that the strong party chieftain bent on hijacking the party structure for destruction is still on the loose with the main agenda of denting the image of Prince Uche Secondus, the national chairman.”
It further said: “Report reaching this office showed clearly that this character is deploying all devious means to try and diminish the person and character of the national chairman with a view to having his way of ultimately hijacking the structure for his disproportionately large ambition.”
But Aminu Tambuwal, chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Sokoto State, has waved the olive branch, rallying support for him.

It was gathered that part of the reason for the fight is to ensure that Secondus does not emerge again as the national chairman, a situation that may frustrate the zoning of the presidential slot to the south.

A source told BusinessDay that the push and attempt to rescue Secondus by Tambuwal may also have to do with the Sokoto governor’s presidential ambition in 2023.
“What is going on is a fight for 2023. Don’t forget that Governor Aminu Tambuwal has an eye for the presidency in 2023. If the chairmanship position is retained by Secondus, that would make it difficult to zone the presidency to South-South or to the whole south. Don’t also forget the rumours that Governor Nyesom Wike wants to try his luck. It is a game they are playing.

Those who are not privy to all these may be wrongly reading what is going on,” the source said.

A prominent member of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that the party under Secondus had not fared very well, particularly as an opposition.

“Let us face the fact; can anybody objectively say that the PDP is playing its role well as an opposition? The party has been sleeping all along, allowing the ruling party to run away with all the atrocities and obvious incompetence in the name of governance. We all saw the opposition role the APC played before the 2015 election. PDP leadership is behaving as if it had an understanding with the APC government. That is why some people are now saying that the two parties are one,” the party chieftain said.

According to him, “There would not have been anything heard about the opposition if not for the virulent intervention of PDP Governors’ Forum. It is that forum that has effectively taken over the job of the opposition that has the constitutional right to play that role. The Forum does not. What we have heard since 2015 the APC came on board is a lone voice of Kola Ologbondiyan, national publicity secretary.
But the role of an opposition in a democracy is far beyond occasional castrated voice on issues that border so much on the lives of over 200 hundred million Nigerians.

“Some of those leaving the party today are doing so because they are not happy the way the affairs of the PDP are being run. So, for them, it is better to join the APC than to continue running around in circles.”

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