By Mukwuzi Joseph
There was confusion on Tuesday, August 24, as the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) split into two factions.
The two Deputy National Chairmen of the party – Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi and Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif – in separate announcements on Tuesday, claimed to be the party’s acting National Chairman.
On Monday, August 23, a court issued an order restraining the substantive National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, from parading himself as PDP National Chairman and taking part in any activity of the party while the order lasts.
To fill the leadership gap created by the suspension of Secondus, Akinwonmi and Nazif are laying claim to the position of the National Chairman.
In a statement released Tuesday, August 24, Akinwonmi announced his assumption of office as Secondus’ replacement pending the determination of the restraining order slammed him by the court.
The statement reads: “Section 45(2) (b) of the constitution of the People’s Democratic Party empowers me to summon and preside over party meetings in the absence of the national chairman.
“Our attention was drawn yesterday evening to a court order which purports to restrain our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus from summoning and presiding over the meetings of the organs of the party.
“In the foregoing circumstances, as Deputy National Chairman (South) of the People’s Democratic Party, after the consultations and in exercise of the aforesaid powers, hereby deem it fit and proper to postpone the National Working Committee meeting earlier scheduled for today until further notice to allow for broader consultations in the overall interest of our party.”
Going by the party’s constitution, Akinwonmi, being from the same South as Secondus, is naturally the next in the line of succession to the chairmanship seat.
However, after Akinwonmi’s statement was made public, the Nazif faction summoned a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) at the NWC hall at the party secretariat.
During the meeting, Nazif pronounced himself the National Chairman, stressing that Akinwonmi, who has been battling a stroke-related ailment, was incapacitated and could not perform the duties of the national chairman.
Nazif added that Akinwonmi has not been attending NWC meetings and other party functions in the last nine to 10 months.
Declaring himself the chairman, Nazif said: “On this note, distinguished NWC members, I hereby take full charge of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Chairman in an acting capacity”.
Speaking about Akinwonmi, Nazif said: “We have waited this morning for the Deputy National Chairman (South) who has been incapacitated, who has not been attending NWC meeting in the last nine months and I believe there was a communication between the deputy national chairmen (south).”
Nazif further announced that the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting will hold on Friday, August 27, 2021, by 10am. He added that the meeting would deliberate on matters affecting the party.
He said: “Like you know, in the absence of the deputy chairman south, I take full charge, so I am hereby calling for an emergency NEC meeting on the 27th August, 2021, 10 am prompt to deliberate on matters affecting the party.
“And I believe all the leaders of this party, the owners of this party, that will be in attendance are our governors, former presiding officers will be part of the NEC meeting to deliberate all pending issues”.
Akinwonmi had announced the suspension of the NWC meeting until further notice, a decision Nazif overruled.