Home Opinion A Moral Force In the PDP Leadership

A Moral Force In the PDP Leadership

By Sufuyan Ojeifo
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.

*Ojeifo is Editor- in- Chief,
The Congresswatch Ma­gazine
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