Just like the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also at a crossroads and its sitting on a keg of gunpowder which could explode anytime.
The major opposition party may however be lucky and live to celebrate, not regret, its decision to go ahead with its national convention that is ongoing at the moment in Abuja. This depends largely on the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on the appeal that may be filed by its suspended chairman, Uche Secondus.
Secondus has been in court for months protesting the circumstances of his removal from the party’s leadership position, and to demand the enforcement of his fundamental human rights. In the course of the litigation, he prayed the court for an injunction to stop the party from proceeding with its convention where a new chairman will be chosen, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He failed at both the court of first instance and the appellate court. Even before the Appeal Court ruling, the party hierarchy had vowed to continue with its preparations for the convention irrespective of whether the court will cancel it or not.
The party had in a statement before the court ruling on Friday said that the date of its convention remains October 30th and 31st.
The Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, while briefing journalists in Abuja, had said arraignments for the convention were ongoing.
Secondus has however vowed to challenge his suspension in the Supreme Court, a move seen by many as an attempt to plunge the party into another crisis.
Implications of Secondus’ Stubborness
Meanwhile, party leaders from across the country have for months been begging Secondus to let go and take his ouster in good faith, and withdraw the matter in court but the suspended chairman has stuck to his guns, saying he must seek judicial interpretation of his removal.
Now that the Appeal Court has given the party the green light to conduct its convention and Secondus has vowed to proceed to the Supreme Court with his case. If Secondus wins the case, the learned justices will ask him to be reinstated to his position and the judgement will by implication render the convention and all the officers it produces null and void.
It will be worse for the party if the unfavourable ruling comes after the 2023 elections some of which the party may have won. The ruling can therefore extend to the point that the PDP President (if the party wins the presidential election), the governors, lawmakers and other elected officers may lose their positions to the APC (which may have come second in the elections) because the National Working Committee (NWC) that produced them is a product of an illegal convention and which automatically makes it an illegality.
One of the most iconic justices of all time, Lord Denin of the UK, once famously said, “Something cannot stand on nothing.” If in the eyes of the law, there is no convention, then there cant be an NWC and also state chapter leadership of the party, and if that one is not there, there is no primary election and that makes the nomination and eventual election of such candidates illegal, null and void.
Justice Mary Odili
The PDP, and Governor Nyesom Wike, in particular, have been going on with a lot of confidence that the judiciary will favour their stand and Secondus will continue to lose. There is no governor in Nigeria today that takes care of judicial officers like Governor Wike. That is why it is difficult if not impossible for Wike to lose any case within the state. Of course, the Appeal Court ruling that the PDP won on the eve of the convention came from Port Harcourt.
Justice Mary Odili, a prominent jurist in the Supreme Court, is not only from Rivers State, she is also the famous wife of the equally famous former governor of the state, Dr Peter Odili, the political mentor of Governor Wike. Observers believe the major reason Wike and the Rivers PDP have been winning cases in the apex court is due to the larger-than-life influence of Justice Odili. And this is the key reason Wike, a prominent adversary of Secondus, is pushing the PDP to go ahead with the convention, with the belief that Secondus’ appeal is dead on arrival.
To the shock of political watchers in the country, several police men on Friday staged a massive invasion of the vicinity of Justice Odili’s house in Abuja on Friday and refused to leave for several hours. Feelers had it that they attempted to break into the home of the respected jurist but were rebuffed. Different reasons have been suggested for this invasion. Some say it is because of her husbands pending graft case with the EFCC. Some say she is supposed to be the next in line after the tenure of the CJN, Justice Muhammad Tanko, and the powers-that-be do not want that. The political angle is that the ruling APC wants to support or accelerate the impending ruination of the PDP by backing Secondus to deal that killer blow his suit is capable of serving, and want to get Justice Odili out of the way, since it appears she is the only hope of the PDP.
One fact that cannot be doubted is that it looks like the present ruling establishment is seeking to serve Justice Odili the remaining dose of the Justice Walter Onnoghen medicine, with the aim of achieving same results achieved in 2018/2019.
Indeed, there is no doubting the fact that Secondus is a big banana peel that can land the PDP on the floor and break its spinal chord and entire back bone.
Adnan is a staff writer with Politics Digest and wrote this from Abuja.