By: Samuel Ogidan
To say that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was at its lowest when the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) took over the affairs of the party, is to state the obvious.
The party was battling from all fronts, members were disillusioned, loyalty took the back stage and while some were deserting the party, others were already at the threshold of leaving, until the Supreme Court verdict and the policy of the NWC reversed the trend.
A lawmaker on the platform of PDP had said to the hearing of our correspondent when the battle for the soul of the party was raging that there was nothing left in PDP and that the thinking of most of them is where to pitch their tent. That was the situation in the party during the internal squabble.
Shortly after the party was defeated in the 2015 election, PDP was embroiled in an internal battle fueled by external forces that almost destroyed the party.
It took the intervention of the Supreme Court to savage the battle between Ali Modu Sheriff let National Working Committee and the Ahmed Makarfi led Caretaker Committee of the party.
Even after the Supreme Court had put an end to the legal battle over the leadership of the party, the post effect of the internal wrangling lingered on, until Secondus-led NWC took over the leadership of PDP with a rebranding campaign message of 3Rs, Reposition, Rebuild to Regain which were designed to recreate and rebrand the party.
“We took over the party when it was still trying to come out of the trauma of losing election and being in opposition for two years under an intolerant ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). We met a psychologically traumatized party struggling to adjust to opposing life after 16 years in power. We inherited party that had issues with internal democracy,” Secondus stated this on Thursday while interacting with newsmen in Abuja to mark the three years in office as the party NWC.
A keen analysis of issues in the party, pointed to the fact that the goodwill garnered and the impact of the policy introduced by the NWC win more members and brought back others, who left the party when the internal battle was raging.
We quickly hit the ground running in our reform policy. We organized a rebranding conference and embarked on extensive consultations across the country. Our sensitization program took us to rallies in all the geo-political zones.
“By the time our reform program came on stream, the party had become an attractive brand to accommodate the influx of new members that included the entire leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly then, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, others members of the parliament at federal and state levels as well as three incumbent state Governors of Benue , Kwara and Sokoto who joined us,” Secondus said.
At the interacting session with the media, the PDP National Chairman didn’t hesitate to say that in the 36 months of ups and downs of PDP, “I am proud to report that the party is not at the level where we met it.
“We inherited party that had issues with internal democracy, delegates were not having the final say on who flies the flag of the party in an election. Names of winners were randomly and blatantly changed in Abuja with disregard to the people and the requirements of our constitution.”
Explaining how these aberrations were changed by his NWC, Secondus said, “as we approached the general election of 2019, our party was already the party to beat. The internal democracy promised in our reform package was already in place. Powers were effectively decentralized to flow from the people. Party tickets were gotten at the congress venue not at party headquarters at state and national levels. Popular and more acceptable candidates emerged at state congresses and National Convention.
“Our National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers state in October 2018 became the first of its kind in Nigeria. It was so transparent that there was no complaint from anybody, instead all the contestants resolved to support the winner. All these helped to engender confidence and trust in our leadership.”
Reeling out their achievements in the past three years, Secondus said that the NWC carried out one of the most effective campaigns, going to the people with issue based messages not propaganda, adding that Nigerians accepted the messages and were ready and charged to vote out the APC whose incompetence and incapacity to govern had become apparent.
“But what Nigerians never envisaged was that the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari who came to power through a transparent and credible election was not going to conduct free and fair election in 2019,” he said.
The reformed packages, according to Secondus, significantly enhanced the image and status of the party and by extension help to increase the states under its control to rise from 11 to 16. The party insisted that it could have been more if not for the shameless ambush of the APC in Osun, Kano, Kogi and Imo states.
“Internally, the party has also used it’s in- house means to resolve issues making PDP the right party to belong in this country today. Nothing supports this assertion more than that after five and half years, the ruling APC instead of trying to put their tattered house in order is busy begging and coercing our members to join them with fake and unrealistic promises,” Secondus said.
Projecting into the next one year when their tenure will end, Secondus disclosed that the NWC has lined up some programs.
He said: “Our e-membership registration is to begin in 2021 unfailingly having secured the approval of its take off from the NEC of our party. We also intend to finalize the peace and reconciliation process within the party with a few to entering the general election as one united and focused political family. The 2019 general election appraisal committee is also expected to finalize its report and some decisions are to be taken and implemented from it.
“In the next one year we also intend to continue the reorganization of our administrative structure to bring us to the realistic opposition status through digitalization and upgrading of our offices.”
Already, there are rumours of a plot by some powerbrokers to return Secondus to Power for another term. However, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told journalist in an interview that the party was not concerned about future positions but focusing on building itself for the task ahead.
“Honestly, we are not there yet. Our party is concerned about building itself. We have re-invented the party and all the issues that Nigerians were complaining about as they concern PDP have changed.PDP has become a transformed political party. As regards the positions in the party, that is not what is before us now.What is before us is to keep the party steady. And that is what we are working on. So there is no such move” he said.
The three years of Secondus-led NWC has actually been eventful, but the question is, how far would the 3Rs policy take the party to in 2023?