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As PDP slides down the road of disintegration, any hope for 2027?

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A lot of water has passed under the bridge since after the last National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leading to the 2023 general elections. The fallouts from the convention left so much wound and holes on the party to the point that like Chinua Achebe would say ‘things have now fallen apart’ so much in the party and the center cannot hold again.


Many observers are asking numerous questions but particularly why certain leaders of the PDP are doing nothing concrete to redirect the party from heading down the path of disintegration, a sure likely end which has become so imminent and obvious. Political analysts are also worried that opposition politics has been pushed aside and might completely die or end as PDP, which has been the leading light of the opposition block, slides deeper into the hollow ditches of internal conflict and leadership challenges. It is already very obvious that the party may not be as strong again as it used to be in readiness for the 2027 general elections.


This is because when the storm raised in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the 2023 general election settled down soon after the polls and the then National Chairman, Chief Iyorchia Ayu honourably stepped down following the intense pressure mounted on him by the Nyesom Wike-led G5 group, political observers had expected that the infighting in the PDP, especially the Wike/Atiku brawl, would have subsided or reduced considerably to enable the party assume it’s proper position and role as the leading opposition party in the country, but the expectations were regrettably dashed as more discontent grew, rather than subside in the party.


When the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Umar Damagum took over the leadership of the party, he tried to patch-up the unity and peace in the party using the platform of the NWC and elders to broker peace and reconciliation. Although he later deviated by surrendering the structures of the party to Wike, Damagun persuaded the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP to convene an emergency meeting with chairmen of the party in the 36 states of the country and Abuja as well as critical stakeholders of the party to seek final solution to the teething problems weighing down the Peoples Democratic Party.


The meeting which held at the Wadata House National Secretariat in Abuja, according to the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, was chaired by the Acting National Chairman, Amb. Umar Damagum, and it discussed the state of the party as well as preparations to tackle challenges posed by its 2023 electoral defeat and other problems to pave the way for more focused planning before the 2027 general elections.


The National Publicity Secretary stated that the directive for the meeting was given sequel to thorough review by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the state of the party at all levels before, during and after the 2023 general elections.


He stated that key issues discussed included the directive on December 6, 2023, where the party’s NWC ordered all members with pending intra-party litigation’s to immediately withdraw such cases.


His words: “The NWC had, on December 6th, 2023, directed that all pending Intra-Party litigations across the country should be withdrawn forthwith.


The decision of the NWC was made pursuant to Section 58 (1)(l) of the PDP Constitution as amended in 2017 and in line with the spirit of unity and reconciliation in the party.”


He stated that “The NWC urged all party leaders, critical stakeholders and members across the country to remain united and continue to promote the values for which the PDP is known as a truly democratic party.


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) also directed the party’s state chairmen to submit their reports on investigations into alleged anti-party activities by some members during the 2023 general election.


The party’s National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, during the NWC meeting with the state chairmen in Abuja directed them to put their reports in written form for appropriate action to be taken by the party leadership.


He said: “A lot of agitations are coming from party members, suspend this, suspend that, you are the ones that are in charge of those states.


“You are to tell us who engaged in anti-party activities and who did not. Based on that, the National Executive Committee (NEC) will take a decision. Write to us and tell us what transpired, no matter what happened.


“I also want the acting chairman to call on the chairman of the party in Cross River to tell us what is happening in the state.We really need to know what is happening.”


The organising secretary also directed the state chapters to submit their post-election reports.


He recalled that most of the current executives in the states were elected four years ago. Where congresses were conducted on a staggered basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic are overdue for fresh congresses. There are also about four or five states where tenures of the executives had expired from the ward to the state levels. The states are Edo, Bayelsa, Gombe, and Rivers.


“We called the meeting to discuss this in order not to create a vacuum. We also have vacancies due to deaths and resignations,” Bature disclosed.


There were therefore great expectations from across the membership and widespread speculations about possible leadership changes in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the ward, local government, states and national levels when the party decided eventually to hold its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on April 18, 2024.


Regrettably however the expected leadership changes and other critical pending matters were not on the agenda of the party during the NEC meeting because loyalists of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, were afraid that Amb. Umar Damagun, may be removed and would not be allowed to continue in office as Acting National Chairman and the loyalists tactically convinced the 52 member national caucus of the party, which normally decides on the agenda to be discussed at NECs to remove elections and complaints about sanctions against erring members from the agenda.


Reacting to the development, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, who briefed journalists on the outcome of the Caucus meeting, which ended in the early hours of Thursday morning, said, “NEC meeting will not discuss any change in leadership, but will rather give proper attention to unity and reconciliation.


The NEC meeting was held but the fallout from the gathering was not too palatable as many members who were not given the opportunity to bare their minds decided that it was time for them to throw in the towel and many resigned. Other resignations are still being expected.


Several leaders of the party, particularly the Elder Statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief (Dr.) E. K. Clark, OFR, CON, tried to make peace and reconcile aggrieved members by drawing attention to the anomalies in the party leadership and by urging them to see reasons why the legacies of the PDP should not be allowed to die.


Chief Clark addressed a lengthy letter of appeal to acting National Chairman, Amb. Umar Ililya Damagum, pointing at the dangers of mortgaging the PDP to the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike.


The letter which was titled: “Open letter on the outcome of the charade National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): A proof of Wike’s strangle hold on the party,” read like a litany to a deceased person and pointed at flaws that may lead to the eventual death of the party.


Chief Clark’s exact words: “Firstly, let me apologise should this letter cause you any form of embarrassment because we have never met nor spoken to each other before. However, I have followed your activities since you took over as the Acting National Chairman of the PDP. I issued a press release on the eve of the just concluded NEC meeting of your party, which had not been held for a very long time, that except some courageous and bold actions are taken at the meeting, the party will collapse. Unfortunately, my sense of foreboding was confirmed by the actions and inactions of the PDP NEC during the meeting, because at the long-awaited meeting, there was a deliberate attempt to avoid the very serious issues plaguing the party including those expressed by various stakeholders, such as the sixty (60) members of the House of Representatives. The NEC showed obvious weakness by allowing Mr. Nyesom Wike to bamboozle everyone in the meeting. No one was ready to speak truth to power. Therefore, emphasis was put on reconciliation committee and not on the disciplinary committee which was earlier set up under the chairmanship of His Excellency, Emmanuel Udom, immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State. It was therefore, unfortunately, Wike’s day, and a confirmation of Wike’s earlier claim that PDP approved his joining President Tinubu’s cabinet as Minister.


“One wonders the sincerity of the PDP when they criticise and condemn some of the policies of the government at the centre, when their “strong man and financier” Nyesom Wike is a major player in the government of President Tinubu. Especially, when viewed against the back drop of his leading the 7-man Caretaker Committee of the APC in Rivers State, led by his nominee, Mr. Tony Okocha.


“I listened very carefully to my most respected friend, Air Commodore Bode George’s interview on the television after the NEC meeting and I laughed at the picture he painted of the PDP as a great party with wisdom. But with due respect to him, I completely disagree with him. of course, I know his position before and after the elections of 2023. At that time, he was one of us who believed that the presidency should be zoned to the southern part of the country. Bode George, no doubt, is sympathetic with the G5, headed by Nyesom Wike on the strength that the north cannot produce the presidential candidate and at the same time the National Chairman of the party. I know as a party statesman he would prefer a reconciliation of all members of the party.


“It is alleged in some quarters that Mr. Wike is very instrumental to your being appointed the Acting National Chairman, and you, therefore recognise him as your “boss”. So, it appears to some people the obvious role you embarked upon, playing down the powers of NEC. It does also appear that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), is made up of Mr. Wike’s men, which includes your good self as Acting National Chairman, the National Secretary, the National Publicity Secretary, some leaders such as Chief Dan Orbih, who unfortunately is not a cheap of the old block of his father, late Chief MCK Orbih, a great politician. We were all together in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), in 1979.


Mr. Acting National Chairman, let me outline some of your activities which are viewed in some quarters as anti-party activities. For instance, in Rivers State, it is a well-known fact that Chief Wike had one trusted ‘brother’ in the State, and that is Siminalayi Fubara whom he chose as Accountant General during his tenure as Governor of the State, to help him look after the monetary affairs of the State. This was 23rd December 2020.


“You are aware also that Mr. Wike as a result was said to be exercising some strong control over the finances of Rivers State, both from FAAC in Abuja and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).


“In order to be in firm and total control of all, you are also aware that Mr. Wike bought forms for every contesting member of the party in Rivers State; right from the Governor to the members of House of Assembly including the members of National Assembly. No doubt, Mr. Wike did his best in keeping the party financially when the party was sailing topsy-turvy.  He also majorly championed the course of Sim Fubara to become Governor of Rivers State, while other colleagues seriously opposed him. Mr Wike was able to bulldoze his way through, and installed Sim Fubara as Governor. “Having installed him, he gave him ‘directives’ on how to run the State; I also learnt that he entered into some agreements with him, which were not in the interest of the Rivers people. As a result of these secret arrangements between master and servant, all the appointments into Governor Fubara’s Government were made by Hon. Wike and this is a well-known fact all over the country. Mr Wike decided where and who the governor should visit, who should and should not come to the Government House, etc. He also contributed largely to the success of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Rivers State; for which he has now been compensated by President Tinubu as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.


“Today, almost all the members of the G5 were not carried along by Nyesom Wike. Apart from Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, the others have gone into oblivion.  In his usual selfish ways, he did not carry along with him the other members of the G5 and apart from Governor Makinde of Oyo State, the others have gone into oblivion. But by the Grace of God, Governor Fubara is managing to disentangle himself from the chains placed on his feet by Mr. Wike and gain his freedom; and by extension freedom to the people of Rivers State.


“Mr Chairman, you are aware of the drama that took place in the Rivers State House of Assembly on 30th October, 2023, where the house was factionalized; one group supporting Wike while the other group were for the Governor. Those against the Governor formed themselves into a force and on the control and directive of their master at an ungodly hour at about 7am, the members, about 23 of them signed the impeachment motion. These same members led by the Speaker of the House, Martins Amaewhule, assembled on Monday 11th December, 2023 where they declared to be members of the APC, singing the President Tinubu’s song, “on your mandate we shall stand” and waiving the APC flag.


“The other faction that did not defect elected Edison Ehie as speaker and the members who defected were removed from office. They later went to court to confirm it. It happens that you did not view it on any TV station or read it in any newspaper. The 27 members of your party were in control of the House of Assembly and in fact the Executive headed by Governor Sim Fubara. Your party was in power. We are fully informed that the defection from PDP to APC was carried out by Chief Nyesom Wike and yourself. One may ask further, where were you when the PDP Governors under the leadership of Sen. Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State pleaded with Mr. Wike to give peace a chance in Rivers State?


“The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria did not define what the quorum at the House of Assembly should be and it is generally agreed by majority of senior lawyers in Nigeria. The defection of the 27 members automatically meant that their seats in the House are forfeited.  The defection of the members did not close the House down because five (5) of the members did not defect with them and remained members of the House. The Rivers State House of Assembly continues to function with an acting speaker, Edison Ehie and the rest is history. The Acting National Chairman of a party could not visit the State to find out what was happening.


“The Rivers State Appropriation Bill 2024 was passed by the faction with the Governor and signed into Law by the Governor. It will therefore be a breach of the Constitution for the Governor to re-present the Appropriation Bill to none existing members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. Of course, you are aware it is unconstitutional and this matter of the presentation of Appropriation Bill has several cases in court and it will be improper for Governor Sim Fubara to disobey the constitution and the courts.


“At this juncture Mr Acting National Chairman, I repeat, one may like to know your reaction to the defection of the twenty-seven (27) members of your party who defected to the APC, even when their defection was supported by Mr President. Take note, Section 109 (1Bii) of the 1999 Constitution as amended is binding on all Nigerians, no matter the position they hold. One would have expected you to take action to contact INEC to fix a date for an election but because you and your master Mr. Wike have set out to destroy PDP and the collateral damage caused is already affecting the unity of PDP.


“We are aware of the fact that Mr. Wike using you, muscled the legitimately elected members of PDP in Rivers State with Chief Desmond Akawor as the State Chairman of PDP. Chief Akawor has now been appointed as Federal Commissioner representing Rivers State in the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. Mr. Wike has refused to deal with the Acting Chairman of the State, Mr. Chukuemeka Aaron.


“The so called twenty seven (27) members who were members of the Rivers State House of Assembly until their defection to APC, have been seating, holding illegal meetings without mentioning APC or PDP. It is clear now that the so called twenty-seven (27) members took court action against the National Assembly, the Governor of Rivers State and the former Speaker of the House of Assembly now Chief of Staff to Fubara; they were sued by the none existing House but in obedience to the President declaration in the 8-point pace deal, the so called House of Assembly refused to withdraw their actions while the Governor and the former Speaker, withdrew their defense which they had earlier filled as directed by Mr President leading to the Justice Omotosho’s Judgment which is currently being appealed against.


“The Judgement automatically made the Rivers State House of Assembly completely independent from other arms of government, which is unconstitutional. In all these issues, you remained silent, you refused to oppose and take any legal action against the new members of APC. Your Publicity Secretary merely made two (2) public statements and that was the end. It could be recalled that it was the Labour Party in Ondo State that took a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly to court when he defected to ADC.


“The NWC and the NEC of PDP are fully aware of Wike using APC members to form the caretaker committee of the various Local Government areas in Rivers even though the existing members’ time was extended by the same party, PDP, for three (3) months. This has led to the Governor and well-meaning PDP members resisting this act and he is not aware that he is dancing naked in the market place. Mr. Wike cannot, I repeat, eat his cake and have it. He is either a PDP man or an APC man. He must therefore be called to order.


“How Nyesom Wike Prevented Some Prominent Leading Members Of Pdp Nec From Attending The Nec Meeting On 18th April 2024.


“There is concrete evidence that the same Mr. Wike sponsored some miscreants to obtain a court injunction against some of the leading members of PDP NEC. Is it not madness, ridiculous and mischievous for one selfish and greedy man to encroach upon the rights of fellow members of the party? I was even surprised that the NEC members were not aware of the absence of these prominent PDP members; former National Chairman, of PDP Prince Uche Secondus; Sir Celestine Omehia; Rt. Hon Austin Okpara who was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives; Dr Abiye Sekibo, former Minster of Transportation; Sen Lee Maeba; etc.


“The Acting Chairman of PDP in Rivers State, Mr. Chukwuemeka Aaron, was also prevented from attending the NEC meeting. I wonder if this is how the unity of the party is going to be maintained.


“These are very important members of NEC and one of them was a National Chairman of the Party for about four (4) years. Chief Uche Secondus was the trusted political associate of Wike and it was through close association that Wike rose to become a notable PDP party man, but when Wike finally developed his ambition to become president of Nigeria, he sacrificed Secondus because the President and the National Chairman cannot come from the same region. In his usual vindictive and mischievous manner, sponsored some persons in Secondus’ Ward to suspend him from the party and went to court to confirm it. Now he has barred him from attending PDP NEC meeting by restricting him with a court injunction.


“Similarly, as earlier mentioned, you have also prevented other notable Rivers State PDP politicians who were members of Wike’s kitchen cabinet who according to him were on fat monthly allowances and were also beneficiaries of contracts.


“Apart from these colleagues of Wike, it was reported in the Punch of Friday April 19th 2024, that Hon Sokari Goodboy, a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, representing Ahoada West, who did not defect to APC, was arrested on 18th April 2024, outside the venue of NEC meeting in Abuja.


“Just two days ago, after the so-called NEC meeting, and without having regard to the Governor’s Forum and the NEC’s appeal, the party was slammed with an ex-parte order issued by a federal high court in Abuja, barring the PDP NWC from reviewing Rivers State Caretaker Committee list. What is happening to our reputable judiciary, when it is clearly stated by the Supreme Court that internal affairs of political parties, should be left for the parties to handle? If the PDP NWC and other members of the party are sincere, honest and actually believe in the party, they should go to court to challenge this baseless interim order that seeks to interfere with internal affairs of the party.


“To imagine that the NEC and the NWC of the party, turned blind eye to all that is happening in the PDP in Rivers State, because it is said you have a paymaster controlling you, is unbelievable. This is a clarion call on you, Mr. Acting National Chairman, to either sit up, or do the needful by resigning from the position, so that the party does not collapse on you. Thank you,” Chief Clark concluded.


Now that Wike is in full control of the PDP, it is a matter of time before the structures of the party will be collapsed into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) like he has allegedly done in Rivers State. Ends.


Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc unanimously approved the restructuring of the Bank to a holding company during a court-ordered Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held virtually from Zenith Heights, Zenith Bank Plc, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Friday, April 26, 2024.


In accordance with the Scheme of Arrangement dated March 28 2024, pursuant to Section 715 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 between the Bank and the holders of the fully paid ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each in the Bank, the shareholders voted to transfer 31,396,493,787 ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each held in the issued and paid-up share capital of Zenith Bank Plc to Zenith Bank Holding Company Plc (the HoldCo) in exchange for the allotment of 31,396,493,787 ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each in the share capital of the HoldCo in the same proportion to their shareholding in the Bank. Similarly, the shareholders approved that each Existing GDR Holder receive, as consideration for each existing GDR held, one new HoldCo GDR.


The shareholders also approved that all of the shares held by the nominees of the Bank in Zenpay Limited, a direct subsidiary of the HoldCo, together with all rights and liabilities attached to such shares, be transferred to the HoldCo. The Board of Directors were also authorised to delist the shares of the Bank and the Existing GDRs from the official list of the Nigerian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange respectively as well as re-register the Bank as a private limited company under CAMA Act 2020.


In his remarks during the EGM, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, CFR, thanked the shareholders for their unwavering commitment, which has been instrumental in the Bank’s outstanding performance over the years. He expressed his delight at witnessing the transition of the Bank to a holding company, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives.


Also speaking during the EGM, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, lauded the Founder and Chairman, Jim Ovia, CFR, for his pivotal role in creating an institution that has consistently been a trailblazer in the nation’s financial services industry. Dr. Onyeagwu expressed his optimism about the Bank’s growth trajectory in the coming years as it transitions into a holding company structure.


According to him, “The HoldCo structure presents an opportunity for us to unlock value for shareholders in terms of opportunity in other sectors beyond banking. The first part is Fintech, where we have already received the approval and the license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which we are launching soon. It is going to be focusing on an area that we know has not been touched on by anyone. So it is more like us finding an open wide space where we can begin to operate, and with a HoldCo, what that means is that we have an opportunity to diversify our investment. We can begin to look at other business verticals that were restrained by the kind of authorisation we have. So, it presents a big opportunity for us to have a wider lens and scope in terms of what we can do. It will also position us to think of opportunities beyond Africa. We will be looking at key business verticals that have the potential to enable us to create value for shareholders.”


On the recapitalisation plan of the Bank, Dr. Onyeagwu stated that the Bank is on course to receive the needed shareholder’s approval in the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) slated for May 8, 2024, which will kickstart its capital raising effort in line with the CBN directive. He expressed confidence in the Bank’s ability to raise the stipulated capital, stating that amongst its peers in the industry, Zenith was expected to raise the least amount due to its already robust capital base.



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