By John Ikani
There was confusion on Tuesday as the national leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) split into two factions.
This was as Deputy National Chairman (north), Senator Sulieman Nazif declared himself the Acting National Chairman of the party while Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, also assumed leadership of the party and suspended the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting indefinitely.
Akinwonmi and Nazif are laying claim to the position of the National Chairman, to fill the leadership gap created by the suspension of the substantive National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
A court in Port Harcourt had on Monday, issued an order restraining Secondus from parading himself as PDP National Chairman and taking part in any activity of the party while the order lasts.
Declaring himself as the party’s National Chairman, Akinwonmi issued a three-paragraph statement that read: “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”.
As soon as the statement hit the media space, the Nazif faction hurriedly summoned a meeting of the NWC with about seven of the 18-member NWC in attendance.
It was at the meeting, held at the NWC hall at the party secretariat that Nazif pronounced himself the National Chairman, stressing that Akinwonmi, who has been battling a protracted stroke related ailment, was incapacitated and as such, could not perform the duties of National Chairman.