Mbah, Wabara, Nwodo, Odefa okay Udeh-Okoye
The crisis over the choice of a National Secretary for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) escalated yesterday.
Southeast leaders of the party, who rejected Senator Samuel Anyanwu as secretary, endorsed Sunday Udeh-Okoye for the position.
Led by Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah, the party leaders urged the National Working Committee (NWC) and other organs of the party to ratify Udeh-Okoye’s nomination in line with the zone’s decision, PDP Constitution, and valid court order.
According to them, PDP national leadership has been aloof to the position of the zone that has been its stronghold since 1999.
They said the delay in the ratification of Udeh-Okoye as the National Secretary would not be tolerated.
They claimed that Anyanwu had resigned following his participation in the Imo State governorship poll as PDP candidate during which he lost to Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Rising from the meeting of Southeast Zonal Executive Committee and party leaders held in Enugu under the leadership of Governor Mbah, the party leaders warned the NWC against taking the zone for a ride.
At the meeting were PDP National Vice Chairman (Southeast), Chief Ali Odefa; and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Senator Adolphus Wabara.
Mbah said: “We have carried the banner of PDP in the Southeast with great pride. So, when we have come together, as a people on a matter that affects us as PDP members in the Southeast and a decision is taken in line with our party’s constitution and the electoral guidelines.
“I think it would be a mistake if that position is disrespected.”
Former Senate President Wabara lamented that the NWC has been insensitive to the feeling of the Southeast.
He said: “I believe that we are here to decide whether we, the Southeast, will continue to be slaves in this party. I feel pained that the Igbo are being mistreated.
“We are being treated like slaves. Therefore, we will leave here with a far-reaching decision and that decision must be carried. That is why we are here.”
According to the communique read by Odefa, the nomination of Okoye is sacrosant.
It reads: “The meeting reiterated and reconfirmed its decisions in its earlier meeting held on 20th October, 2023, which asked Senator Samuel Anyanwu to stop parading himself as the National Secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), as he has relinquished the office by virtue of the Constitution of the PDP, which has been upheld by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The meeting affirmed the nomination of S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye as his replacement for the National Secretary of the party, to serve out the remainder of his term, in accordance with the Party’s Constitution.
“The Constitution of PDP is very clear on the matter of resignation of an elected national party official, who vied or is vying for an election, as presented below.
“Section 47 (5) states that any elected PDP national officer who wishes to contest an elective office must resign. It gives the power to determine the length of notice of the resignation to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, to be contained in the Guidelines.
“On the basis of the above, the PDP Governorship Primary Guidelines in Clause VI (1) provides among others as follows: ‘Pursuant to Section 47 (5) of the Peoples’ Democratic Party Constitution (2017 as amended), which mandatorily required resignation of any elected national officer of the party vying for elective office, any aspirant who is a party office holder/ Executive Committee member at any level shall resign his or her office or appointment seven (7) days before the purchase of Expression of Interest Form and shall provide proof of resignation along with his or her completed EOI FORM before being allowed to procure the Nomination Form. Failure to adhere to this provision shall be grounds for automatic disqualification of such an aspirant.’
“Not only did Senator Anyanwu purchase the Expression of Interest Form, he also bought the Nomination Form, contested the Primaries, and became the PDP Governorship candidate in the Imo State Governorship election that held last year. Even though his resignation was automatic, based on the Constitution and Guidelines of PDP and the operation of law, Senator Anyanwu promised the Leaders of the Southeast Zone of the Party and the PDP Governors’ Forum that he will formally resign before the Imo State elections.
“Furthermore, a court of competent jurisdiction, the Enugu State High Court, on 28th December 2023, in a considered opinion, held that Senator Anyanwu, by standing for the Governorship primaries of the PDP, ‘had elected on his own volition to vacate the office of National Secretary.’ The Court further ordered that S.K.E. Udeh- Okoye be recognised as the National Secretary of the Party.
“However, in a judgment that presumably was obtained per in curiam and in abuse of court process, a Federal High Court, Abuja, about two weeks later, on 9th January, 2024, declared that Senator Anyanwu should remain the National Secretary. We note that the Enugu High Court’s judgment was first in time, and both courts are of coordinate jurisdiction. Besides, INEC is not a necessary party, as all that is required is to inform INEC of the State High Court judgment.”
The party, therefore, urged the PDP NWC and other organs to recognise Hon. Udeh-Okoye as the authentic National Secretary of the party.
Other signatories to the communique and party chieftains at the meeting include former Governors Achike Udenwa, Sam Egwu, and Emeka Ihedioha; former PDP National Chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo; Senate Minority Whip, Senator Osita Ngwu; and BOT members, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, Senator Ben Obi, Ambassador Justina Eze, and Dame Rita Mbah.