Wike, Fubara fight extends to House of Reps as PDP crisis deepens 

Elizabeth AtimeApril 9, 202412 min

Fubara and Wike have been engaged in a fight for the soul of the PDP in the State, a few months after the former succeeded the duo as governor of the oil-producing State. 

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The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rivers State chapter, shows no sign of abating as 60 members of the House of Representatives on Monday, demanded the immediate resignation of the Acting National Chairman, Umar İliya Damagum. 

This is linked to the political feud between Nyesome Wike, Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the executive governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara gets messier as opposition lawmakers have accused Wike and others of romancing with the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Damagum is seen in some quarters as a Wike’s ally, a belief that gained momentum when the former Rivers State Governor dared him to sanction him for alleged anti-party activities before, during and after the 2023 elections.

Fubara and Wike have been engaged in a war for the soul of the PDP in the State, a few months after the former succeeded the duo as governor of the oil-producing State. 

In a move aimed at taking control of the party structure from Fubara, 27 commissioners loyal to the FCT Minister had in February threatened to commence the impeachment process against the governor. It took the intervention of President Bola Tinubu to broker an unsustainable peace between the two bigwigs.

It is on this premise that the 60 lawmakers led by Rep. Ikenga Ugochinyere (PDP, Imo) held a press briefing on Monday in the National Assembly calling for party elders like former Presidents of the Senate, David Mark, Bukola Sarki, current Senate Minority Leader, Abba Moro and others to immediately intervene to stop the party from collapse.

The lawmakers also accused Damagum of plotting to use the Federal High Court to legalise the extension of the tenure of Rivers State Local Government Areas Chairmen, believed to be loyal to Wike

Curiously, the Minority Leader who doubles as the leader of the PDP in the House and a core loyalist to the FCT Minister, Mr Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) was copiously absent at Monday’s briefing, fueling insinuations that he does not support the decision of his colleagues.

We demand the immediate resignation of Damagun as Acting National Chairman of PDP for anti-party activities and allow the North Central to produce the Acting Chairman as clearly stated in the PDP Constitution or watch us reconsider our membership of the party in the months ahead if the right thing is not done.

“We also call for the removal of Damagun by the National Executive Committee of the party with further sanctions against him for his anti-party activities.

“It is our call on Damagum to immediately resign so that the party can midwife a process and hand over to someone from the North Central in line with the provisions of our great party. It is also our call to the leaders of our party from the North Central, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau, Senators David Mark, Bukola Saraki, Abba Moro, Gabriel Suswam and Babangida Aliyu, to rise up now and save the soul of the part,” Ugochinyere said.

Weighty allegations against Damagun

Ugochinyere explained that there are allegations of “Doctoring of caretaker committee members lists in Rivers state and at least 10 other states. This story is quite unfortunate and I can confirm to you all that it is not a rumor but a fact. We have obtained very credible intelligence on the goings in our Party’s Wadata House National Secretariat and it does not sound right at all. We currently have in the PDP a national leadership that is in bed with the APC and is working extremely hard to hand over the party to the APC.

“Following the removal of Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman of our party and assumption of office by Damagun, who was elected as Deputy National Chairman to act in his stead, the party has only known misfortune and has abdicated its responsibility as the leading opposition party in the country. That role which Nigerians would have loved the PDP to play as an institution it truly is has been abdicated for a plate of porridge,” he added.

Describing Damagum as unfit to lead the party to battle, the lawmakers said the Yobe politician “Was only constitutionally allowed to step in, hold the fort and midwife the process through which the North Central zone where the chairmanship of the party was originally zone to present another person who would complete the slot of the North Central,” adding however that “Not only did Damagun hold tight unto the seat for well over a year now, he has abdicated every responsibility of the office of the chairman of PDP and is very comfortable serving APC interests.

There had been an agreement of a broad spectrum of the party leadership when it became clear that Damagum was not interested in conducting elections but to appoint caretaker committees in at least 19 states where the tenures of the state and local government leaders were expiring to extend the tenures of these officials by three months. This decision which was made to cover every state was the wisdom that restrained Damagum from announcing a wholesale list of a majority of caretaker committees populated by APC agents masquerading as PDP members.

“However, despite that decision to retain everybody, Mr Damagun went ahead and received a list of APC agents and announced them as members and leaders of the PDP local government caretaker committees wholesomely in Rivers State and partially in at least 10 other states. This is a direct attempt to kill the PDP and ensure it goes into extinction.”

The lawmakers also accused Damagum of failing to retain most of the states in the South-East, noting that today, the party is only in charge in Enugu State “which it literally snatched from the jaw of a lion.”

He added that the party “Lost Benue, Abia and Sokoto States. The PDP leadership kept mute while PDP state and federal lawmakers lost their seats at the tribunal and Court of Appeal on grounds that were obviously untenable which have since been overturned by the Supreme Court. If the party had spoken up and raised the necessary alarm, all our colleagues in Imo and Plateau States particularly would have been with us in the Assembly today.”

Addressing the National Chairman frontally, Ugochinyere said, “You have a chance to resign immediately, leave or be embarrassed out of the party. At least 60 of us in the PDP in the National Assembly will sever all relations with the Damagun leadership until he leaves office. At the scheduled National Executive Committee meeting, if Damagun by any manoeuvring however conjectured, remains in office with the help of his APC friends at the end of the day; the party is now heading to the final slaughter shed.”

Damagum’s silence on River’s Deputy Speaker Impeachment

The opposition lawmakers also raised alarm over the PDP acting chairman’s silence on the threat to impeach the Deputy Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly.

Have Nigerians wondered why Damagun kept quiet while 27 members of Rivers State House of Assembly elected on the platform of PDP left the party? He kept quiet while they were threatening to impeach a governor in his party. Nigerians will be shocked to hear that Damagun was consulted and is fully aware of the entire details of the plots to impeach the Rivers State Governor and he gave his approval to the plot, yet he refers to himself as a Chairman of a party. The shamelessness in this entire episode is limitless.

“If Rabiu Kwankwaso could leave PDP and build a party and win Kano State with several federal and state lawmakers and Peter Obi also left PDP to grow Labour Party to win Abia State as well as several federal and state lawmakers, then Damagun and his allies could as well leave PDP and go ahead to support APC since their spirit is already out of PDP. But their attempt and machination to kill PDP is unacceptable and it is the reason we have stepped up to save our party,” the lawmakers noted. 

Alleged plot to illegally extend tenure of the LGE chairmen 

The lawmakers further expressed concern about the atrocities and alleged illegitimate plot to retain the Rivers Local Government Area (LGA) whose tenure has elapsed.

We have now received credible intelligence of a plot to use the Federal High Court to secure a secret order that will attempt to legalize the illegal extension of the about-to-expire tenure of LGA Chairmen in Rivers State which was carried out by the former members of the State Assembly who lost legitimacy as lawmakers the very moment they decamped to APC knowing full well that there was no crisis in PDP hence their seats as lawmakers became vacant immediately the remaining legitimate members declared the seats vacant.

“We are raising this alarm in view of the illegitimacy of the desperate move which if not halted can lead to anarchy and collapse of constitutional governance. We want to call on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Omotosho and other eminent judges to be aware of these plots that those behind it are already celebrating and that the exparte order is in their pocket awaiting release to the media even when the case has not been heard. To our respected Chief Judge, we are compelled to publicly bring this shocking development to your attention for the interest of justice and preservation of the image of our nation’s judiciary,” the group further said.

The following PDP members were present at the briefing;  representing Okehi/Adavi Federal Constituency, Kogi State, Abdulmaleek Danga; member representing Askira-Uba/Hawul Federal Constituency, Borno State, Midala Balami and and member, representing Ikara/Kubau, Kaduna State, Aliyu Abdullahi and Awaji-inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers).

Elizabeth Atime

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