By Bisi Ezekiel
In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) circle, Prince Uche Secondus conjures different images to different people. Regarded as “Total Chairman” by politicians in Rivers State, the national chairman of PDP no doubt has a record of success in taking a complex organization, raising its performance and making sure it is firing on all cylinders.
“A member of PDP since 1998, Prince Uche Secondus has been the state chairman of the party in River state, organizing secretary of the party at the national level, deputy national chairman of the party and acting chairman of the party and he is the only aspirant that you can say that his state, has always been PDP since 1999. So in terms of experience, in terms of talking about the party person, Uche Secondus has been.” Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike said.
Secondus joined politics in 1978 during the Second Republic as the youth leader, in Rivers, for the now-defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN. He later became the state publicity secretary of another national party, the National Republican Convention, NRC, from 1993 to 1998 and acting national chairman of the PDP in 2015 after the resignation of the then chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, following the party’s defeat in that year’s presidential election. Before then, he was the party’s deputy national chairman.
In fact, the popular saying that “he, who the cap fits, let him wear it,” found proper expression at the Eagle Square, venue of the convention of the party.
Secondus emerged the national chairman of the party following an overwhelming defeat of two other opponents.
The former deputy national chairman of the party garnered 2000 votes, with a former Minister of Education, Prof. Adeniran coming second with 230, while media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi got 66 votes.
The race for the position of party chairman did not start in 2017.
During the May 2016 botched Port Harcourt convention, the South-South Coordinator for the PDP National Campaign Council during the 2007 general elections and pioneer Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) wanted to contest for the deputy national chairman of the PDP. But he changed his mind that year and went after the party’s top job.
Reeling out some of the achievements of the National Executive Committee under his leadership, Secondus said the party conducted free, fair and transparent primaries for Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
“The National Executive Committee under my leadership empanelled a Post-Election Review Committee which returned a far-reaching report on how to reposition the Party. Conscious of the lessons learnt from past mistakes, the NWC under my leadership implemented some policy initiatives in the spirit of the proposals of the Ike Ekweremadu Committee. In our bid to consolidate the practice of internal democracy, we ensured that we conducted free, fair and transparent primaries for Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections. We started the Biometric Membership Registration for the PDP in Edo State and also resolved to give Nigerians responsible and responsive opposition. This is against the alarming scenario of the unyielding actions of the ruling Party aimed at emasculating the opposition instead of facing the real tasks of governance in order to bring the hackneyed change they profess”.
He also said the party required a new constitutional framework to guarantee internal democracy within its fold.
“When we consider the challenging circumstances we find ourselves as a Party in our avowed drive to reorganize and reposition, we must be determined to ensure that we resist the temptation to continue in the blame game; to make sure that selfish interests do not divide us and give the ruling Party the leeway to realize their goals. The future of our great Party is bright. We can rekindle the hope we gave Nigerians in 1998 through hard work and sacrifice and move to realize our dream of a modern Nigeria. Secondly, we need to forge ahead in unity; we need not entertain unrealistic schemes and ambitions at this critical time in order for us to achieve maximum results”.
To create a new image for PDP, Secondus promised to deal with issues such as impunity and imposition.
“The PDP belongs to all members especially the people at the grassroots. It is the democratic asset of Nigeria. It belongs to the common man. No influential person will stop the youth from realizing their political ambitions of becoming governors or members of National Assembly”
At the historic convention which Secondus became national chairman, the quiet politician was simply conscious of the heavy weight of history.
“Truth be told, any one of you is eminently qualified to lead this party. I thank you for a worthy contest and being part of history as this marks the first time such a highly competitive contest to produce the leadership of a political party has been held in Nigeria. You have every cause to stand tall and I now extend my hand of fellowship to you all. Let ‘US’ Rebuild, Reposition & Regain”
But the task of returning the PDP to power in 2019, according to him, is achievable. He feels that APC is a body hurriedly assembled to seize power without a clear cut plan for governance.
“I can say without an iota of doubt, that PDP’s contributions to the growth and sustenance of democracy in this country in the last 18 years remain unequalled”
In fact, Nigerians had seen the destruction which the ruling party had wrecked on the country’s economy, the public service and infrastructure.
“We are all witnesses to how the unity of this country has been shaken to its very foundation under the watch of the rudderless and clueless APC. We therefore have a gigantic task of retrieving this country from APC’s clear lack of direction and confusion starting with the Presidency. By my understanding, the mandate you have given us today is clear and unambiguous. It is to return our party to power come 2019. As Herculean as this mandate seems, I know it’s achievable. My campaign pillars for this election are ‘To Rebuild, Reposition and Regain’. Let me assure you great members and leaders of our party that by the grace of God and with all hands on deck, the brief tenancy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Aso Rock Villa expires on May 28, 2019. By this, we serve them a quit notice” Secondus said.
To many, dislodging the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not be an easy task.
Though Secondus is the captain of the ship, but the ship will not sail without all hands on deck. He requires the cooperation of all in regaining the party’s lost grounds.
Some PDP faithful agreed that the party will form the government at the national level in 2019. To them, the party will provide responsible, transparent and accountable leadership. It will also focus on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, tackle the problem of insecurity and encourage rapid economic development.
“With your mandate I assure you, that all necessary steps will be taken to avoid a repeat of our past mistakes. Indeed, we have learnt our lessons and by this convention, we are now set to forge a new path for our great party and Nigeria. Under my watch, internal democracy will be strictly adhered to with a deliberate policy to return ‘real’ power to the people. No more imposition, no more impunity. Every member of this party can from this moment, consider him or herself, an equal shareholder in our common destiny. I call on all Nigerians, of all creed and class, to embrace this new PDP and join in this quest for a new Nigeria. Particularly, I reach out to our old members who for one reason or the other have left the party, to please come back ‘home’ Secondus said.
The Abuja elective convention to some analysts was a no victor and no vanquished situation for all those that contested.
“It is a victory for the party and the country’s democracy” a chieftain of the party said.
Secondus has his eyes on 2019.