There was tension yesterday at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national secretariat as Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, a former political adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, declared himself the national chairman.
Gulak, who arrived at the secretariat at about 1.45 pm, was accompanied by a horde of supporters, including former presidential spokesman Dr. Doyin Okupe.
Apparently with the knowledge of the invasion by Gulak and his group, members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) stayed away from the secretariat after locking up their offices and major conference rooms.
Speaking to reporters on his mission, Gulak said he came to assume office as national chairman on the strength of a December 16 High Court judgment voiding the appointment of Prince Uche Secondus as acting national chairman.
According to him, a stay of execution of the judgment filed by Secondus was struck out yesterday by the court where the application was filed.
Secondus was appointed acting chair following the resignation of the party’s chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, on May 20, last year.
Gulak had challenged the choice of Secondus in court. The court ordered Secondus to vacate the position within 14 days. The 14 days lapsed last December 29.
Gulak said: “At the expiration of 14 days, the defendants failed, refused or neglected to obey the court orders to appoint me or any other person from the Northeast zone.
“By the operations of the law and the court order, I now assume duty as the National Chairman of our great party; especially as the court has today struck out the motion for stay of execution.
“Based on our sincere commitment and loyalty to our great party, we cannot continue to leave our party headless. Failure to assume duty as the national chairman will leave our party organs, especially the NWC, the NEC and the National Caucus, improperly constituted as every meeting of these groups must, in accordance with our constitution, be chaired by the National Chairman.
He added: “This struggle is not about me but about our great party, which must be repositioned for the task ahead. We must give back the party to the people who must at all times decide the way forward.
“My assumption of office is to prepare the ground for the NEC of the party to meet and take the most appropriate decisions for our party.
“This should not be seen as a contention against anybody or group of persons. I crave the indulgence of the other NWC members to partner positively with me in our efforts to pick up the pieces and rebuild our party.”
But other members of the party’s NWC deplored Gulak’s action, describing him as a fifth columnist sponsored by enemies of the PDP to tear the party apart.
Addressing reporters at a different location shortly after the invasion, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom, said the judgment did not pronounce Gulak as chairman.
According to him, Secondus and the party appealed the judgment and the appeal is pending. He added that there was no fact to support Gulak’s claim that a stay of execution on the judgment had been struck out.
Kwom said:”Contrary to Gulak’s claims, we did not receive any court document striking out the stay of execution. As a matter of fact, the court did not sit to hear the application, let alone strike out the matter.
“Besides, we have an appeal against the judgment pending before the Court of Appeal. The truth is that Section 47(6) of our party constitution did not prescribe time limit for the tenure of an Acting Chairman”.
According to Kwom, Gulak’s action constituted anti-party activity because the various organs of the party were still in consultation, with the view to picking an agreeable person as national chairman.
On why it took the PDP this long to appoint a replacement from the Northeast zone since Mu’azu’s resignation in May, last year, Kwom said the party had been bugged down by a series of time consuming activities.
He cited the recent governorship primary elections and elections proper in Kogi and Bayelsa states as events that delayed the appointment of a substantive national chairman.
He said the various party organs had already directed the six states in the Northeast to come up with three candidates from which the party would choose one as national chairman.