Those who sought power by riding the tiger’s back ended up on the inside.” — Former President of the United States, John F. Kennedy
Prince Uche Secondus and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state were best friends prior to the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) national convention in December 2017. Secondus usually resumes at the Rivers State Government House in the morning, following the governor to all his outings, and then retires to his home at night, according to those familiar with the duo’s relationship.
Unbeknownst to many, Secondus was desperate for Wike’s support in his bid to become the PDP’s national chairman. To many, there was nothing wrong with that because Secondus had also used his influence as the PDP’s Deputy National Chairman and then Acting National Chairman to help Wike achieve his dream of becoming Rivers state governor, despite stiff opposition from the APC led by Rotimi Amaechi, Wike’s predecessor who is now the Minister of Transportation.
Secondus, who took over as acting national chairman of the PDP in May 2015 after Adamu Mu’azu resigned, believes that having risen to the highest position in the party, he has the necessary experience to stabilize the party, which is still reeling from its defeat to the APC. He was said to have informed Governor Wike of his ambitions, and the governor backed him completely. After allocating the position of national chairman to the South, it was widely assumed that the South-West would be the next to claim it. However, the region’s leaders aided Secondus and his supporters by failing to produce a consensus candidate and refusing to step down for one another.
The entire South-West PDP was in disarray just days before the convention, while the South-South, led by Wike, rallied behind Secondus. Wike received support from some Northern governors, who asked their delegates to vote en masse for him, thanks to Wike’s efforts. The Chairman of the electoral committee and former Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam, announced at the conclusion of the convention held at Eagles Square Abuja that Secondus had received 2,000 votes out of a total vote tally of 2,296, making him the chairman. Prof. Tunde Adeniran, the former Minister of Education, received 231 votes, while Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the former Chairman of the AIT, received 66 votes.
The Origins of Conflict
Trouble began to appear as soon as Secondus was elected as the PDP’s national chairman. Secondus understood the power he wields as the party’s number one man, and he believed that as the party’s national chairman, he could no longer be subjected to the whims and caprices of Governor Wike, who is now one of his members. On the other hand, the governor, who has a domineering personality, believed that by installing the national chairman, he would be able to exert unrestricted control over him and force him to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
Secondus, a smart and experienced politician who understood the man he was dealing with, quickly wormed his way into the hearts of many stakeholders in the party, particularly in the north. When Governor Wike came to dethrone him the same way he installed him, this proved to be a wise move because the majority of them rallied around him.