The internal crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party worsens with different factions of the party planning a national convention in both Rivers State and Abuja, respectively on May 21
| By Anayo Ezugwu | May 30, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, worsened last week with the party breaking into two factions. Both the new breakaway faction led by Jerry Gana, former minister of Information and the Ali Modu Sheriff faction are planning to hold their national convention on Saturday, May 21, in Abuja and Rivers State, respectively. The breakaway faction also got a court injunction restraining the Sheriff-led croup from holding the national convention.
The breakaway faction of PDP is the result of the decision of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT, to unanimously endorse embattled Ali Modu Sheriff, as the national chairman.
Sheriff, in a chat with newsmen at the party’s secretariat last week, defended his candidacy as the national chairman in the convention saying he was first endorsed by his party in the Northeast and his home state of Borno in a unanimous voice vote. “Yes, I am contesting for the position of chairman at the convention. I have been unanimously endorsed by the Northeast zone and Borno State as sole candidate. The Taraba State Governor (Darius Ishaku) moved the motion for my adoption and his Gombe State counterpart, (Ibrahim Dankwabo) seconded the motion.”
Sheriff had, after an earlier meeting with the party’s BoT, said the party had dropped its plan to amend the PDP constitution which had been one of the sources of disagreement among party stakeholders.
He, however, clarified that the decision to amend the party’s constitution was not his idea, saying that he only inherited the recommendation as contained in the report by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu’s committee.
Sheriff confirmed the party’s decision to zone the PDP’s presidential ticket to the North for the 2019 general election. The chairman also assured the BoT and other stakeholders that disagreements arising from the conduct of ward and zonal congresses across the states would be looked into, with a view to addressing areas of conflict.
Defending the zoning of the party chair and presidential ticket to the North, Ojo Maduekwe, BoT secretary, said an incumbent chairman would be prevailed upon to step down the moment a Northern presidential candidate emerged. He said the body decided to back the decision to hold the convention in spite of its earlier opposition.
According to him, all the grievances articulated by the dissenting stakeholders and groups would be properly addressed, particular disagreements arising from the conduct of congresses across the states. “Collective wisdom of the party will prevail on the chairman to step down when the time comes for him to do so.”
Nevertheless, the new faction of the party is led by the Concerned PDP Stakeholders. The group is made up of 12 other groups within the party. They are the PDP Former Governors’ Forum, the Northern Elders’ Forum, the Concerned PDP Elders, the PDP Think Tank, the PDP former Ministers’ Forum, the PDP Reform Group, the PDP Patriotic Movement, the South-West PDP SSGs Group, the PDP National Vanguard, the PDP Youth Democratic Movement and the PDP National Rebirth Group.
Members of this group met at DAAR Communications, Abuja, where they strategised on its own version of national convention. Those at the meeting include former ministers, former governors, former members of the National Assembly and former presidential aides.
They are Doyin Okupe, a former presidential spokesman, Abubakar Suleiman, a former Minister of National Planning, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information, and Achike Udenwa, former governor of Imo State attended the meeting.
Also sighted at the meeting were Maina Waziri, former minister of Police Affairs, Esther Audu, former Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, Tanimu Turaki, former Minister of Special Duties among others.
The 12 former governors in this breakaway faction of PDP are Lucky Igbinedion (Edo), Bonnie Haruna (Adamawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Donald Duke (Cross River), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Mahmood Shinkafi (Zamfara), Abdulkaldir Kure (Niger), Mohammed Makarfi (Kaduna), Achike Udenwa (Imo), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Okwesilieze Nwodo (Enugu), and Gbenga Daniel (Ogun).
They have been joined by 14 former ministers who served under the PDP-led federal government when the party held power at the centre. One of the attendees at the meeting said that Gana was appointed as the national coordinator for the convention.
This group have also appointed contact committees and state coordinators. The convention would be attended by delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
A source, who wishes anonymity, said, “When I told you that we were planning our convention, some of you thought we were joking. We just appointed some coordinators now. Before the end of the week, I think by Thursday, we would address a press conference to announce all the state coordinators. Whatever Sheriff and his co-jesters are doing would soon become a nullity and I can tell you that illegality would soon jam illegality.”
With the division in the party and a court injunction stopping Sheriff from conducting the national convention, political watchers are keen to see how far the PDP would go in restructuring its house ahead of 2019 general elections.