Fresh crisis may be brewing in Nigeria’s leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the party’s national convention scheduled to hold on 21st May 2016, SIGNAL can exclusively report.
An informed source who did not want to be named disclosed to SIGNAL on Tuesday that two conventions are likely to hold on 21st May, 2016, one in Port-Harcourt and the second in Abuja.
According to the source, the insistence of a group of five governors and some party big wigs led by Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike that Ali Modu Sherrif should remain as National Chairman after the expiration of Adamu Muazu’s tenure has divided the party into two factions, with both factions spoiling for a major showdown at the forthcoming convention.
Ali Modu Sherrif, SIGNAL gathered has received the backing of five PDP governors including Fayose of Ekiti, Wike of Rivers and Udom of Akwa-Ibom who are supporting him to stay in office and translate into the National Chairman of the party after the May 21st convention. On the other hand, the remaining seven PDP governors and a bloc of party progressives led by Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko are vehemently against the plan, vowing to ensure it never sees the light of the day.
The Mimiko bloc, SIGNAL gathered is of the view that the zoning principle of the party must be maintained especially at a time the party was repositioning itself to rebuild after losing power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the last general election.
But hell bent on pushing through Modu Sherrif’s candidacy, the Wike bloc is perfecting plans to host a parallel national convention of the party in Port Harcourt on May 21st, 2016, the source told this newspaper.
“I can tell you right now that all is not well with our party and it is all as a result of greed and selfishness. We are about to make the same mistake of zoning that divided the party in the run up to the last election. We have a major problem in our hands, we have soulless politicians in the PDP who do not care if the party goes down. As it is now, there might be two conventions on May 21st, Wike is planning his own convention in Port Harcourt along with 4 other governors who are supporting Modu Sherrif to return fully as National Chairman of the party against the party’s zoning arrangement. They have on their side the likes of Senator Buruji Kashamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore. Meanwhile, Governor Olusegun Mimiko and six other PDP governors, some party leaders like Chief Raymond Dokpesi are all against the plan by Modu Sherrif to remain after he is done with Muazu’s tenure. All northern members of the NWC are also against the plan by Sherrif to sit tight. They have threatened to leave the party if Sherrif forces himself on the party as Chairman”, the source said.
SIGNAL could not reach Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP for comments at the time of filing this report.
It will be recalled that the PDP confronted a leadership challenge after Adamu Mu’azu, its former national chairman, resigned in May 2015. After losing the 2015 presidential election, the party was engulfed in wrangles that forced some of its leaders out.
Expectedly, Uche Secondus, Mu’azu’s deputy, from Rivers state, took control of the PDP leadership, but his intervention irked some members who maintained that the position should be reserved for the northeast since Mu’azu, who is from Bauchi state, did not complete his term.
Among the agitators was Ahmed Gulak, former senior special assistant on political matters to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
After suing the leadership of the party at a federal capital territory (FCT) high court, Abuja, and got judgment in his favour, Gulak, a native of Adamawa state, “invaded” the PDP headquarters in Abuja to take over its leadership.
The spectacle prompted an emergency meeting of PDP governors, who condemned Gulak’s theatrics but asked Secondus to step down in compliance with the court order that gave him a 14-day ultimatum to do so.
Senator Modu Sheriff was picked by National Caucus of PDP comprising the governors, members of the National Working committee, NWC and the leadership of the National Assembly.
Among the contenders for the position were Gulak; Mohammed Wakil (Borno state), former minister of state for power; Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Wilberforce Juta, former deputy governor of defunct Gongola state.
In 2014, Stephen Davis, an Australian negotiator, named Sheriff as one of the sponsors of Boko Haram, but he failed to prove the allegation against the former governor.
Expectedly, based on the power zoning structure of the PDP, after Sherrif is done completing Muazu’s tenure (North-East), the position of National Chairman of the party should shift to the South.
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