Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party are plotting against the alleged plan by the National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, to remain or extend his tenure in office, investigations have revealed.
The governors were said to have received the backing of the members of the party’s Board of Trustees on this.
Sheriff became chairman of the party on February 23 following the intervention of the governors who begged the aggrieved caucus of the party to support him.
The governors, who were led by the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Gov. Olusegun Mimiko told the caucus and the BoT members, who were vehement in their opposition to the candidacy of the former governor of Borno State that he would stay in office for just three months.
Mimiko, the governor of Ondo State, who was supported by other governors and the Acting Chairman of the BoT, Sen. Walid Jibril, said Sheriff had been directed to put in place the machinery that would ensure a smooth emergence of the officers of the party.
The position of the governors was further supported by the party’s National Executive Committee at its meeting on March 7, where Sheriff and other members of the National Working Committee, were asked to leave office on May 21.
The NEC also approved the time-table for the party’s congresses and national convention.
The timetable for the convention indicated that congresses would commence on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and culminate in the national convention on Saturday, May 21, 2016.
The NEC also approved the party’s guidelines for congresses and the national convention, which was slated for Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The NEC equally approved the setting up of four special committees in preparation for the May 21 national convention.
The committees are National Convention Committee, Reconciliation Committee, Zoning Committee and Finance Committee.
However, almost a month after the directive of the NEC, Sheriff has yet to constitute any of the committees, just as the party has also refused to publicly announce the selling of nomination forms few days to the commencement of the congresses.
Instead of this, Sheriff, backed by the NWC was said to have begun clandestine moves to either extend his stay in office or force the party to zone the office of the national chairman to the North-East, where he hails from.
But one of the governors of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity in Abuja on Saturday afternoon, said that the party would not tolerate the move.
He also said that the governors had mandated Sheriff to set up all the four committees before April 10.
This, he said, was to enable the committees, specially the zoning committee, to do its work because it’s report would be sent to the NEC for ratification before it would be announced to the public.
He said though the party was considering giving the slot of the national chairman to the northern part of the country as canvassed by the South-West leaders of the party, it might not be zoned to the North-East.
He said, “We are convinced that the North should hold the position of the national chairman, but it won’t go to the North-East.
“Apart from Sheriff, we have had two other chairmen from the zone. Bamanga Tukur and Adamu Mu’azu are from the zone. Beside this, we also have two governors from the zone now. With this, we believe that we are well represented in the area.
“Then, we have had national chairmen from the North-Central as well. Chief Adudu Ogbeh, Sen. Barnabas Gemade, Kawu Baraje, late Solomon Lar are all from the zone. We also still have some members of the National Assembly and other elected officials from this zone.
“With this, you will agree with me that the zone where the party has real problem is the North-West, where we don’t have much elected officials as expected.
“This is the zone of the President and it is the only zone with seven states in the country, we need to curry the favour of the voters in this zone and this is the reason why we are seriously considering the zone as the place where our national chairman should come from.”
If this calculation works out, Sheriff would have been technically knocked out of the race.
It was gathered that the governors were looking at the candidacy of some former governors in the zone to lead the party.
These are Sule Lamido (Jigawa State), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano) and Sen. Ahmed Markarfi (Kaduna).
Speaking on the non-constitution of the committee as by the NWC as directed by the NEC, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, said members of the committees would be announced this week.
He also described Sheriff as one if the best persons to have led the party, adding that the chairman would be free to contest if the office was zoned to his area.
Metuh, who praised the former governor for the ways he said he had been handling the affairs of the party since he assumed office, promised to campaign for his emergence at the national convention “if he decides to contest and if the office is zoned to his area.”
Metuh had said, “We are setting up the committees next week and I can tell you that we would inaugurate them within the week as well.
“The chairman is doing very well and we are proud of him. He’s the best thing to have happened to the party in the recent times.
“He hasn’t said he will contest, but if the office is zoned to his area and he decides to contest, I will support him and even campaign for him. He’s doing well.”
Meanwhile, the BoT has said it will meet this week and that Sheriff would be expected to brief it on the preparation for the convention.
Jibril said that Sheriff would be expected to brief the board on the preparations for the congresses and his plan to constitute members of the convention, finance, zoning and reconciliation committees.
In his reaction, Sheriff said he had vowed not to stay a day longer in office than what was given to him by the party.
Speaking through his Medial Adviser, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, Sheriff said he had promised to abide by the party’s decision and that he would not do anything contrary to the agreement.
Bwala said, “The chairman has said that he won’t stay a day longer than what was given to him. There is no need to flex muscles over this. He’s a man of honour and I can assure you that he is working towards this.”