Not everyone in the hierarchy of the People Democratic Party (PDP) is on the same page regarding the position of National Chairman.
The South West chapter of the former ruling party is divided -one group is in support of the candidacy of the incumbent National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff while the other group is hellbent on producing a candidate to challenge Sheriff for the party chairmanship.
Sheriff’s tenure is expected to last three months and the party has already scheduled a national convention for May, 2016, at Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Lagos based PDP chieftain, Bode George, is said to be positioned by one of the groups in the region to contest for the party chairmanship.
Another group, which is led by Makanjuola Ogundipe and has Buruji Kashamu and former Senate majority leader, Teslim Folarin, as its members, had visited the party secretariat to demand that the office be retained by the Northern region.
A member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, while speaking with The Sun, stated that: “Reconciliation between who and who? The mandate Sheriff has is to finish Adamu Mu’azu’s tenure. He had better conduct the convention in May and leave. He is wasting his time if he thinks he can get his tenure extended. They want to destroy the party.”
“They will tell us because Kashamu has emergency money, he is now South-west leader. We wish them luck in their mad gang-up. We want to know whether the party belongs to them or the people. They will fail. Our position is that South-west must pick the national chairman because we have never occupied the office before.”
“Kashamu isn’t speaking the minds of elders of the party in the South-west. Look at what he is saying: that because the party has 10 states in the south, the North should take national chairman now and still take the presidential ticket in 2019.”
“What kind of argument is that, because he ( Kashamu) has money he thinks he can bully the party elders in south-west? We wish him and his gang best of luck.”
He, however, did not confirm if Bode George is the region’s candidate for the convention.
On his part, Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, former deputy national chairman of the party, south-west and member of the BoT, noted that Sheriff must vacate office at the expiration of his tenure.
“Well, I stand by the decision we took at NEC meeting, but, there have been rumors of tenure elongation.”
“And, you know my response to that? I refer you to a Yoruba proverb which says when the younger ones are felling a tree, the older ones stand by and watch the direction the tree would fall to avoid accident.”
“In the PDP South-West, the younger ones have a different opinion, we also have our own as elders. Kashamu supporters aren’t APC members, they are also PDP. So, there is nothing wrong if they push for a position as long as it is legitimate.”
Former Works Minister, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, warned the PDP leadership against imposition of a candidate.
“Impunity and arbitrariness have always been the problem of PDP. No one is saying senator Sheriff shouldn’t be allowed to contest but, there should be internal democracy. The party’s constitution says there shall be congresses and national convention. We should stop imposition of leaders.”
“If Sheriff is interested, he should be allowed to pick the form, but, don’t exclude others. Kasahamu isn’t the party, it belongs to everybody. Let Sheriff pick the form, go round and campaign like others. the party has guidelines for congresses and convention. That’s my take.”
Chairman of the PDP BoT and secretary of the party, Senator Walid Jubrin, has however, warned Sheriff not to stay in office beyond May 21.
He cautioned Sheriff to be mindful of the consequences of the evil machinations of praise singers.
“The present NWC received an overwhelming ovation and admiration at the meeting of the national caucus, BOT and NEC by overlooking their 2017 tenure in support of the 3 months approval of the respected organs of the party which should strictly be complied with. Instead of listening to the praise singers, Sheriff should follow the path of honour and integrity by simply taking a bow in May 2016 after the national convention.”
“The BOT strongly advises Modu Sherif to respect his oath and acceptance of the powerful organs of the PDP that he will stay for only three months, and allow his name to be written in Gold by honourably leaving the scene in May after the convention.”