Yemi Adebowale in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP continue preparations for its next national convention scheduled for Port Harcourt on August 17, highly competent sources close to its leadership hinted THISDAY last night that a “Plan B” is in the party’s bag, in case former acting national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff continues to distract the party.
The party has been in turmoil, several weeks after its last National Convention in Port Harcourt, where the tenure of Sheriff was terminated and Ahmed Makarfi appointed as acting national chairman.
However, Sheriff refused to recognise Makarfi and has been parading himself as acting national chairman, while also using the court to frustrate efforts to properly reposition the party.
An apparently frustrated member of PDP’s Board of Trustee, BoT who pleaded for anonymity, told THISDAY that every effort being made to unite the PDP was being frustrated by Sherriff “despite several court orders that effectively nullified his tenure as interim chairman.”
The source said the party’s leaders had resolved that should all the peace overtures to the renegade Sheriff fail, they would all leave the party with all the governors and national assembly members to form a new party with a new name and “leave the rump to sherrif, to continue with his charade.”
He added: “Sheriff is President Buhari’s in law (his son is married to one of Buhari’s daughers). The thinking among the party leaders is that the All Progressives Congress is using him to continue this distraction of the PDP. The APC has found in Sheriff a willing tool to destabilise the opposition party. We know their game plan. But we will not allow them to kill the opposition; more so now that Nigerians are being pummeled by the APC government. The APC is struggling to face the reality that it must pack out of Aso Rock by 2019. A weakened PDP is in the interest of President Buhari and the APC and Sheriff is there to ensure they achieve their objective.”
The source also revealed that PDP is ready to move on from its loss of power, reposition itself for 2019 in order to do that it needs to earn the trust of Nigerians by providing a virile opposition which Sheriff is frustrating.”
Meanwhile, the leaders of the party’s Board of Trustees yesterday reminded members that the chairmanship of the party “is not for sale to the highest bidder.”
As part of its renewed efforts to find lasting peace in the party, the BoT said that it had set up another peace committee headed by Prof. Jerry Gana to reach out to Sheriff.
The BoT statement came just as Makarfi assured that everyone was still free to contest any position despite the zoning arrangement approved by the party.
The chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin said what the party at the moment needed was an honest and upright person and not someone who would buy his way into office.
“This party is not for sale. This party must be a party of very conscious people. We are telling every delegate to reject anybody that comes with money. We need an honest and upright person,” he said.
Jibrin who spoke during the inauguration of the planning committees for the convention, warned that the BoT would no longer accept any leadership that is forced on it.
“We must remind all of us that the party is supreme and above personal interest. This party is not for sale. This party must be a party of very conscious people. We are telling every delegate to reject anybody that comes with money. We need an honest and upright person. This party will not want somebody that will come and buy his way into office,” he said.
“Therefore I implore all of us to abide by this principle. Today is party is characterized by court cases. I can count about 15 court cases which is alien to the PDP. We have a constitution that set out procedure for settling grievances and for us to solve our problems internally.
“But unfortunately, rather than judging ourselves, our problems are going out and we are being judged by someone else outside of our constitution.
We are not afraid and we cannot sit down as fathers and conscience of the party and allow things go astray. The BoT has sat down to look at the issues. While we accept in principle the agreement reached for the national convention, we are looking at another theory of reconciliation.”
While inaugurating the committees, Makarfi explained that the though the party in its wisdom had zoned the post of national chairman to the South West, it did not preclude others from different zones from participating in the contest.