FRESH crisis appears to be looming in the Peoples Democratic Party as its acting National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has ignored the directive given to him and the members of the National Working Committee by the party’s National Executive Committee.
The NEC, at its last meeting on March 7, asked Sheriff to set up a committee that would determine the zoning formula to be adopted by the party as it prepares for its national convention slated for May 21 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Other committees, which Sheriff and members of his NWC were asked to set up immediately, included the National Convention Committee, Reconciliation Committee, Zoning Committee and Finance Committee.
However, instead of setting up these committees, investigations by our correspondent showed that the Sheriff-led NWC had begun moves to either prolong the members’ stay in office or predetermine the works of the committees, especially the one on zoning.
The tenure of Sheriff and that of its NWC members was originally billed to end at the end of this month but has been shifted till May 21 by NEC in order to allow the former governor of Borno State organise the national convention, which will herald the arrival of new national officers.
Initially, members of the Board of Trustees of the party and the Forum of Former Ministers, who served under the PDP-led Federal Government from 1999 to 2015, had rejected the ex-governor, saying he did not have the character of someone that could lead the party.
The intervention of the PDP Governors’ Forum, led by Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, doused the tension as Sheriff was asked to leave office in May.
Instead of adhering to the NEC’s directive, it was gathered that Sheriff had begun moves to either remain in office or make sure that the office of the national chairman is zoned to the North-East in order to enable him to retain the seat.
Already, he was said to have started visiting those described as power brokers in the party to sell the idea of the North retaining the office beyond May 21 to them.
Sheriff was said to have visited Mimiko and the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, where he was said to have sold the idea to them.
Fayose was listed as the brains behind the emergence of Sheriff as the PDP helmsman as the Ekiti State governor was said to have sold his candidacy to his colleagues.
One of the governors of the party from the southern part of the country, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Monday, wondered why Sheriff would want to perpetuate himself in office and refuse to abide by what he described as the “gentleman’s agreement that brought him to power.”
The governor added, “Sheriff spoke with us when he visited Rivers State to campaign for the rerun. He was in Ondo and Ekiti states as well to speak with the governors.
“I just hope that we are able to manage this issue well, because I see the BoT members telling us that they warned us against accepting him.”
Speaking on the issue, the acting Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, wondered why the PDP national chairman had refused to set up the committees as directed by NEC.
“The committees, especially the zoning committee, have yet to be named. I don’t know what is delaying it. You can ask the chairman of the party,” he told our correspondent on the telephone on Monday.
It was also learnt that Sheriff was behind the call by some leaders of the party from the South-West that the office of the national chairman should remain in the North.
It was gathered that Fayose was leading the lobby to have the office zoned to the South-West.
A member of the BoT and a former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, however, said those making the call were doing so without the support of the majority of the members of the party from the zone.
Babatope told our correspondent, “Such call did not come from the majority of the members of the party from the South-West.
“The argument that we need to strengthen the party in the North by zoning the office to the area does not hold water at all.”