Feelers from Nigeria’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) indicate that the looming crisis in the party may be escalating as current chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif insists on breaking the North-South zoning tradition and contesting for the office in the forth-coming National Convention of the party in May.
The Trent reported Wednesday, April 20, 2016 that PDP governors have broken into two groups with one led by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State supporting Sherrif’s ambition to truncate the zoning arrangement of the party while another faction, “the progressives”, is led by Ondo’s Governor Segun Mimiko, insists that the tradition of the party must be maintained for the purpose of equity.
A inside party source, closely monitoring the situation for The Trent has confirmed that PDP chieftains led by the chairman of the PDP Governor’s Forum, Dr. Mimiko and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy senate president have staged as confrontation with Sherrif. The meeting, held on Tuesday in Abuja, which was also attended by Rivers’ Governor Nyesom Wike and Akwa Ibom’s Governor Udom Emmanuel, Sherrif was accused of being “crafty” and seeking to “destroy” the PDP with his personal ambition.
According to a reliable party source, Sherrif denies being interested in continuing as the party chairman after the tenure for the North East expires and in a surprising twist, the former Borno governor claimed it was the founding fathers of the party, Adamu Ciroma and former military president, Ibrahim Babangida who are pressurizing him to continue as the PDP national chairman.
At the meeting held at a government lodge, Sherrif was told that his plans to stay on a party chairman cannot stand and will be frustrated. He was accused of being funded by Buhari and planted in the PDP as a mole to weaken the party ahead of the 2019 elections.
“Mimiko and Ekweremadu told Sherrif, pointblank, ‘You cannot stay on as chairman of this party’,” the source told The Trent. “We have worked too hard to keep this party together to have someone who didn’t sweat, for even one day, come in and destroy our party. It is unacceptable to many of us.”
IBB, Chiroma Weary of Sherrif
Following the meeting, the party chieftains met with Adamu Ciroma in his Abuja home on Wednesday. The elder statesman called Babangida and put him on speaker for the group to hear their conversation. The purpose of the call was to confirm the claims by Sherrif at the tensed meeting.
“Unsurprisingly, IBB [Babangida] denied having anything to do with Modu Sherrif. IBB warned the governors and Ekweremadu that nobody in the North will have anything to do with PDP if Sherrif is allowed to remain as party chairman any longer,” a first-hand source, who didn’t wish to be named, told our reporter.
In the same vein, Ciroma said he and Sherrif had no form of conversation concerning PDP matters. He advised the governors and other PDP chieftains should stand their ground on the matter and insist that the tradition of rotating the positions in the party between the 6 geographical zones are retained.
Ciroma further advised the going-forward, “characters” like Sherrif should not be given key positions in the party. He encouraged the leaders to ensure that anyone who took up a national leadership position in the PDP had “paid his dues” in the party and shown loyalty.
Compromise That Brought About Sherrif’s Emergence
The PDP faced a major leadership crisis following its election losses of 2015. The party chairman, Adamu Muazu was accused of secretly working against the reelection of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP in favour of Muhammadu Buhari, his Fulani kinsman. The crisis led to his forced resignation and his deputy, Uche Secondus began to act as national chairman.
But, Ahmed Gulak, a former senior special assistant on political matters to President Jonathan insisted that he wanted to complete the party chairmanship tenure which was zoned to the North East zone. He went to court and obtained an order to remove Secondus and take over. A move which forced the party leadership to hurriedly fill the position of national chairman with Sherrif.