Ali Modu Sheriff, a former chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has come under heavy criticism by chieftains of the party, including former governors and ex-ministers, for the spoiler role he is allegedly playing within the party.
Most of the prominent politicians and elder statesmen, who spoke in separate interviews accused Sheriff of being a mole in the PDP and recommended stiffer punishments for him.
Among them were former PDP governors in Ogun and Plateau States, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Senator Joshua Dariye, secretary of the ex-PDP Ministers Forum, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, and a former FCT Minister, Senator Jeremiah Useni.
Others were the PDP candidate in the 2014 Osun State governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, a former military administrator of Bayelsa State, Idongesit Nkanga, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor, Ebenezer Babatope and Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, and the Northern Youths Movement, among others.
Sulaiman, a former minister for National Planning, said that it was surprising and unfortunate that Sheriff was holding the PDP to “ransom.”
He accused Sheriff of being an agent of the All Progressives Congress, PDP, planted within the PDP to destabilise and weaken the major opposition party in the country.
“It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria is undergoing this kind of political mess. There are a lot of allegations against him, though yet to be proved,” Sulaiman said.
“It is surprising that such a character could be allowed to hold the party to ransom and that the ruling party could allow Sheriff to wield influence (over the judiciary). We had two court rulings in a day. The APC government decided to take the one that favoured Sheriff.”
Fani-Kayode, in his contribution said he was the first to say publicly that Sheriff was being used against the PDP and that the activities of the former governor of Borno State had proved him right.
He said, “His (Sheriff) brief is to destroy the party because the APC knows that it cannot win in 2019 if the PDP is strong and united. He is a destroyer and he has come to destroy.
“He fooled everyone at the beginning but he didn’t fool me. The PDP Ministers Forum was the first to blow the whistle and we stood against the Governors Forum who brought him.”
A former Ogun State helmsman, Daniel, lamented over the crisis in the PDP and urged the party to begin to look inward and re-brand to face its challenges.
“What is required is rebranding and fine-tuning of our ideological underpinning, refocusing and getting serious,” Daniel said.
Dariye asked the party leaders to resolve the current crisis amicably, saying he could not make further comments because there were cases pending in courts on the matter.
“What is happening in the PDP is unfortunate but with God, everything will be okay,” said Useni, a chieftain of the PDP, who had served as a minister and military governor.
“What the judges are doing right now need immediate intervention of the NJC.”
On whether the party should punish Sheriff, Useni said, “This is politics. Our concern now is to get over the problem first.”
On his part, Omisore, a former chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, disagreed with Daniel and insisted that the Federal Government was using Sheriff to destabilise and weaken the PDP, insisting that the PDP made a mistake by allowing Sheriff to join the party.
Nkanga, who also frowned on the development, noted that the ruling party did not have to destroy the opposition.
He said, “Nigerians should rise up and say they want democracy; they want freedom of choice. They should be allowed to do that. This is what will take this country forward.”
Ogor, who spoke on behalf of PDP lawmakers in the lower legislative chamber of the federal parliament, described Sheriff as, “an agent of the APC-led Federal Government, on a mission to destroy the party.”
“There was a clear court decision that the police should provide adequate security and there was another decision by a court of the same jurisdiction. However, the police went ahead to seal off the venue of the convention,” Ogor said.
Meanwhile, the Northern Youths Movement has said the PDP will remain in crisis as long as Sheriff remained in the party.
In a statement by its Chairman, Mallam Ishaya Jato, alleged that Sheriff and Senator Buruji Kashamu were agents of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai ,and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.
Sheriff, however, denied the allegation, saying the PDP governors should be held responsible for the crisis in the party.
He said if he was being used by the APC, then the governors that came to beg him to lead the party must have been sent by the APC.
Speaking through his deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, Sheriff urged Nigerians and members of the PDP to ignore such a claim.
He said, “I was in my house when they came to lead the party. The governors came. Were they sent by the APC?”