The crisis within the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party is far from over, with Ali Modu Sheriff claiming he remained the national chairman of the party, despite being sacked by a national convention.
Mr. Sheriff was sacked at the PDP convention held on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and the National Executive Committee which he headed, replaced with a caretaker committee.
Inuwa Bwala, the spokesperson for Mr. Sheriff, told PREMIUM TIMES around 8.41pm on Saturday that Mr. Sheriff remained opposed to what happened at the Port Harcourt convention, since he had announced its suspension after consulting with members of the National Working Committee of the party.
“Immediately the chairman (Sheriff) received another court injunction, he called a meeting of the National Working Committee and told them that it wasn’t safe to continue with the convention of the party, especially since the court had forbidden elections virtually into all the offices,” Mr. Bwala said.
“He announced the suspension of the convention at a press briefing, only for some people to go behind and claim that there was convention.
“There was no organ of the party that was represented at the convention.
“The convention was cancelled, and it remains cancelled until such a time the matters in court are resolved, for us to convene another national convention.”
Mr. Bwala said Mr. Sheriff remained the national chairman of the PDP, going by the pronouncement of the court.
“The court had said the office of the chairman would become vacant only in 2018, and that is parts of the reasons we shelved the convention,” said Mr. Bwala.
When asked why the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and the Senate Minority Leader, Godwill Akpabio, parted ways with Mr. Sheriff, Mr. Bwala responded, “Some of them wanted to go on with the convention even with the subsisting court orders, and Sheriff said no. And that was their point of departure.”
Mr. Bwala said Mr. Sheriff felt betrayed in Port Harcourt.
“Naturally, you will feel betrayed if you are working with some people, only for them to go behind you to work against what you all agreed to do.”
The motion to sack Mr. Sheriff was moved at the convention by Mr. Akpabio, at the Port Harcourt Civic Centre.
In his motion, Mr. Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, asked the convention to approve the appointment of a committee to manage the affairs of the PDP for a period not exceeding 90 days.
“The committee shall be known as the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party,” Mr. Akpabio said, while addressing delegates at the convention.
Mr. Akpabio said the caretaker committee would also work to foster peace and reconciliation of all party members, as part of its terms of reference.
The motion was seconded by the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, thereby paving the way for the election of a seven-man caretaker committee headed by the former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi.
The voice vote was conducted by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike.
Ben Obi, who represents the South East in the caretaker committee, is the secretary. Other members of the committee include Odion Ugbesia, a former senator from Edo State, and Abdul Ahmed Ningi, from Bauchi.
The convention, which had all the 12 governors of the PDP-controlled states in attendance, went up till about 6pm.
There was an understanding that no member of the caretaker committee would contest for election into the National Executive Committee.
The immediate past senate president, David Mark, was present at the convention.
The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke, told PREMIUM TIMES that what happened at the Port Harcourt convention was “for the purpose of inclusion.”
Mr. Luke said, “The convention was fixed by NEC, and therefore it is only NEC that has the power to suspend the convention.
“I am a loyal party man. So, I go with the party.”
As the convention drew to a close around 6 pm, delegates hurried out of the venue even before the national anthem was sang, and the idle ballot boxes, beautifully designed, stood out as a reminded that the biggest opposition party in Africa still had a major inconclusive business at hand.