The Camp of Ali Modu Sheriff of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wax strong as he wins more governors to its side on the planned national convention.
Apart from Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson who chaired the reconciliation committee that recommended the convention as a way out of the crisis now tearing the party into pieces, three other governors are said to be favourably disposed to the idea.
They are one each from the South South and the South East and Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe State, according to multiple party sources.
However, the majority of the PDP governors still line up behind Senator Ahmed Makarfi and are resolutely opposed to the convention.
Federal legislators, PDP Board of Trustees members and other party leaders are also sharply divided on the matter.
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State at Government House, Port Harcourt.
It was not immediately clear what they discussed.
Wike is a Makarfi backer.
Jonathan recently launched a peace initiative to resolve the crisis, prompting him to meet separately with Sheriff, Makarfi, PDP governors and other stakeholders.
Jonathan has already endorsed the Dickson-led panel which proposed that the PDP national unity convention that will bring the two factions under the same umbrella and elect a new leadership be held on June 30, 2017.
Dickson submitted the panel’s recommendation to Sherrif and Makarfi weeks back.
Sheriff’s faction lauded the recommendations and promised to use it as a working document on the proposed unity convention, while Makarfi’s camp picked holes in the proposal and vowed not to abide with it.
Fresh threats to peace
An aide to one of the party’s Governors who spoke on condition of anonymity with our correspondent on Friday, said that the party will have to source for another solution to the crisis other than the proposed unity convention.
He contended that while it is true that the Dickson committee had the blessing of most stakeholders when it started out, it appears to have been compromised along the line.
“We need another solution aside this controversial and suspicious unity convention that some people are desperately trying to force down our throats,” the governor’s aide said.
“Though I agree that the Dickson committee had the blessing of most stakeholders when it started out, it appears to have been compromised along the line.
“And if I know my principal very well, he will never be a party to such Kangaroo arrangement. We are all politicians and when we see an agenda that will bring nothing but confusion in the end, we always know. This arrangement, as proposed by the Dickson committee, is not in the interest of the PDP.
“It will only serve the purpose of ensuring that some desperate people remain in control of the machinery of our dear party. This is why you see them rushing to endorse the recommendations. What was agreed to is that the stakeholders will meet and ratify the proposal. But they rushed out to announce it as an agreement. Who agreed with them? Definitely not my own Governor,” our source said.
However, it was gathered that some other governors elected on the platform of the party are rooting for proposed unity convention as a way of halting the unending leadership tussle.
Governor Dickson, speaking on the proposed convention, said that instead of embarking on name-calling, propaganda and outright lies, it was high time the party came together in support of the proposed unity convention as a way of restoring it to the path of peace.
He lamented that despite the sacrifices made by him and members of the committee, it was unfortunate that some people within the party were making “uncharitable comments” on the report meant to salvage the party.
Dickson said he had never supported the court-declared chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, but since the Appeal Court recognised him as leader of the party, the rule of law has to be obeyed and dialogue employed to resolve issues.
The Bayelsa governor, it was learnt, has vowed to work with Sheriff to ensure the success of the unity convention.
An aide to Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo said:”For us in Gombe State, we are open to any effort that can help the party overcome its current challenges.
“Here in Gombe, the PDP is one. We don’t have factions and that is because under the leadership of Governor Dankwambo, every PDP member is a very important stakeholder.
“As far as I am aware, our governor is not opposed to the unity convention. In fact, he is opened to it. He is happy that former President Jonathan has decided to wade into the matter and ensure a political solution. So, if the unity convention is the solution, we are willing and ready to be part of it.”
But a member of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee said it is not true that PDP governors have agreed to be part of the controversial unity convention as being speculated in some quarters. According to the Niger Delta-born former federal legislator, majority of the party’s governors are opposed to the recommendations of the committee.
“PDP is not a party that some people can hoodwink into toeing a path of destruction. I can confidently tell you that our governors, majority of them, because I must admit that one or two of them have been coerced, are opposed to the whole procedure as outlines by Governor Dickson and his committee.
“The chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, has never hidden his objection to the proposed convention as proposed by the said committee. While he is not opposed to a political solution, he, like many of his colleagues, are opposed to the modalities that appear to give recognition to one of the factions ahead of the convention.
“Also, Governor Nyesom Wike has faulted the way and manner the committee made the recommendations public before it was discussed by stakeholders as planned. He also faulted the publicity given to the submission of the report to Sheriff by Dickson. These and many more are the reasons why our governors won’t back the unity convention yet.”
As it stands, four PDP governors are willing to give the Dickson committee-proposed unity convention, tentatively slated for June 30, 2017, a chance, while five of the ten governors elected on the platform of the troubled party, are unwavering in their resolve not to be part of the convention.
The tenth, a governor from the South South zone, according to sources, is yet to decide on his move.
The reconciliatory effort notwithstanding, another group in the PDP, led by former Minister Jerry Gana, has revived the quest for a mega party ahead of the 2019 general elections in the country.
At a conference held in Abuja during the week, the group sought the co-operation of other opposition political parties towards the formation of a mega party that will rival the ruling APC.
Gana, Chairman of the PDP Strategy Review and Interparty Affairs Committee, according to party sources, has the support of many prominent chieftains of the troubled party in his quest to take PDP into alliance with other parties and form a bigger opposition platform that will confront the APC in 2019.
“We are discussing with friendly political parties on the ways we can work together or possibly fuse in 2019 general elections.
“The purpose of our gathering is very profound. We met before we set up a panel. The purpose of our meeting today is to consider the report of the panel.
“This meeting is a follow -up to an earlier meeting between us leaders of the PDP and leaders of a number of other concerned political parties. We are to decide whether to cooperate or merge. The number of the PDP leaders present is an indication of how serious we take this issue,” Gana said at the meeting.
Speaking at the same meeting, former Governor of Kaduna State and other leaders of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa said “We are here because we are convinced that the situation of the nation is worse in every indication. We have to do something. We can’t just sit there and do nothing. We are here in spite of our belonging to different political parties to see what we can do to salvage our country.”
Aside the PRP, it was gathered that leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP), Accord Party (ACCORD) Democratic Peoples Party (DPA), amongst other opposition parties, are part of the plan to form a new mega party.
It was however gathered that Gana, speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the PDP Strategy Review and Interparty Affairs Committee, has severally presented the mega party idea as that of the entire PDP, a good number of the party’s chieftains are opposed to the idea of a mega party.
A member of the PDP Board of Trustees, speaking to our correspondents at the weekend described the mega party move as diversionary and uncalled for.
According to the Osun State-born politician, Gana and his co-travellers are only trying to create more problems for the PDP with their mega party ambition.
“While we are working round the clock to end the fictionalisation of the party through a proposed unity convention, some funny people are discussing alliance with other parties for a mega party. On whose behalf are they negotiating? In what capacity are they negotiating? Will the outcome of their negotiations be binding on all factions in the party?
“These and many more are the questions I have been asking Gana. He is an elder of the party and he should know that what he and his people are currently doing cannot be achieved with a divided house. I am afraid to say that Gana and his people are just trying to position themselves as a third force in the crisis within the party,” he said.