… Fayose rallies support for embattled PDP chair
• Denies link with Boko Haram
From Taiwo Amodu, Abuja and Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday vowed not to resign despite criticisms trailing his emergence.
The National Executive Committee (NEC), in defiance to the stance of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) which rejected him, appointed the former Borno State governor last Tuesday.
This is even as the PDP Rescue Group, at the weekend, demanded Sheriff’s resignation.
Led by one of the contenders who lost out in the race, Ambassador Wilberforce Juta, the group said Sheriff’s emergence did not follow due process and further claimed that the former boss of All Nigerian Peoples Congress (ANPP)’s BoT was imposed on the PDP.
But, addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, the PDP chairman insisted his emergence followed due process and dismissed Juta as an aggrieved aspirant.
“I saw the person who was reading the press conference, Juta. He submitted himself to the National Working Committee (NWC) of this party, aspired to be a chairman. Mohammed Wakil that you saw on the television also submitted himself to the committee to be appointed chairman. And votes were cast.
“The man who read at the press conference got one vote and he’s the one to resign. Therefore, I will not resign. The leadership of this party, in their wisdom, asked me to lead. If the National Executive Committee (NEC) of this party collectively asks me to leave, I will leave; but, not somebody, who contested an election and got one vote.
“I think if there is morality, he should not even go on television. In this country, people are allowed to say what they want. You want something, you got into the party, and the party submitted your name. In the presence of everybody, you got one vote and you now go outside, asking the chairman to resign. My brother, where is the credibility? Where is the justice? I would have listened to him if he did not aspire to be one. Therefore, I do not plan to resign, I will not resign, I will reposition this party and take it to election within a time-frame decided by the leaders of this party to conduct a credible, effective congress that will stand the test of time,” he insisted.
Senator Sheriff was, however, silent on his tenure, even as the term of the present NWC terminates next month.
Indications that all was not well between the new chairman and the BoT, a strategic organ of the party, emerged after a meeting in Abuja on Monday evening.
The meeting, held at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, resolved to continue with the agitation for the removal of the former Borno State governor as chairman.
After the meeting, acting BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jubrin read a one paragraph statement to newsmen. “The BoT, as the conscience of the party, is of the view that Sheriff isn’t suitable as national chairman of the PDP for now.We have proposed viable solution.”
Daily Sun checks revealed that the governors and federal lawmakers on the party platform later met last night with members of the BoT, to placate them.
Present at the Transcorp meeting were Senator Ahmadu Ali and Chief Ojo Maduekwe, former chairman and national secretary, respectively of the party. Others were former minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, former minister of Women Affairs, Chief Josephine Anenih; former Senate president, Adolphus Wabara; former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu and former national vice chairman, (South-West) Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, among others.
But, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose has rallied party faithful for the new chairman.
In rallying support for sheriff, Governor Fayose said: “His emergence at this time is the best thing in the presence circumstance and those aggrieved should sheathe their sword and deploy their time and resources into fighting the All Progressives Congress (APC) instead of their own party.”
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said: “It is regrettable that those who abandoned the PDP to its fate when it lost power and did not say a word to defend the party have now found their voice against a decision taken in accordance with the party’s constitution.”
The governor, who reiterated his commitment to the party, said: “With my antecedent as someone who have always defended the party, I can’t be linked with any decision that will not be in the best interest of the party. I, therefore, call on all my admirers and believers in my dogged fight for the revival of our party to support our new chairman, whom I believe has the required capacity to reposition the party.”
He described those linking Sheriff to Boko Haram insurgents as mischief-makers. “Even APC Senator Ali Ndume is being prosecuted for allegedly making contacts with the Boko Haram and he is still the Senate leader. Also, Sheriff and Buhari are in-laws courtesy of his (Sheriff) son’s marriage to Buhari’s daughter and no one has called the president a Boko Haram sponsor by association. Or are they also saying President Buhari could have allowed his own daughter to marry the son of Ali Modu Sheriff if he was indeed a Boko Haram sponsor?” Fayose said.
Earlier, speaking in his own defence, Sheriff denied being a Boko Haram sponsor.
“Nobody in the position of authority in this country, who knows the truth haas ever linked me with Boko Haram. No court of competent jurisdiction has ever linked me with Boko Haram. It only exists in the imagination of the writers of such stories in the media. I have nothing to do with Boko Haram. The first victim of Boko Haram was my brother. I was their target; they wanted to kill Modu Sheriff because he refused to allow them Islamise Borno. How can I be sponsoring people that were killing my family members?
“Why should I be a Boko Haram? The average Boko Haram man lives in the bush, but I want to enjoy my life with my family,” he said.