•Party woos aggrieved members
•Sheriff: I may seek re-election
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
After weeks of controversy and intriguing battle for the soul of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last Wednesday finally affirmed the zoning of the chairmanship position to the North-east.
But the atmosphere at the poorly attended NEC meeting painted a picture that all may not be well with the opposition party after all.
Most of those who spoke at the opening of the NEC meeting called for truce including for those who may have disagreed with the decisions reached at the NEC meeting to still remain in the party.
Speaking to journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said the NEC has approved the report of the zoning and convention committees.
Regarding the highly contested chairmanship position, Sheriff said the seat had been zoned to the North-east by the NEC without any dissenting voice.
“The NEC meeting has adopted the report of the zoning committee 100 per cent without any dissenting voice. It approved the zoning of the post of the national chairman to the North-east,” he said.
Sheriff disclosed that the party’s NEC would meet again on May 11 to approve proposals for constitutional amendments ahead of the national convention.
According to the report of the zoning committee, the South-west is to retain the position of the national secretary while the national organising secretary and youth leader are to be produced by the South-east. Similarly, the committee zoned the deputy national chairman (South) back to the South-south.
When asked whether he will contest for the chairmanship position in the next convention, Sheriff said: “The issue is a personal decision for me to make, and when I make up my mind on it, I will let you know.”
Earlier, Sheriff had expressed satisfaction over the recent outing of the party during a rally in Jigawa State, describing it as a sign of great things to come.
“We are telling all Nigerians that what happened in Jigwa State is just the beginning, and we are going to organise similar rallies in all the states of the federation,” he said.
While addressing the NEC meeting, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu, urged party members not to dwell on their differences but to resolve it amicably and be ready to move ahead as one family.
According to him, “As our national convention approaches, it is expected that there will be disagreements. The important thing is that when we have these disagreements, we will quickly resolve them and move ahead, and that is the resilience the PDP is known for.
“So, I like to appeal to our party members that if there are areas where we have differences, we must find a way of resolving them in the best interest of our party.
“PDP is the only party in Nigeria that belongs to everybody and to nobody. So that is important for us as we will all keep faith with this party that belongs to all of us.
“The time is now for us to make sacrifices and show compromise so that the party will remain strong. It is also a time for us to show alternative for what is going on in the country presently so that Nigerians can trust us again with governance in 2019. This responsibility belongs to all of us.
“I also want to commend our governors for what they are doing in their respective states. We believe their performance will be the symbol for which the PDP will use to tell Nigerians that it can do it much better again. I hope that the schedule for the congresses will be religiously adhered to ahead of the national convention.”
Ekweremadu congratulated his party members in Jigawa State on the rally which he said is a good sign that the party is bouncing back. “I also want to use this opportunity to ask other states to organise similar rallies for Nigerians to see that PDP is not only alive but is kicking well.”
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, said despite the absence of some of governors of the party at the NEC meeting, the forum still agreed with the position reached at the meeting
“Let me also commit members of governor’s forum on the decision of NEC, and as democrats and loyal party members, we are bound to have disagreements on issues. But once a party takes any decision, we are bound to follow decisions made. I therefore thank the chairman for summoning the emergency meeting to tackle some pressing issues. I extend the apology for some of our members who for good reasons were not at the meeting,” he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustee (BoT), Senator Walid Jibril, urged members of the party who are aggrieved with the decisions of the party not to leave the party.
Jibril who said he had to defy all odds to attend the meeting straight from the hospital after being discharged because of his love for the party and its quest for survival.
He explained that the exclusion of the BoT meeting before the NEC meeting was not deliberate, adding that the meeting of the board will still be convened at an opportune time.
Among key leaders of the party who attended the NEC meeting were governors of Enugu, Delta, Gombe, Akwa Ibom States, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former governors, state party chairmen and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the PDP NEC considered and adopted the amendments made on the guidelines for the 2016 Congresses and National Convention affecting section 4.02 which stipulated specific timelines for purchases of forms for various offices, to now remain open and members can purchase form at any given time or period and contest any position of their choice.
Details of the report of zoning committee as presented the chairman and Governor of Akwa Ibom, Chief Udom Emmanuel showed that the post of the National Chairman has been zoned to the North-East, Deputy National Chairman -South-South, National Secretary -South-West and Deputy National Secretary -North-Central.
Similarly the party zoned the National Legal Adviser to the North-West, Deputy National Legal Adviser -South-South, National Treasurer -South-South, Deputy National Treasurer -North-West,National Financial Secretary – North-Central.
The NEC also approved the zoning of National Publicity Secretary -South-West, Deputy National Publicity Secretary- North-Central, National Organizing Secretary -South-East, Deputy National Organizing Secretary – North-Central, National Youth Leader -South- East and National Woman Leader -North-West.