• Sheriff: I will not step down, threatens to drag Gana to EFCC over N500m
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The brewing crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the process leading to its national convention on Thursday took a new dimension with a group of concerned party stakeholders appointing a 21-member steering committee to take over the management of the affairs of the party.
However, the move by the aggrieved PDP group led by a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, has attracted an equally forceful response from the embattled PDP National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who has threatened to take Gana to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to account for N500 million he allegedly took on behalf of the party.
Rising from their meeting in Abuja, the concerned stakeholders made up of mainly former ministers in the past PDP administration, following wide spread disenchantment and in order to stop the party from further slide into confusion, “the leaders of the party from the six geopolitical zones hereby announce a 21-day member steering committee to manage the affairs of the PDP.”
In a communique issued at the end of its deliberations was jointly signed by former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the group said the committee would work closely with members of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) till and proper, lawfully organised national convention of the party would be held and new authentic leadership of the party emerge.
The group said the committee would immediately put in place a national reconciliation committee to reconcile all previously aggrieved party members.
“We the founding fathers, stakeholders and leaders of the party from all the six geopolitical zones hereby announce a 21 member steering committee to manage the affairs of the PDP, and work intimately with our respected members of BoT who are the conscience of the party till such a time that a proper, lawfully organised national convention of the party, where a new authentic leadership of the party will be duly elected in accordance with the provisions of our party constitution and guidelines.”
The group contended that at the expiration of the tenure of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) on March 24, a national convention to elect the new executives ought to have taken place or a caretaker committee put in place to run the affairs of the party till a convention is held.
They described the extension of the tenure of the national chairman and other members of the NWC by the NEC as an illegality and “therefore untenable and contrary to the provisions of our party constitution which gives such powers only to the national convention of the party” steering committee.
However, in his reaction to the move to unseat him, Sheriff described the Jerry Gana group as self- styled leaders of the party who are unknown.
He said given his recent actions, there is not much value Gana could add to the repositioning efforts being pursued by current PDP leadership.
Speaking with journalists at the national secretariat of the PDP in Abuja, the Sheriff’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Innua Bwala, accused Jerry Gana of collecting about N500 million from the bank on behalf of the party and for which the party has been dragged to the court.
Bwala who said his boss, Sheriff is not stepping down as chairman until the expiration of his mandate in May 21 and subject to the decision of the party members, described those that constitute the Gana’s group as spent forces who are no longer reckoned with in contemporary politics.
According to him, it would be foolhardy for Sheriff to decide to use these crop of people who played roles that led to the defeat of the party in order to rebuild the party.
He said one major task Sheriff is pursuing as the chairman of the PDP is to ease-off those who want to use the party as platform to further their socio-economic interest.
“This is the same man that wrote to the chairman that he wants to submit the report of the finance committee which he headed and this is the same man that collected N 500 million from Skye Bank on behalf of the party for which it has been dragged to court.
“Leaders of the party has prevailed on the chairman not to make this matter public to serve him from public embarrassment but the chairman may have no option than to drag Prof. Jerry Gana to the EFCC to explain his role in obtaining the N500 million facility from Skye Bank on behalf of the party and let him explain what he did with the money. We have record of this and at the appropriate time and as the need arises, we will make them public.
“Jerry Gana cannot add value to the repositioning of the PDP. He has never seen anything good in what the leadership of the party is doing to reposition the PDP. It is the same character that misled President Jonathan into failure at the polls.
“One wonders why he is leading these groups against the chairman. Today, you find spearheading the group of PDP northern elders and the next day he will heading the group of PDP stakeholders.
Since the emergence of the Sheriff, this is one man who has never seen anything good in what the chairman is doing to reposition the party and he has never offered one solution either.
“We know that they played some ignoble role to squander the fortunes of this party. This is the same character that deceived former President Jonathan to fail the election. Unfortunately most of them still go round trying to plead with the chairman to give one thing or the other and if the chairman declines it becomes and offence and they will take positions against him.
“As a matter of fact Gana has written to national chairman to allow him to nominate persons into some of the committees and to allow him perform certain functions in the party. Whether this requests were granted or not is immaterial for now, but that is why they are taken positions against the chairman.”