On the heels of his controversial emergence as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman with stipulated three-month tenure, rumours of alleged tenure elongation plot by Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff have become rife. Bidemi Olanrewaju looks at the raging controversy
The coming of Ali Modu Sheriff to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his emergence as the party’s national chairman after series of adroit maneuverings at the top echelon of the party has been described by some stakeholders in the party as a ‘balm in gilead.’
His coming was not without hitches as some leaders of the party who were not disposed to the choice of Sheriff started kicking insisting that his credibility left much to be desired. Even though this group has been appeased, the crisis brewing at the moment over alleged tenure elongation rumours of Sheriff is seen as something that may destroy the fragile unity and peace in the party, if not properly managed.
Though this development has been rumoured at the party national secretariat, the South-West chapter of PDP was the first to bring it to the fore, followed by other stakeholders who believe that the coming of Sheriff has helped to re-inject life into the party that was almost comatose following PDP’s woeful outing in the 2015 general elections.
The South-west PDP had expressed support, when they came to the party national secretariat to pay a solidarity visit on Sheriff and members of PDP National Working Committee (NWC), for the retention of the party chairmanship seat in the North.
The South-west leaders, who came to present their position paper to Sheriff, also endorsed him to continue in his position. In the position paper, the leaders of the party from the South-west zone had said that the position of the National Chairman should not be zoned to the South. Their reason for the retention of the position, according to them
was to help strengthen the party in the zone.
“We say this because out of the five states in the South-east, the PDP has three governors; we have five governors out of the six states in the South-south; in the South-west, we have two governors. In the whole of the North, we have only two governors. We need to strengthen the North. If not, the PDP will be branded as a regional party if we go ahead to pick the National Chairman from the South,” the paper noted.
The visit of the Yobe State Chapter of PDP, former governors and deputies and other stakeholders to the party national secretariat, has been described as moves to woo Sheriff to continue in the office.
The body language of PDP lawmakers at the National Assembly, it was gathered is tilting toward retaining Sheriff beyond the stipulated time given to him by the party leadership at the recent National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, where his appointment was ratified.
Recall that the tenure of this present NWC was supposed to have expired March 24, but NEC extended the time to May 21, so that the present leadership can conduct congresses and national convention. But the processes leading to the convention, that is the setting up of committees to drive the process, which was promised by the Sheriff-led NWC have not commenced, making some stakeholders to express concern and also to conclude that there is more to the silence at the party’s national headquarters than the dummy that is being sold out to the people.
Some other stakeholders have concluded that the alleged tenure elongation maybe true after all, questioning the statement credited to Sheriff, who said he would not stay a day longer than May 21, when his tenure expired.
The Board of Trustee (BoT) of the party has also taken a position, stressing that Sheriff should take the part of honour and maintain his integrity by strictly abiding by the three-month tenure extended to him.
Addessing newsmen on Tuesday, BoT Chairman, Sen. Walid Jibrin advised Sheriff on the danger and consequences of listening to the evil machinations of praise singers and prophets of doom and working against the unanimous approved date of the PDP Governor’s forum; National Causes; BOT: and the NEC terminating his tenure and that of the NWC on the 21th of May 2016.
“The above responsible bodies have approved that the tenure of the national officers will end immediately after the convention when the new officers are duly elected. The present NWC received an overwhelming ovation and admiration at the meeting of the national caucus, BOT and NEC by overlooking their 2017 tenure in support of the three months approval of the respected organs of the party which should strictly be complied with. Instead of listening to the praise singers, Modu Sherif should follow the path of honour and integrity by simply taking a bow in May 2016, after the national convention.
“The recent courtesy calls to the National Chairman and the presentations being made especially calling him to continue beyond the stipulated three months tenure is an invitation to trouble, anarchy and the return of impunity in PDP,” he said.
The BoT strongly advises Modu Sherif to respect his oath and acceptance of the powerful organs of the PDP that he would stay for only three months, and allow his name to be written in gold by honourably leaving the scene in May after the convention.
The party’s advisory body warned that it would resist any move by anybody to destroy the good foundation set by “our founding fathers and mothers and shall remain the conscience of the party.”
Jibrin, however pointed out that for benefit of doubt, Sherif has never come out to accept or reject the call for any tenure elongation, adding, “I strongly advise the chairman to come out with very clear statement exonerating himself from such devilish plans and maintain his stand on the three months given him by NEC. If he does that, his honour and integrity will be more respected and will remain in the PDP record book of achievers.”
Reacting through his Special Assistant on Media, Inua Bwala, Sheriff maintained that he would not stay beyond the stipulated May 21 given to him by the party highest organ.
Will Sheriff honour his word or follow the advise of praise singers at the detriment of the party fragile unity and peace? Would the party be formidable enough and devoid of rancour in preparation for 2019? Time will tell.