A major crack may have broken out among governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), leading to the widening of the gulf among groups and interests in the party.
While some of the PDP governors from the northern part and a zone in the southern axis of the country are said to be backing Governor Seriake Dickson’s approach to the resolution of the impasse in the party, others have expressed support for the approach employed by Governor Ayodele Fayose, who chairs the PDP Governors Forum.
There is a third group among the governors that wants to be seen as non-aligned, preferring to pull the strings from the background.
Dickson, who heads the reconciliation committee, recently submitted a proposal that factored the calls for a political solution to the crisis in the party as recommended by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
There were indications at the weekend that the schism within the ranks of the governors was already having a ripple effect on the National Assembly caucus of the party.
The division among the governors, Sunday Tribune learnt, informed the endorsement of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the national chairman by a group of state chairmen of the party, in view of the recent Court of Appeal judgment which affirmed him as the authentic chairman.
But the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party which enjoys the backing of Fayose and other governors kicked against the endorsement, describing it as fake.
The group of state chairmen under the leadership of Bayelsa State PDP chairman, Moses Cleopas, also threw its weight behind the recommendations by the Governor Seriake Dickson Reconciliation Committee for a unity national convention to hold not later than August this year.
The chairmen, who rose from a meeting in Abuja, on Friday night, expressed concerned the ongoing leadership crisis in the party would jeopardise the party’s immediate future, if not resolved quickly, especially as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the 2019 election timetable.
In the communique issued at the end of the meeting, signed by 23 participants and read by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) PDP chairman, Yunusa Suleiman, the chairmen said, as supporters of the rule of law, they decided to back Sheriff following his affirmation by the recent Court of Appeal judgment.
Noting that their support for him was without prejudice to the ongoing appeal lodged by the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party, at the Supreme Court, the chairmen promised to abide by any decision from the apex court.
They insisted that the political solution being proffered by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was the best out of the crisis.
The chairmen said they were worried that the lingering leadership crisis was causing the former ruling party to lose its members to the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country.
“We, therefore, suggest that every organ of the party, group or individuals that have anything to add to the aforementioned recommendations should present same for consideration and deliberations as we believe this will deepen our internal democracy and support an all-inclusive regeneration of the party.
“We as legitimately elected chairmen wish to state on the grounds of clarity that we shall never be in support or be a part of any thought of tinkering with the option of leaving the PDP and forming another party,” they said.
The Makarfi-led PDP, in a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, in Abuja, on Saturday, described those at that meeting as dissidents purporting to be state chairmen of the PDP.
Adeyeye said what those at the meeting did was “another illegality perpetrated by dissidents within our party through the alleged endorsement of the report of the Governor Seriake Dickson led Reconciliation Committee of the PDP, at an assembly of 23 men purporting to be different state chairmen of our party.
“At the illegal assembly held in Abuja on Friday night, the group of fake state chairmen also announced their support for the illegal occupation of the party secretariat by Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff under the pretext of being PDP national chairman.
“We wish to state without ambiguity that the action of these elements is a ruse, lies from the pit of hell and a mere continuation of the impunity of Senator Sheriff and his dissident backers within the party.
“For the records, we wish to make it abundantly clear that many of those men are not elected state chairmen of our party, not at any time, even when Senator Sheriff was the recognised chairman of the party.
“Many of those who attended the meeting and their sponsors are double dealers and in politics such as we play in Nigeria it is not uncommon to find those who will run with the hare and at the same time hunt with the fox.”
Ekiti PDP disowns Abuja meeting
The Ekiti State chapter of the PDP described the meeting purportedly held in Abuja, as “mere gathering of majorly a strange people parading themselves as state chairmen on the strength of their appointment by Senator Sheriff.”
The party said: “No genuine state chairman of the PDP will associate with Senator Sherriff, considering the damage he has done to the party, except those he handpicked to buy legitimacy for himself.”
In a statement in Ado Ekiti, state publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr Jackson Adebayo, the party said: “There are laid-down procedures for officers of the party, from ward, local council, state to national levels to emerge and those who were paraded in Abuja on Friday should show proofs of where and how they were elected to Nigerians.”
“From our findings, majority of the so-called state chairmen were people appointed by Senator Sheriff and not those duly elected at the party congresses prior to May 21, 2016.
“The way Senator Sheriff single-handedly constituted the National Working Committee (NWC) of his faction of the PDP by appointing people into positions that can only be filled through the National Convention was the way he appointed people into the executives of some states.
The PDP in Ekiti alleged that Senator Sheriff was an impostor being used by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to sustain the party’s quest for a one-party state in the country, adding that “If Sheriff is not an agent of the APC, let him show one statement that he made against the APC-led Federal Government.”