• North East fails to endorse single candidate: new leader emerged from balloting
THE National Executive Committee (NEC) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rose from its 68th meeting yesterday night and approved Ali Modu Sheriff, the former Governor of Borno State, as its National Chairman.
Sheriff’s appointment, which followed a series of intrigues and horse-trading, eventually came to light around 8:00 p.m. when he was invited to take the oath of office.
Although he was initially endorsed by other organs of the party, Sheriff was opposed by some members of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT). But some prominent members of the party, including governors, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, senators and members of the House of Representatives quickly swung into action to persuade those with divergent views.
Sources close to the NEC of the party disclosed to The Guardian that, after extensive session and when it became obvious that a consensus choice may not emerge, the meeting resorted to balloting.
At the end of the exercise, Sheriff polled 60 votes; Girgiri polled nine votes, while Juta got one vote.
“The exercise was free and fair without rancor. Anyone saying there is division in the party as a result of the choice is not being sincere to himself or the party,” a party chairman from one of the states in the South South said.
In his acceptance speech, Sheriff promised to carry all party members along.
He announced that a new era of party rebuilding had begun in the PDP, pointing out that he would begin the task of leading the party to higher glory.
According to Sheriff, the PDP is sure of winning the 2019 presidential election with him as chairman. He said he would not witch-hunt any of those opposed to his emergence promising that his main task would be to restore peace and unity to the party.
Sheriff entered the premises of the PDP secretariat around 7:30 p.m. dressed in a white flowing gown at a time the NEC meeting was about ending.
The appointment of Sheriff came as a reaction to the latest threat posed by the court case initiated by the former Presidential Political Adviser, Ahmed Gulak, which resulted in his self-declaration as chairman of the party.
In attendance at the NEC meeting, included all PDP governors, except that of Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former deputy President, Ibrahim Mantu, and BoT acting chairman, Walid Jibrin.
But a large number of the PDP senators from the South East and South South were grumbling yesterday night as it emerged that the PDP was considering Sheriff, the acting chairman of the party.
They have resolved to reject him outright when the caucuses of the two geopolitical zones meet today. Several meetings were on last night to find an alternative to what many have described as a choice that would mark “the final burial rites of the party.”
It was learnt that the senators were particularly miffed that any of the governors on the banner of the party from the North East could even consider the former governor who joined the party just a few months before the last election.
PDP members in the House of Representatives were also said to be gearing up to take a position last night. A senator told journalists yesterday: “We are worried at the news of possible emergence of Senator Modu Sheriff as chairman of the PDP. We are worried that some persons are not thinking of the need to move the party forward.
“We feel there is every need to raise the credibility of the party after the debacle of the last general election. It is not fair that we saddle the party with the burden that the chairmanship of Senator Modu Sheriff would bring to the party at this time.
“We all know the issue that has been around Senator Sheriff. For sometime now, his name has been consistently linked with the Boko Haram issue and we need to allow him to clean his name rather than bother him with the leadership of the PDP at this time.”
“If those pushing for the former senator succeeds, I can tell you that the nation will witness massive defection from the PDP. We in the South East and South South are ready to leave the PDP.”
Earlier, in less than two hours, there were two conflicting positions on the emergence of Sheriff as the new chairman .The first was an announcement to journalists by the National Publicity Secretary of the party , Olisa Metuh.