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Sheriff: PDP still in the woods, says Girei

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Ali Modu SheriffONE of the challenges the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has faced since the conclusion of the 2015 general elections which it lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC) was how to gather its remnants and restore the party to a winning streak.

The internal bickering over imposition and other party portfolios leading to the mass exodus of its members to the ruling APC and a recent court ruling that removed its acting national chairman, Uche Secondus, on the ground that the tenure of the Northeast had not lapsed, compounded the situation of the party.

But in what looked like a bold move to arrest the continuous downward slide of the party, preparatory to the national convention for election of substantive officers that could guide it into the 2019 general elections among others, its leaders met recently and endorsed the former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff as the
national chairman.

Sheriff, a two-term governor, by the development would now serve out the tenure of the Northeast geo-political zone which could not be completed by Ahmed Adamu Muazu.

Reacting to the development in an interview with The Guardian, a founding member of the party, Senator Abubakar H. Girei, said he does not see any future with the PDP, explaining that recent endorsement of a new chairman was part of the efforts to ensure the actual extinction of the party from the political lexicon of the country.

“I did say two months ago, that the PDP is dead and I thank God that events that have happened in the recent past have vindicated me. What you have confirmed as election to me is a mere ceremony where an undertaker was now appointed to take the casket of the PDP to its rightful place at the cemetery and this is exactly what has happened. I don’t want to say more on that, but future events will confirm this. It is sad that this has happened, because this is a party we toiled to build and from strength to strength until 2010-2011 when it was afflicted by a cancerous terminal disease. Since then, the PDP has never been the same again, though it has been having
challenges right from the beginning”, he said.

Girei, who represented Adamawa Central at the National Assembly from 1999 – 2003, stated that he had to abandon the PDP for the APC on March 14 last year (two weeks to the general elections), following his discovery that the solution to the problems that started in the party since 1999 was far from being resolved.

He said: “Right from the beginning, when in June 1999 we were inaugurated in the senate, Chuba Okadigbo of blessed memory was supposed to be the Senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the popular support of the 87 out of the 109 senators, but Obasanjo single-handedly robbed us of that and imposed somebody as Senate president. That was the beginning of the problems of the PDP because that was where friction started building between major stakeholders of the PDP, which finally came into limelight with the fighting within the presidency itself between the President and Vice President.

“Soon after that, we started hearing people that called themselves leaders of the party saying there is no vacancy in Aso Rock and he followed it up by saying there were no vacancies even in state Government Houses, which were the start of imposition of candidates. It is the imposition of candidates that has killed the PDP slowly but sadly. It is sad the PDP is dead, it is sad there is no opposition party in Nigeria. But the essence of democracy, the beauty of democracy is in the competition, especially the competition within the party that you can call democracy. PDP has been lacking in internal democracy and with the absence of an opposition party, we are now going to have problems with our democracy generally because there won’t be a credible opposition party that will checkmate the ruling party.

Girei claimed that the imposition that took place within PDP in 2015 was even worse than what happened in 2007 and 2011 general elections arguing that It indicated that the PDP was going from bad to worse.

This, he noted manifested clearly in the emergence of the new chairman who surfaced from nowhere as he was never in contention from the beginning, stressing that it was obvious that the PDP has not learn any lesson from the past.

The former senator averred that Sheriff will not deliver the PDP, alleging that the new chairman has several things against him, adding: “There are many ill-feelings, grievances among others that seemed to have entrenched in the PDP which someone like him lacked the moral conviction to talk about.”
 
The APC politician also spoke on the Buhari’s administration saying that a number of positive strides have been made in the nine months period of the administration, especially in the areas of security and anti-corruption.

“I am from Adamawa state and you know that Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were the three states that were completely run down by Boko Haram. In my own place, I had to relocate my mother from Yola to Kaduna, which eventually led to her death. Majority of our people are displaced, majority of whom are still in the IDP camps in various parts of the country; these are people from over 48 local governments completely taken over by Boko Haram.

“The insurgency ravaged these three states to the extent that there was no economic activity whatsoever there, life itself was seriously threatened. But today, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that there is no single local government that is under occupation by Boko Haram. To us, there can’t be better achievement than this.”

According to him, the present war against corruption is sanitizing a lot of things in the country saying it is a concrete step in the right direction by the government, which should be consolidated.

But Senator Girei did not fail to voice his disappointment at the failure of President Buhari to fashion out an economic blueprint for the country in the past nine months, stressing that the issue raised over the 2016 budget could not have arisen if there was an economic team advising the President properly.

“I would have loved to see by now that Mr. President has an economic team of experts like the team he has for corruption. This committee should be a think-tank that should have by now prepared an economic blueprint for the government. The economic blueprint should have formed our budget. If he had that one, this problem that we are having with the National Assembly over the budget would have been over. Equally important is a political strategy group, because the politics of the present time is scaring with the dearth of a credible opposition.”

He spoke about the agitations in various parts of the country, blaming it on the failure of leadership to provide direction, stressing that there was need for the present administration to lay solid foundation that could give equal sense of belonging to Nigerians no matter where they reside.

“I think the bankruptcy of leadership is seriously fuelling agitations in parts of the country. When you talk about kidnapping, agitation for self-rule, protests here and there, it is because the people are angry. They are angry because there is no leadership; we have lacked leadership in the last couple of years. There is complete absence of development; no form of protection for them by the country, there is no sense of belonging, no access to education and good life. So this anger has come and will take time to be addressed. And because some of these youths have nothing doing, they are willing tools in the hands of politicians who are out of job, who will use them to cause trouble. It is a wakeup call on the present
government,” he said.



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