Anxiety as Sheriff, governors trade wits, intrigues
• Northern Elders Set Up Committee To Screen Aspirants
• Convention Receives Boost From Northern Elders
• Agbaje, George, Dokpesi Draw Battle Lines
Countdown to Wednesday’s rescheduled national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), members of the party are indeed ‘gasping for breath,’ as aspirants embark on last minute negotiations, while governors and Ali Modu Sheriff trade intrigues, playing hide and seek. A pall of dark cloud still looms, threatening the entire arrangement.
It is still not clear where new officers are to be elected from, as well as the zoning arrangements.
Findings have revealed ongoing peace talks could lead to substantial re-arrangement to achieve the concessions already suggested by the Jerry Gana-led peace panel.
It was gathered that the position of the National Secretary of the party, which had been reserved for the North West might be moved to the North East to pacify the Sheriff Camp.
However, it is not clear yet, if the demand by Sheriff that the convention be postponed would be accepted by the governors who had held some meetings in Abuja to review the demands.
Sheriff also insisted that the National Caretaker Committee of the party headed by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi be disbanded immediately and new members be appointed into the National Working Committee.
Governors of the PDP and members of its Board of Trustees on Friday, in Abuja, renewed their appeal to the factional National Chairman of the party, Sheriff, to allow the PDP hold its national convention without legal bottlenecks.
Three governors, Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), met with Sheriff at Gombe Governor’s Lodge in Abuja on Friday, pleading with him to withdraw all his cases against the party.
But in what amount to a boost for the convention, Elders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the North rose from a meeting in Abuja on Saturday, setting up a committee to screen all persons vying for positions and recommend the most suitable to it, before the August 17 national convention.
The forum would meet again on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, to receive the committee’s recommendation and consider it before the Wednesday convention.
The 16-member screening committee has the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu as chairman.
But former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, has protested the removal of his name from the list of members of the screening committee.
Shortly after Jerry Gana read the list, Babangida Aliyu rose and declared that he would want to put it on record that he was not consulted before his name was removed. Mantu was however swift in rushing to pacify Aliyu to calm down.
The Professor Jerry Gana-led PDP elders, who met under the umbrella of PDP Northern Elders Forum, also declared that it had endorsed the holding of the National Convention slated for August 17, 2016, in Port Harcourt.
The Northern PDP leaders were said to have supported the holding of the convention because of the 90 days tenure of the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee would lapse by August 21.
They are of the belief that should the convention be postponed, the party might run into serious constitutional crisis because there would be no caretaker committee to run the party’s affairs.
The forum, however, assured that the reconciliation process would continue after the convention.
And speaking at the meeting, chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Walid Jibril, said the report of the committee set up to reconcile the camp of Sheriff with the state governors, was ready and would soon be made public.
A source disclosed that part of the recommendation was that the convention should hold as scheduled.
Speaking, Coordinator of the forum, Gana said, “The National Convention of the PDP scheduled for the 17th of August will hold. I hereby encourage all our delegates from the Northern part of Nigeria to be in Port Harcourt. In fact, our next meeting will be in Port Harcourt before the convention begins.
“We want to assure you that by the grace of God, adequate arrangement will be made for security. You will travel safely, you will arrive safely, you will do the convention safely and you will return safely.”
Meanwhile, the atmosphere around the opposition party has become charged with intrigues and deft moves.
It was learnt that in Lagos, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, and the governorship aspirant of PDP in 2015, Jimi Agbaje, are said to have failed to reach a truce.
Agbaje had last week promised to go and resolve issues with George. However, the decision of supporters of both aspirants to have their ambitions tested at the ballot box during the convention has crippled the peace talks, as both aspirants are now set for a political showdown on Tuesday.
Also, Raymond Dokpesi, who has rejected all attempts to persuade him to accept the gentleman agreement to push the position of the National Chairman to the South West, continued to generate issues.