• State party chairmen disown communique
• Govs divided over Makarfi, Sheriff
By Ismail Omipidan, Judex Okoro (C/Rivers), John Adams (Minna), Chuks Onuoha (Abia), BillyGraham Abel (Yola) and Joe Effiong Uyo
Controversy yesterday trailed last Friday’s alleged endorsement of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by 23 states’ party chairmen
So far, four of the chairmen, whose names and signatures appeared on the communiqué issued after an alleged between the states’ party chairmen and Sheriff have since disowned the signatures.
Speaking to Daily Sun yesterday, Jigawa, Gombe, Adamawa and Niger states party chairmen said they were nowhere near Abuja last Friday, let alone attending any meeting. Also, they said their signatures were forged.
Although some of those, who signed the communique belong to the Sheriff’s faction of the PDP, investigations revealed that in states where the Sheriff faction did not exist, the name of the state chairmen were listed, as being part of the meeting. For instance, the Jigawa State PDP chairman, Salisu Mamuda, whose name appeared, as number one on the list, told Daily Sun he knew nothing about the meeting.
According to him, “I did not attend any meeting. Somebody somewhere just sat down and wrote my name, including the signature. This is criminal. Rather than being desperate, I think we should be patient and resolve this matter.”
Also speaking in the same vein, the Gombe State party chairman, Barrister Joel Adamu Jagafa, told Daily Sun he was in Gombe last Friday and as such could not have attended any meeting in Abuja.
He further said: “In Gombe, we have no faction. We have just one PDP and I am the chairman of the party. How could I have signed a meeting I did not attend? It is forgery.”
On his part, the Niger State party chairman, Alhaji Tanko Beji, said he was not at the meeting and “could not have signed any document, affirming Sheriff as the national chairman of the party,” insisting: “I wish to state categorically, without fear or favour, that I am not aware of the said meeting. I was not in attendance and I couldn’t have been in attendance. The endorsement is a lie from the pit of hell, as the signature against my name was forged, and a desperate attempt by the Ali Modu Sheriff group to continue to destroy the party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I remain committed to the National Caretaker Committee of the party led by Ahmed Makarfi and I am in support of the appeal at the Supreme Court. I, therefore, advise our teeming supporters across the state and Nigeria to disregard the publication; it is one of the antics of the embattled ‘APC Modu Sheriff.’”
Also speaking on the endorsement, Adamawa State chairman, AbdulRahman Bobboi, told Daily Sun he did not attend any meeting, and wondered how his name and signature appeared in the publication.
Meanwhile, PDP governors are now split between Sheriff and Makarfi. Daily Sun findings in Delta, Rivers, Enugu and Abia states, confirmed that the governors and the party leadership are with the Makarfi-led PDP.
Specifically, one of the governor’s aides in Delta State told Daily Sun: “We are 100 per cent for Makarfi. Any sane man knows that Makarfi’s group is where the party is because that is where you find the majority. So, we are not giving it a second thought, my governor is solidly for Makarfi.”
In Ebonyi, however, the party leadership was not forthcoming with information, as he deliberately avoided our reporter when approached for comment. But there are strong indications that the governor, David Umahi, is courting the Sheriff faction. A competent source familiar with the movement of the governor and that of Ben Ayade of Cross River, told Daily Sun: “Umahi wants to do a second term, but he has Ikwo and Ezza, which are the main voting populations in Ebonyi to contend with. In addition, even in their area, Uburu, in Ohaozara, which is in the minority in Ebonyi, he has Ogbonnaya Onu, the minister of Science and Technology, to contend with, hence, his open declaration of support for President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He’s been romancing the SGF too, for too long. I think his game plan is to defect. But maybe what is still holding him are: One, contention for structure with Ogbonnaya. Will they just hand him over the structures? Two, there is still strong anti-APC sentiments all over the South-East.
“As for Ayade, he must have done a deal with the APC. But, if you notice, himself and Umahi have not really been coming out to attend PDP’s functions. Like Umahi, Ayade too is concerned about the party structure in the state. All notable PDP stakeholders, including Imoke, who handed over to him, have told him point black that he is on his own. So, he knows that if he is leaving, nobody will leave with him. But a former governor from the Niger Delta area is helping to seize the party structure in the state and hand it over to him. Unfortunately again, there are about four or so factions of the APC in the state. I think PDP’s saving grace so far is the internal confusion and strife within the APC, otherwise the party would have lost more big masquerades to the APC.
“As for Dickson, I think what he’s doing now, is what I see as the continuation of the pre-governorship contention with former President Goodluck Jonathan. He’s also in his second term. By 2019, he would have roughly a year left. We don’t know what he’s been promised. Only God will save the party.”
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State chapter of the PDP is yet to decide which of the group to support.
The state chairman of the party, Obong Paul Ekpo, told Daily Sun that the party was meeting on the issue as at yesterday morning.
However, when asked yesterday evening concerning the outcome of the meeting, Ekpo said they were still delibrating on the issue, adding that “when we’re through we’ll let everybody know our position. For now, please give us time.”