BoT, Babatope, Oyedokun insist national chairman must leave in May
From Taiwo Amodu, Abuja
In a dramatic U-turn, the South West chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to challenge the North for the party’s national chairmanship position.
Already, a former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George is being positioned to challenge the national chairman, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, or any other candidate the region may produce for the position at its national convention in May.
The proclamation by the South-west leadership of the PDP, few weeks ago, that the zone is not interested in the office of national chairman of the party at its national convention scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers Satte, has created disaffection among chieftains in the zone.
Leadership of the party in the zone, led by Makanjuola Ogundipe had, at a recent visit to the party national secretariat presented a position paper to Sheriff on the convention .
In the position paper, the South west PDP demanded the office be retained in the North.
They argued in the paper that taking the office to the south, where the party has 10 serving governors could alienate the North from the PDP and, ultimately, confer on it anunsavoury image of a regional party.
On the entourage of the Ogundipe-led executive were senator representing Ogun East senatorial district, Buruji Kashamu and former Senate majority leader, Teslim Folarin.
Daily Sun investigation, however, indicated that some elders of the party in the zone, miffed by the position paper, are already smarting for a showdown with Sheriff as they alleged that the stance of the South-west executive was to ensure tenure elongation for the incumbent.
Fingers are now pointing in the direction of Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose as the mastermind of the controversial position paper.
Further investigation by Daily Sun showed that the elders have agreed to sponsor former George as the zone’s candidate for the office of national chairman at the May 21 national convention.
Speaking with Daily Sun on phone on the speculated ambition of the party national chairman, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope expressed concern over the stance of the South-west executive that the North be allowed to retain the office.
He also faulted the argument being canvassed by Sheriff’s foot soldiers that he should be given ample time to push through, conclusively, with his reconciliation mission before the national convention.
“Reconciliation between who and who? The mandate Sheriff has is to finish Adamu Mu’azu’s tenure. He had better conduct the convention in May and leave! He is wasting his time if he thinks he can get his tenure extended. They want to destroy the party. They will tell us because Kashamu has emergency money , he is now South-west leader . We wish them luck in their mad gang-up. We want to know whether the party belongs to them or the people. They will fail. Our position is that South-west must pick the national chairman because we have never occupied the office before.
‘’Kashamu isn’t speaking the minds of elders of the party in the South-west. Look at what he is saying: that because the party has 10 states in the south, the North should take national chairman now and still take the presidential ticket in 2019.
What kind of argument is that, because he ( Kashamu) has money he thinks he can bully the party elders in south-west? We wish him and his gang best of luck.’’
Babatope, however, refused to confirm, if Bode George is the anointed candidate of the region for national chairman.
Speaking in similar vein, Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, former deputy national chairman of the party, south-west and member of the BoT said nothing would change the position taken by the PDP NEC at its last meeting, where it mandated Sheriff three months to administer the party.
“Well, I stand by the decision we took at NEC meeting, but, there have been rumors of tenure elongation.
And, you know my response to that? I refer you to a Yoruba proverb which says when the younger ones are felling a tree, the older ones stand by and watch the direction the tree would fall to avoid accident.”
Oyedokun, however, said senator Kashamu and his supporters asking the zone to refrain from seeking the exalted office of national chairman have the right to their position.
‘’In the PDP South-West , the younger ones have a different opinion, we also have our own as elders. Kashamu supporters aren’t APC members, they are also PDP.
“So, there is nothing wrong if they push for a position as long as it is legitimate.’’
Former Works Minister, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, cautioned the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) against imposition of candidates which he noted was the bane of PDP.
“Impunity and arbitrariness have always been the problem of PDP.
No one is saying senator Sheriff shouldn’t be allowed to contest but, there should be internal democracy.
“The party’s constitution says there shall be congresses and national convention. We should stop imposition of leaders.
“If Sheriff is interested, he should be allowed to pick the form, but, don’t exclude others! Kasahamu isn’t the party, it belongs to everybody. Let Sheriff pick the form, go round and campaign like others. the party has guidelines for congresses and convention. That’s my take,” Ogunlewe said.
Meanwhile, the BoT has warned Sheriff not to stay beyond the May 21 deadline approved for him by the various statutory organs of the party.
Speaking on the speculated move by Senator Sheriff to extend his tenure, the acting chairman of the board of trustees who also doubles as secretary, Senator Walid Jubrin cautioned him to be wary of what he called ‘’consequences of the evil machinations of praise singers.’’
‘’The present NWC received an overwhelming ovation and admiration at the meeting of the national caucus, BOT and NEC by overlooking their 2017 tenure in support of the 3 months approval of the respected organs of the party which should strictly be complied with. Instead of listening to the praise singers, Sherif should follow the path of honour and integrity by simply taking a bow in May 2016 after the national convention.
‘’ The BOT strongly advises Modu Sherif to respect his oath and acceptance of the powerful organs of the PDP that he will stay for only three months, and allow his name to be written in Gold by honourably leaving the scene in May after the convention…”