By Charles Adegbite
Former National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Ishola Filani, is a lawyer with 41 years experience and former Chairman of Wema Bank Plc. In this interview, he points out that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s clinging to the national chairmanship position of the PDP is illegitimate and unacceptable. He appeals to him not to allow himself to be used to destabilize the party ahead of 2019 election.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff said he has gotten court order to remain the chairman of the PDP till 2018, what do you have to say on this development, looking at the fact that the party already has another chairman?
The appointment of Sheriff who was completing the tenure of others’ tenure of four years ended on May 21,2016 when the PDP held the Port Harcourt convention. Alhaji Bamangar Tukur and former Governor Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu had earlier occupied majority of the four year tenure served by three different persons. The Port Harcourt convention was legally constituted by the appropriate authorities within the party and dully observed by the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission).
All the decisions taken at the convention are therefore legal and binding, including the appointment of the Caretaker Committee, because the convention is the highest authority of the party. There was never a convention extending the tenure of Sheriff. One therefore wondered how he came about his tenure, to say that his tenure will end in 2018. Was he elected as a chairman at the 2014 convention ? The answer is No!
What of the National Secretary and the other officer with them?
As to Professor Wale Oladipo and Adeyanju, the erstwhile National Secretary and National Auditor, their tenures also ended at the Port Harcourt convention. They became the National Secretary and Auditor upon a court judgment that terminated the election of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Mustapha. As for the National Secretary, the court ordered that the South West zonal executives should organise a congress to elect a replacement for Oyinlola. And this was fully carried out in Ibadan in late 2013 or early 2014. He was to complete Oyinlola’s tenure and no more. In fact, I organized the congress as the National Vice Chairman for the South West then. The result of the congress electing Oladipupo was merely ratified at the 2014 convention. You know, national officers are not elected at the congress. They are not elected at zonal congress level. But because of the peculiar nature of how they were removed by the court, the court then ordered that we should now give them a replacement for ratification at the next convention.
What then did you do?
So, all that was done at the 2014 convention was to ratify what we did at the zonal congresses. And in any case, it was merely to just complete Oyinlola’s tenure. So, Oladipo and Adeyanju have never been elected by any convention. They were merely serving the remnant of Oyinlola and Mustapha’s tenures. Now, Oyinlola and Mustapha appealed the decision of the High Court at the Court of Appeal and the judgement of the High Court was set aside, whereby the party was mandated to reinstate Oyinlola and Mustapha. But the party did not follow the judgement. From the above, neither Sheriff, Oladipo nor Adeyanju has any claim to the position they are claiming that they are to occupy till 2018 because their tenures have ended at the Port Harcourt convention.
What will be your advice to Sheriff looking at the state of the party now?
Now, my appeal to Sheriff and those under him is to give peace a chance and allow the caretaker committee to do its work as directed by the convention so that we can take advantage of the lapses in the APC to build our party and come back to power in 2019. The feeling of every right thinking member of the public now is that the APC wants to destabilize PDP. These gentlemen should not turn themselves to tools in the hands of the enemy. They should please listen to the plea of the leadership of the party who are united in one purpose to build this party. The governors; old and new, National Assembly caucus; old and new, Board of Trustees (BOT)members; old and new, party caucus, youths, women, everyone is involved, to ensure we overcome our temporary setback.
All party interest should be above our personal interest.