The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new turn on Thursday after stakeholders of the former ruling party sacked Ali Modu as National Chairman and announced the dissolution of his executive committee.
The group led by Jerry Gana rejected the decision to retain Sheriff as chairman of the party beyond the forthcoming convention slated for Port Harcourt on May 21.
They also faulted the current zoning arrangement, saying the Port Harcourt convention will not hold.
The group announced that it had set up a 21-man committee to preside over the affairs of the party in the interim.
Some members of the group are Tunde Adeniran, former education minister; Ibrahim Mantu, former deputy senate president; Raymond Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications; Ojo Maduekwe, former minister of foreign affairs; Okwesilieze Nwodo, ex-chairman of the party, and Bode George, former chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Others are Wilberforce Juta, former governor of the old Gongola state; Grace Bent, a former senator, and Bala Mohammed, former minister of the federal capital territory.
The communique issued after their meeting on Thursday reads:
“The purported extension of the tenure of the chairman and other members of the national working committee by the Party by the NEC was an illegality and therefore untenable and contrary to the provisions of our party constitution which gives such powers ONLY to the national convention of the party”
“All actions purportedly taken by the said NEC and the national working committee, including the ward, local government, state congresses and the planned national convention of the party slated for the 21st of May 2016 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State constitute a nullity and are of no effect.
“Deriving from all the above and in order to stop further slide into unconstitutional confusion and widespread disenchantment of party members nationwide, we the founding fathers, stakeholders and leaders of the party from all the 6 Geopolitical zones hereby announce a 21-member steering committee to manage the affairs of the PDP, and work intimately with our respected members of BOT who are the conscience of the party till such a time that a proper, lawfully organized National Convention of the party, where a new authentic leadership of the party will be duly elected in accordance to the provisions of our party constitution and guidelines.”
But in his reaction, Sheriff said the group comprised self-styled leaders and claimed that they were aggrieved, and advised them to present their grievances at the Port Harcourt convention.
Briefing journalists at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Sheriff, who spoke through his media aide, Inuwa Bwala, said he will go ahead with the amendment of the PDP constitution.
“I have seen the group of self-styled elders and stakeholders led by Professor Jerry Gana sweating on television, playing with language but at the end of the day saying nothing.
“The national convention will certainly hold in Port Harcourt on May 21 if the world does not end before that date. The group headed by Prof. Gana and similar others are not known to the party. They should take their grievances to the convention, if they have any. If they choose to leave the PDP, it would be good riddance to bad rubbish.
“It would be foolhardy for the PDP chairman to involve the same people who led the PDP to failure in the 2015 general elections in rebuilding the party. These are the same people that played ignoble roles in squandering the resources of the party.