The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has said that he will not be forced to relinquish the task of rebuilding the party entrusted to him by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.
Speaking at his first interactive session with journalists at the party’s national secretary in Abuja yesterday, Sheriff said since he was given the major task of rebuilding and repositioning the party, he believed that it was the responsibility of the leadership to decide on his tenure.
Responding to allegations of his links to Boko Haram, Sheriff said there was no one in authority or any court of competent jurisdiction that had ever indicted him for complicity in the criminal acts of the terrorists.
Reacting to calls by some leaders of the PDP to step down to avert a further crisis in the party, Sheriff said such a move was uncalled for, assuring the party’s stakeholders that he would reach out to all aggrieved party men for reconciliation and join forces to rebuild the party.
“I saw the person who was reading at the press conference, Ambassador Wilberforce Juta. He submitted himself to the National Working Committee (NWC) of this party, aspiring to be chairman.
“Also, (Mohammed) Wakil whom you saw on television submitted himself to the NWC to be appointed chairman and votes were cast. The man that was speaking at the press conference (on Sunday) got one vote and he is asking me to resign. Therefore, I will not resign,” he said.
The former Borno State governor insisted that his emergence took place through due process, adding that contrary to the views propagated by his critics in the party that he was imposed on the PDP, he was granted a waiver to contest the Senate seat after joining PDP and was endorsed by a duly constituted NEC.
“I was given an official waiver by the NWC immediately I joined the party when I sought to run for the Senate and my letter of waiver was signed by the National Secretary.
“The leadership of this party, in its wisdom, asked me to lead. If the NEC of this party collectively asked me to lead, I will lead; but not somebody who contested an election and got one vote.
“I think if there is a moral issue, because he should not even have gone on air. However, in this country, people are allowed to say what they like.
“I took over this party; I am here as a national chairman of this party by the grace of all the NEC members of the party. I am here to rebuild the party.
“What time we need to do this job will be determined by the leaders and owners of the party when they sit down collectively to discuss.
“For me, taking over office today, I cannot tell you when I will be leaving, I will only tell you when the party leaders sit down and see what is the immediate time to do this job, and if they decide, I am ready for it.
“The person we saw on the television asking me to resign submitted himself to the NWC for the position and got just one vote, but I will not resign. I do not plan to resign as I was appointed to reposition this party. I will do my job and will not resign,” he said.
Elaborating on his tenure, Sheriff said he was appointed to rebuild the party but the time frame under which this would be done would be the job of the party leaders to decide.
Sheriff expressed regret that PDP was undeservedly pushed to the role of opposition after leading the country for over 16 years.
Sheriff, a former chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of the founding fathers of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), said he plans to bring his experiences to bear in repositioning the PDP to regain power.
On what his mission would be as chairman of PDP, Sheriff said he would formally speak on the direction of the party as soon as he receives the handover notes on the status of the party from the national treasurer and the national secretary of the party.
He advised those who might not be comfortable with his emergence not to resort to the media but to come forward to hold discussions in order to sort out any grievances internally.
“I have no regrets being part of the formation of the APC, just as I have no regrets being a member of other parties in the past. I left APC on principle and I do not regret my action,” he said.
He also refuted claims that his main mission was to bring back people like Senate President Bukola Saraki, adding that his assignment was to reach out to all members of the party and its founding fathers in order to rebuild the PDP to regain its status as the largest party in Africa.
“We accepted the responsibility of leading the party at this time not because we were the best, but because we were identified as possessing the capacity to provide the roadmap for repositioning of this party.
“I therefore accept the responsibility and trusting in God, I hope we will succeed. I will carry everyone along in my leadership.
“We will lead this party, reposition it so that credible elections from polling units to wards and to state and national levels will be conducted under a free and fair atmosphere so that the party will henceforth reap the fruits and benefits of the support from the grassroots,” he said.
On his alleged link to Boko Haram, he said nobody who is in a position of authority has ever accused him of involvement with Boko Haram, adding: “I have refrained from discussing the matter in the media. But this time I will do something different because people like (Femi) Fani-Kayode will not go scot-free this time around.”
While introducing Sheriff to the media, the party’s deputy national chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus, said concerns that have trailed his appointment were nothing more than fears and apprehension by APC, and others who are not comfortable with his antecedents as a political bulldozer.
Secondus added that yesterday marked the formal handover of the leadership to the new chairman.
The deputy national chairman told Sheriff that before his appointment, the party had embarked on a review of its operations, adding that the report of the post-election review panel headed by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekwerenmadu had been submitted and was being studied for onward presentation to the NEC.
“Days are gone when a few elders sat down in Abuja and gave orders to members. The party structure has to be reorganised so that power can be taken back to the people at the grassroots,” he said.
After briefing the press, Sheriff received members of the PDP from Borno, after which he held his first official meeting with the members of the NWC to brief him on the state of affairs in the party.
But as Sheriff insisted on hanging on to his job, a major organ of the PDP, the Board of Trustees (BoT), yesterday joined the clamour for his ouster, stating that the new chairman lacked credibility to lead the main opposition party.
The BoT position came just as a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of BoT, Chief Ojo Madueke said he refuted reports that he was leaving the party.
The trustees of the party said Sheriff was not an option to be the national chairman of the party.
The acting chairman of the BoT, Sen. Walid Jibril, at a press conference said: “As the conscience of the party, we are still of the strong view that Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff is not an option to be the party’s national chairman.”
Jibril, who declined any further comment, said the members of the Bot were still consulting among themselves on Sheriff’s emergence.
In his remarks, Madueke said leaving PDP was not an option for him.
He explained that PDP made some mistakes, adding that the party did not build on its success and also did not check impunity, which eventually led to its fall.
He said: “This is not the time to leave the party. This is the time to regain the trust of Nigerians. All we need to do is to reorganise the party.”
Present at the meeting of the BoT were Prof. Jerry Gana, Maduekwe, Alhaji Shuabu Oyedokun, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Senator Stella Omu, Senator Jonah Jang, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Abdullahi Kure and Maina Waziri, among others.
Meanwhile, former ministers of the party who served between 1999 and 2015 would meet today to take a position on the appointment of the party’s chairman
There is no ads to display, Please add some