Friday, January 6, 2017

PDP’s Lowest Point in 2016

As the party’s rank and file remain confused as to how to come to terms with their new status of the opposition party, the PDP was torn into two warring factions headed by former governors of Borno and Kaduna states, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

The crisis within the party deepened when its leaders held parallel conventions in Abuja and Port Harcourt respectively on May 21.

Sheriff, the then national chairman of the party was sacked at the Port Harcourt Convention while a national caretaker committee headed by Makarfi was constituted.

The Abuja convention appointed former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu and former minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, as co-chairmen.

The two conventions were non-elective because of a court order restraining the party from electing new officers of the party.

But while the Mantu and Adeniran-led group later collapsed into the Makarfi group, Sheriff, who was sacked by the convention in Port Harcourt, is still claiming legitimacy.

Makarfi and Sheriff are now locked in legal tussle leading to the closure of the PDP national secretariat in Abuja, by the police, on the instructions of the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase.

Similarly, many chieftains of the party were arrested and charged for various “financial crimes,” even as disaffection and tongue-wagging among PDP leaders reached a record high.

Sheriff had within the period under review, threatened to drag former minister of information, Prof. Jerry Gana before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged illegal withdrawal of N500 million belonging to the party.

This was after Gana and other party stakeholders, under the umbrella of Concerned PDP Stakeholders insisted that Sheriff must leave office after the expiration of the three months allotted him to complete Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu’s tenure.

At the time, Sheriff said through his media aide, Inuwa Bwala, that the Concerned Stakeholders of the party and other groups were free to leave the PDP if they were not comfortable with him, claiming that they no longer had relevance in the party.

Explaining why Gana was against Sheriff, Bwala said that the former minister wrote to him (Sheriff) to allow him nominate some people into certain committees, or allow them perform certain functions for the party, adding that whether these requests were granted or not was immaterial.

“But that is perhaps one of the reasons that he has taken the position against anything this man (Sheriff) does. This is the same man who recognized the national chairman, wrote to him on the need to submit the report on the finance committee which he headed.

“The chairman has been running away from receiving that report because it is on record that the same Jerry Gana on behalf of the party, without using the machinery of the party, collected the sum of N500 million from Skye bank on behalf of the PDP for which the PDP has been dragged to court and is being compelled to pay back.

“Leaders of thought in this party including some elders have prevailed on the chairman not to make this matter known and to save this man from public embarrassment. But as it is, the chairman may be left with no option than to drag Jerry Gana before the EFCC to explain his role in obtaining N500m facility on behalf of the party and let him also explain what he has done with the money,” he said.

Gana, the chairman of fund raising committee for the 2015 general elections, however, explained that the N500 million was used for the organization of a diner in Abuja, during the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration where about N21 billion was raised for the 2015 presidential campaign and for the completion of the party’s N11.5 billion national secretariat project, in Abuja.

Another low for the PDP was its lost of Ondo State to the All Progressives Congress (APC) even as it was defeated by the ruling party in the Edo State governorship election within the period under review.

For now, there are fears that unless the PDP fully reforms, or a new strong political party comes on board, the 2019 general elections may not be as interesting as the one held in 2015.

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