Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, has said his fate to continue as the chairman of the party or otherwise rests in the hands of members of the party on May 21. Inuwa Bwala, Special Adviser to the PDP chairman, said this during an interview session with newsmen at Wadata House. Our political correspondent, Patrick Osadebamwen was there and captured his thoughts.
What is happening in The PDP with various groupings denouncing the Sheriff-led NWC?
Various groups have come with different gimmicks either to divert attention from themselves over what they did in the past leading to the squandering of the fortunes of the PDP. Or to distract the attention of the chairman from pursuing very lofty and laudable programmes that would re-position the PDP or even just to cause mischief. Unfortunately, among such groups are self-styled elders and stakeholders led by Professor Jerry Gana. I have seen him sweating on the television playing around with words saying nothing at the end of the day. However, I want to specifically say that we have kept sealed lips on some of the activities of this man. Sheriff has been believing that we could still have a rendezvous at which we could work together for the growth of the PDP. I must say that you are witnesses that this is one character, that has played one role or the other in any government in power since the time of the military.
Don’t you not think it was because he was an asset to the government at such times that he was engaged for such national service?
Perhaps there is something that people find in him that makes him attractive to various governments. Given his recent actions, I do not think that there is much that this man has to add value to the repositioning of the PDP. One wonders why he is leading such groups or two against the leadership of Dr. Ali Modu Sheriff. Today you find him spearheading the cause of so-called Northern PDP elders. The next day you find him spearheading a group of PDP stakeholders. The next day you find him spearheading all sort of names; all self-styled. None is known to the hierarchy of the PDP. As bad as his activities are, I must say that we know as a matter of fact that he has his personal grudges, likewise those who are queuing up behind him, against both the party and the National chairman.
Do you not think their action swells the benefits of internal democracy?
This is one man, and his groups, who has never seen anything good in anything the party does since the emergence of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff. They have never offered any solution. Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff came on board with a mission to re-position the party and build it for greater performance in the future. So far, they have not given an alternative, to what the leadership needs to do to re-position the party but we know they played very ignoble roles on the fortunes of the PDP in the last elections. These were the same people that led Jonathan into failure. Unfortunately, most of them still go round to ask the chairman to offer them one favour or the other. And if the chairman declines, it becomes an offence, they go round and take position against him. I know as a matter of fact that he has written to the national chairman to allow him nominate some people into committees or to perform certain functions on behalf of the party, whether this request is granted or not is immaterial. But that is perhaps one of the reasons that he has taken the position against anything this man does. This is the same man who recognized the national chairman, writing 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 for obvious reasons. 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. As it is, the chairman may be left with no option than to him before the EFCC over the matter. One of the things Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff wants to correct in this party is to ease out those who used the PDP to further their personal economic interests. We have records. And at the appropriate time, if the needs arise, we shall make it available. They seem to forget that their generation is no longer relevant to contemporary politics. That is why you did not see any politician of note amongst the gathering and that is why you do not see anybody amongst them who is coming from his constituency haven gone for the party congresses. They cannot go. They do not have anybody. Gone are the days of gown-flying politics. These are the days for grassroot mobilisation for support for the PDP.
And so a few people cannot come and gather in Abuja and think they can dictate the pace at which the party should go in this era. We have long over gone that one. We have learnt enough from the failures of the PDP to return to power in 2015. It will be foolhardy for Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to use the same people who squandered the fortunes of the party to rebuild this party. So, if they decide to go it is good riddance to bad rubbish. If they want to come along, there will always be room for them. None of them will ever be given any role that ever lead to the mismanagement of this party again. Nigerians know better, Nigerians know those who played roles that led to the failure of the PDP in the past.
I challenge Professor Jerry Gana and his group, to come and tell us what they did for the party. So many of them have gone to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff for one favour or the other. It is not time for us to open up now about some of these things. If it becomes necessary, we shall mention names. And we shall mention time and how it happened. We felt we should save some people the residuals of integrity that they have but since it has become a mudslinging fight, we must say that we are actually up to the task. Ali Sheriff is not stepping down as the national chairman of the PDP. Ali Sheriff is going on with plans to conclude the process that has started with the ward congresses, the local government congresses and state congresses with the national convention of this party on May 21 in Port Harcourt. Those who feel they cannot belong or cope with the pace can as well fall by the roadside. If you cannot withstand the heat, don’t come into the kitchen.
With the present discordant voices and opposition by some leaders of the party against Sheriff it appears there is a deeper crisis in the party and the reconciliation efforts of the Sheriff-led PDP has failed?
Far from that! there cannot be deeper crisis in the PDP. Those who are making noise are the fall outs of the projection going on in the PDP. You don’t have to ask somebody to go but if you do certain things that he cannot take, especially the right thing, naturally if he believes in the wrong thing, he will leave. So genuine reconciliation is going on with the people in whose heart there are every space for us to make the adjustments and agree to work together as a party but those who have fore closed their minds; no form of reconciliation can do whatever they want to do. All we want to say is that since he came on board, he has never said anything about all these things that are going on. People have castigated him. He has never open his mouth to either respond or reply them. This is because he believes that there is still room for us to sit and reach genuine reconciliation but if those who parade themselves as elders decide to take internal affairs of the party to the streets, then one will be left with no option than to play the same way that they are playing. That is why Ali Sheriff wants to tell them that they do not have the monopoly of mudslinging. These people, technically are no longer members of the PDP by their own actions. Because I do not see how they can fit in especially with Ali Sheriff as a leader. Why can’t they wait for Ali Sheriff’s tenure to end, whether he will come back is immaterial. Knowing fully well that the convention is coming on the 21st, I thought that the convention, as the highest law making body of this party, should be the best place for them to address their grievances and not by holding press conferences and castigating people.
Do you think that the PDP can absorb the shock of these people pulling-out. Can the PDP withstand such implosion?
If you cannot withstand the heat in the kitchen, then do not come in. That statement is pregnant enough. The PDP has withstood greater crises than this one.
Some states have gone ahead to produce two, three chairmen in the ward, local council and state congresses. How do you deal with this at your convention?
We are not aware of multiple chairman from any ward or local government or state congresses we have held. we sent officers from this party to conduct these local government and state congresses. It is the result that we send out that will be recognized. Anything to the contrary is not known to the PDP.
On his emergence at the Ondo Government House in Asokoro, Ali Modu Sheriff was said to only midwife the party for three months. It is the fears of his perpetuity in office after the convention that has created this crisis. Will Ali Modu-Sheriff contest for chairmanship of the PDP at the convention?
That is left for PDP members and their chairman to decide. Meanwhile, when we get to the bridge we shall cross it. But I can assure that the mandate given to Ali Sheriff terminates on May 21. Anything after is left for the PDP and its members to decide.
Do you see these groups as a faction who are ready to work with you for the good of the party?
I have told you that neither the so-called PDP Northern Elders nor the PDP Concerned Stakeholders are known to the hierarchy or known to the procedures of the party. The law of Nigeria allows such groups to associate as they want. They shouldn’t use the name of a legally registered organisation to advance their selfish cause.
One of such group today at the Nicon Luxury described Sheriff and other members of the NWC as “hoodlums” and “gangsters”. How do you react to this, especially as they said you are out to bury the party?
When hoodlums take over the affairs of any organisation from vagabonds and have a direction, I think you know the difference.
We learnt that the PDP produced only one form for each of the National offices, also when will the forms for those vying for the NWC offices be sold?
Not true. The forms for national offices are already on sale. If you have your N1 million now you get your form for the office of the chairman and the Secretary. The forms are not for one person.
Will the party postpone the convention?
Except the world end before May 21. It shall hold.