Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja
Northern Elders Forum of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to hand over to the Board of Trustees (BoT) at the expiration of his tenure on May 21.
The NEF also said all members of the National Working Committee (NWC) are to follow suit as the Forum announced that the BoT would meet next Monday.
Addressing journalists after an over three-hour meeting in Abuja Tuesday, the Elders said its decision for the outright flushing of the NWC, and the immediate call for the Board of Trustees to take over, was predicated on the need to ensure smooth transition.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the Forum’s meeting, leader of the Forum, Professor Jerry Gana, said in order not to create a vacuum at the expiration of the tenure of the present crop of NWC members on May 21, the BoT should take over power and ensure a smooth transition pending a new date for a national convention as would be announced.
Professor Gana said the May 21 convention must be postponed following what he described as “poorly conducted congresses in some states” and “lack of wide consultations” before the amendment of the PDP constitution.
Gana, who said the zoning arrangement of the party had zoned the Presidency to the North, based on the Sen. Ike Ekweremadu report, insisted that there must be balance of power in the party between the North and South.
He said, chairmanship of the party will go to the south.
He said the ratified re-zoning of the chairmanship position to the Northeast to favour a particular candidate would not stand.
“We expect the current NWC members to vacate their seats on May 21 when their tenure expires. In order not to create a vacuum, the BoT should provide credible trustees that will allow proper transition when a new date for convention is announced and new leaders elected.
“The current NWC has proven that they cannot organize a proper and transparent convention. In a number of states, the congresses were badly conducted. This is unacceptable. The entire process has been flawed and not built on good foundation. A delegate conference will be held here in Abuja before the national convention will be held”, Gana Said.
The Northern Elders comprising former information minister, Professor Jerry Gana, former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Bala Mohammed, former minister of special duties, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki and former Minister of Agriculture, Shettima Mustapha among many others, also asked Sheriff to stop the proposed PDP constitution amendment.
Gana hinted that a 25-man committee has been raised by the PDP Northern Elders to meet regularly and ensure that the resolutions of the Forum was implemented.
Senator Ibrahim Mantu who also spoke to reporters after the meeting pointed out that “the proposed amendment of our constitution did not follow the right procedure”.
“It did not pass through the National Caucus and the BoT. So, it will be a total disaster if we approve that amendment. We will not allow the engine of our party which is our constitution to be tampered with”, he said.
The Forum said its decisions must be implemented, adding that it had proposed a clear strategy in case the Sheriff-led NWC insist on organising the convention on May 21.