Sheriff evasive as PDP adopts controversial zoning formula

National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, on Thursday parried question as to his ambition during the forthcoming national convention of the party, just as the National executive Committee (NEC) approved the controversial zoning arrangements for the elections of party officials slated for May 21, in Port Harcourt by the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led zoning committee.

The zoning arrangements, which leaked before it was officially announced, had caused rumpus within the ranks of the party.

The zoning arrangement as proposed and adopted yesterday will see new officers emerge as follows; National chairman(North-East), Deputy National Chairman (South-South), National Secretary(South-West), Deputy National Secretary(North-Central), National Organising Secretary (South-East), Deputy NoS(North-Central), National Treasurer(South-South), Deputy National Treasurer (North-West), National Legal Adviser (North-West), Deputy National Legal Adviser (South-South), Woman Leader (North-West), Deputy Woman Leader(South-South), Financial Secretary (North-Central), Deputy Financial Secretary (South-East), National Auditor (South-West), Deputy National Auditor (North-East), National Youth Leader (South-East), Deputy National Youth Leader(North-West, National Publicity Secretary (South-West), Deputy National Publicity Secretary (North-Central).
However, the man in the eye of the storm, Modu-Sheriff, declined to say emphatically if he will run for the office at the convention.

Speaking with newsmen after the NEC meeting, however, Modu-Sheriff refused to answer affirmatively if he will take the slot given to the north-east as being speculated.
He said he will make known his decision whenever he finishes consulting.

Some aggrieved members had threatened to hold a parallel congress should the zoning arrangements be sustained.

But irrespective of the threat, the NEC of the party adopted the zoning arrangement.
However, sources at the meeting said that an agreement was reached that states that do not have representation in the current National Working Committee (NWC) should be given preference when the zones are to share the slots.

It was also gathered that the position of National Legal Adviser was initially zoned to the North Central but was swapped with North West on the request of former Senate President, David Mark at the NEC meeting yesterday.

While the party tried to pretend that all is well, there were ominous signs of trouble within the party yesterday as majority of the NEC members stayed away from the meeting.
Aside from the acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, virtually all the BoT members stayed away from the NEC meeting.

Four of the 12 governors elected on the platform of the party were also absent at the meeting.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting before going into a closed door session, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in his remarks begged aggrieved party members to shield their swords and accept whatever might happen.

He said, “PDP is the only party in Nigeria that we can say belongs to everyone and belongs to no one.
“The time is now for us to make sacrifices, the time is now for us to make compromise, so that the party will remain strong, so that Nigeria will be able to trust us again in 2019.
“The responsibility for this belongs to all of us, and one hopes that the schedule of our congresses and convention will be religiously followed”.

Governor Ibrahim Dankwabbo who spoke on behalf of the governors’ forum said, “Let me commit members of the governors forum to the decisions of NEC. As a party and democrats, we are bound to have disagreement and agreement on issues but once the party takes a position, as party members and democrats, we are bound to follow the decision of the party.

Walid Jibrin, Acting Chairman of the BoT, in his comments also appealed for calm among the party members as he faulted all those who held nocturnal meetings prior to the NEC meeting held yesterday.

He admitted that there were challenges within the party but gave assurances that those of them who are founding members will not abandon the ship of the party.

He offered apologies to members of the BoT for the inability to hold their meeting before the NEC, as he assured that they will meet in due course.

“The exclusion of the BoT is not deliberate and I appeal to all members of the BoT that they should not take offence that there was no meeting of the BoT. We will have another meeting after this one.
“We are very aware of various meetings everywhere, I have decided that I will not attend any meeting apart from the properly organized meetings, because we have to be very careful in the way we hold meetings these days.
“Anyway, we have to use these meetings positively in a way that they will benefit the party.
“Many of us who are founding members of the PDP will not leave the PDP and the PDP will never die. We will continue to be in PDP; whatever mistake is there we might be there to correct it and make our contribution. Leaving PDP is not the answer.
”I will like to appeal to everyone who intends to leave the PDP that they should stop that, we must unite and all work together in order to build PDP. PDP is within a very good marking and I do not think I see anything wrong with PDP.
“Every party has its own problems and we should use our own problems positively. I’m sure soon the whole problem in PDP will be resolved”.
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