How PDP Governors plotted Sheriff’s Removal… I’m Still In Charge Says Sheriff
A plot by some governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and a flurry of text messages triggered the revolt that led to the removal of the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Top officials of the party who took part in the game of intrigues that led to the ouster of the party chairman said Sheriff did not realise the level of conspiracy against him till it was too late.
The officials, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said the coalition that worked against Sheriff also included senior party members led by Prof. Jerry Gana. These party members, the officials added, were the ones who persuaded the governors to send last-minute text messages to their delegates to reject Sheriff on the convention ground.
One of the text messages read, “Reject Sheriff at the convention by passing vote of no confidence in him and voting ‘no’ on his ballot paper.”
It was learnt that the text message leaked to Sheriff, who hurriedly left his hotel room and headed to Government House, Port Harcourt.
Sheriff, who had scheduled a press briefing for the early morning of Saturday, was said to have rushed to the Government House where he met the governors, including the host, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, seated.
One of the governors, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said Sheriff confronted the governors, some senators and members of the Board of Trustees at the meeting, but failed to sway them.
The governor, who spoke to our correspondent, said, “The crisis started when Sheriff refused to abide by the terms of agreement that he should spend just three months in office and he started manoeuvring to remain in office.
“We spoke to our colleagues that we should take a position and ask him to leave, they said no. Even when the party was factionalised, they remained adamant.”
The governor added that two of Sheriff’s main backers and sponsors, Governor Wike and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, abandoned him when they saw the level of opposition against their choice.
The governor added, “Wike and Fayose went to beg the Gana faction that they should support Sheriff, they returned with nothing. The members of the Gana faction said ‘over their dead bodies.’
“We then agreed that we (anti-Sheriff governors) would play along and act decisively at the eleventh hour. That’s what we did today (Saturday), by sending text messages to our delegates to pass a vote of no confidence in him at the convention ground.
“Unfortunately, the message leaked and that was why he rushed to meet us at the Government House. We asked him to go and resign in order to save the party, but he refused.
“When he knew that the game was up, he stormed out of the meeting and rushed down to his hotel to address you people (journalists). He knew that there was no way he would survive the gathering storm. We needed to save our party from disintegration and total collapse. That’s what happened.”
Sheriff has, however, declared the convention as “illegal, null and void.”
Sheriff, who spoke with one of our correspondents through his media aide, Inuwa Bwala, said the constitution of the party did not give the governors any role in the party’s affairs.
He said he and other members of the NWC would meet to discuss the “charade” that happened at the “so-called convention.”
Bwala said, “The chairman had announced the suspension of the convention based on numerous and conflicting court judgments.
“He did that strategically in order not to embarrass the party and save it from further litigation.
“Those that met and said they were doing the convention did that on their own. The governors have no role to play in the party according to our constitution.
“Those who think they have money and that because of this they can run the party illegally will have to have a rethink.
“The NWC is still in office and we are meeting soon. The chairman remains in office. All other organs of the party like the Board of Trustees and the NEC will meet at the appropriate time. Sheriff remains the national chairman.”
It was, however, gathered that the party might witness a series of legal action in the days ahead.
On Friday, Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos ordered members of the PDP not to take any action that would void the proceedings of court on the issue of the parallel convention.
Also, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Friday refused to vacate the order not to conduct election into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor at the PDP national convention.