PDP Woos Ali Modu Sheriff, Ikimi, Others
Barely 24 hours after lauding the All Progressives Congress (APC) for conducting a peaceful National Convention, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to woo those uncomfortable with the emergence of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as National Chairman.
The party has launched covert talks with ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Tom Ikimi, ex-Borno Governor Ali Modu Sheriff, a former National Secretary aspirant, Mallam Kashim Imam, and Borno State Deputy Governor Zannah Umar Mustapha.
The Deputy Governor told reporters in Abuja that he would rise and fall with Governor Kashim Shetttima instead of leaving the APC.
It was gathered that some PDP stalwarts had been meeting with some APC leaders, who were displeased with the outcome of the National Convention.
Those targeted are in the Ikimi-Modu-Sheriff group whose nominees were asked to step down for consensus candidates.
Ikimi stepped down for Odigie-Oyegun. Kashim Imam, who had aspired to be the National Secretary, gave up his ambition for Mallam Ibrahim Gubi from Yobe State.
The group was said to have lost the National Vice-Chairman for the Northeast.
It was gathered that although the PDP had been wooing the affected APC leaders to pull out of the National Convention, it did not succeed.
The ruling party decided to take advantage of the outcome of the convention to reach out to Ikimi and others.
A source said: “We have got intelligence report that PDP is trying to cause disaffection in our party by wooing Ikimi and others. Yet, the same PDP was the first to congratulate our party for holding a successful convention.
“Some PDP leaders have held discussions with some aggrieved APC leaders to prevail on them to defect to the ruling party in order to decimate the opposition.
“Their initial plan was to scuttle our convention but we buried our differences to speak with one voice. Now, they are infiltrating our ranks.
“They even went to the extent of courting the Deputy Governor of Borno State under the pretext that Borno was shortchanged by not producing the National Secretary of the party.
“The PDP cannot go far; we are united to keep our party intact. Those being wooed should have a rethink.”
Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, Odigie-Oyegun, said: “We have started our reconciliation, right from day one; we will extend our hands of fellowship to those aggrieved. In my acceptance speech, I called for forgiveness and healing of rifts.
“In one week or two, I will unfold my plans for the party, which will carry everyone along. This mandate is not about me; it is about changing Nigeria for better.”
On the felicitations from PDP, he said: “I welcome it but I hope it is a spirit that goes deep down. This is the time for politics of issues; politics of principle and politics that recognises that the cardinal preoccupation of government is service to the masses.
“Service to the people is the main justification for the legitimacy of any government.”
Mustapha told reporters in Abuja that he would rise and fall with the governor.
Mustapha said he had made a decision that Shettima would be the last person he would work with as deputy.
He said he did not see himself contesting as running mate or working under any other person, except his boss.
He said: “I have worked with His Excellency, Governor Kashim Shettima in the last three years and I can tell you that he is the best boss any deputy governor can have in Nigeria. He is so humble, kind; he is a good listener and very consultative. He respects me and protects my integrity as his deputy. What more can I ask for from a governor?
“I will rise or fall with him; I will stand by him through every step of the way, no matter what. Insha Allah, he will be the last governor I will serve as deputy because I don’t see myself being a running mate to any serving or past commissioner or anyone at all.
“Wherever Shettima stays, I stay; wherever he goes I go. This is my kind of person. I am an APC man and a committed one for that matter. My Governor is an APC man and I will support him.
“Together with leaders of the party at the national and state levels, we will move the party to a grand victory at all levels of the 2015 elections in Borno and the rest of Nigeria”.
On the APC congresses at the state and national levels, the Deputy Governor urged those aggrieved to embrace peace.
He added: “It is God that gives power to anyone and it is also He that takes it or deny it to anyone.
“Politics is give-and-take and it is a game of strategizing and re-strategising. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want and sometimes we get it either as individuals or as groups, the important thing is for us to move forward.
“Those who win at every point in time should accommodate those who lost; everyone should be carried along so that we remain a family. We are always better together than being divided; we can always harmonise our interests – no matter how different.
“We must at all times put our country and our party first so that we commit ourselves to the values we stand for and move this country and our states forward.
“In Borno State, for instance, we had a very successful congress, but as we know only God is perfect. As humans, we are bound to make errors and at the same time make adjustments where there is need. It is the same with everything in this life. What is important, like I have said, is for us to forge ahead as a family, putting our past behind us.”
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