[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]
New Telegraph – The major organs of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have recently been enmeshed in a battle of wits over the control of the party’s hierarchy, after the appointment of a former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, as the party’s national chairman.
Though the players might have temporarily sheath their swords, what many did not see was the undercurrent that led to the power-play, which first appeared as a rumour, later seen as a rude joke. But now, it is gradually leaving the realm of speculation and has become an issue that is being discussed in high level political gatherings.
Even the craftiest of politicians wouldn’t have believed that the idea would fly; the new chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and the Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose are planning a joint ticket towards the 2019 presidential election, the Saturday Telegraph has learnt.
The duo are not just teaming up to fight for the PDP ticket, they are battle-ready to slog it out with the ruling All Progressives Ali Modu SheriffCongress (APC) during the general election in 2019, a move that is quietly destabilising both the erstwhile ruling party and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Insiders within the PDP confided in Saturday Telegraph that the move from Sheriff and Fayose accounts for the latest crisis in the PDP, saying that was why Fayose galvanised the PDP governors to support the emergence of Sheriff as the chairman of the party.
Even Sheriff himself did not leave anybody in doubt that this is about 2019, when, after mounting the saddle, at his maiden press conference, he told the world that he did not know when his tenure would end, and that the PDP is battle-ready for 2019, promising to return PDP to power in the next three years.
Though Sheriff was brought on board to complete the tenure of the former chairman, Adamu Muazu, who resigned after the 2015 Fayoseelection, he shocked even his closest supporters when he told the gathering that his exit would be determined by the party leaders.
One of the party’s top players in the South West, who claimed to be at a meeting where the issue was discussed, said Sheriff believed that a combination of his own popularity in the North and Fayose’s rising profile in the South West might give the duo an edge if they team up.
According to the PDP insider, the APC might be at a crossroads because the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari is not suggestive of a definite action, noting that Sheriff’s idea is to capitalise on the inaction of Buhari to his own advantage.
Though, he believed that the new PDP helmsman might have been tainted with speculations about his alleged link with Boko Haram, he was of the opinion that the Northerners are not seeing him in that light, while noting that all that would have been quelled before 2019. “We are not sure whether Buhari will run for second term or not, but feelers from the APC suggest that they are in a dilemma, because the president is not talking to them about his future.
So, they are not sure. “If PDP wants to win in 2019, we have to start the game plan now. Sheriff has his people in the APC, he knows what is going on and he is a smart politician. Even though, people in the South don’t like him because of the Boko Haram stain, the Northerners don’t think of him like that. “In politics, you need people that are strong willed. Sheriff and Fayose are both controversial politicians, but they believe that the masses are with them.
They are sure of the South-South and South- East votes, they only need to work on the North and South West, and that is why they came up with the choice of Fayose “If Sheriff can stick with the present arrangement adopted by the APC, he has a good chance, because he is very popular in the North. They will surely go with him, but Fayose would have to continue his inroad into other South West states to firm up his popularity.
However, sources close to both players are not totally denying the move, while some say it is their constitutional right to run, if they so desire, others believe that it is an idea being sponsored by some bigwigs in the APC, so as to discredit the PDP.
A PDP member, who was among those opposed to the emergence of Sheriff as the PDP chairman, said the idea is just unthinkable, he said it is something that can never happen in the PDP. “How do you think that can fly? It is absolute falsehood, how on earth will anybody even think of that?
As ordinary party chairman, Sheriff was rejected by virtually all organs of the PDP, especially the decision-making groups. “He was only given a soft landing to remain in office till May.
The man is badly tainted. How could such a person lead the country? It is absolute nonsense; it is just an imagination that can never see the light of day. What do you take PDP for? Misfits and charlatans can’t rule over us, it is totally impossible. “That is a wicked rumour. The day that happens will be the day the PDP folds up, that I can bet with my life.
How can you pair two tainted individuals? We all know how Fayose is seen in the South West, if not for immunity, he wouldn’t even be a governor by now”, he said. Regardless of the stance of some opposition within the party, those who believe that the idea was a possibility in 2019, said fingers remain crossed.
In response, Lere Olayinka, who is the Special Adviser on Media to Fayose, said, though he was not aware of the arrangement, “Fayose is qualified not just as VP, but the president of Nigeria.”
But the APC is leaving nothing to chance, as it hurriedly conveyed a meeting of its leaders during the week to fashion a way to respond to the latest move by the PDP. In the absence of Buhari, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday met with party leaders, including, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; APC national leader, Bola Tinubu and a host of others.
Saturday Telegraph learnt that the meeting was not only convened to address urgent happenings within the party, it also dwelled on the emergence of Sheriff as the n e w P D P chairman.
It was gathered that the APC stalwarts are concerned that the new helmsman of the PDP is extremely popular and has a large followership in the North coupled with a financial might that can bring about a change in the political fortune of the PDP. At the meeting, the APC leaders were said to have been given an immediate task to close ranks, put aside all bickering within their caucuses and look for a way to shore up the popularity of the party, especially in the southern part of the country.
Saturday Telegraph’s sources also informed that the party leaders, Abubakar and Tinubu, were specifically mandated to ensure that the duo of Sheriff and Fayose were wooed to jump ship and return home, because they were hitherto with the ‘progressives’, or cripple their wings and curtail their rising profiles if the other option is not achievable. In the same vein, the APC had earlier in a statement said it was wishful thinking for the PDP to think of ‘conquering’ the presidency again.
The party said it was baffling how the PDP expects Nigerians to abandon APC’s smooth sailing ship for a sinking and rudderless one. The National Secretary of APC, Mai Mala Buni, said Nigerians were a w a r e that the current economic hardship and institutional rot was caused by the PDP’s 16-year misrule and pillage, while noting that Buhari has been working assiduously to correct the PDP’s years of damage and bring about people-centric governance.
According to him; “The 2015 elections has been won and lost. The priority of the present APC administration is to deliver on election promises made by the party to Nigerians who have long desired change of political leadership at the federal level and in many states.
“The APC is reluctant to join issues with Ali Modu Sheriff’s idle 2019 postulations and would rather pursue issues that will bring about all-inclusive development in the country.
“Happily, Nigerians can look back with relief and attest that since the APC-led administration took over governance, Nigeria is back on the right track – economically and security-wise and has taken its right of place among the comity of progressive nations.
“The widely-acclaimed job creation, social welfare and inclusion programmes proposed by the Buhari administration has been well received. The full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the present administration has greatly plugged revenue leakages.
The presidential directive to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components has resulted in a more efficient and realistic pricing system for petroleum products and also brought about constant availability of fuel nationwide.
“Nigeria is winning the war against insurgency. In spite of desperate attempts to discredit ongoing anticorruption efforts, the war against graft is being won.
“In reiterating the recent submission of the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for the first time in many years, Nigeria now has a solidly positive international image and the president is trying to cash in on this image to help rescue our nation from the throes, the economic morass which the PDP 16-year misrule has plunged it.
“These are clear indicators showing that the APC and the Buhari administration is on the right track to delivering on its Change Agenda,” he said.