The Ali Sheriff faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said it has identified impunity and lack of respect for the party’s constitution and the rule of law as the major problems that led to the its failure in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
Many have expressed the belief that the decision of Mr. Sheriff and his supporters to factionalise the PDP led to its failure in the elections.
The faction, at a media briefing on Monday in Abuja, however said the blame for the losses falls on three governors elected under the platform of the party.
Although the faction did not mention the names of the three governors, it has been engaged in running battles with governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State.
Monday’s press briefing, addressed by the Deputy National Chairman of the faction, Cairo Ojougbo, said ” in all these difficult times only three governors have been the architects of the destruction of the party”.
Mr. Ojougbo said only the governors of “Taraba, Gombe, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers and a few others have been very cooperative and are willing to let the party grow. They have shown maturity, understanding and sagacity in the affairs of the PDP.”
THE BEGINNING OF OUR DOWNFALL
The Sheriff faction recalled that the impact of impunity in the PDP manifested itself for the first time in the 2011 general elections when the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, defeated the PDP in Nasarawa State.
“We had a sitting governor then who could not deliver. This was the first warning against impunity. It was ignored.
“Then in 2015 we had governors in Benue, Kogi, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi and Adamawa. We lost in all these states for a common reason, the governors were not unpopular but they imposed their surrogates and the people voted them out. We paid for impunity,” Mr. Ojougbo said.
The faction argued that an analysis of the 2015 general election showed that all the ten states the party lost were in the northern part of the country, adding that even south-south states would not have survived if former President Goodluck Jonathan did not hail from the region. It said the figures that emanated from the south-east were also “abysmal”.
Mr. Ojougbo said the outcome of the 2015 election proved that although governors are very important in winning elections for a party, they do not necessarily determine the outcome.
“The running of the party should therefore not be left entirely to their whims and caprices. The party must have a say because party is supreme. In the case of Mimiko’s Ondo, the party was denied the valuable say,” he said.
The party leader also said that the faction had cried to all concerned ahead of the Edo election that the party hierarchy in the state was defective and that the Leadership needed to be changed “to allow the 60 stalwarts of the PDP who defected to APC return to the fold.”
“Of course the governors refused. There was no surprise to the result.
“In Ondo State, the script was written in 2013 when Governor Mimiko returned to PDP. All members he met on the ground left the party for him and he took over the PDP. The structure was handed over to the Labour Party.
“If Oke had not gone to AD and Mimiko managed leadership sportsmanly, PDP would have won the election convincingly.
“In the election, APC scored 244,842 votes while PDP scored 150,380 and AD scored 126,889 votes. It is a fact that the AD votes belong to PDP and the simple arithmetic shows why PDP lost; our votes went to Oke and AD,” he said.
He also said that when Mr. Mimiko returned to the PDP, his fellow governors appealed to him to allow for harmonization but he refused.
He said all the PDP members led by Olusola Oke therefore left the party.
Mr. Ojougbo said in choosing a candidate to succeed him, Mr. Mimiko did not allow original members of the PDP to buy forms.
“He mainly anointed Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) who was returned unopposed.
“Party members cried to the high heavens that Jegede is from the central zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears,” he said.
He also said the primary election organised by the Sheriff faction had six participants which returned Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate.
“Jimoh hails from the South. He campaigned vigorously and convinced the people to vote for him. But alas Mimiko will not allow him carry the party flag.
“Mimiko used the instrumentality of state government to overwhelm Jimoh but could not overwhelm the masses and voters. Of course the result is out there for all to see,” he said.
Sheriff independent of Buhari, APC
Mr. Ojougbo also said the accusation that Mr. Sheriff was doing the bidding of Nigeria’s ruling APC is not tenable.
He said it was PDP governors who invited Mr. Sheriff to be the chairman of the party. He also said when he (Sheriff) assumed office, he put in place a committee to conduct a National Convention to “elect people of good character to run the affairs of the party”.
He added that Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State was appointed the chairman of the zoning committee.
“The Governors met and decided that Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff should continue in office. The question is ‘was it Mr. President, General Buhari or the APC who sourced Senator Sheriff for the PDP’?
“Was it the APC who chaired the zoning committee that zoned chairmanship to Sheriff? The answer is No.
“We therefore call on all Nigerians to discountenance the idea that Sheriff is working for the APC. Sheriff was offered the senatorial ticket in the last general election after he left the APC. Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is a complete PDP faithful whose desire it is to reposition the party.
“Truth be told, Sheriff is insisting that power be returned to the people,” he said.
Mr. Ojougbo also spoke about the belief that Mr. Sheriff was a sponsor of the terrorist group, Boko Haram,
He said it is on record that when Mr. Sheriff was governor of Borno State, he suppressed and completely routed the Boko Haram.
“Boko Haram Killed 5 members of his family in the process of his fight against them.
“But when the current Governor of Borno State, Shettima, took over office, Boko Haram became emboldened, virulent and malignant.
“Note also that Shettima became governor because Boko Haram killed the man who was to be governor. His death paved way for the emergence of Shettima who willingly and deliberately encouraged Boko Haram.
“Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff has taken to court the Attorney General of Borno State who claimed that Sheriff is Boko Haram in Suit No. FCT/HC/CU/2494/2016 between Senator Dr. Ali Modu Sheriff vs. Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan and 3 others which is currently ongoing,” he said.
Mr. Ojougbo said although the faction does not comment on individuals, but “for the sake of the survival of the party we take exceptions to the utterances of Prince Adeyeye”.
He said Mr. Adeyeye, spokesperson of the Ahmed Makarfi PDP faction, is attacking Mr. Sheriff’s faction believing that he will be awarded the governorship ticket of Ekiti State.
The sheriff faction, however, warned that if the PDP is not restructured, even if he ( Adeyeye) is awarded the ticket “which we know Fayose will not do, it will be an exercise in futility and a waste of time like Eyitayo Jegede’s”.
Mr. Ojougbo said Mr. Sheriff is the agent of change for the PDP and multiparty democracy in Nigeria.
“Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff remains the only and authentic National Chairman of the PDP and the NWC remains the only administrative body authorized by law to run the party.”
He concluded the briefing by calling on all party members to unite or the PDP will be dead forever.