Following stiff opposition by the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party to his desire to contest the chairmanship of the party at its national convention scheduled for May 21, the National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff has begun moves to checkmate it.
Sheriff had proposed an amendment to the party’s constitution, whereby he added a clause that the body would need to consult him before it could call for any meeting.
Unlike before, the BoT, of which the national chairman is a member, does not need his permission to hold its meeting.
It is a statutory organ of the party with powers to act as its conscience.
However, in the proposed amendment, which was meant to be discussed at the last meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee, Sheriff is proposing that he needed to be consulted before such organ of the party could meet.
Under PART 1X, Board of Trustees, Meetings of the BoT, the proposed amendment says that “The BoT shall meet at the instance of the Chairman in consultation with the national chairman of the party or at the request of half of the members of the Board or following a resolution of the Board or the NEC request for such a meeting.”
The current constitution of the party merely stated that the “The Board of Trustees shall meet at the instance of the chairman or at the request of half of the members of the board or following a resolution of the board or the national executive committee requesting for such a meeting.”
The proposed amendment to the party’s constitution was included as part of the agenda of the last NEC meeting, which was held in Abuja on Thursday.
However, a copy of the proposed amendment which was sighted by our correspondent showed that rather than being specific on the pages or clauses to be amended, Sheriff decided to print the whole constitution with the amendment.
The idea, it was learnt, was to confuse the NEC members who would not have the patience to read all the entire constitution side by side with the old one and would therefore not know the exact clauses or sections being amended.
A former National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ahmadu Ali, who was present at the NEC meeting, was said to have called the attention of the NEC members to the unusual manner in which the members of the National Working Committee were trying to amend the constitution.
A member of the NEC, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that Ali insisted that the areas, clauses and pages slated for amendment ought to be printed out separately with the proposed news words, sentences or clauses to be added or removed.
The source said, “Now, he (Sheriff) wants to decimate the powers of the BoT by asking to be consulted before we could hold meetings. He will also be asking for agenda.
“If he’s not around, that means we can’t meet. If he’s not favourably disposed to the issues to be discussed, that means we can’t meet.”
A former Minister of Transport, who is also a member of the BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, also said that many people were already preparing to leave the party because of Sheriff.
He said, “Many people are leaving the party now. That will be serious and have dire consequences for us. I’m ashamed of the party.”
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ibrahim Jalo, said that he might quit the party on moral grounds. But he said that he was still making consultation.
Jalo, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, said, “I may leave the party on moral grounds. Jalo may leave on moral grounds. I may likely leave the PDP on moral grounds after Thursday’s NEC meeting.
“When I came in to the meeting hall on Thursday, I realised that the South-West, where most of us had agreed that the chairman should come from, had been short-changed.
“Why give the position to the North again? The North is only interested in the presidential ticket and not the national chairman.
“Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun called me and said that the South-West was conceding the position of chairmanship. I asked him why, he said they had agreed to allow the North produce the national chairman.
Jalo said, “The caucus of the South-West under the leadership of Chief Bode George disagreed with that position.
“I asked him how would he marry his position with that of George? He said the North-West would produce the presidential candidate if the North-East has the chairman.
“This is a bad calculation. In the whole of North-West, the PDP has only one member of the House of Assembly from Kaduna West and only four members of the House of Representatives. How do you take the presidency there?”
He added, “I am the chairman of the House in Gombe State and we did a lot in assisting the state governor to win election. In all the local governments, I have structure. If I’m leaving, I’m leaving with my supporters.”
Oyedokun, also a member of the BoT, however, defended the choice of Sheriff, saying that though the South-West deserved the position of national chairman, he said the timing was wrong.
He said, “Yes, we deserve the position of the chairman, but it shouldn’t be cosmetic. We will have it before the presidential candidate emerges. Let us join hands with Sheriff, who had been doing a good job to move the party forward now, especially in the North.”[Punch]