Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
Some groups and individuals within the Peoples Democratic Party are mounting pressure on its national leadership to impose sanctions on the former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and his followers.
Investigations by one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday, indicated that those who wanted Sheriff and his group punished had been submitting memoranda to the leadership of the party ahead of its meeting slated for Tuesday (today).
The Expanded National Caucus had met at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Monday.
Decisions and issues reached at the meeting would be brought to the meetings of the Board of Trustees and the National Executive Committee on Tuesday.
Some members of the party believed that Sheriff and members of his group, which included a former National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo; Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; and the Acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bernard Mikko, should be punished for the roles they played in the 14-month crisis in the party.
It was gathered that some senators, who were said to have given the Sheriff group financial and moral support, were being listed among those to be disciplined.
Those against Sheriff and his group were said to have argued that bigger danger awaits the party if Sheriff and his group are left without being sanctioned.
In one of the petitions, which was made available to one of our correspondents, the petitioners said the party might soon squander the opportunity it secured following the Supreme Court judgment, which sacked the former governor of Borno State.
The petition by the PDP Reform Group was signed by Ariyo-Dare Atoye and Sefinatu Umaru, who are co-conveners.
The statement added, “The PDP may soon be squandering the big reprieve it secured from the profound judgment of the Supreme Court by declaring a ‘no-victor, no-vanquished’, and dangling an unnecessary amnesty without sanctioning Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his fake National Working Committee acolytes, to serve as a deterrent at the national level and as an example to state chapters.
“Big danger and impunity however await the party if Sheriff is not punished as this may create a signal for disgruntled elements to undermine the party without remorse.
“We make bold to say that organisational discipline relies on the power of sanction and any human institution that jettisons sanction and rewards impunity will become worthless over time.
“The irreducible minimum Nigerians are expecting from the PDP to be taken seriously again, as a party that has learnt some lessons from its 14 months avoidable ordeal, is to bring Sheriff and his fellow accomplices to book.”
The group insisted that Sheriff and his group had worked with those they described as enemies to sabotage the party and destroy what they called an institution that was built by the profound wisdom of its founding fathers.
They argued that the actions of Sheriff and his group cost the party the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
The petition read, “His actions affected the performance of the party in the Edo governorship election; it caused our defeat in Ondo State, and wickedly sabotaged the party in Benue State.
“The fake NWC of Sheriff took a gamble in Osun for a different reason, but the local chapter worked harmoniously, together for the victory. We will never forget.
“Victory for democracy should not be a windy slogan at this point in time. The party must implement the recommendations that the numerous committees have proposed and entrench discipline, bring order and vigorously pursue strict adherence to the party’s constitution, which was our saving grace at the Supreme Court, as we plan for a rebuilding convention.”
In the petition, the conveners said the party must, at the next convention, present its best 11 by identifying honest, patriotic and committed men and women, vibrant, young party members, who are sincerely ready to serve the PDP selflessly.
“The party must never be a slave to an office and the occupant of the office must always be reminded that the party is the facilitator, not an appointee,” the petition added.
Mikko told one of our correspondents, however, that it would be wrong for the PDP to punish Sheriff and other members of the group, adding that they were made to occupy the party’s national secretariat based on a court judgment.
Party govs, lawmakers meet, to pick timetable
Meanwhile, several members of the PDP held an extended caucus meeting in Abuja on Monday to work on the proposal for a timetable for its convention and other notable events.
A source within the party, who spoke to The PUNCH on Monday night, said several interest groups of the party, such as serving governors, members of the National Assembly as well as former ministers, would meet separately and then hold a joint session.
Members of the party, loyal to the Sheriff faction, it was learnt, would be given the opportunity to be reabsorbed.
He said, “The meeting is to forge unity and tell ourselves the truth. We fought a long and bitter battle which ended at the Supreme Court.”
“We will also evaluate our chances of winning in 2019 and what needs to be done. We will also set a timetable for notable events. This will help us plan better.
“Several groups, such as the PDP National Assembly members, PDP governors and ex-ministers will meet separately and then collectively.”
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