The national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff on Thursday walked out of the stakeholders’ meeting convened by the former president Goodluck Jonathan.
The meeting convened by former president Goodluck Jonathan held at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja and was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis in the party.
Sheriff insisted that as the legally recognised chairman of the party, he should be the only person to address the meeting and walked out in protest when party members refused to accede to his demand.
Speaking to journalists after, Sheriff said he would abide by the recommendations of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led reconciliation committee which had proposed a national convention.
“We are here for PDP stakeholders meeting and the PDP has only one national chairman, which is Ali Modu-Sheriff. There is no PDP meeting that will take place under whatever arrangement that I will not open the session as national chairman. Today, I’m the most senior member of this party.
I think Governor Dickson made a proposal for reconciliation and we have accepted. Some people want to deviate from this programme, to bring an agenda which was not part of it. And as national chairman of the party, what I have told you people in my office when Dickson brought the report is the only thing that we have agreed at this moment. And I will not be party for anybody using me to do another programme. I’m not going to be part of it”, he said.
When asked whether walking out of the meeting was not a mark of disrespect for the former President, Sheriff said, “Well, I respect him. He was a former President but as of today I’m the most senior member of the party. Therefore if I respect him, the respect must be reciprocated. You can’t call me for a meeting of PDP and say I cannot address the meeting as national chairman of the party.
The former president set up a 40-man committee made up of state governors and other party leaders to find lasting solution to the PDP crisis.
Jonathan said he would chair the committee whenever he was available, and in his absence, former Vice President Namadi Sambo or former Senate President, David Mark, would lead the committee. The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.
Speaking to journalists, Jonathan described Sheriff’s walk out as a minor setback which would be resolved after the committee submitted its report.
He said, “The Board of Trustees will select six people, one per geopolitical zone; each of the blocks will bring six persons, one per geopolitical zone; all our governors will be members; deputy senate president, Senate minority leader; minority leader, House of Representatives and minority whip; two former governors from both groups, one from the North, one from South; two former ministers, one from the North one from South; two women, one from the North, one from the South and two youths.
Within two weeks, they will come up with strong recommendations and a smaller group larger than that committee will meet.
By the time we come back, those minor areas that caused what we saw in the earlier part of the meeting will not be there again because all those issues must have been smoothened out. We regret that little situation we encountered”.
Jonathan in his opening remarks asked party members to shelve personal ambition and make sacrifices for the party, adding that if the PDP is weakened it would become difficult to win elections on its platform.