The crisis that had rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) preparatory to its May 21 national convention recorded a turn for the better yesterday as stakeholders shifted positions and reached compromises on earlier positions in search of peace.
The PDP National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, and the party’s 12 governors agreed to suspend the contentious amendment of the party’s constitution while the Board of Trustees as well as the Jerry Gana-led Concerned PDP Stakeholders Forum shifted ground on their earlier opposition to the holding of the national convention and the candidature of Sheriff for the position of national chairman.
All parties equally agreed that the Presidency would remain in the North and decided to take a resolution at the convention to that effect.
At the 55th meeting of the BoT at the party’s national secretariat, in Abuja, Sheriff announced that a decision had already been taken at an earlier meeting with PDP governors to review the just- concluded congresses in states where there were problems.
Sheriff, who attended the meeting some minutes behind schedule, set the tone for the compromise when he apologised to members for his lateness and equally apologised to Gana over the derogatory statements issued by his media adviser, Inuwa Bwala, against Gana.
On the issue of the constitution amendment which had generated ill feelings between the Sheriff-led National Working Committee and the BoT, the party chairman said that he had met with the PDP governors and it had been resolved that the matter of the constitution amendment be suspended for more consultations.
He said: “As a result of dissatisfaction with the last congress, meetings have been called to resolve issues.
The governors met with Gana and invited me; as a result of the meeting, it was agreed that we step down the issue of the constitution amendment. Agreement has also been reached on states where congresses had become contentious. We have not even received the report from the committees that conducted the congresses. So it was agreed that those congresses that had problems should be reviewed; a committee will be set up to review and correct what went wrong.”
He said that it was very important to have one united family before the convention. On the matter of the zoning of the Presidency, Sheriff declared that it had also been agreed upon that a resolution would be taken at the convention that the Presidency would go to the North.
He explained that he played no role in the drafting of the contentious amendments proposed to the party’s constitution.
“I was not a party chairman when the constitution committee was set up, I was not the chairman at that time. So, I have nothing to do with it. But I will take all the responsibility to have it resolved.”
Sheriff later took time to tender a formal apology to Gana over derogatory statements by his media adviser.
“I have not authorised anybody to insult anybody let alone my elder, Jerry Gana. In our culture, the elders are always right. So, I apologise to Gana on behalf of everybody.”
Meanwhile, the BoT has elected Senator Walid Jibril as its substantive chairman. Jibril, until he was elected was the board’s acting national chairman and secretary.
The board also appointed a former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ojo Maduekwe as its secretary.
Walid said his election was based on merit and had not breached the constitution of the party.
In a speech, Jibril congratulated Sheriff on the efforts to solve the problems in the party.
At the end of the six-hour meeting, Maduekwe read a communiqué which announced the adoption of the decision taken at the meeting of the governors’ forum earlier.
Maduekwe said that “in spite of reservations, the consensus opinion was that we support NEC decision that convention holds on 21 of May, 2016.
“That all grievances arising from state congresses would be carefully looked into and see how we can carry everybody along.
“In states where congresses generated crisis, there would be a review.
“That we urge NEC to take a resolution at the convention that the presidential candidate on the party will come from the North and when that happens, the chairmanship of the party will shift to the South in line with the party’s constitution.”
He said the party would ensure that Sheriff honours the decision to quit when the party’s presidential candidate is elected from north.