The ongoing crisis and infighting within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has turned into a soap opera of dramatic proportions, with the party convention slated for today Saturday 21st May turning into a palace coup of some sorts, having Acting Party Chairman Ali Modu Sherriff removed from office.
The decision to dissolve the national working committee (NWC) of the party was one of the first decisions of the Port Harcourt convention which took place after Sheriff had said the convention had been put off following a series of court orders that tried to stop the convention.
Sheriff had earlier at 2.30 pm called a press briefing at the Le Meridien Hotel, Port Harcourt, where he announced the cancellation of the convention, citing court orders restraining the party from proceeding with the convention as reason.
Inside sources report that the briefing came shortly after a high powered meeting of Party stakeholders including, the 12 PDP Governors, members of the national assembly, members of the national working committee and elders of the party had asked Sherriff to step down as Chairman which he refused insisting that he had till 2018 to lead the party.
At the press briefing, Sheriff said,
“If we proceed with the convention, we will be charged for contempt of court. As a responsible party, we have to respect the court orders. We will reconvene as soon as we are able to dispense with the court cases.
“We’ve been meeting since morning. We had challenges of series of court cases; we’ve decided to abandon election into Chairman, Secretary and auditor.
“We have suspended the convention; we had three different cases in Abuja and Lagos. INEC also said they will not supervise the election. We will be contravening the court and we will be charged for contempt of court. We went to court, but we were denied permission.
“We will do it as soon as we get them (the court orders) vacated. We’ve told all delegates to go home. There is no space for election.”
But in a dramatic turn of events, while Sheriff left Port Harcourt after his briefing, the 12 PDP governors as well as members of the National Assembly and other stakeholders headed straight to the Sharks Stadium, venue of the convention, and kicked off the Convention with Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Nyesom Wike, in charge.
Austin Opara, a former Deputy Speaker House of Representative moved the motion for the dissolution of the National Executive Council of the party and the National Working Committee, NWC. Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, supported the motion, technically implying the removal of Ali Modu Sheriff as Party Chairman.
The convention also set up a seven-man caretaker committee headed by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, while Sen. Ben Obi was appointed as its secretary.
Dr Babangida Aliyu, former Governor of Niger State, also moved the motion that the Presidential Slot for 2019 be zoned to the Northern States. The motion was supported by Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State.
While events unfolded at the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt, the Jerry Gana-led faction held its parallel convention in Abuja.