Overwhelmed by opposition to his candidacy, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday met with the former Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, ex-Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu.
He urged Aliyu to prevail on some party leaders to take it easy on the opposition to his candidacy.
The embattled PDP leader was shocked that the opposition against his return to office is more pronounced in the North.
Sheriff arrived at Aliyu’s Mandara Close, Aso Drive Abuja home at about 6.01pm and left before 7pm.
He came in the company of a senator and three associates and thereafter entered into the inner recess of the mansion for a meeting with the ex-governor.
A top source, who was privy to the meeting, said: “Sheriff actually came to solicit for support from Aliyu and his group for his return as the PDP leader.
“He assured the former governor that he is seeking the mandate to reorganise the PDP before the next election in order to defeat the All Progressives Congress(APC).
“Sheriff is no doubt under pressure because of the gang-up against his desire to return to office on May 21. Most leaders of PDP from the North cannot understand why Sheriff will want to be National Chairman at a time the zone is seeking the party’s 2019 presidential ticket.
“They see his ambition to lead the party as a spoiler’s game which will not help the North.”
A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) said: “The fear of Sheriff’s candidacy is about his alleged presidential aspiration. Some PDP leaders are suspecting that Sheriff might transmute from party leadership to presidential candidacy.
“Others see his desire to retain his seat beyond May 21 as a gross violation of the PDP zoning formula. If Bamanga Tukur and Adamu Muazu from the Northeast have led PDP in the last three to four years, what is the rationale in giving the slot to another candidate from the Northeast?
“Going by our zoning policy, it is the turn of the South to produce the next national chairman of PDP. If Sheriff re-emerges, it might lead to the disintegration of PDP because many leaders will leave the party.”
Also yesterday, former presidential spokesman Dr. Doyin Okupe, said the zoning of the PDP national chairman position to the North is injurious to the interest of the Southwest.
He said the party has ignored the virtues of justice and equity, warning that the marginalisation of the zone might herald mass defection.
Okupe reflected on the zoning controversy, chiding some Southwest chieftains, who he described as charlatans, for collaborating with top party leaders to relegate the zone to the background.
In a statement titled: “PDP and the burden of justice and equity”, the former presidential aide alleged that the seed of misrepresentation was sowed by a group of political clowns and court jesters.”
He noted that the Southwest PDP elders, led by the former National Deputy Chairman Chief Olabode George, have condemned the “traitors” during their recent summit in Lagos.
He said the Southwest PDP has the intention of bidding for the position during the national convention.
Okupe said: “ I want to state categorically, without any fear of equivocation, that we, the Yoruba from the Southwest, desire and demand the post of the national chairman at the next convention of the party.
“The following are the past chairmen: Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Gemade, Audu ogbe, prince Ogbolafor, Dr Nwodo, Alhadji Baraje, dr Haliru Bello(Acting), Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Prince Secondus(Acting),and Sen Sheriff.
“In the last 18 years, there have been 11 chairmen from five geo-political zones. Only the Yoruba from the Southwest have been precluded from this exalted office.
“In the interest of fairness, equity and justice, it is most compelling that the Yoruba of the Southwest zone must be allowed to contest for this post at this coming National convention.”
Okupe warned that any attempt to deny the Southwest the position could spell doom.
He said: “Any attempt to do anything to the contrary, no matter the reason advanced cannot be acceptable. Failure for a Yoruba man to emerge as the national chairman can only mean two things: that there is a pervasive and concealed hatred for the Southwest in the PDP, or the PDP has very little or no regard for Yoruba interest as shown by the obvious cheating of the Southwest from the position of the House of Representatives Speaker in 2011, which was neither rectified nor compensated for the whole of four years.”
Okupe added: “The sad implication of the above is that, regrettably, many of us from the southwest may have to reconsider our membership of this great party we have helped to nurture and supported through thick and thing, a party we have loved almost more than our very existence, and the party we have served with all our natural endowment, in victory and defeat.”