A 57-man steering committee is waiting in the wings to take over the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the embattled acting national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, should he insist on retaining the post beyond May 21.
A group of influential PDP members known as Concerned PDP Stakeholders Saturday gave Sheriff up to that date, when the party is scheduled to hold its national convention in Port Harcourt, to quit.
If Sheriff remains adamant, the steering committee may begin to run the party from a separate national secretariat as the party heads towards a fresh implosion reminiscent of the 2014 convention which led to the exit of the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and Senator Bukola Saraki.
The party has not known peace since Sheriff emerged as acting national president.
Three ex-national chairmen of the PDP are believed to be in support of the steering committee which includes a former Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, 13 former governors, 14 former ministers and other key leaders of the party.
The former governors, who have formed the breakaway group are Lucky Igbinedion (Edo), Bonnie Haruna (Adamawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Donald Duke (Cross River), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Mahmood Shinkafi (Zamfara), Abdulkaldir Kure (Niger), Mohammed Makarfi (Kaduna), Achike Udenwa (Imo), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) Okwesilieze Nwodo (Anambra) and Gbenga Daniel (Ogun).
They have been joined by 14 former ministers who served under the PDP-led Federal Government when the party formed the government at the centre.
The former ministers are Prof. Tunde Adeniran (Education), Inna Ciroma (Women Affairs), Adamu Maina Waziri (Police Affairs), Prof.Jerry Gana (Information), Dr. Abubakar Suleiman (National Planning), Tanimu Turaki (Special Duties), Ishola Sarafa (Solid Minirals), Zainab Maina (Women Affairs), Joseph Anenin (Women Affairs), Ojo Maduekwe (Transportation), Prof. ABC Nwosu (Health), Dubem Onyia (Foreign Affairs), Bala Mohammed (FCT) and John Odey (Environment).
Among those who have joined the former governors and former ministers are Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, Amb. Nkoyo Toyo, Shehu Gabam, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Rabi Ibrahim, Mairo Habib, Amb. Wilberforce Juta, Ibrahim Bunu, Sen. Joseph Akaagerger, Sen. Zigo Azeez, Sen. Ben Obi, Mrs. Remi Adiukwu and Sen. Ben Obi.
Also on the list are Dr. Bolere Ketebu, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, Shittu Mohammed Kabiru, John Dara, Sen. Folashade Grace Bent, Awwal Tukur, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Dr. Patrick Okomiso, Sen. Anietie Okon, Alh. Aminu Yakudima and Mr. Nichola Msheliza.
A member of the steering committee said: “When we met on Thursday, we told Nigerians that we will set up a steering committee.
“We have constituted the committee on Saturday (yesterday) and it is in the interest of Sheriff to step down on May 21 or else the party may split into factions.
“The steering committee is to pilot the activities of the party from May 21 pending the election of new executives for PDP.
“The implication is that if Sheriff refuses to step aside, the steering committee may run PDP activities from a new secretariat.”
Investigation however revealed that Sheriff and his National Working Committee (NWC) members are going ahead with the National Convention of the party on May 21 in Port Harcourt.
A top NWC member said: “All the so-called members of the Concerned PDP Stakeholders are more or less dissidents. There is no organ of the party bearing that name.
“The party is going ahead with its national convention and these stakeholders cannot stop it from holding.
“What else do they want? The National Executive Committee and other organs have approved the date for the national convention. Anything to the contrary from any individual or group is extraneous and illegal.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “If these so-called stakeholders do not retrace their steps, they may be suspended or expelled from the party.”