ABUJA — Ali Modu Sheriff, National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said, yesterday, that the battle for 2019 general election had started in earnest. This came as former Senate President, Senator David Mark, raised the hopes of the PDP, that the inability of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to find what he described as compass to navigate the ship of the state and respond appropriately to the yearnings of Nigerians was an ample opportunity for the party to bounce back to power.
Appealing to aggrieved stakeholders of the party to put aside their differences, the chairman said PDP could not afford to remain divided if its desired goal was to be achieved.
He also distanced himself from the comment made by Inuwa Bwala, his media aide, regarding the call for Sheriff to step down.
Bwala had referred to the stakeholders, who made the demand as “self-styled” elders, threatening to report Jerry Gana, former Minister of Information and leader of the group, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly defrauding the PDP to the tune of N500 million.
But reacting at a media briefing in Jalingo, Taraba State capital, Sheriff said: “As a well cultured and astute politician, I would never make any comment that would ridicule the party.”
He added that it was not in his character to join issues with highly respected elders, noting that he never authorised any of his aides to react to issues raised by the aggrieved elders.
Sheriff said the elders deserved the right to complain about issues they considered inimical to the progress of the PDP.
He explained that the present leadership of the party was poised to lend a listening ear to all shades of opinions, with a view to strengthening it to face the challenges ahead.
“Under our leadership and the support and encouragement of stakeholders and supporters, PDP will definitely bounce back in 2019,” he said.
Mark calls for truce to resolve party em passe
Meanwhile, former Senate President, Senator David Mark, has raised the hopes of the PDP, that the inability of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to find what he described as compass to navigate the ship of the state and ultimately respond appropriately to the yearnings of Nigerians was an ample opportunity for the party to bounce back to power.
According to Senator Mark, if the party must come back to power, following its defeat by the APC, after 16 years in government, there was urgent need for a truce among party members ahead of the May 21 national convention.
He also advised the party to avoid the pitfalls of the past, such as imposition of candidates against the wishes of the majority. Mark in a statement by his Media Assistant, Paul Mumeh, said: “We are returning the party to the people and let the people decide. Nigerians can now spot the difference.
“The PDP is still the right choice. Therefore, we must respond positively and ultimately return the nation to the path of glory once more.”
On North Central zonal congress
Speaking to the North Central delegates to the PDP zonal congress in Abuja, weekend, Mark said he was worried by the emerging disaffection within the PDP ahead of its 2016 national convention.
He said: “I think we have realized our past mistakes and learned our lessons. We cannot afford crisis or disaffection within our fold any more.
“It is time for all genuine men and women of our party to make the necessary sacrifice and work honestly towards a united and more cohesive party.” Mark, who noted that there were bound to be disagreements in any human endeavour, said: “We must put aside sentiments, personal interest and reconcile honestly and genuinely for the larger interest.”
Senator Mark craved credible electoral process that would produce credible and acceptable candidates for elections, adding that if things were done the right way, democracy would thrive and endure for the good of all.
At the North Central Zonal Congress elections conducted by former Minister of State for Education, Mr. Kenneth Gbagi-led panel, Mr. Theophilus Shan was elected Zonal Chairman, Mr. Maurice Tsar, zonal Secretary, while Mr. Joel Adagadzu was elected zonal organizing secretary, among others. All the officials were elected through a consensus .
Former governors of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam; Niger, Abdulkadir Kure and Babangida Aliyu; Senators Jerry Useni; Suleiman Adokwe; Philip Aduda and scores of House of Representatives PDP members from North Central zone were among those who attended the congress.