The new National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has been asked to resign immediately.
The PDP leaders, under the aegis of the PDP Rescue Group, led by Ambassador Wilberforce Juta, equally warned the party’s National Working Committee against extension of its tenure.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Sunday, Juta, who is the Chairman of the PDP Rescue Group, said the party leaders were upset and disappointed with the appointment of Sheriff.
Juta added that a majority of members of the PDP had no faith in Sheriff.
He said the person, who should lead the party now, should be someone he described as a person of impeccable integrity.
Juta stated, “The current leadership crisis is a challenge to every Nigerian in the sense that having the PDP destroyed by acts of error of judgment, as being witnessed now, is denying Nigeria of a strong opposition party that is badly needed if Nigeria’s democracy is to be strengthened and all tendencies towards civilian dictatorship checked.
“The crisis must challenge all party members to action to halt the party from further drift.
“The plan of the PDP Rescue Group is to mobilise party members and leaders to help attain this noble goal.”
He described the way Sheriff was appointed as a crude imposition, calling on the party stakeholders to search for a credible person to replace the former Borno State governor immediately.
Juta added, “Given that PDP is now a major opposition party, it is the duty of every PDP member to ensure that party leaders possess high integrity and leadership skills.
“To raise a leader, who is lacking in integrity and skills, is to throw the party and the nation into inefficiency, indiscipline, disorderliness and even chaos.
“Sadly, the overwhelming reaction of Nigerians to Sheriff’s emergence, especially PDP members and leaders, is that of disappointment.
“It is therefore critical, if the PDP must come back to national reckoning, that we remodel its leadership on the platform of honesty as required by the party’s manifesto.
“To this end, we call on all the party organs to rise to the challenge by insisting on the reversal of what is clearly a crude imposition of Sheriff on the party.
“The party organs – the State and Zonal Chapters, Board of Trustees, National Caucus, the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee; and pressure groups, such as the National Assembly Caucus, PDP Ministers Forum, PDP Governors Forum, the G-84 as well as PDP leaders past and present – should commence the search for persons with high integrity, strategic insight and fear of God Almighty to lead the party.
“It is our considered view that we should endeavour to elect only those with such discernible traits.”
He said the group was upset by the decision of the National Executive Committee of the party to appoint Sheriff.
Juta said he and members of his group were convinced that “this decision by the NEC is against the will and wish of the generality of faithful members.”
The group said, “We know for a fact that the North-East Zonal wing, having been directed by the National Caucus of the party to forward nominees from the zone, did not nominate Sheriff for the position of national chairman.
“In the interest of the PDP and the country, Sheriff should do the needful by stepping down honourably as it is evident that party members nationwide overwhelmingly reject his imposition.”
The PDP Rescue Group called for early congresses and National Convention to elect party leaders as the term of the current leadership would end in March 2016.
The leaders warned that “under no guise should the tenure of the current leadership of the party be extended if we must make the needed fresh beginning.”
Speaking with journalists at the briefing, a former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, who is also the Deputy Chairman of the group, described Sheriff’s appointment as an imposition.
Also, a former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State and Secretary of the group, Mr. Mukhtari Shagari, called on Sheriff to resign, adding that leaders of the party would not sit down and allow the party to die.
Some of the members of the group, who were at the briefing, are John Odey, Alh. Kabiru Mohammed, Dr. Akilu Indabawa, Dr. Umar Ardo, Mr. Bashir Maidugu, Mr. Mohammed Kabir, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, Lancelot Anyanya and Muyiwa Oladimeji, among others.
Meanwhile, the Forum of PDP ministers, who served from 1999 till 2015, are meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, where a decision would be taken on Sheriff.
A former Minister of Aviation, who is also the Chairman Committee on Strategy, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, stated this in a text message to our correspondent on Sunday.
“The PDP Ministers Forum, under the able leadership of Alhaji Tanimu Turaki (SAN), the former Minister of Special Duties, will meet to deliberate on how to move our party forward in view of recent developments,” he said.
He added that contrary to some media reports, membership of the PDP Ministers Forum is not restricted to only ministers that served between 2011 and 2015.
He said the meeting that would hold on Tuesday was not just for the ministers that served under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The meeting is for all PDP ministers who are still in the party and who served between 1999 to 2015,” he added.
Since he was named the national chairman of the party on Tuesday, Sheriff has faced a series of rejection by notable members and organs of the party but the PDP governors have supported his emergence.
The Board of Trustees and ministers, who served under Jonathan, had earlier called on Sheriff to resign.