Fresh revelations have emerged about how governors and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) schemed to abandon the party for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) if the erstwhile chairman of the party, Sen Ali Modu Sheriff, had won the legal battle over the leadership of the party.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that the decision to massively dump the PDP was reached following a recommendation by the Strategy and Inter Party Affairs Committee headed by former PDP chieftain, Prof Jerry Gana.
The recommendation was the outcome of meetings between the PDP committee and other political parties, including the SDP, which sought to forge a mega political force to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
This revelation, however, counters an earlier disclosure by former national chairmanship aspirant of PDP and media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who said he got the support of party organs to form the Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in case the Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led faction lost to Sheriff’s camp at the Supreme Court.
The PDP had suffered a 14-month leadership crisis, which pitted factions loyal to both Sheriff and Makarfi.
But speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Shehu Gabam, a former chieftain of PDP but now the national secretary of the SDP, said he was a member of the Prof Gana-led committee which recommended the SDP as a back-up for PDP members in Makarfi’s camp.
“I was a member of the committee (Strategy and Inter-party Affairs Committee). So I have firsthand knowledge of all that happened. The talks were not just about SDP alone. There was the Labour Party, PRP and so many others. What we were doing at that time was to look at how we could strengthen the PDP because we were not in power. So we needed other parties, either to fuse or form an alliance with PDP. “In 1999, PDP partnered with some parties, including the Alliance for Democracy (AD). It is normal in a democratic dispensation. So we went to Ibadan to meet the SDP. We also went to Kaduna to meet with Alhaji Balarabe Musa and his party (PRP). We went round the country; maybe people were not knowledgeable about this. And they were ready to fuse into PDP.
“A Memorandum of Understanding was signed. And we said in case we lost at the Supreme Court, we will leave the party under Sheriff. We will all move into SDP based on the criteria I told you earlier. That was agreed. Had we lost at the Supreme Court, the next day we would have addressed a world press conference and declared that we were joining the SDP. Governors and former ministers were briefed about this.”
Gabam added that the SDP had 70 percent of the coalition that seeks to displace PDP and APC in 2019.
He said, “We are part of the coalition. I am part of the contact and mobilisation committee. So virtually all of them are here. I cannot tell you it’s 100 percent but I can tell you that 70 percent of all the coalitions are in this movement.”
He further claimed that some party chieftains mortgaged the outcome of PDP’s national convention because of their presidential ambition.
“Everybody was positioning to have the structure of the party at the convention. They all wanted to be president, including those that can’t even mention that they want to be president. Some people mortgaged the convention because they want to be president,” he said.