South-west May Severe Ties With PDP If Sheriff Remains In Office Beyond May 21 – Okupe

Doyin-Okupe1A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has warned that many Yoruba politicians in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may reconsider their membership of the party if Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is elected as the party’s chairman.
The PDP is scheduled to hold its national convention on May 21 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where a new national chairman and other members of the national working committee of the party would emerge.
Ahead of the convention, the PDP has been plunged into another round of internal crisis as Mr. Sheriff, who is its substantive chairman, insists on contesting for the position, in spite of the existing zoning arrangement.
Based on the current arrangement, the South is supposed to produce the national chairman at the end of the tenure of the current NWC while the North has been zoned the presidential ticket for 2019.
Going by the arrangement, the South-west is set to produce the national chairman of PDP for the first time, as the remaining geo-political zones, including the South-south and South-east, have at various times, occupied the exalted office either in acting or substantial capacity.
But Mr. Sheriff, a former senator and two-term governor of Borno State, is said to have met, and still meeting political stakeholders in the party in a desperate bid to gain their support as opposition mounts against his candidacy.
However, Okupe insists zoning of the PDP national chairman position to the North is injurious to the interest of the South-west.
He said the party has ignored the virtues of justice and equity, warning that the continued marginalisation of South-west might result in mass defection.
The former presidential spokesman also reflected on the zoning controversy, chiding some South-west chieftains, who he described as charlatans, for collaborating with top party leaders to deny the zone of its rightful place in the party.
In a statement titled: “PDP and the burden of justice and equity”, Mr. Okupe alleged that the seed of misrepresentation was sowed by a group of “political clowns and court jesters” led by the Senator representing Ogun East, Prince Buruji Kashamu, who claimed to be the leader of PDP in South-west.
He noted that the South-west 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 South-west PDP has the intention of bidding for the position during the May 21 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 South-west 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 South-west 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”.
“The sad implication of the above is that, regrettably, many of us from the south-west may have to reconsider our membership of this great party we have helped to nurture and supported through thick and thin; 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”.