The ripples being generated by the emergence of a former governor of Borno State as national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear not to be simmering down, as the groundswell of opposition to his emergence further coalesced on Wednesday.
Senators of the party from the South-East and South-South zone had resolved not to go with his choice immediately it emerged that a vital organ of the party was rooting for him and had threatened to pull out of the party if he emerged the national chairman.
Sources close to the National Assembly said on Wednesday that no fewer than 20 senators could leave the party if Sheriff continued to hold forth as national chairman.
It was also gathered that no fewer than 50 members of the House had also commenced talks on the way forward.
It was gathered that of the 32 PDP senators from the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones, no fewer than 20 had indicated their decision to leave the party.
Their destination could be the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Labour Party.
No fewer than 50 members of the House of Representatives across the geopolitical zones were also said to have indicated interest in defecting to another party from the PDP.
“The Tsunami that will hit the PDP as a result of this decision will be unimaginable. We have some 20 senators already looking to the door right now. The number of members of the House is around 50. Let’s see how the party can survive that,” a source close to the party said.
The PDP currently has 47 of the 109 senators and 141 of 360 members of the House of Representatives.
Sources told the Nigerian Tribune that the decision to field Sheriff as national chairman came from the party’s governors who were able to pull through their decision, forcing it on the national caucus, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and overriding the Board of Trustees (BoT).
It was gathered that the plot to name Sheriff was kick-started on February 14, during the inauguration of the Bayelsa State governor, Mr Seriake Dickson for a second term in office.
Sources said a number of governors who attended the event kicked off the discussion about Sheriff and reached out to their colleagues across the country.
It was confirmed that after firming up their decision to back Sheriff, the governors ensured that the Abuja meetings of the BoT, national caucus and NEC were unable to upturn the decision.
It was leant that the six zonal chairmen of the party, the state chairmen and other stakeholders, including the National Assembly, voted against the choice of Sheriff, but the governors put their feet down.
A source said former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Madueke, actually walked out of the NEC when it became obvious that Sheriff was being imposed on the party.
But the governors were said to have kicked off peace moves from Tuesday night, with the aim of calming frayed nerves and ensuring a united party.
It was learnt that Sheriff was asked to attend the thanksgiving for Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, held on Wednesday.
Sheriff attended the thanksgiving service as his first official assignment during which he went round to shake hands with many of the party’s stalwarts at the event.
Speaking at the rally on Wednesday, the national chairman vowed to lead the party to regain control of the Federal Government in 2019.
Sheriff said nothing would stop his party, which lost power in 2015, from ousting the current All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration in the country.
He said the PDP would soon come out with its master plan on how it would defeat the APC from power, adding that “we are here today, we are starting from here and we are going to Aso Rock, Insha Allah by 2019.
“We will head from here and we will do it together. This my long cap is prepared to lead my colleagues and brothers to Aso Rock, Insha Allah.
“By the grace of Allah, nothing will deter this party from going to Aso Rock in 2019. By the time we put down our master-plan, I am sure they (APC) will go back to where they came from. Insha Allah, nothing will stop us,” he said.
Sheriff, who arrived the event late, regretted missing the speech presented by Governor Ikpeazu, but expressed confidence that he spoke well.
He noted that from the crowd he saw at the stadium where the event held, it was clear that the governor was popularly elected.
Earlier in his remark, the deputy national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, had congratulated the governor on his victory at the Supreme Court, adding that it was clear that the governor came to power by popular mandate.