The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has said the party is ready to call the bluff of its governors that are not ready to accept him.
He also said the party was not ready to collect money from the governors to fund the party, saying the former ruling party would not collect what he called “stolen money from the governors.”
He added that the party would not defend any of the governors when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission came after them on how they spent state money while in office.
Sheriff, who spoke to a Punch correspondent through his deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, on the telephone in Abuja on Saturday, said the party was ready to move on without the governors who refused to join hands in rebuilding the party.
Ojougboh, who said he was already in the South-East, where he said the party was going to commence its nationwide mobilisation, specifically said both the governors of Rivers and Ekiti states, Nyesom Wike and Ayodele Fayose, were free to leave the party if they so desired.
Sheriff and members of his team had, on Thursday in Abuja, walked out of a reconciliatory meeting called by former President Goodluck Jonathan over disagreements on how the meeting should be conducted.
Sheriff had insisted that he would preside over the meeting, but Wike and Fayose disagreed, saying Jonathan should preside since it was a reconciliatory and not a party meeting.
However, members of the National Caretaker Committee of the party led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and other stakeholders did not leave the venue, even after Sheriff and his team left.
Jonathan, who described the walkout by Sheriff and his team as unfortunate, said he was going to set up a committee of not more than 40 persons on how to resolve the crisis in the party.
Makarfi and members of his team are currently at the Supreme Court, where they filed an appeal against the judgment of a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which affirmed Sheriff as the national chairman of the troubled party.
He said the party would not want to be dragged into how the governors spent the resources of their states.
Ojougboh said, “We are moving on with the determination to reposition the party. We are not interested in the funding of the party from the governors. They are free to leave if they want to, especially Wike and Fayose.
“We are also not interested in their money. The party belongs to the people, they will finance it. So, if the governors want to withhold money from the party, they are free. We don’t receive stolen money. They have not been funding us and we are surviving.”
He said the party was already planning a nationwide campaign, adding that they were already in the South-East where he said the campaign would start.
“We are starting with Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia states, and then we will move to Cross River State. The party belongs to the people and not to governors who will want to steal people’s money,” he added.
Efforts made by our correspondent to get the reaction of Fayose, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, failed as his aide refused to speak on the matter.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, promised to call our correspondent back but failed to do as of the time of filling this report.