The political feud between the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Court of Appeal sanctioned Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff leadership of the party took a new twist on Sunday as some PDP chairmen disowned the former Borno State governor’s leadership of the party.
They also denied throwing their weight behind the recommendation of Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson’s reconciliation committee for a political solution to the crisis rocking the party.
Speaking on behalf of the chairmen, the Niger State Chairman of the party, Barrister Tanko Beji, said that majority of them have nothing to do with Sheriff’s leadership of the PDP.
The Daily Times recalls that 23 State Chairmen of the party were on Friday night alleged to have endorsed the recommendation of Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson’s reconciliation committee for a political solution to the crisis rocking the party.
The state chairmen also supported Gov. Dickson committee’s reports and recommendation for an all-inclusive unity convention to be held as soon as possible.
The 23 PDP State chairmen in a joint communique read to journalists in Abuja by the FCT chairman, Yunusa Suleiman, after their emergency meeting held on Friday night, said Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, remained the chairman of the party, going by the pronouncement of the Appeal Court.
They suggested that every organ of the party, group or individuals that has anything to add to the recommendations should present same to the national chairman for consideration and deliberations, saying it would deepen internal democracy and support an all-inclusive regeneration of the party.
The communique was signed by PDP chairmen from Jigawa, Adamawa, Niger, Gombe, Taraba, Zamfara, Yobe, Kebbi, Kwara, Bayelsa, FCT, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Imo, Borno, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Kogi, Benue and Cross River states.
But the Niger State chairman of the PDP, Barrister Tanko Beji, on Sunday, denied that majority of the chairmen including himself were part of those who attended the meeting, adding that his signature was forged.
He said he and majority of the other chairmen never attended the meeting and wondered why their names were included among the participants and threatened to press charges against those saying they attended the meeting.
He said: “My attention has just been drawn to a publication in some national dailies (not the Daily Times) concerning a purported meeting of state chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) endorsing Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff as the national chairman. I wish to state that I was not aware of the said meeting and was not in attendance. The signature against my name is equally not mine. For the avoidance of doubt, I remain committed to the National Caretaker Committee of the party and in support of the appeal at the Supreme Court”.
Barrister Beji said in desperation, the Sheriff faction of the party has turned to unwholesome acts as face saving measures.
Beji revealed that only four out of the purported 23 state chairmen of the PDP attended the meeting on Friday. The chairmen that were in attendance at the meeting, according to him were that of the Federal Capital Territory, Bayelsa, Ebonyi and Taraba states.
He said that 19 chairmen of the party mentioned in the alleged fraudulent communique have concluded arrangement to storm Abuja on Wednesday, March 23, 2017 to register their protest and possibly engage lawyers to press forgery charges against the Sheriff faction.
The Niger State PDP chairman’s denial came just as the Borno State chapter of the party at the weekend disowned the National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and backed the National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The Borno PDP, which paid a solidarity visit to Makarfi and members of the Caretaker Committee, added that in spite of threat and intimidation from Sheriff, they refused to leave the party.
The state PDP, under the aegis of Borno State PDP Concerned Grassroot Stakeholders, led by Usman Danjuma Ibrahim, said the members have passed through various threats, money inducement and intimidation by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
”He installed state Exco for our members to leave the party, but we stayed firm due to the love we have for the party,” Danjuma said.
Meanwhile, Bayelsa State Governor and Chairman of the PDP standing committee on Reconciliation, Hon. Seriake Dickson, on Sunday, called on the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker committee (NCC) to step down in the interest of the party.
Governor Dickson made the call while speaking with newsmen on Sunday in Abuja.
The Governor pointed out that the stage was now set for all the chieftains and elders of the party to impress it on the caretaker committee to cede its authority to the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led leadership.
He said: “When the idea of making Sheriff the National Chairman of our party was hatched, I personally kicked against it.
“I also turned down all the overtures from Sheriff because I did not believe in him and what he did.
“So now, my position is that we have to move forward. I am a politician of conviction, I am not a politician of convenience and I am not a typical Nigerian politician’’.
He said the party had come to a threshold when the right political decision should be taken to end the prolonged crisis.
He added: “The Makarfi-led caretaker committee should remember that it was a brain child of the majority of party members including I at a convention in Port Harcourt.
“I and up to 80 per cent of the population of the PDP members were for Makarfi but the unfolding events have compelled us to adopt a political resolution instead of embarking on further bickering.
“As politicians and democrats, we must first obey the constitution and all other instruments of civil rule and which includes obeying the judiciary”.
He also said: “We had expected that the Court of Appeal would give us judgment, but it rather upheld Sheriff as the National Chairman of the party.
“Whether anybody likes Sheriff’s face or not, the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was stripped of its authority to manage the affairs of the party the day the judgment was delivered.
“It was in the spirit to honour the court’s pronouncement that the party’s reconciliation committee that I chair submitted its report on how we shall move forward to Sheriff.
“In fact, as it stands now, Sheriff has started addressing issues within the party, he is the one sending names of party members contesting elections in various states.
“If there is going to be a by-election in Kaduna today, Makarfi’s home state, INEC would not accept correspondences from Makarfi any longer because his business in the party has ended’’.
Dickson noted that Sheriff had always been disposed to political settlement of the crisis, adding that Makarfi had remained adamant.
His words: “So the reconciliation committee which I chair met several times to review our position in the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
“The reality is that Makarfi no longer has the legal backing to carry on with the task of managing the party.
“We are aware of this quagmire, and therefore, the reconciliation committee went ahead to formulate a realistic, practical and strategic response to this reality because in the end it would be to the benefit of PDP’’.
Dickson said the template to ensure the conduct of the party’s National Convention in June was uppermost, adding that Sheriff was positively disposed to it.
“So if you said you are passionate about the survival of the party, then you should be willing to sacrifice your ambition.
“The crisis has caused us a lot, our elected officials, top notch members are decamping to even lesser parties.
“The party continues to fail Nigerians because the crisis has so far prevented it from being a sound credible opposition even in the face of bad governance in the country right now,” he said.
On whether it was right to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal, Dickson said an amicable resolution of the crisis remained the best option.
“Yes, we said they can go on to appeal but without prejudice to the Supreme Court case; let us intensify and fast track the peace moves,’’ he said.
But the Makarfi-led NCC made it clear that if he (Makarfi) must resign, Sheriff too must resign for any political resolution of the crisis in PDP to be meaningful.
The NCC has also vowed to pursue its appeal in the Supreme Court to a logical conclusion in the interest of fairness, justice, equity and the nation’s democracy.