- Jerry Gana c’ttee considers compromise
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The end to the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still not in sight, as the latest peace overtures initiated by the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) to broker a settlement with the ousted national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has failed to yield positive results.
Sheriff, who was expected to back down on his demands and accept to reunite with his party, instead stuck to his position wednesday, stating that the National Caretaker Committee was illegal and as such should be disbanded before peace could return to the PDP.
At the close-door meeting with Sheriff, which started on Tuesday night and lasted into the wee hours of yesterday, the 18-member reconciliation committee led by Prof. Jerry Gana agreed to go back for further consultations on possible concessions to be made to the former chairman.
Sheriff is insisting that as a condition to end his fight against the party, the PDP must postpone the August 17 national convention, reconstitute the convention planning committee and ensure that a new venue other than Port Harcourt, Rivers State, be chosen.
He accused some leaders of the party of being part of the lingering crisis. The embittered former chairman agreed during the BoT intervention to make concessions and possibly end his struggle to hold on to office, but only if the process of easing him out of office is done in accordance with the PDP constitution.
“I say no to the convention in Port Harcourt on the 17th. The date and venue must be set by all stakeholders and approved by INEC,” he said.
Also, Sheriff maintained that the governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, must not be allowed to chair the convention planning committee, while also calling for the disbandment of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee.
According to Sheriff, the caretaker committee is an illegal contraption unknown to the PDP constitution and must be disbanded.
“All forms of impunity and lawlessness must stop. The ward, local government and state congresses already concluded and approved by NEC must stand,” he said.
Earlier, Sheriff had expressed gratitude to the party’s leaders who initiated the peace drive, maintaining that the crisis in the party wouldn’t have arisen if they were alive to their responsibilities.
“If our leaders had taken their responsibilities seriously, we would never have had most of the problems we are facing today. When a leader refuses to stand up to his responsibilities, there will be problems.
“Why am I saying this? Some of our leaders are parties to our problems,” Sheriff said.
He said that for the party’s crisis to be resolved, the “rule of law” must be followed.
“The moment we want to use one impunity to address another, it will not work,” he added.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Gana said that it was a fruitful deliberation.
He said the committee had taken serious note of the problems causing disaffection within the party.
“We are delighted that there has been a clear resolution on the determination and desire that the problems must be resolved, unity be re-established and for PDP to move forward,” he said.
Gana disclosed that there would be another session with Sheriff and that the committee was scheduled to meet yesterday to further deliberate on issues that were raised before getting back to Sheriff’s group.
Ihedioha: Sheriff Cannot Stop Convention
Despite Sheriff’s refusal to yield grounds, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, has said nothing would stop the PDP from holding its national convention slated for Port Harcourt.
This came as the PDP in Rivers State absolved the state governor, Nyesom Wike, of any links to the Niger Delta Avengers or any other militia group in the region.
Ihedioha, who is chairman, Rivers State Ad-hoc Ward/National Delegate Congress Committee, spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday while addressing journalists.
He said he was in Rivers State to ensure peaceful ward congresses, which are actually part of the process of the convention, adding that he was confident that the convention would hold.
He maintained that the party would not be distracted by agents of destabilisation, who are bent on going against the ideals of the party.
Ihedioha described the former chairman as “an interloper into the party”, but said the party would not be distracted by his antics.
“We will not be distracted. We will be focused and are confident that the national convention of the PDP will hold. Everybody is in speed gear; we cannot be distracted by agents that are against the ideals of our party.
“Sheriff is an interloper in the party. No one has the authority to say that he has cancelled or suspended the convention. Decisions were taken at a national convention that was held in Port Harcourt. The party constitution is supreme,” he said.
Ihedioha alleged that Sheriff was acting out a script written for him by forces bent on ensuring that the PDP remained destabilised as a viable opposition party.
“You cannot stop a man from being an agent of destabilisation,” he said, referring to Sheriff, adding that the former chairman had promised to lead the party for only three months and wondered why he remains adamant at retaining the leadership of the party.
Also, the Rivers PDP absolved Wike of any links to the Niger Delta Avengers or any militant group in the region.
The state publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, told journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday that the allegation was an attempt by the opposition in the state to tarnish the image of the governor.
Explaining that the governor was working with security agencies in the state to rid it of criminals, Nwanosike wondered why anybody would link Wike with the sponsorship of militancy and a militant group.
He said: “A few days ago, we read reports which went viral on the social media that Governor Nyesom Wike is one of the sponsors of Niger Delta Avengers. Our governor has no relationship with the group.
“The governor is working with security agencies to tackle insecurity in the state. He has provided security gadgets and vehicles for the police. The governor has fought insecurity in the state. Those behind the story want to tarnish the image of the governor.
“Those behind this concocted story should desist from such and join hands with the governor to build a strong and peaceful Rivers State. The governor had no relationship with such group in the past, present and future.
“The security agencies in Nigeria have full details of those behind the Niger Delta Avengers and should act accordingly.
“Governor Wike has taken the battle to the criminals’ hideouts by demolishing their houses and shanties. The story linking Wike to the Niger Delta Avengers was aimed at ridiculing the governor and tarnishing his image, but it will not work,” Nwanosike insisted.
He expressed confidence that those behind the allegations would be exposed in due time.