Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, yesterday said the party needed to re-engage its allies to strengthen the quest to return to power in 2019.
Makarfi’s position which confirms THISDAY report on the new thinking of the crisis-ridden PDP came just as his leadership said it would no longer allow the disagreement with factional national Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to distract it from forging ahead with positive measures that will help the party regain power.
Echoing the position of Makarfi, the Spokesman of PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said although no one can rule out chances of renewed peace deal with Sheriff, the caretaker committee feels it has to move forward and try to adopted new strategies to reposition the party.
Speaking while inaugurating members for the newly established Strategic Review and Inter-Party Affairs Committee, Makarfi said the caretaker committee felt that it should not allow its members to remain docile and inactive in the face of happenings in the polity.
He said various groups had approached his committee for talks on political alignments but that they felt there was need to consult with more members of the party.
According to him, “Irrespective of the reconciliation, PDP must be reorganised, and restrategised. You must engage if you want to build a moving consensus to enable us capture power in 2019. Time is running out, hence the need to bring on board more stakeholders to help chart the way forward ahead of 2019.”
The former Kaduna State governor, who explained that the membership of the committee has been expanded to about 115, however insisted that its formation is not because of the crisis in the party but in furtherance of democracy and survival of the country.
“We do not begin by drawing conclusions because life is dynamic, and so is politics. You don’t remain docile and inactive; you don’t remain cornered so that you will be toyed around with at the whims and caprices of anybody. Long before now, we have talked about putting up a number of sub-committees to deal with different aspects of the affairs of our party but because of litigations, we have not settled down to do that.
“Time is going; a lot of things are happening and our men and women are beginning to hold all sorts of meetings. However, if you don’t bring all your folks together to talk as one family before long, a good chunk of them would have gone on their own, because nobody will remain active for forever.
“After due consultation, we felt that time is now right to set up a committee called strategy review and inter-party affairs committee.
“The strategy is on how to come back to power in 2019 through every democratic means. And in inter-party affairs, even as caretaker committee, we get approaches by various groups and we felt that it is not the few of us that should be talking to this people,” he stated.
On the terms of reference of the committee, Makarfi said they were to advise on how to make the party stronger and better.
He said the committee of eminent party members would among other things, explore strategies to engage all possible allies with a view to building positive relationship in the overall interest and in furtherance of democracy in Nigeria.
Apart from recommending strategies to reposition to party, the new committee is expected to recommend necessary amendments to the constitution of the party, which will take care of some of the avoidable pitfalls it has fallen into since the crisis began.
With regard to the failed peace efforts with Sheriff and his group, Makarfi said the initial understanding between the warring factions was that the negotiations should be on the basis of acceptance of the national caretaker committee.
He also said that the botched reconciliation committee would have established modalities for achieving genuine peace in the party, including withdrawal of all cases in court.
According to the PDP leader, not all the cases in court may be resolve through political negotiation, adding that there is need to allow some of them run its full course so that the party can resolve the legal issues once and for all.
Meanwhile, the Strategy Review and Inter-Party Affairs has a three-month deadline to conclude its assignment and submit its recommendations.
Among the PDP leaders at the event were the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Prof. Jerry Gana, Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator Ben Obi, the Board of Trustees Chairman, Senator Walid Jibril, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu. None of the party’s governors was at the ceremony.