- Makarfi convenes stakeholders meeting monday
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
Reinstated national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, says, if need be, he is ready to relinquish his office for peace to reign in the party. Sheriff was restored to the chairmanship post on Friday by the Court of Appeal, amid controversy. At a news conference yesterday in Abuja, he dismissed the rejection of his court-ordered reinstatement by some key stakeholders of the party, stressing that he has commenced broad consultations aimed at restoring peace and unity in the PDP.
Meanwhile, a stakeholders’ meeting has been called for tomorrow by chairman of the PDP national caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi. The committee was appointed during the contentious national convention of May 21 last year in Port Harcourt to oversee the affairs of the party after Sheriff’s ouster. The notice of the meeting circulated yesterday, signed by the national publicity secretary of the committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said it would discuss “crucial party matters.”
It is widely believed that the decision of the appeal court, which went against the Makarfi leadership, would be a key subject at the meeting scheduled for 2pm at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. Those invited include members of the National Executive Committee, members of the Board of Trustees, National Assembly members, former governors of PDP, former ministers under the platform of the PDP, former National Assembly members, and party elders.
Sheriff won a major victory on Friday in the protracted leadership tussle in the PDP, which broke out after his removal at the Port Harcourt convention. Despite the victory, he said he would pursue peaceful measures aimed at reunifying the party.
“I have been consulting with leaders of the party,” Sheriff told the press conference. “From Monday, I will consult our members in the National Assembly; I will consult the BoT and everybody so that we can work together. I can assure you that within the shortest time possible, we will organise a successful national convention so that people can aspire for whatever positions they want to.”
He said, “I am determined to make my honest contributions to the success of this party. I am ready to make any sacrifice for the success of this party. We don’t want PDP to lose elections again. We need people to patronise our party. Democracy is about people, you either give them their right or they leave. What we are trying to do is to give the party back to the people.”
Sheriff dismissed the statement by the chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, which condemned the appeal court verdict, saying it is a personal opinion that does not represent the position of the governors.
The former governor of Borno State said, though, he had confidence in the country’s judiciary, litigation was not the best way to settle the disputes in the party. He urged those making “misguided statements on the integrity of our judges to desist from doing so.”
Regarding the appeal court ruling in his favour, he said, “I want to assure that nobody is victor and no one is a loser. In fact, I have spoken to almost all the people that are affected by the court decision and assured them of my readiness to work with them to ensure that the party returns as one family.”
Sheriff dismissed the insinuations in some quarter that he was working for the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari. The former governor said from the antecedents of those making the allegations, the public could decipher the truth.
He said, “I don’t believe all those insinuations that were being peddled around. All those that are saying that the APC are responsible for the PDP crisis may have something to hide.”
Sheriff denied reports that he had made disparaging comments about Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Fayose, saying, “This is the first I am making any statement ever since the Port Harcourt court pronouncement, but I have seen many things on the Internet purported to have been said by me against some leaders of the party
“I think people should respect themselves, they should not compound the problems for the party.”
As a mark of his commitment to peace, Sheriff said he would hold a meeting with members of the reconciliation committee headed by Governor Sirieka Dickson of Bayelsa State.
According to him, “The judgement of the Port Harcourt Court of Appeal on Friday does not call for merriment or mourning. In my candid view, there was no victor and no vanquished.
“I see the judgement as a golden opportunity for a sincere renewal of our sense of unity and fraternity. No doubt, we have come a long and tortuous road wherein some of us have been bruised or outrightly wounded and are hurting. I understand also that for some of us, our ego has been agitated.
“Yet, I dare say that we can put all of that behind us and come together with one accord and move our great party, the PDP, forward.
“All of us are winners, Sheriff is not the winner and Makarfi is not the loser. I have received calls from our party leaders, the governors and members of the National Assembly.
“It is not about me or any ambition; it is about the survival of our great party. On this score. I can assure you that I shall be willing to make any sacrifice that can guarantee peace in our party.”
He continued, “This morning I have spoken to Governor Dickson, who is the chairman of the peace committee, and former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu on the development and how to get back the peace process on track. Court has made its pronouncement, right, but what is important is how we proceed to organise our successful convention. First of all I must make consultations with all the leaders of the party.”
Sheriff stated that his leadership will move to reopen the party’s national secretariat, which has been locked by the police following clashes by the two factions of the party. He said he would pursue the matter in court this week.
In a related development, the youth wing of PDP in the South-east has rejected the judgement of the Court of Appeal that reinstated Sheriff as national chairman of the party. The South-east zonal youth leader of the party, Comrade Chidiebere Goodluck Egwu, said the youth of the zone would not recognise Sheriff as national chairman of PDP. Egwu said they still recognised the Makarfi leadership, stressing that they are optimistic that the Supreme Court would set aside the judgement of the appeal court.
“We, the South-east PDP youth, stand with Alhaji Ahmed Markafi, PDP caretaker national chairman,” the youth leader said.