• Accuses Makarfi of reneging on agreement
•Caretaker c’ttee replies Okorocha
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has urged all those itching to get rid of him to wait for the national convention to vote for a new leader of the party.
Sheriff said prior to the declaration of the Appeal Court, both himself and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, had reached an agreement that whatever is the verdict, that no one would do anything further to destroy the party.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, he pleaded with the governors and those who are opposed to his emergence as national chairman not to do anything that would further divide the party, adding that he understands that most of them have spoken out of anger.
Sheriff said: “I am not here to remain as national chairman. As soon as we hold our national convention, I’m leaving. I will make sure that we do a credible convention, and that we elect leaders that are accepted by the grassroots, that is our mission. I will do that by the grace of God,” he said.
Sheriff, who spoke during a solidarity visit by some PDP leaders from the South-west led by Chief Makunjuola Ogundipe, pleaded with all agitated members to allow peace to return to the party.
He assured that before Friday, he is going to reopen the national secretariat having transmitted all necessary court documents to the security agencies to effect its re-opening.
He said his remaining days at helm of affairs of the PDP are to work hard to reconcile the party and to reposition it to its pre-1999 position.
“I plead in the name of God, let’s bring peace to PDP. Let build this party. If you want us to change something, wait for the convention and vote for the person you like, and Nigerians and the world will see that you are validly elected by the PDP.
“Yes our governors are very important, they are leaders of this party in their own right, they don’t have to divide the party. I will not come down to the level of Ayodele Fayose, I beg him to respect PDP, whatever he said about me posterity will judge him.”
He said he would devote more energy and time to the rebuilding of PDP.
On the fall-out from his victory at the Appeal Court, Sheriff said he and Makarfi sat down before the ruling and agreed that they would both abide its outcome in order to let the party move forward and end the crisis.
Also yesterday, a founding member of the PDP and a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) Professor Tunde Adeniran, canvassed for the return to dialogue and adoption of political solution to finally resolve the dispute in the party.
Meanwhile, the national caretaker committee and Sheriff have given divergent has interpretation to ruling of the Appeal Court on the party’s leadership crisis.
While Sheriff interpreted the court verdict to mean that he and his National Executive Committee who have not resigned their position are to return to their offices, the Makarfi-led, caretaker committee said that Sheriff must allow the status quo ante as at May 21, 2016.
In a statement issued yesterday by the spokesman of the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, the faction said the status quo implied by judgment is that “the full National Working Committee (NWC) elected at previous conventions before May 21,2016 and not the cronies that Sheriff single-handedly appointed and who are parading around as officers of the party”
Adeyeye also used the opportunity reply to the statement credited to the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, on the PDP crisis, saying that his attempt to exonerate the APC from complicity over last Monday’s action of the security agents has only exposed their guilt.
Meanwhile, the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives has pledged unwavering support for the Makarfi’s leadership of the party.
The caucus, in a statement by the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, said it found the verdict of the Appeal Court, as discomforting, and supports the decision of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee to seek redress at the Supreme Court.
The caucus added that Sheriff has not demonstrated any genuine love for the party, and therefore his ‘contraption’ cannot be accepted.
“Their activities in Edo and Ondo States are very fresh in peoples’ minds and as such, no honest and sincere member of our party can trust them; with such fundamental flaws of character and gross disdain for peace, order and brotherly relations,” the statement read.
“It is the opinion of many that the honourable thing would be for the Sheriff and his cohorts to pack up and go,” the caucus said further, adding that under Sheriff’s temporary leadership, matters that require simple mutual understanding became unnecessarily complex and things unduly degenerated into a series of lawsuits.
The rest of the statement read in part:
“While we shall appreciate every effort geared towards reconciling people and rebuilding the party’s strength and stature, we also acknowledge that individuals’ selfish motivations have injured the party enough.’
“In this vein, the PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives has resolved that we shall not, under any condition, consider or approve any agenda aimed at foisting Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff or any of his scanty co-travellers on the PDP.”
“The caucus is not unmindful of how long the resolution of this crisis has taken, but pleads with Nigerians to tarry a little while, as we await the decision of the Supreme Court.”
“Without reservations, the majority of our leaders and members are behind the joint decision taken in Port Harcourt that brought into existence the Makarfi-led caretaker committee.”
“Observing all the efforts and activities of the committee so far, especially the strategy review and repositioning efforts – all massively endorsed by the founding fathers, BoT, committee of former ministers, governors’ forum, the party caucuses at the Senate and the House of Representatives – it is abundantly clear where the wishes of our members are and that is where we also stand.”
“ Sheriff should please take his hands off our party; we unequivocally endorse the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi,” the statement read.