Sheriff waves olive branch, says no winner, no loser
•Ben Bruce queues behind ex-Borno Gov
•APC to PDP: Count us out of your trouble
The fate of the beleaguered Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be sorted out tomorrow at an emergency meeting of the expanded National Caucus of the party in Abuja.
The meeting summoned by the Ahmed Makarfi faction is in response to weekend’s ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt which sacked the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee and reinstated Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the rightful national chairman.
Five options have been listed for consideration at the meeting, The Nation gathered authoritatively, yesterday.
Sheriff offered yesterday to make sacrifices to ensure the unity of the party and branded the court’s ruling as victory for all.
“Sheriff is no winner and Makarfi is no loser, because there is no winner and there is no vanquished. It’s a misunderstanding within our fold,” he told reporters in Abuja.
Sheriff got the backing of Senator Ben Bruce (Bayelsa East) who called the bickering in the party as childish and irrelevant.
He said no to further litigation to resolve the crisis.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) reacting to allegation by prominent members of the Makafi faction of the PDP that it engineered the court ruling dismissed such views as laughable.
The APC said it is none of its business who heads PDP.
At tomorrow’s meeting of the expanded caucus of the PDP, members are scheduled to consider the following options and build consensus on the most practicable to save the party.
*File an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s ruling which declared Sheriff as the valid National Chairman of PDP
* Allow the status quo to remain with Sheriff in charge of the party till August
* Negotiate with Sheriff’s faction to find amicable political solutions to the crisis
* Leave PDP en masse for Sheriff.
* Leave Sheriff to tow the path of honour and bow out as he promised in the past.
Expected at the forum are PDP governors, members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), BOT members, ex-Ministers, party members in the National Assembly especially principal officers, and chairmen of the state chapters of PDP.
The Board of Trustees of PDP is also likely to follow suit on Tuesday and the Forum of ex-Ministers on Thursday.
The BoT, the PDP Governors Forum and the Forum of ex-Ministers are all on Makarfi’s side.
They said in separate statements at the weekend that on no account can they work with Sheriff.
The spokesman of the Forum of ex-Ministers, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, said: “We are holding an Expanded Caucus meeting on Monday to review the ruling and chart a way forward whether to file an appeal at the Supreme Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal on Friday or allow the status quo to remain.
“We have many options on the table but those in favour of taking the battle to the Supreme Court are in the majority.
“But some have asked for political solutions because they are tired of litigations. They think that the prolonged court case is affecting the fortunes of the party.
“It is when we meet that we will try to build consensus on any of the alternatives which we may consider viable and realistic.
“No one knows how long the case will take at the Supreme Court and Anambra State Governorship poll is around the corner. We need to do a lot of work to reshape the party.
“Some of our leaders are saying if Sheriff means well, if he is working in the interest of the party, why can’t he take a bow?”
Asked if PDP leaders might leave the party for Sheriff, the ex- National Planning Minister said: “The possibility is remote. I don’t see the possibility for now.”
However, Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff yesterday asked Senator Ahmed Makarfi to join him in fixing the party.
Sheriff, at a press conference in Abuja declared the judgment a no-winner-no-vanquished situation, adding that he was ready to make sacrifices to ensure the unity of the party.
His words:”It’s victory for all. Sheriff is no winner and Makarfi is no loser because there is no winner and there is no vanquished. It’s a misunderstanding within our fold.
“This is the beginning of good things to come. I am not interested in sitting tight in office as national chairman but to ensure the conduct of credible convention to elect leaders for the PDP.”
The former Borno State Governor however parried questions regarding the expiration of his tenure as chairman, saying: “my tenure as chairman is immaterial. I am not talking about my tenure.”
He hinted that he would open consultations with the governors, the BoT, the National Assembly caucus and the various reconciliation committees set up by the party.
According to him, the consultations will start immediately, adding that his team would ensure the re-opening of the party’s secretariat which was sealed off by the police last June.
Sheriff maintained that the consultations would lead to the process of drawing up a programme for conducting national convention and congresses in states where the last exercise was inconclusive.
The party chairman cautioned the various stakeholders against making inflammatory statements that could further compound the party’s problems.
“Well meaning Nigerians want the PDP to be united. My hands are clean and I have nothing to hide. I am ready to make sacrifices to ensure the unity of the party.
“We want the culture of impunity to stop, we should learn to do things the right way by giving the party back to the people”, Sheriff added.
With Sheriff at the briefing were Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chief Chris Uba, and Senator Seidu Kumo, among others.
Senator Ben Murray Bruce threw his weight behind Sheriff yesterday.
He offered, via his Twitter handle, to work with the former Borno State governor.
In a tweet which he entitled ‘My Position on the Appeal Court’s judgement concerning the Leadership of the PDP,’ he said the PDP has embarked on the path of destruction.
“Concerning the PDP, the current bickering is childish and irrelevant,” he said.
“I am not in support of anymore litigation. We will work with Ali Modu Sheriff and go to a convention. Right now, PDP is on a course towards destruction and abiding by the judgement of the court is the only thing that can save us.
“In the first place, it is never the job of the judiciary to choose the leader of a party. I therefore call an end to the fighting. And I am supporting Ali Modu Sheriff because it is the only way to preserve the party. Right now, what Nigeria has is a one-party state – there is no opposition. Enough is enough. This is the time for PDP to unite, we are a formidable force.”
But the Makarfi camp insisted on having nothing to do with Sheriff.
Spokesman for the group, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said in a statement that the Appeal Court judgment cannot stand as it is nothing short of a “travesty of justice, a mockery of valid facts, miscarriage of justice and an invidious attempt to destroy the PDP.”
“We will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. No reconciliatory effort will stop it. We need the Supreme Court to make a pronouncement on the issue once and for all,” he said.
“We maintain that this is a continuation of the attempt to kill the PDP and thereby destroy all opposition in Nigeria. The rebels in the party who were favoured by the two justices of the Appeal Court are snakes within the house working for the ruling party, the APC.
“The great conspiracy to silence the PDP is an assault on the Nigerian democracy. We are however determined to resist this onslaught to the very last. The struggle continues.”
The APC through its National Publicity Secretary Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi denied having a hand in the crisis rocking the PDP.
The party said it has no interest in who emerges as the national chairman of the opposition party or how the PDP handles its internal affairs.
Abdullahi insisted, in an interview, that the crisis within the PDP is of no interest whatsoever to the APC or the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and urged the opposition party to stop looking for who to blame for the glaring division in its ranks.
He said:”What is happening in the PDP is their internal problem. I am not a member of their party and I can tell you that APC is not interested in the cries. We have no interest whatsoever in who emerges as the national chairman of the opposition party or in how the PDP handles its internal affairs.
“Whoever is alleging that APC has a hand in the crisis or the judgements does not know what he or she is talking about. I will just want the world to know that APC as the ruling party is not interested in what goes on in the PDP, especially their internal scheming. We also do not care how they get to settle their problems.
“I will also challenge those making the allegations to be specific by mentioning names of person who intervened in the said judgement as alleged. It is when we all get to hear such names if any exists, that we can all look at how APC is involved. Until then, I want to advise PDP to find solutions to their problems without mentioning APC. Above all, I want to say the allegation is laughable,” Abdulahi said.
The Appeal Court, in declaring Sheriff the rightful national chairman of the PDP, also nullified the National Caretaker Committee of the party led by Senators Ahmed Makarfi.
Two t of the three-member Appeal Court, Justice B.G. Sanga and Justice A. Gumel, in their judgment said the Port Harcourt convention on May 21, 2016, was an abuse of court process.
Delivering the lead judgment, Sanga said that PDP did not follow the provisions of Article 47(3) of its Constitution in the removal of the Sherrif-led National Working Committee.
Justice Theresa Agbadua Orji, in her own judgment, said she found it difficult to agree with the positions of the two judges on the matter.
She argued that the contentious issue in the matter which was the judgment of July 4, 2016 by the lower court did not constitute any abuse of court process by the respondent as alleged.
She maintained that Sheriff actively participated in the screening exercise of the party before he backed out, emphasizing that he had no power as an individual to cancel or postpone the national convention because he was not the party.