From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, John Adams, Minna, Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Barely 48 hours after the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, declared former Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, as authentic National Chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP), the gladiators in the party’s crisis are preparing for what could pass for the final battle.
While the Sheriff group has started consultation and moblisation, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee has called for an emergency stakeholders meeting to decide next line of action. Also, the group is consulting legal experts, to prepare a watertight case at the Supreme Court.
Yesterday, Sheriff stormed Minna, the Niger State capital, where he had a closed-door meeting with former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, and ex-Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu.
Although details of the meetings were not made known to journalists, it was gathered it was not unconnected with the outcome of the appeal court ruling over the PDP crisis. Speaking with journalists, after a two-hours meeting with IBB, Sheriff said the appeal court ruling was a victory for the party
“My victory is for the PDP. There is no loser and no winner; it is just a misunderstanding within a family, and we are calling on everybody to come together so that the party can be a formidable one once again,” he said. On the purpose of his visit to General Babangida, Sheriff said: “IBB is our father. During our meeting, he said he was happy with my statement after the court’s ruling. He told me to continue that way, so that I can bring everybody back together to make the party a formidable opposition party.
“What we want to do now is to put the party back to shape, so that every aggrieved person is brought back as one united family once again. Look, united we stand, divided we fall.”
When asked if he reached out to Makarfi after the appeal court’s victory, he said: “I have called Makarfi himself, and I have called on everybody to come back, so that we can work together.”
Also speaking, former Governor Aliyu said: “Now we have a legal decision, which supports the position of the matter. Even though other people talk about going higher (Supreme Court), others are saying ‘No’, we should start widening the solution, that we don’t waste time in terms of legality.
“That is why, for the moment, until anybody is able to go higher and set aside the decision of the court, Ali Modu Sheriff is the chairman of the party. Those of us who love to see solution to this party will continue to find ways of mending it. I think we should all bury our ambitions; you can’t have an ambition without a platform.
“We need to all come together and appeal to all PDP lovers and members to really look at the issues objectively, so that we have a platform that we can call a party, which can win elections; not a fragmented party.”
IBB had earlier commended Sheriff for the manner he handled his victory at the appeal court, saying: “I am happy with your statement after the court ruling. It shows there is room for reconciliation and unity. There is the need to bring everybody back together to make the party a formidable opposition party.”
Meanwhile, the Makarfi faction has convened an emergency stakeholders meeting to discuss the appeal court’s verdict. Also, the faction has started consulting legal luminaries over the judgment on the party’s leadership tussle.
A highly placed source within the Makarfi group said it had become necessary to seek legal advice on the issue, as Sheriff neither appealed against the judgment of the Abuja High Court nor obtained a stay of execution. The source said the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt merely nullified the convention that sacked Sheriff as party chairman, without dealing with the issue of his eligibility to be national chairman.
According to the source, with the judgment of the Abuja High Court still in force, and the nullification of the convention that set up the National Caretaker Committee, technically the party has no leadership at the moment.
Ahead of today’s stakeholders meeting, the leadership of the caretaker committee met with a small group of party leaders last night to critically appraise the situation and come up with an agenda in the stakeholders’ meeting.
Those expected to attend today’s stakeholders meeting include National Executive Committee ( NEC) members, Board of Trustees (BoT) members, PDP National Assembly caucus, former PDP governors, former ministers on the platform of the PDP, party elders and former members of the National Assembly.
Eight governors in talks with us -PDP National Auditor
The National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, has disclosed that eight PDP governors out of 12 were already in talks with the Sheriff executive council.
Speaking after Ogun State PDP General Assembly, in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, Adeyanju also said members of the NWC in the Makarfi camp were in touch with Sheriff.
Said he: “There is only one PDP. There can be disagreement, but there is only one PDP and the PDP must come together and work together. So, we are talking to our people not to feel that somebody has won and somebody has lost. There is no victor and no vanquished.
“ Now that we know where we are going, and what we are going to do, the hand of fellowship will be extended to the other aggrieved members of the party. At present, there is no sacrifice that is too much for anybody to make in PDP.
Nigerians are tired of the problems within the PDP. You know things are going haywire; the present government is doing just anything, but if the PDP is strong and plays the role of opposition, we would check them and things would go down well.” Adeyanju revealed that Sheriff was considering stepping down before last Friday’s judgment, noting that he was still ready to do so for peace and normalcy to return to the party.
“We all want peace in this country and in this party. And if you want peace, no sacrifice is too much to make.”
Crisis won’t affect our candidates’ chances –Fayose
Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, said the current crisis, rocking PDP would not affect the chances of its candidate in next year’s governorship election in the state. He also said the Supreme Court would make the final decision, even as he described Sheriff’s victory as temporary.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, quoted Fayose as saying: “Sheriff and his gang are only day dreaming. On our side are the governors, members of the Board of Trustees, the National Assembly caucus, former public office holders, party supporters in the grassroots. If they think they can inherit the party illegally, that is a pipe dream. Those planning to invade the PDP secretariat here should be warned. They must not toy with fire.
“I received a lot of calls from people over Friday’s judgment and the possibility of the development affecting our candidate here in 2018 poll. I want to assure you all that what they did in Edo and Ondo states cannot happen here. We are still under the leadership of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee and we are taking the matter to the Supreme Court.
“As for the chances of our candidate in next year’s poll, God is giving us an expected end and that is victory over the All Progressives Congress and their cohorts. Three things are critical to winning election, namely, the people, the party and the candidate. Of these three, the people are the most important and those with us are more than those with our opponents.”
On the face-off between the state government and the Federal Ministry of Finance over the seized Budget Support Fund, the governor expressed delight that the matter had been resolved. He thanked the people and workers in the state for their support and understanding over the matter.
We won’t work with Sheriff –Fani-Kayode
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has ruled out the possibility of the Makarfi faction of the PDP working with Sheriff. In a statement yesterday, he said: “Those that say that they will work with Ali Modu Sheriff are misguided and naive. Worse still, anyone that calls for members of the PDP to rally behind him and recognise him as our national chairman is a simpleton and a fool.”
He described Sheriff as “agent of destruction,” saying “no good can come out of him.”
The former minister said all the string elements in the PDP were against Sheriff, emphasising: “The PDP Ministers Forum stood their ground. At first, no one believed us until eventually 90 per cent of our party members lined up behind those of us that opposed Sheriff and that supported Makarfi.” (The Sun)