Olusola Fabiyi, John Ameh and Kamarudeen Ogundele
The move by some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party to use what they called ‘‘political solution’’ to settle the lingering leadership crisis in the party appears to have failed as declared by the two camps in Abuja on Thursday.
The sacked National Caretaker Committee, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said only the Supreme Court would adjudicate in the crisis.
It added that the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, should vacate office immediately, saying the former governor of Borno State was illegally occupying the office of the chairman of the party.
Sheriff however declared that it was unfortunate that the caretaker committee was insisting on going to the Supreme Court, stating that he would meet the committee at the apex court if it insisted on going ahead with the appeal.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, at a recent meeting with the governors elected on the platform of the party in Abuja, promised to use political solution to settle the crisis in the party.
Spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, said Sheriff should vacate office immediately.
He said there were about two judgments, which he said had earlier nullified the appointment of Sheriff, adding that none of the judgments was appealed by the former governor.
He said, “Only the Supreme Court will settle the matter. Even if the Supreme Court rules in their favour that the convention was illegal, we will use the judgments of other courts to demand that he should resign and go.
“Firstly, let us remind the public of our earlier calls on Sheriff to stop parading himself as chairman of the PDP following the judgment of an Abuja High Court delivered by Justice Valentine Ashi on June 29, 2016, in which the court nullified the 2014 Amendment to the PDP Constitution that produced Senator Sheriff as Acting National Chairman of the PDP.
“This judgment was never appealed by Sheriff and the time frame stipulated by law for the appeal has elapsed; and as such, the judgment subsists.
“So, he is an illegal national chairman.
“Secondly, another judgment delivered on August 17, 2016 by Justice Nwamaka Ogbonnaya of the FCT High Court in Abuja re-affirmed the sacking of Sheriff as the chairman of the PDP on the grounds that the judgment of Justice Valentine Ashi, which nullified his appointment, has not been set aside or vacated and therefore it’s subsisting.
“Once again, he is currently an illegal chairman given the decisions of the courts, the constitution of the PDP, decision of the national convention coupled with his act of breaking and gaining entry into the national secretariat of our party, Wadata Plaza.”
Adeyeye also disowned the report of the Reconciliation Committee presented to Sheriff by its Chairman, Mr. Seriake Dickson, who is also the Governor of Bayelsa State.
He said the committee was illegal, arguing that it had since ceased from existing because the party did not have any standing committee.
Adeyeye stated that the committee, like others, had been dissolved and that its report was therefore not acceptable.
“We respect our Governor, Seriake Dickson, and acknowledge his effort towards holding the next National Convention but he acted hastily and presented the proposal in error to Senator Sheriff,” he added.
Adeyeye said though his faction was still interested in finding a solution to the crisis in the party, there was no way the faction would allow Sheriff to preside over the proposed national convention.
“We want to state unequivocally that the party will not hold any National Convention under the leadership of Senator Sheriff. We are determined to pursue the matter before the Supreme Court conclusively in the interest of justice, equity, fair play and democracy in general,” Adeyeye stated.
But Sheriff, who spoke through Bernard Mikko, said he didn’t appeal the high court judgment, which sacked him, because he was never a party to the case.
He stated that it was sad that the Makarfi group had decided to pursue its appeal at the Supreme Court, adding that the apex court did not belong to anyone.
Mikko added, “Sheriff was never a party to the case they are talking about, so he couldn’t have been affected.
“On the issue of finding a political solution, we all agreed to it. But if they say they are going to the Supreme Court now, that’s okay. We will meet there.
“The court was never made for anyone. They have the right to appeal the judgment. We have no objections to this.”
He equally said that it was wrong for the group to reject the Dickson committee report.
“They can’t reject what was not submitted to them. The former National Chairman, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, set up the committee and the committee worked.
“We want to do the convention and they are saying no. Who are they working for?”
Stop insulting my person, enough is enough, Sheriff tells Fayose
Sheriff, on Thursday, warned the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, to desist from making what he described as “derogatory remarks” against him, saying “enough is enough.”
Sheriff also defended the medical trip of President Muhammadu Buhari, insisting that every living human being could be sick, and that the sickness of anybody should not be made a political issue.
The former Borno State governor spoke with journalists in Abuja after the meeting of members of the PDP National Working Committee, where he stated that the party had accelerated the recommendations of the party’s Standing Committee on Reconciliation, headed by Dickson.
On Fayose, Sheriff said, “Let me make it clear to some of the party members, particularly, Ayo Fayose. I will not condescend to his level.
“I must be very clear to him, party has rules and we will look at the constitution at the appropriate time to do the right thing. He has made it a point of duty; every day, he will be insulting Ali Sheriff. I want to tell him that enough is enough.
“Belonging to a political party is by choice. Yes, you may have a right, but your right should not trample on another person’s right. Political party is a voluntary association. If you are a leader of a political party, we have to allow people to have their choice of leadership.
“In all these things we are doing, we believe that the PDP belongs to all Nigerians, we believe that PDP must be handed over to the owners.
“That does not mean a sign of weakness. The PDP has produced 28 governors, and today it has 12. If we allow impunity to continue, Nigerians have the right to reject our party. You can take a horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink.
“We can make this party attractive to everybody. We want to reposition the party so that it can win elections. Nobody has the monopoly to do what he is doing, like we don’t have the rule of law.”
On Buhari’s medical vacation, Sheriff believes the absence of the President has not affected the issue of governance in the country. He said the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had been conducting the affairs of governance creditably.
He said, “Every living human being, including you, will get sick. Sickness of anybody should not be a political issue. If people believe that because a president of a country is sick, we now act on the newspaper to make it a political issue, that means we are not a good opposition party. I don’t think it is correct because in this country, there are sets of rule.
On Dickson recommendations, Sheriff said it would be subjected to further approval by the National Executive Committee of the PDP, adding that all organs of the party would be required to submit the list of their members to facilitate the nomination of members to the convention planning committee.
He explained that he had taken it upon himself to unite all party members. He said that he had spoken to all governors of the party, including Fayose, with the exception of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike.
Meanwhile, Fayose has restated his opposition to the Dickson committee report.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, on Thursday, Fayose said, “I respect Governor Dickson; he is my brother and he is entitled to his own personal opinion just as I am entitled to mine. But I must state it categorically that no genuine lover of the PDP will take part in a convention sponsored by the APC.
“All constitutionally recognised organs of the party, including staff of the national secretariat, are with the Markafi led Caretaker Committee and since political party is about membership, Sheriff will continue to carry with himself the burden of lack of legitimacy.”
The governor, who said he had nothing against Dickson, added that the implementation of the report was beyond Sheriff.
“With the APC calling for support for Sheriff, it should be clear to all genuine lovers of the PDP who are those behind the crisis in the party.
“I am speaking for myself and the entire people of Ekiti State that I represent; we won’t be part of any PDP convention sponsored by the APC and I must state categorically that Sheriff is being sponsored 100 per cent by the APC.
PDP Reps clash again over Makarfi, Sheriff
The division in the PDP caucus of the House of Representatives deepened on Thursday as two groups held separate meetings at the National Assembly.
One of the groups had only two members who made public appearance.
The main caucus, led by the House Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, is backing the Makarfi-led caretaker committee of the party.
The majority of the 134 members of the caucus belong to this group.
Another faction, led by a member from Edo State, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, is backing Sheriff as the PDP chairman.
The Agbonayinma group goes under the name of ‘Concerned PDP House of Representatives members’.
It claims to have “other members”, who are backing Sheriff. It has endorsed the reconciliation efforts of Dickson.
“We endorse Sheriff the National Chairman of our great party and commend Dickson and members of the reconciliation committee for their bold initiative in resolving the long-lasting crisis in the party,” Agbonayinma told a news conference soon after his own meeting ended.
However, it was only one member from Ekiti State, Mr. Oni Olamide, who appeared at the session with him.
Ogor had earlier convened a meeting of the main caucus, where they agreed to back Makarfi.
When contacted for his reaction to the moves by the Agbonayinma group, Ogor dismissed them as “unknown quantity.”
He added, “I have 140 members, but one or two may have contrary opinion. That does not mean that the caucus is not intact. We are focussed.
“How many are these people who call themselves ‘concerned PDP Reps?’ Let them mention five members in that group.
“The caucus speaks with one voice and we have decided to meet with the PDP governors in conjunction with our colleagues in the Senate.
“By Tuesday, next week, you will hear more. We believe that there is a case before the Supreme Court, which must be pursued to the letter.”
Asked whether the caucus was in support of the reconciliation efforts by Dickson, the minority leader stated that Dickson had yet to consult the National Assembly on whatever he was doing.
“We are very important stakeholders and Dickson has not consulted us,” he added.
On his views on whether a political solution could resolve the crisis, Ogor said a political solution would not stop the case at the Supreme Court from going on till the end.
He said Sheriff was functioning illegally at the national secretariat with only three National Working Committee officers, adding that the quorum of the NWC remained two-thirds, that is, eight members.
The Rep stated that the appointment of Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh and Mr. Bernard Mikko as members of the NWC was illegal as they were neither elected into the NWC nor were they appointed to the NWC by the NEC. (Punchng)