PDP’s leadership and albatross within the party

PDP Secretariat, Abuja

Makarfi committee, NEC, BoT, governors, others meet today

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to forge a common front as one party, the national caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), chaired by Senator Ahmed Makarfi may have resolved to carry its cross irrespective of whatever the Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction is doing.

The Appeal Court, at the weekend in Port Harcourt affirmed Sheriff’s claim to the chairmanship, thereby compounding the issues with Makarfi’s camp, which obviously has the majority of the members thrown into confusion.

However, their decision to carry on regardless of the court ruling may have been informed by the need to ensure that between now and next year, it reconciles with all other aggrieved members and stakeholders, ahead of the 2019 general elections.

A possible option before it is that should the legal battles eventually turn out negative, the structure and membership that is loyal to the caretaker committee would transmute into a new body with not much change except the name.

Buoyed by the encouragement in its outreach to estranged party members, PDP seems poised to go the extra mile to assert itself as a credible virile opposition party.

Prominent among stakeholders that the faction of the party under the aegis of the Prof. Jerry Gana-chaired Strategic Review and Inter-Party Affairs Committee (SRIPAC) are former President Goodluck Jonathan; former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme; former Works Minister and ex-chairman of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih; former National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, among others.

In particular, Anenih faulted the decision of the party leaders to wait for the outcome of the court cases over leadership tussle, before taking action on repositioning and rebranding it.

He said that it was time the PDP started the rebranding process lamenting that Anenih stated that many of the politicians that destroyed the PDP have now found themselves in the ruling APC, which he noted is not as virile as it appears.

He, however had harsh words for the party leaders whom he accused of promoting their selfish interests, saying “PDP is where it is today because of selfishness on the part of its leaders, a vast majority of whom want to be either presidential candidate or national chairman of the party.”

The former Minister for Works also slammed those who benefitted so much from the party and later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that was not the best way to reward a party that offered them its platform to actualise their aspirations.

“I believe in consistency. I joined party politics in 1978 and since then, I have never left any party that I joined for another. It is very shameful that people would do that, particularly those who had benefitted so much from the PDP,” he said.

Besides, they have reached out to some political parties in a move designed to collate the snippets of the opposition parties and perhaps synthesize them into a formidable that can effectively challenge the APC and perhaps overthrow it in 2019.

Already the PDP through its SRIPAC and the different political parties have agreed to constitute a broad based political opposition, known as United Forum of Democrats (UFD).

According to the resolution the forum is made up of the leadership of PDP, People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Accord Party, among others.

Incidentally, in April last year, Sheriff made attempts to woo some of these groups and personalities in the bid to reposition the party.

The burden of the Makarfi’s faction is what to do with Sheriff; how to manage the intricate legal puzzle over the party’s leadership as well as position itself in a manner that it would still be relevant and capable of contending for the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile Sheriff said that the court ruling is an opportunity to reposition the PDP ahead of the 2019 elections as well as restore the party to its lost glory.

According to him, “The judgment of Court of Appeal on Friday, does not call for merriment or mourning. In my candid view, there was no victor and no vanquished.”

The former governor said the judgment was an opportunity for a “sincere renewal” of a sense of unity and fraternity within the ranks of party members.

“No doubt, we have come a long and tortuous road, wherein some of us have been bruised or out rightly 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 Peoples‘ Democratic Party, PDP, forward,” he said.

Sheriff pledged to do everything within his powers to bring lasting peace to the PDP, saying: “It is not about me or any ambition, it is about the survival of our great party. I can assure you that I shall be willing to make any sacrifice that can guarantee peace in our party.

“Let us be certain about this, no person or group, no matter how powerful can do it alone. We need all hands on deck to rekindle the winning fire in PDP. Divided, we can achieve little or nothing. But united, we can stand like the impregnable Glam Rock and no weapon fashioned against us can prevail.”

Similarly, the spokesman of his faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko described the judgment as the resolution of the legal option, which will not only enhance, but also compliment the political solution to the leadership crisis.

He reiterated that Sheriff is committed to bringing the PDP back on track and give hope to the Nigerian people who are seemingly despondent.

According to him, “The judgment is a significant step towards legal resolution of the PDP leadership crisis. With this development, we hope the political solution is in sight.”

He appealed to all loyal PDP members and stakeholders to remain committed to the reconciliatory process that will bring peace and harmony to the family and give hope to the Nigerian people.

Erstwhile national chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Chief Dan Nwanyanwu in reaction to the Appeal Court judgment, argued that in spite of the ruling, the court cannot decide for a political party how to run its affairs.

Speaking on African Independent Television (AIT)’s programme – Peoples, Policy and Politics, he contended that a party’s national convention is supreme and has the final say on all issues.

Nwanyanwu, who was a former president of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), expressed surprise that the verdict was not in favour of Markafi’s faction that has about 90 percent of the PDP’s membership with it.

Markafi accused the ruling APC of planning to turn Nigeria into a one-party state through that unfortunate court judgment. He lamented that two out of the three man Justices of the Appeal Court gave a scanty judgment in favour of Sheriff while one for Makarfi.

He said the judgment has finally shown that APC is out to create a one party state in the country. He promised to head to the Supreme Court to file an appeal against the ruling but sued for calm among the party’s members.

The party’s publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye of the Makarfi’s faction said the judgment was a big disappointment and a travesty of Justice.

Even as Senator Sheriff extends olive branch to the national caretaker committee of the PDP to join him in rebuilding the party, Adeyeye maintained that it would appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court.

“It is a travesty of justice, a mockery of valid facts and a miscarriage of justice an invidious attempt to destroy the PDP,” as against the minority Judgment that he argued is very sound in law, logic and fact.

He disclosed that members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), members of the Board of Trustees (BoT), National Assembly members, former governors of PDP, former ministers under the umbrella of the PDP, former National Assembly members and party elders, have been invited to a meeting today to discuss the issues at stake.

The Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu implored PDP members and supporters of the party not to worry about the victory, saying: “There is no cause for alarm. The party leadership will meet as soon as possible to take a decision on the best way forward.”

He enjoined party faithful to remain steadfast, promising that it would surely emerge stronger from its present challenges.

He said those dreaming about the death of the opposition in Nigeria will have to sleep much longer, and still wake up to meet PDP much stronger because a vibrant opposition is the beauty of democracy.

The governor of Ekiti State and chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Mr. Ayo Fayose insisted that Sheriff cannot lead the party.

He said the verdict was nothing but a rape of democracy  “if the people truly symbolises what a party is, then the machination of our detractors and the anti-democratic organs will not prevail.”

To the former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, the Sheriff’s court victory reminded him of the Biblical ‘voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau,’ and vowed not to serve under Sheriff leadership.

He wondered why any reasonable court would go ahead to set aside the PDP’s national convention decision through which Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee emerged and recognise Sheriff, whom he claimed has no concrete stand in the party.

He said the judgment is a bad one for the nation’s democracy, stressing: “We cannot afford to ride another dark period in the democratic history of the country, it was a bad decision.”

“The party that was in government, very well established, that is even called most populous political party in the whole of Africa, being decimated, being reduced to Sheriff’s level as the chief manager. He just came to the party, democracy is not about one party-state or one-party man, democracy is about aligning all voices, majority, minority to have a say and I am still very sad. I am not young any more and am still not that old and I expected at this time, the nation would be close to the first line of developed country.”

According to him, there is a grand plan to gag the opposition in the country. “This is nothing but a complete muzzling of majority decision, we will await the full decision of the court, we would also await the decision of other managers of the party from Abuja, but if nothing can be seen clearly or be decided in positive manner in nearest future, I cannot see myself playing any political role, I don’t deceive myself. My spirit has never been this low as it is today. I am talking personally for myself, whither Nigeria, where do we go from here? A lot of people expected a vibrant opposition, now they have taken the opposition vibrancy to be an appendage of the ruling party. I cry for our beloved country.”

The Lagos State chapter of the PDP was particularly hit by the court decision because barely a day before the verdict, six of its lawmakers in the Lagos Assembly defected to APC.

All efforts to get reaction from the party’s executive failed. Those who endeavoured to pick calls said, “I am too devastated to comment on the development.”

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