•Meets in Ibadan
…Sheriff agrees to shift ground
By Chinelo Obogo and Ndubuisi Orji
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be on the verge of resolving its lingering national leadership crisis, as it kickstarts reconciliation talks in the South-West.
After nearly five months of conflict that almost threatened its existence, party stakeholders would on October 10, converge for what the party described as a ‘crucial assembly’ in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The purpose of the meeting is to among other issues, brainstorm on strategies to make the party bounce back.
This development is coming a few weeks after factional acting national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff agreed to the peace moves initiated by the National Chairman of the caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
Both Leaders had a few weeks ago met for several hours for the first time in Abuja and resolved to pursue a united PDP. They agreed to sheathe their swords, after which they both issued a joint statement, saying that they had reached an agreement to set in motion a joint reconciliatory process. The two leaders resolved to end the crisis that had engulfed the party following its National Convention which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State this year and which resulted in the removal of Sheriff as the National Chairman.
The statement which was released after the meeting and jointly signed by Makarfi and Sheriff, said: “It is time to heal the wounds, and bring about a united, focused and constructive opposition party that can bring sanity to our democratic process, bring relief to the teeming supporters of our great party and to the benefit of our great country, Nigeria.”
Crisis engulfed PDP last year, just a few months after Sheriff emerged as the Acting National Chairman to the displeasure of many stakeholders. A former national chairman of the party and a former governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Mu’azu had resigned when PDP lost the 2015 presidential election. The party appointed Sheriff in an acting capacity to complete Mu’azu’s tenure. He was removed early this year and a caretaker committee was set up with Makarfi as its chairman. An aggrieved Sheriff went to court, saying that the party’s constitution had no provision for a caretaker committee, and insisted that he remained the chairman.
Another pending issue which may also be discussed at the Ibadan meeting is who emerges as the National Chairman. Following the decision of the national body to zone the position to the South-West; the issue of who would be the consensus candidate further split the party and worsened its crisis in the zone. Among the top contenders for the position were former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniels, top party stalwart, Bode George, and his protégé, Jimi Agbaje, who was the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State.
For the umpteenth time, Sheriff has reiterated his commitment to the resolution of the leadership in the party, noting that there is no going back on current efforts to reconcile all interest groups in the party.
Sheriff said a resolution of the PDP has become imperative as the crisis was becoming a threat to the nation’s democracy.
Speaking through the National Secretary of his group, Prof Wale Oladipo, Sheriff said his group is compiling names of its nominee for the 24-man Reconciliation Committee to be constituted jointly with the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
He said the feuding groups decided to bury the hatchet following the intervention of some eminent Nigerians, who mediated in the crisis behind the scene.