• Makarfi faction defies police, meets in Abuja
From Ndubuisi Orji and Magnus Eze, Abuja
Former President, Dr. Go0dluck Jonathan, has waded into the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), promising that all efforts would be made to settle the matter.
This is coming at a time the police stopped the Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee from meeting at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, which forced the group to relocate to the Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge.
Speaking after a 77-minute meeting with National Chairman of the PDP, who won a court’s victory last Friday, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday, Jonathan promised to meet with the other members of the party, with the view to resolving the matter.
Sheriff had arrived Jonathan’s Maitama residence at about 4.17pm and immediately went into a closed-door session.
When the duo emerged from the meeting at about 5.34pm, Jonathan told journalists there was only one PDP, noting that the 9party was working towards resolving its differences.
Jonathan, who called Sheriff “my Chairman,” said: “We are solving our problem. There are bound to be differences in politics. It is the way we resolve these differences that makes us human beings and that is what makes us leaders. We are not factionalised. We are one.
“I have met with Sheriff. There are no factions. We are one. There will always be dissent. We cannot run away from that. I will meet with others so that we will be able to know what to do.”
On his part, Sheriff said the visit was part of his ongoing consultation with PDP stakeholders in the country. He said at the end of his consultation, he would announce a road map for the party.
On the stakeholder meeting convened by the caretaker committee, Sheriff said people were free to meet, adding: “But it cannot be under the aegis of PDP caretaker committee.”
Insight into the meeting Jonathan held with Sheriff indicate that the former president told the national chairman he should be prepared to make sacrifices for the PDP to move forward.
Sources revealed that Jonathan told Sheriff not to maintain his hardline posture always, saying that he should be ready to shift ground when the condition for settlement is eventually agreed upon.
Meanwhile, policemen yesterday barricaded the International Conference Centre, Abuja, where the Makarfi group had schedule to hold a stakeholders meeting.
The battle-ready policemen took over the venue well ahead of the 2pm scheduled commencement of the meeting. The meeting was convened for the PDP governors, BoT members, National Working Committee (NWC) members, National Assembly PDP caucus, former governors, former ministers and others to take a stand on Court of Appeal’s judgment, pronouncing Sheriff as national chairman of the party.
Since they could not have access to the ICC, Abuja, the PDP stakeholders relocated to Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro where they passed a vote of confidence in the Caretaker Committee led by Makarfi.
Former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, who read the communiqué issued at the end of the meting, said the group had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, challenging the judgment that reinstated Sheriff as national chairman.
He said: “We assembled and examined to review the judgment. The PDP is united, strong and resolute under Makarfi, in view of the fact that the Court of Appeal is not the final court on the matter. All members stand resolute that the authority to lead any party derives from the members. We stand by the decision given by national convention.”
He added that PDP members were not deceived by the olive branch offered by Sheriff, stating: “It is a poisoned chalice and Greek gift.”
Also, speaking at the stakeholders meeting, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said nation’s democracy was facing a major challenging period.
“Our forefathers fought colonialism; fought military. We will fight what we are seeing today. All institutions of democracy have%*?”;7.l been emasculated. INEC has been captured and the National Assembly is not left out. We are not surprised at what we are seeing today. Those who benefitted from the judgment, where are they? But PDP is here,” he said.
On his part, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, said the 97 members BoT were still intact and solidly behind Makarfi.
“We will support the Makarfi committee. They have been asking me to call a meeting to send Makarfi away, but I will never do that. We are going to continue with our support and what we agree by it,” he said.
Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Ayodele Fayose, said the judiciary could not tell the PDP who will be its national chairman.
“If I am not here, they will say governors are with Sheriff, but God forbid bad thing,” he said.
The Ekiti governor, who was part of those who invited Sheriff to lead the opposition party, said he and all involved had apologised and repented.
He said Makarfi had challenged the Appeal Court’s judgment at the Supreme Court, noting that he has faith in the apex court as the hope of the common man.
Similarly, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said PDP in Rivers State would not relent in its support for Makarfi.
According to him, “I will not, Rivers will not do anything with anybody other than Makarfi. We are not surprised by what is going on. We are used to it. This is the kind if democracy we know they will give to us.
“This is the period we will know those who are strong. The only chairman we have is Senator Makarfi. When we won the matter, they stopped us from gaining entry into the secretariat. That is to tell you that they are not the only people fighting against us. They wouldn’t have closed down ICC if the judgment had gone against the other people. No amount of intimidation will stop PDP.”
The stakeholders meeting was attended by Governors Fayose (Ekiti), Wike (Rivers), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha and a large number of PDP top shots from across the country.
Rebrand now or die, ex-minister tells PDP
Former Minister of Information and Communication, Chief John Odeh, has tasked the PDP to rebrand immediately or risk extinction.
Odeh, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja, said the current crisis in the party was not unusual, but noted that it had eroded public confidence on the former ruling party.
He described the on-going struggle for the soul of the party between Sheriff and Makarfi, as a wake-up call for all members of PDP to realise that it was mere party politics.
Said he: “I have made it clear that whatever is happening is politics and is not unusual at all. It is a very big challenge to restore confidence of Nigerians, and if you don’t reorganise your house, obviously you cannot build confidence in the minds of the people. To me, the party should reorganise itself; that is the process now and that is what we are doing.”
He noted that the political system is always evolving, but regretted that the Nigerian polity was either not allowed to grow or being induced.