Ex-Borno gov may reject co-chairman status
By Taiwo Amodu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
An end to the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on the horizon as representatives of the two factions announced ceasefire of hostilities yesterday night.
The representatives said National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and former national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff met in Abuja on Monday to explore ways of ending the crisis in the party.
Both men have been at loggerheads over who is the authentic leader of the main opposition party. The two party leaders said the meeting was without prejudice to all outstanding court cases on the leadership tussle. Deputy National Chairman of Sheriff’s faction of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh disclosed this yesterday at a joint press conference with the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator Ben Ndi Obi.
A statement jointly signed by Makarfi and Sheriff, which was read by Ojougboh indicated that the two PDP leaders have agreed to set up a joint committee to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party across the country, consult widely with all the organs of the party and pursue the vision of the founding fathers of the party.
“At a meeting held this (Tuesday) morning, between Sheriff and Makarfi, a holistic review of the state of affairs of the PDP was deliberated upon. The meeting was held in a most convivial atmosphere of brotherhood and understanding in the best interest of our great country, Nigeria and the sustenance of our multi-party democracy.
“In reviewing the crisis that engulfed our party…it became obvious to us, as principal actors, that it is time to heal the wound and bring about a united, focused and constructive opposition party that can bring sanity to our democratic process, bring relief to teeming supporters of our great party and to the benefit of our country.”
The PDP leaders called on party members across the country to remain calm and refrain from actions and utterances could bring about division in the party. Obi noted that with the outcome of the meeting between caretaker committee chairman and the former national chairman, the PDP is now one.
The PDP broke into two factions on May 21, after the National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State sacked the National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Sheriff. The crisis which followed led to the seal-up of the party national secretariat by the police. The secretariat has remained shut since June. On Sunday, Ojougboh told Daily Sun that his group will seek political solution to the leadership crisis and expressed hopes that issue could be resolved this week.
Regardless, it was gathered that the new peace deal being pushed by the reconciliation team, set in motion by the party’s governors, may collapse as a result of what a party source described as Sheriff’s refusal to accept a co-chairman status.
According to the party source, in a move to placate him, Sheriff was offered the position of co-chairman which he has since rejected. In the initial peace terms presented to stakeholders by Sheriff, ahead of the aborted August 15 convention in Port Harcourt, he had insisted on the dissolution of the Makarfi committee, movement of the convention venue from Port Harcourt to Abuja and an arrangement that would ensure that he had a sizeable number of his loyalists as members of the convention committee.
Daily Sun further gathered that his demands were dismissed as unreasonable even before the pronouncements of Justice Obong Abang which restrained the Makarfi faction from proceeding with the conduct of the aborted convention.
A member of the Sheriff faction, who was privy to the trouble-shooting efforts of well-meaning stakeholders of the party said “offer of co-chairman was rejected by the former Borno governor on the grounds that it was not recognised by the party constitution. We are talking at various levels and we shall soon find a solution. The only thorny issue is that rather than accede to our demand for dissolution of Makarfi committee, they are saying Sheriff should come and be co-chairman. He has rejected that because according to him the PDP constitution doesn’t recognise co-chairman. But we are still talking.”
Meanwhile, a member of the party Board of Trustees, Chief Ebenezer Babatope has pointed fingers of scorn at the PDP governors over its leadership tussle. He accused certain governors of the party of dismissing wise counsel of the Board of Trustees not to impose Sheriff as national chairman as he claimed that the former Borno state governor was a stranger in PDP. Modu Sheriff was brought into our party by some governors. They brought him with the belief that he would come and perform magic I was in Abuja when his name was mentioned. We were in a Board of Trustees meeting when the governors of Ekiti and Rivers states brought him. I told them that Sheriff is a stranger to our party!”
“But, I must confess to you; those who brought Sheriff are regretting it now and they are going to regret it till their dying days.”