‘Contradictory verdicts from courts gave room for outsiders to infiltrate us’
The Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi spoke with SAXONE AKHAINE, Northern Bureau Chief, on the aftermath of the party’s aborted convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He explained the intrigues, the role of Senator Ali Modu Sherriff and how PDP hopes to wriggle out of the logjam.
Disrupted Port Harcourt convention
What happened is unfortunate. Though the security agencies were the ones that occupied the initial venue for our convention, what gave the opportunity for this were the conflicting pronouncements from the courts.
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had given us the go ahead, and some days after, a court which is not an appellate court or court of cognate jurisdiction, gave a contrary order, even though our convention was not holding in Abuja, but in Port Harcourt where we got the initial ruling.
Of course this situation created opportunity for some to get involved in the affairs that are purely PDP. I still have strong reservation and doubt about the involvement of the President in this matter. I don’t see that. But, there is visible involvement of heavy weights in the party in power; all of them for their different political permutations, not necessarily for the stability, peace and progress of the country; and not necessarily for the success of the APC-led Federal Government at this particular time.
It was something else, local politics and the politics that has to do with the permutation of their political future. Here, my call is for the central government to look into the issues of the over ambitious people within their government and curb their excesses, because their excesses can derail the nascent democracy we are trying to culture. It is unfortunate if that is the way to go in politics. It is also unfortunate if security agents should allow people, just because of their positions in the government of the day, to be used to cause possible major disruption of peace and stability in our country.
But, at the same time the security agencies knew that we had changed venue and that we were meeting at another venue; I also have to give them some credit that they did not attempt to disrupt that second venue.
But, right from the beginning what happened shouldn’t have happened in the first instance. Secondly, we had the National Assembly leadership, in addition to the National Assembly representatives, the Board of Trustees (BoT), the elected State Party chairmen, the national vice chairmen and PDP governors. All of these people were present in Port Harcourt. So, we passed an overnight notice to all members to gather for inaugural meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Having put that in place, it took the decision to extend the life span of the caretaker committee. Then we headed for the new venue of the convention, which is the State party secretariat where the convention ratified the decision of NEC. Some asked, ok can NEC extend the tenure of the caretaker committee; the Committee meeting before we went for the convention?
When we saw what was going on and we didn’t want a situation that could lead to anybody being injured not to talk of a life being lost and destruction of property, I inaugurated the national executive committee of the party. It has not been inaugurated before because we thought it was not necessary, and that if we hold the convention the national officers can now inaugurate it. But faced with that given scenario and looking at who constitute the members of the national executive committee, we had no option but to go ahead with the decision.
Some are asking, can NEC extend the lifespan of caretaker committee; NEC can take any decision pending convention, even if that convention has not taken place, the decision of NEC would still be binding. After all, Adamu Mu’azu was appointed by NEC, it was much later at the convention before Primaries, that he was ratified. Ali Modu Sheriff himself was not appointed at the convention; it was NEC that appointed him. So, NEC has been exercising that power, and it’s doing that in order to avoid leaving a vacuum in the leadership of the party. That is how it is, and now we have a much longer timeframe to really look at all aspects of party re-organisation.
I have absolute faith and confidence that ultimately the judiciary will do justice to our case. After all, all this confusion is being caused by one court in the entire federation. So, you can’t also go around and be blaming the entire judiciary; there is a consensus of conclusions the courts have come to. It is only one court, and then you can ask yourself a question, why is the plaintiff always going to one court at a particular time, a particular person is sitting? And of all the cases before such a person it is only PDP matter that can be heard and decided within hours.
It is really unfortunate. But, as I said the judiciary is very capable of sorting out any miscarriage of justice within the system and we have absolute confidence in that.
Challenges of anti-party activities
The party is not a vindictive party, so our priority is not on descending on any person that has done anti-party. Our priority now is on sorting out all the legal issues, putting the party on the right course, and the party can look at any other matter at the right time.
The import of APC alleged role in PDP crisis
Let me call the elements the three musketeers and time will come when their names will surface. They are not the only ones with political interests. If all other persons with one local political interest or future ambition begin to cause mayhem in the system; and the cases multiplied and there is confusion all over, what do you think will happen in the country? That is why I am calling on the Federal Government to call their people to order and not allow immediate local political interests or future political ambition of their followers to derail democracy in our country.
Delay in seeking redress at the Appeal Court
All the cases are before the Appeal Court. But, you know that the judiciary is on summer break. By September they should be resuming, and I am confident that they know how important the stability of political parties to a nation is, particularly the stability of democracy and that of the country. I have no doubt that they will treat the cases expeditiously in order to bring normalcy.
Sheriff’s alleged intransigence on the crisis
You have to look at his antecedents, his records as a politician; I mean this is not a hidden secret. It is a continuation of what Modu Sheriff is. With due respect, you will never know where you are with him. He tells you one thing now, the next minute he will tell you another thing. He even claimed that I am working for the APC government. If I am working for the government is that why I have to arrange for a convention that is disrupted? Of what interest is it for me to have a convention disrupted? Did I go to court to stop convention from holding? I am in court for the convention to hold so who went to court to stop convention?
And he said we are working for someone in APC to come back and be given the presidential ticket of the PDP in 2019, on a platter of gold. Just as he thought that the ticket has been given to him as a person on a platter of gold, only for him to be appointed as acting national chairman. On another occasion, he said I was working for myself. So, which one of these position is he really on. This is somebody that changes positions every minute; every second and that is why the various peace moves did not succeed. Because in a day if 10 delegations have meetings with him, they will come out with different conditions for peace from him and it is unfortunate.
We will continue to embrace those who are willing to make peace and find accommodation for them and give them every opportunity like any other party man and woman to pursue his or her political aspirations.
Let him (Sheriff) make his personal decision. All we know is that this matter will come to an end. There are issues that are in the courts. Enough have been done at the High Court level. We are now at the appellate level. So, lets see what happens.
Leadership crisis and PDP fortunes in 2019 elections
We are just having our crisis now, who tells you other parties may not have problems, even that which will be deeper than ours? So, for me we are lucky we are having crisis now. We will come out of it. We cannot rule out any other party having its own crisis too before 2019.