PDP prays for Buhari as caretaker committee takes over
• Party warns of dictatorship, decries activists’ silence
• Sherriff’s camp set for contempt charge against interim officials
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday conducted special prayers for the good health of President Muhammadu Buhari, pleading with God Almighty to grant him speedy recovery.
The president on Monday travelled abroad for a 10-day rest during which he will seek medical attention for a recurring ear-infection.
The party which is emerging from an internal crisis also prayed for the recovery of the country’s ailing economy.
At a ceremony for the official takeover of the running of the party by the National Caretaker Committee appointed at the May 21, 2016 national convention in Port Harcourt, the party expressed concern about what it called a growing pull by centrifugal forces in which the unity of the country is increasingly being threatened as well as increasing the spate of killings.
It also lamented that the country is sliding into a recession and vowed to reverse the trend if voted back into power in 2019.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who offered the prayers for President Buhari stated: “Let me quickly remind all of us that our president is at present not feeling well and has been flown abroad for treatment. So, I will like to invite you to rise, let us say one minute of prayer for his quick recovery.”
Charging the party on the task ahead, Ekweremadu said: “Our dear party men and women, this is a new day and a great day for our party. What we are witnessing today is a PDP with a new spirit: spirit of togetherness, love. We are going to give this new spirit a new body.
“We must apologise for certain institutions and aspects of our national life. We are worried and sorry about the dwindling fortunes of our currency. But we want to assure our currency that by 2019, you will be strong again. Our economy, by the time we left in 2015 was the strongest in Africa. Today we sympathise with that economy. But we want to assure our economy that you will be strong again not only in Africa but in the whole world.”
On the increasing job losses and the implication on poverty, the Deputy Senate President said: “We want to tell our people who are losing their jobs in banks and construction companies that by the time PDP returns to power in 2019 the story will change.
“To the people of Nigeria, there is still hope. With the PDP you are seeing today, there is hope for our country. And we believe we can endure the hardship of the three more years coming between now and 2019 because there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Our promise to the people of Nigeria is that we are going to produce the next president of this country in 2019 based on a superior argument. We want our president to succeed but we believe that we have better things to offer to Nigeria because we have done that in the past and we will do it again.”
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, in his comments expressed concern that forces against the unity of Nigeria were getting stronger even as he noted that elements that should strengthen democracy like civil societies were gradually being phased out.
Mimiko said: “These are definitely happy times for PDP but paradoxically, unhappy times for the nation. In all my time in this country as an adolescent and as a politically active adult, dying has never been this cheap.
“Beheading, dying has never come to the forefront of national discourse. It seems that everyday you open the newspaper, you see people dying here, beheaded there and people carting them away to secret graves.”
He lamented what he described as the mismanagement of the affairs of the nation which he believed was responsible for the threats to the country’s unity.
“These are very worrisome times for this nation and I think we need prayers but we also need PDP. Whatever anybody would say about the PDP, it may not be a perfect party, it has its own limitations, but one thing nobody can deny is that PDP is a pan-Nigerian party and it has succeeded in bringing Nigeria together.
“For instance, look at the Biafra Day celebration or whatever it is called, it has always been there. PDP had been able to manage it, within the democratic ethos that people have a right to express their opinion and that government should protect all citizens in their right to protest provided they are not violent. But what do we see this year? It is a new day that has come.
“We all know the vibrant civil society that we used to know, where are they today? Even the voices of those who have been the alter-ego of those of us who are activists, where are those voices today? Are those voices silent because they agree with the trajectory that the country is taking today?
“There are questions we must ask ourselves. It is not about whether you like PDP or All Progressives Congress (APC); it is about the fact that in any era every dictatorship has always been preceded by an unbridled populism. Thereafter the true character of that regime creeps to the fore. In the absence of a vibrant civil society we need a vibrant opposition party. And therein lies the stake of all Nigerians in a vibrant PDP,” Mimiko declared
Former National Vice Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, in his remarks, urged the media to co-operate with the party in its drive to recapture power in 2019 and fix the country’s ailing economy.
Meanwhile, the factional leadership of the PDP led by Ali Modu Sheriff yesterday said it would file a contempt charge against the caretaker committee headed by Makarfi at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The party’s National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo and Deputy National Legal Adviser, Bashir Maidugu said the caretaker committee remains illegal and lack powers to run PDP’s affairs.
In a statement yesterday, Oladipo described the caretaker committee as a group of lawbreakers. According to him, it was very wrong for the committee to take over PDP’s headquarters (also known as Wadata House).
He said: “Sherrif is out of the country and will be back tomorrow (today). The lawbreakers are in Wadata deceiving themselves. The law will take its course in the next one week.”
Sheriff, Oladipo and National Auditor Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju had obtained an order of interlocutory injunction restraining PDP from conducting any election into the offices of the national chairman, national secretary and national auditor which they occupy, pending the hearing and determination of their substantive suit pending before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
But while the order was subsisting and the suit pending, the caretaker committee was appointed. Also, Maidugu said the caretaker committee was acting in defiance of subsisting court orders.
“It should be noted that the orders granted by the Federal High Court in Lagos have not been vacated and no appeal has been determined on them. There is an enforcement order granted by the FCT High Court in pursuance of her judgment of the 18th of May 2016. The Makarfi committee is simply illegal. It was constituted in violation of the two high court rulings,” he said.
Besides, Sheriff and Oladipo, through their counsel, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, yesterday sought to move their motion to set aside the order made by Justice M. Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on May 23, which recognised the caretaker committee.
They are also praying the court to strike out PDP as plaintiff because the caretaker committee lacks the powers to invoke the party’s corporate personality. The defendants are also challenging the court’s jurisdiction.