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Leadership tussle: PDP in quest for political solution

By Sunny Ogefere and Seye Olumide
25 May 2016   |   1:24 am
Sequel to the stalemate occasioned by the different litigations over the leadership tussle and control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the chieftains and stakeholders are exploring a way out outside the court processes.


Sequel to the stalemate occasioned by the different litigations over the leadership tussle and control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the chieftains and stakeholders are exploring a way out outside the court processes.

It was confirmed yesterday that leaders of the party were already in talks over the problem, which has been complicated by the alleged decision of the ousted national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to challenge his removal in court.

Sheriff had in anticipation of his sack, when the party met in Port Harcourt for the national convention, announced the suspension of the convention. He cited different court cases and injunctions as reasons for the postponement to a later date.

“But again, as law-abiding party, we have taken all necessary steps to making sure that the right thing is done. We have also filed a stay of execution against that judgment and we have also filed an appeal. We did that so that they will not say we are trying to disobey order,” he

Media aide to the former PDP chairman, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, informed journalists that his boss and others were looking at a legal option.
“I can tell you that Sheriff and other members are still meeting to deliberate on what transpired at the convention. They have invited their lawyers to advise them on the next line of action,” he stated.

Bwala claimed that Sheriff did not receive any court order stopping the convention until Friday, stressing that the four court orders received on that day were “parallel and conflicting.“

However, party officials hinted that the two major factions – the Port Harcourt faction led by the interim chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi and the Abuja faction led by Ibrahim Mantu, Chairman of the steering committee, have commenced moves to resolve their differences.

The Guardian learnt that both factions were disposed to working together and have actually resolved to settle all the grey areas outside the court. A main source of agreement was the removal of Sheriff as national chairman.

“The party is looking for a political solution to the problem, the leaders of the party from both sides have been in consultations and are appealing to everybody including those in courts to sheathe their swords,” Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the immediate past vice chairman, South South of the party disclosed.

According to him, they have harped it on members to make personal sacrifices for the betterment of the party otherwise the party would be in serious problem

His words: “That is what the leaders are working for, for a political solution not a legal solution. Nobody should claim right, everybody should be able to make amends, make sacrifices here and there for the larger group’s interest.”

He explained that only when they were able to come together to form a credible opposition and win elections that the party could accommodate more people and become truly a giant.

He cautioned that if PDP failed now in this bid to unite, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would continue to defeat and dominate them.

“You have seen what the APC is capable of doing. The APC infiltrated PDP to cause all these confusion. Apart from infiltrating PDP, you have seen what they have done with labour. The APC infiltrated labour to the extent that labour lost its cohesiveness and ability to fight.

“They infiltrated PDP. So anyone who is undermining APC does so at his or her peril. APC is a very strong party; they know the rudiments of politics. PDP can not claim that they are the biggest party in Africa and the whole world if they don’t put their acts together,” he stated.

The former federal lawmaker also disclosed that PDP members welcomed the take over of the party’s national secretariat in Abuja as it was in the interest of peace and order.

“Party members welcome the occupation of the party secretariat by the police to avoid breakdown of law and order. As soon as we are able to put our acts together and forge one common front, we will all go to the police and of course the police will vacate our office. The police presence at the secretariat is not a problem at all,” He added.

Similarly, former governor of Akwa Ibom state and the minority leader of the Senate Obong Godswill Akpabio affirmed that the police presence at the party secretariat was not out of place.

According to him, the action was to forestall a breakdown of law and order.Akpabio reiterated that the national convention in Port Harcourt was lawfully convoked and that the decisions reached especially as it affected the removal of Sheriff and the inauguration of the interim caretaker committee, were legal and carried out in accordance with the provisions of Section 33 of PDP’s constitution.

But former governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim disagreed with him arguing that apart from that fact that the decisions were taken in a hurry, the decisions were in contravention of the subsisting court orders.

He claimed that it would be practically impossible to solve the problem without Sheriff being central to the process. Meanwhile, more members of the embattled party have pledged their support for the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee

Among those who praised the development as a process that would ensure peace and smooth running of the party ahead of the 2019 elections yesterday include former Deputy National Chairman of the party, South West zone, Chief Olabode George; former Minister of Transportation and member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; and the immediate past Lagos State chairman, Chief Tunji Shelle.

George, while commending the development said the appointment of Makarfi was a welcome idea that would stabilize the party and prepare it to play the role of a viable opposition to the ruling APC.

According to George, “It was obvious that everybody liked Makarfi not just because of who he is but for the peace and stability his appointment has brought to the party since he was appointed on Saturday.”

While he pleaded with every members of the party to rally around the new caretaker committee chairman, George said, “I believe the party will now play a good role and credible people would make up their mind to join us since the tide has changed for the good.”

Babatope in a statement yesterday expressed support for the Makarfi-led committee saying that the development was divinely inspired to save the soul of the party from destruction.

According to him, “It was a step divinely inspired and it would certainly succeed. This development is victory for democracy and the PDP. Retrogressive forces within the PDP have been swept into oblivion. We appeal to all the party members to rise up now and fight for the unity and progress of our dear country.”

Babatope counseled that it would amount to doom for democracy in Nigeria if the voice of a strong opposition like the PDP was suppressed as some people intended to, adding, “We shall continue to ensure that the PDP is re-positioned to regain power in 2019.”

To Shelle, “PDP is not about an individual who wanted to impose himself on everybody at the detriment of the party and the country. Makarfi’s appointment, yes that was a good move because the party must move ahead. We must reorganize ourselves to play viable and visible role in the nations democracy. If those people who think they could hijacked the machinery of the party were to be left unchecked, the PDP would be dead before 2019.”

He added that if Sheriff were to be a good party man he wouldn’t have gone to court behind everybody in the first instance “we believe some elements were sent into the midst of the party to hijacked the process and work against our collective interest.”

Shelle added that the beauty of the development was that both conventions held in Abuja and Port Harcourt were opposed to the continuation of Sheriff as national chairman “this tells a lot of message that someone is not welcomed or wanted to lead the party.”

The two party men alleged it was not in doubt that some forces in the ruling APC may have deliberately programmed Sheriff’s venture to distabilise the PDP.