Sheriff backs off
He lacks integrity, says Makarfi
The political solution being canvassed by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the settlement of the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may not work after all.
Barely two days after the two factions agreed not to cease fire, the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction has threatened legal action against anyone, including media houses, who refers to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led National Committee as a faction of the PDP.
The two factions had signed the agreement last Thursday at a meeting midwifed by the Governor Seriake Dickson-led National Reconciliation Committee. Sheriff’s appointed Acting Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who was at the meeting, said in a statement yesterday that the National Caretaker Committee is an illegal body, and therefore, according to the Court of Appeal judgement, it is not supposed to be in existence.
“Makarfi should behave himself; he should not interfere in our business, because we are not interested in his private business.
“Any further careless statement from him will force us to reconsider our earlier peace agreement. We have already employed staff that are running the bureaucracy efficiently. “If Makarfi so desires, he should keep the old staff, just as he is doing now.
We have had enough and enough of this,” he said.
According to him, Sheriff as PDP National Chairman has the right to employ staff. “We are preparing to complete state congresses where necessary and working hard planning our national convention. We will not be distracted from our set objective to return the party to the grassroots by inconsequential issues.
“We must prevent anybody with the agenda of killing the party, especially those who were brought to the party by those who have already decamped to other parties.
“We are giving seven days to these old staff, who still have the property of our party in their possession to return them immediately, or we will be left with no other option than to hand them over to the police,” Ojougboh added. But Makarfi has described Sheriff and his cotravellers as people with integrity deficit.
The caretaker committee said in a statement yesterday that Sheriff and members of his faction are not men of honour with whom one can reach any agreement.
“But we tagged along to avoid being accused of unnecessary intransigence. Since the leopard cannot change its spots, it is now very clear that no agreement or political solution can be reached with these bunch of people with huge integrity deficit,” the statement added.
According to the statement, which was signed by spokesman of the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the appointment of Ojougboh as PDP Acting Deputy National Chairman was the worst case of impunity in the party. “His threat against our hard working staff should, therefore, be ignored and treated with utmost contempt.
“We went out of our way few days ago to reach accommodation with them even when some of our top leaders had serious misgivings about any type of talk with them given their unreliability.
“We are happy that we have shown our goodwill and they too have demonstrated their bad faith,” the statement said. Using analogy of a state governor, the caretaker committee noted that if a governor loses at the election petitions tribunal and at the Court of Appeal, he does not cease to be a governor when his appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.
“And would the civil servants then refuse to serve him? “The position of the law is that he would remain the governor and all government employees will be expected to continue to service his government until otherwise determined by the Supreme Court,” it added.
The caretaker committee said it had tried to reach Dickson to report “this infraction and deliberate violation of the truce agreement by the Sheriff group, but we were not able to get through to him.”
Jonathan had, before now, proposed political solution to the crisis for quick return of peace to the party. New Telegraph gathered that some founding leaders of the party and other stakeholders want the Supreme Court to decide the matter once and for all.
Last week, the apex court commenced hearing of the appeal filed before it by Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, and has fixed May 4 for hearing of appeals by both parties.
Those who believe that the matter should be settled in the court against Jonathan’s political solution, argue that what was at stake was the future of democracy and party politics in Nigeria. To do otherwise, according to them, is to allow Sheriff reap where he did not sow.
They were also of the view that the supremacy of the National Convention as the highest decision making body of the party, is being put to question.
A former national leader of the party told New Telegraph that it was no big deal settling with Sheriff, but what is at stake is the soul of the PDP. “It is written in our party constitution that the National Convention is the highest organ of the party.
That convention in May 2016 in Port Harcourt instituted the Ahmed Markarfi-led caretaker committee, which Sheriff is now challenging.
“However, the situation that brought him in to serve out the term of the North-East left by Adamu Mu’azu, he was not ratified by the convention.
“He actually prepared to contest at the convention. He was in Port Harcourt to contest until the convention took another decision.
“So, what we want is for the Supreme Court to say that the National Convention is or is not the highest decision making body of the party,” the former National Working Committee (NWC) member of the PDP added. Another leader of the party from the North noted that “it is not about PDP alone, it is about party politics.”
His words: “ If we have a political settlement as Jonathan and Dickson are advocating, will it be wrong if one person wakes up tomorrow and claims ownership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any other political party?
“There is need for a pronouncement at the Supreme Court level, which will be cited as an authority in future, while dealing with party politics. A minority can never lord over the majority in a democracy. “Sheriff and his men are minorities. Or is there any convention where his own NWC was elected?
The answer is no. We cannot for the sake of peace sell our party.” But while leaders of the party are bent on the Supreme Court, it was also learnt that members of the PDP Governors’ Forum are divided, especially on the recommendations of Dickson’s committee.
Ojougboh, last week, claimed that they were made to understand that seven governors were in of political solution to the leadership crisis.
The PDP has 11 governors after it lost Ondo State to the APC. Though Ojougboh did not disclose the governors who are disposed to political solution, New Telegraph gathered that four governors who are not favourably disposed to Jonathan’s political solution are Nyesome Wike (Rivers), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
The Dickson committee had recommended the inclusion of seven governors as members of the convention committee that would organise the PDP unity convention on June 30.
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, said the party has a constitution, “and you can only be legitimate if you have been voted for.” According to Jalo, the composition of the PDP executive committee as enshrined in Section 40 of the party’s constitution sets out how one can be executive member.
Jalo stated that Sheriff is not interested in the peace process, noting that despite the pending suit at the Supreme Court, he wants to sack the PDP establishment staff.