PDP chairmanship: A month after the failed convention

Sheriff. PHOTO: channelstv

Sheriff. PHOTO: channelstv

Party leaders stuck in trenches over chairman’s position
The lingering crisis troubling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears unending even as initial hopes were raised with the extension of the tenure of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.

The extension was effected through vote of confidence by the national delegates at the party’s secretariat in Port Harcourt, the River State capital and it was sequel to unresolved legal tussle over the party’s leadership, and the sealing of the planned convention venue in Port Harcourt.

It would be recalled that the leeway was meant to pave way for the party to exhaust all cases pending in court.

Besides, as indicated in Makarfi acceptance speech, it would afford the party the opportunity to sustain the rebuilding of the PDP, reuniting its members and restoring the lost glory of the party.

However barely a month after, the tantrums between the two factions – Makarfi and Senator Alli Modu Sheriff – have continued unabated. The promised peace parley that both factions have avowed to have either not taken place or have refused to yield the desired result.

The indication that the main opposition party was still to find its bearing with regards to the challenges of leadership emerged recently when a former Senator from Edo State and a member of the Makarfi-led Committee, Senator Odion Ugbesia took a snipe at Sheriff.

Ugbesia who represented Edo Central at the Senate, asserted that Sheriff has no justifiable claim to the chairmanship of the PDP having emerged through the back door.

According to him, Sheriff became the chairman of the party “through the wrong process, and the court has since said so,” stressing that Sheriff was standing alone.

“To now continue to lay claim to the chairmanship of the party when all the organs of the party are not with him, the Governors’ Forum is not with him, the National Executive Council (NEC) is not with him, the Board of Trustees (BoT) is not with him, so who is he leading in the party?

“Because he has some rabble rousers around him, he thinks he owns the party. The court has since vindicated us, and we are prepared to move the party forward.”

This apparently shows some frustrations on the part of the Makarfi’s Committee to reach a common ground of understanding with the Sheriff’s faction. It also gives credence to speculations that Sheriff has stuck to its original position from onset.

Former member of the House of Representatives and spokesperson of Sheriff’s faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko said Ugbensia’s stance was not just misleading but smacks of sycophancy.

Mikko who said he was speaking on behalf of the of National Working Committee (NWC) of the Sheriff’s faction argued that it was laughable to insinuate that the process leading to the emergence of Sheriff as the national chairman of PDP was wrong, in spite of the latter’s election by lawful votes at the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.

Also, he contended that it was not correct to for the Senator to allude that because “some vocal and decrepit voices in the Board of Trustees (BoT) and other non-formal organs of the party who are trying to impugn on the character of Senator Sheriff are not with him, he is standing alone.”

“This is certainly not true because Sen. Sheriff was elected by an absolute majority of 69 lawful votes at NEC, beating his closest rival who got only 4 votes among three other contestants for a two-year tenure terminating in 2018. The election was a media event and widely televised for public records. Elder Odion Ugbesia should avail himself of this record and be informed accordingly,” he stated.

Furthermore, he argued that Makarfi’s group claim that the judgment of the Federal High Court Harcourt Division on the 24th of May and 4th of July 2016 validated the Port Harcourt convention that held on the 21st May, 2016, was in ‘violent contravention’ of earlier and subsisting judgments of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division on the 12th and 20th May, 2016.

He said: “It is common knowledge that the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court cannot assume an appellate jurisdiction to neutralize the orders of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division that declared no vacancy in the offices for which members of the caretaker contraption led by Sen. Makarfi with Senator Ugbesia as one of the new members were purported to have been appointed to occupy.”

He said that Senator Ugbesia’s remarks on the PDP leadership crisis did not come as a surprise because as he claimed the Senator lacked basic understanding of the issues at stake and the heuristic skills despite over three decades of public life.

His words: “This lack of the basic understanding and realistic approach to solving political problems may not have been unconnected with morbid sycophancy to his godfathers in the ancient Bini kingdom.”

Accordingly, he advised Senator Makarfi, Senator Ugbesia and other members of the Caretaker Committee to disband and support genuine reconciliatory efforts by Senator Sheriff in building a virile opposition party that is increasingly gaining momentum as an alternative to the ruling APC and a potential government in waiting.

“The PDP under the leadership of Senator (Dr.) Ali Modu Sheriff therefore wishes to appeal to all party supporters, stakeholders and loyalists to remain focused on the core values of the party, particularly our commitment to rule of law, which is a basic tenet of democracy and not swayed by the morbid acts of impunity which has been the bane of our party for over a decade. Party leaders like Elder Ugbesia should be objective in thoughts, free with his opinion without fear, favour, and sycophancy or under any form of pressure or hallucination as a moral icon for which an ideal polity is inevitable,” he added.

Nonetheless, the Deputy National Chairman in Sheriff’s faction, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh expressed optimism that soon a political solution would be found for the PDP’s crisis.

Ojougboh who claimed that the squabbles in the party were being precipitated by some select few whom he maintained have easy access to public funds and were using for selfish purposes.

“The major obstacle to peace is that one or two persons who think that they have monthly allocation from the Federal Government at their disposal that they can use to control the party and as a weapon of war against commonsense. As soon as they realize that money is not everything then we will have peace in PDP.”

He informed The Guardian that there are on going meetings to resolve the issues at stake saying: “From our end and not just our end, all PDP members, everybody is now of the opinion and in agreement that there is need for reconciliation … friends are meeting, friends and foes are meeting, adversaries and protagonists are meeting, everybody is meeting because it is very obvious that there is need for all the members to come together and work together. I believe very soon political solution will be reached.”

Ojougboh stressed that in going forward every party member must be carried along; that power is given to the people and power in the party is given back to the grassroots and not to a select group of persons.

“The only thing we are asking for and appealing for is let common sense prevail; let this emperor’s attitude, this mightier than thou attitude of you know it all because you have money, you can pay judges, you can pay lawyers, you can pay everybody, etc. let it stop.

“If they are going to be shopping for judgment, let them be shopping for judgment but at the end of the day we know that justice will prevail,” he added.

When contacted by The Guardian the spokesman of the Makarfi-led faction, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye declined to speak on Sheriff and the crisis rocking PDP.

“I don’t want to speak about the issue of Sheriff, I won’t talk about Sheriff for now. Don’t worry about that … we are working; I don’t want to talk about the crisis now. We will solve our problems,” the spokesman of the Caretaker Committee said.

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