Fidelis Soriwei, Olusola Fabiyi,
Samuel Awoyinfa and Enyioha Opara
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was recognised as the authentic National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, on Friday, arrived in Minna, the Niger State capital, on Saturday, to see a former Governor of the state, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, and a former military dictator.
This came two days after the appeal court recognised Sheriff, a former Governor of Borno State, as the chairman of the PDP.
The appellate court, on Friday, recognised Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP, throwing away the claim of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party to the leadership of the PDP.
Sheriff, who arrived in Minna at exactly 2.30pm on Sunday and received by Aliyu, again described the Court of Appeal’s ruling in his favour as a victory for the PDP.
The PDP chairman stated, “My victory is a victory for the PDP all over Nigeria. There is no loser. It is just a misunderstanding within a family, and we are calling on everybody to come together so that the party can be a formidable one once again.”
Aliyu later joined Sheriff for a meeting with the former military dictator, which lasted for about 90 minutes.
The PDP chairman left the Niger State capital at about 4.30pm on Sunday.
Speaking to newsmen after a closed-door meeting with the ex-military dictator, Sheriff added, “During our meeting, he said he is happy with my statement after the court ruling. He told me to continue that way so that I can bring everybody back together to make the party a formidable opposition party.
“What we want to do now is how to put the party back in shape so that everyone, who is aggrieved, is brought back as one united family once again. Look, united we stand, divided we fall.
“I have even called Makarfi himself and I have called on everybody to come back so that we can work together.”
Aliyu said, “Now that we have a legal decision even though other people talk about going higher (Supreme Court), others are saying ‘no’, we should start widening the solution; that we don’t waste time in terms of legality.
“For the moment, Ali Modu Sheriff is the chairman of the party, and those of us who love to see the solution to the problems in this party, will continue to find ways of mending fences.
“I think we should all bury our ambition, you can’t have an ambition without a platform.
“We need to all come together and I appeal to all of us, all PDP lovers and members, to really look at the issues objectively so that we have a platform that we can call a party which can win elections. Not a fragmented party.”
INEC to drop Makarfi from party chairmen’s list
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said it will obey the verdict of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, which, nullified the outcome of the May 21, 2016 Convention of the PDP
Before, the judgment, the commission, in the list of 40 registered political parties in the country, recognised Makarfi as the National Chairman of the PDP.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission would comply with court verdicts on the PDP’s leadership tussle.
Oyekanmi told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Sunday that the commission would commence the process of obeying the court directives as soon as it was served with the papers.
He said, “Our position has not changed; we will always comply with legitimate court orders and judgments. So, in this case, when we are served, we will take the necessary steps to obey the judgment. I am not sure we have been served with the judgment
“If they serve the commission with the judgment, absolutely, the commission will recognize Ali Modu Sheriff as the chairman of PDP because that is what the court has said.
“We also know that the other party (faction) has said it will be proceeding to the Supreme Court.
“Whatever is the decision of the Supreme Court, which is the final verdict, would be obeyed by INEC.
“But as we speak, the Appeal Court is the superior and latest judgment. INEC will comply with the provisions of that judgment as of today when we are served, and that will affect everything in the PDP as far as INEC is concerned.”
Oyekanmi stated that it was the desire of the commission for the PDP to resolve its internal dispute as INEC would always obey whatever the courts ruled on the matter.
Going to S’Court won’t resolve issues, says Kashamu
The Senator, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Buruji Kashamu, said the threat by Makarfi to head for the Supreme Court over last Friday’s verdict of the Court of Appeal would not resolve the crisis rocking the PDP.
He believed that going to the Supreme Court to appeal the appellate court’s judgment, would only prolong the crisis and make the current office holders to stay in office longer than they ordinarily would have done.
These were contained in a statement he issued on Sunday, a copy of which was made available to one of our correspondents.
The lawmaker noted that both Sheriff and Makarfi had shown that they both had leadership qualities, and it was time for the two of them to come together and move the party forward.
Kashamu added that the PDP could not afford to continue as a divided house, stating that election in Anambra State would hold this year (2017), while that of Osun and Ekiti states would follow in 2018.
The statement read in part, “I sincerely doubt if anyone who is talking about going to the Supreme Court has the interest of the party at heart. Going to the Supreme Court will not resolve the issues. Rather, it will prolong them and further endanger the party.
“Senator Sheriff will not fold his hands and allow the judgment in his favour to be ridiculed.
“We have election coming up in Anambra State this year and later in Osun and Ekiti states. So, we must do primaries, either later this year or early next year.
“We cannot afford to allow the fate that befell us in Edo and Ondo states to repeat itself. The 2019 general elections are fast approaching.”
Kashamu also called on respectable leaders and elders in the party to intervene in the lingering dispute in order not to allow the ill-motivated opinion and selfish interest of a few to mislead them to taking actions that would not be in the overall interest of the party, its members and supporters.
He said, “We cannot afford to part now or divide our party any further. Let all true party men and women, young and old, rich and poor, strong or weak, rise and rally round our National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and our national leader, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to put the party together and organise a free and fair and all-embracing national convention within 45 to 60 days.”
Kashamu lashed out at the governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, for what he termed the governor’s “inconsistency” on the chairmanship of Sheriff, having supported his choice in the past and turned round singing a different tune.
The senator said, “Not a few have wondered why the volte-face by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. Exactly a year ago, he praised the PDP National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to high heavens, extolling his qualities. Now, he is singing a new song.
“The questions are: what has changed? Why the inconsistency? Why the flip-flop? Should anyone take him seriously?”
Meanwhile, the National Auditor of the party, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, said following the authentication of the Sheriff-led national executive council by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, eight PDP governors out of 12 were already in talks with the Sheriff -led team.
He said this in Ijebu Igbo on Sunday during a stakeholders meeting of the party.
Adeyanju also urged leaders and members of the party to look beyond the judgment and come together to work for the party and help it play a formidable opposition role.
Don’t appeal judgment, secretary, youth leader tell Makarfi
Also, two national officers of the PDP appealed to Makarfi not to appeal the Court of Appeal judgment at the Supreme Court.
The party’s National Secretary, Prof. Adewale Oladipo, and the National Youth Leader, Mr. Demis Alonge-Niyi, stated this in separate interviews with journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
They said dragging the case before the Supreme Court would lengthen the leadership issues in the party rather than providing lasting solutions to the crisis.
Oladipo said, “I think the time has come for our members to put this leadership tussle behind us and move forward in the overall interest of our party.
“2019 is around the corner and time is not on our side. We need to put the matter behind us and embrace peace. We should not forget that in 2018, we have governorship elections in Osun and Anambra (2017) states.
“We must work hard to reclaim the Presidency as well. We also need to win more states as well as more seats in both the National Assembly and states assemblies
“To me, going to the Supreme Court will further escalate our problems and drag the matter more than expected. We should put our heads together and see how we can resolve the family matter amicably.”
Longe-Niyi stated that “all aggrieved party members should put the matter behind them with the pronouncement of the Appeal Court and embrace peace in the interest of the party”
He added, “Sheriff is always ready for true reconciliation. Our members should emulate him and embrace peace.
“We lost Ondo and Edo states governorship elections to this crisis. We cannot afford to lose Osun and Anambra states.”