Olusola Fabiyi and Leke Baiyewu
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, met with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the ex-President’s residence in Abuja on Monday.
The meeting, which held behind closed doors, was also attended by Sheriff’s Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; Acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bernard Mikko; and the National Youth Leader, Mr. Demis Alonge-Niyi.
Also at the meeting were the party’s National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and the Financial Secretary, Mr. Adewole Adeyanju.
As the meeting was ongoing, the sacked National Caretaker Committee of the party said it had appealed the Court of Appeal judgment which removed it from office.
The committee, which was headed by a former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, stated this after the faction’s stakeholders’ meeting.
The meeting was held at the private residence of the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who is the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
Jonathan, who met Sheriff and his entourage, referred to the former governor of Borno State as his chairman.
As soon as Jonathan was ushered into the sitting room, where his guests were seated, and sighted Sheriff, he stretched his hands to him and said, “My chair.”
Even after their closed-door meeting, which was held with a few members of Sheriff’s entourage, the former President still referred to Sheriff as “my chairman.”
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Jonathan said the troubled party remained one, adding that there was no faction in it.
Acknowledging that there were problems in the party, the ex-President, however, stated that efforts were being made to resolve them.
Jonathan added, “We are solving our problems. There are bound to be differences in politics. It is the way we resolve these differences that makes us human beings and that is what makes us leaders.
“We are not factionalised; we are one. I have met with Sheriff and I have met with others. I will meet with others (again) so that we will be able to do what is expected of us as a political party.”
In his remarks, Sheriff said he would not respond to the unprintable names he was being called by his traducers, stating that there would be no difference between him and those against him if he decided to respond to them.
“I will not respond to the name-calling because if I do, there would be no difference between them and me. Very soon, you will hear from me when I finish my consultation as I will roll out my programmes that will lead to the holding of a national convention,” he added.
At the PDP Stakeholders’ meeting, however, the Makarfi group passed a vote of confidence in the caretaker committee, insisting that the committee would remain in place until the determination of its appeal at the Supreme Court.
A former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, read the communique of the meeting, which was attended by the governors of Akwa Ibom State (Udom Emmanuel); Delta State (Ifeanyi Okowa); Rivers State (Nyesom Wike); and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Members of the National Assembly, former ministers, former governors and members of the Board of Trustees of the party were also in attendance.
Reading the communique, Gana said, “That we fully endorse the prompt and proactive decision of the National Caretaker Committee to lodge an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria against the decision of the Court of Appeal as well as filing an application for injunction pending an appeal, all of which were done in the morning of Monday, February 20, 2017.
“Having duly filed both an appeal at the Supreme Court and an application for injunction pending appeal in the morning of Monday, February 20, 2017, we pass a resounding and unqualified vote of confidence in the leadership of the Senator Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP and pledge our unalloyed support to it as it pilots the affairs of the party in this critical transitional period of the party’s life.
“To this end, we are not at all deceived by the supposed olive branch being offered by Senator Ali Modu Sherrif, knowing that the only thing that can come from traitors of his ilk is nothing but a poisoned chalice and a Greek gift.”
Earlier in the day, the Nigeria Police Force had barricaded the International Conference Centre, Abuja, venue of the scheduled stakeholders’ meeting.
The action, it was gathered, was sequel to the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, which, on Friday, recognised Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.
A’court judgment, solution to crisis, says Uzodinma
Meanwhile, a member of the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP, Senator Hope Uzodinma, on Monday, described the judgment of the Court of Appeal, nullifying the National Caretaker Committee of the party, as a political solution.
“The last judgment by the Appeal Court has created a window for a political solution,” he said.
Uzodinma, in an interview with journalists in Abuja, faulted the embattled Makarfi for calling a party stakeholders’ meeting on Monday after he had been sacked by the appellate court.
He said, “We are not talking about factions anymore. I am a lawmaker and not a law-breaker. If the Appeal Court has said Sheriff is the chairman, it goes without saying that people, who understand the doctrine of the rule of law, should obey the pronouncement of the court of competent jurisdiction, unless, otherwise, any court of superior record, in this instance, the Supreme Court, says tomorrow that Sheriff is no longer the chairman.
“For Makarfi to now want to summon a meeting on behalf of the PDP, we want to ask why? Committed members of the party like us will not even look up to any court for solution to this impasse.”
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