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PDP crisis: Sheriff, Makarfi groups trade words

From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi, yesterday engaged in accusations and counter-accusations over the leadership of the party.

While the Sheriff group alleged that governors elected on the platform of the party gave the Makarfi committee N50 million monthly subvention, the latter accused Sheriff of receiving jeeps and $1 million from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Federal Government.

This is coming at a time the National Reconciliation Committee of the PDP, chaired by Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, yesterday released the submitted report to the media.

Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, Sheriff,  who spoke through his deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojoughoh, also accused Makarfi of frustrating reconciliation in the PDP, as, according to him, he wants to use his position as caretaker chairman to advance his 2019 presidential ambition.

He said the caretaker committee chairman had become jittery because organs of the party were joining the peace process in the PDP.

According to him, “the reason the caretaker committee is protesting is that they have seen that the table is now crumbling fast under their feet.

“All the organs of the party are keying into the reconciliation and when the reconciliation pulls through, they are out and Senator Makarfi can only come as member of the BoT.  And so the N50 million monthly subvention from the governors will stop. They get subvention from the governors every month and when reconciliation happens, that subvention will stop.

“Secondly, Makarfi wants a situation where he will tailor-make the convention to suit his interest, because he has come out to say that he will be contesting the presidency of the country. We are very mindful that we are not going to tie our party around any individual.”

However, the caretaker committee dismissed the allegation as cheap propaganda and “lie from the pit of hell.”

The spokesman of the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, challenged Sheriff to first address the allegation by Governor Ayodele Fayose that  he received $1 million from the Federal Government to organise a convention, before making any wild allegations. 

He added: “Dr. Cairo (Ojougboh) should tell us which APC governor, minister or official bought jeeps for them?”

Adeyeye said it was clear to all critical stakeholders in the party that the committee, since its inception in May last year, has been struggling financially. He said if there was anyone who wanted to use his position to pursue a personal ambition, it was Sheriff, as the caretaker committee is ready to quit at any time the organs of the party wants it.

The spokesman said although the committee got financial support from the governors, National Assembly members and other party chiefs, it still struggled to meet its financial obligations to the staff because the funds were not enough.

Adeyeye added that it was better to get support from party members instead of outsiders, noting that PDP belongs to all the members and as such there is nothing wrong if the members finance the party.

His words: “This is a lie from the pit of hell and a very cheap and unintelligent attempt at blackmail. It is a known fact by all critical stakeholders of the party and even the staff that the National Caretaker Committee has, from inception, been hamstrung by inadequate finance, so much so that simple secretariat duties have been a struggle, while we have been unable to pay staff salaries of just N18 million a month.

“Members of the National Caretaker Committee do not enjoy any remuneration. It is a selfless service. It is, therefore, a figment of his imagination to say that the governors give the National Caretaker Committee N50 million monthly. The governors are all alive and are free to come forward and declare publicly their level of contributions to the National Caretaker Committee since May 21, 2016.

“Be that as it may, we want to say that the party belongs to all its members – governors, former governors, National Assembly members, former National Assembly members, presidents, former president, etc. All of them are free to make contribution to its running, as it is not a personal empire of anybody or the National Caretaker Committee.

“There is, therefore, nothing illegal or untoward in receiving contributions from party members. Our only regret is that these contributions have not been forthcoming as expected, giving the heavy weight of responsibilities placed before us and especially the burden of having to deal with distractions caused by Senator Sheriff and his cohorts.

“Nevertheless, no matter how little, it is better to be funded by our party members than by the All Progressives Congress (APC), as is the case with Senator Sheriff and his cohorts.

“Governor Fayose has also made a public allegation that Senator Sheriff has received the sum of $1 million from the APC to organise a new convention. Senator Sheriff is yet to publicly refute the allegation.”

Meanwhile, the National Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chaired by Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, yesterday released the submitted report to the media through a published advertorial. 

The Dickson-led committee on Tuesday last week submitted its report to Sheriff, with a proposition that he should hold convention as soon as possible.

The committee also stressed the need for a template that would culminate into a “unity national convention.”

Dickson, who read the resolution of the committee in its report, during a visit to the PDP national secretariat, restated its commitment to the pursuit of a political solution, as the best option for resolving the on-going challenges facing the party without prejudice to the on-going judicial process.

“We hope that our party will have the opportunity to put behind us needless crisis, which has engulfed the party since last year. Many of our leaders are impatient to see us come back together and once again represent the people of Nigeria,” he stated.

The committee, according to him, proposed that the convention planning committee should have seven state governors, seven senators, including the Deputy Senate President, 12 members of the House of Representatives, six members of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) and six National Vice Chairmen (one per zone).

Others are three state chairmen per zone (18), six serving Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly, six former governors, former presiding officers of the National Assembly (who are still members of the party), six prominent women leaders, six PDP youth leaders, six former ministers of the party and 12 others to be nominated by the National Chairman, in consultation with stakeholders.

The committee also resolved that the convention committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections to all national offices of the party, including the zoning of such offices.

Dickson said: “As part of the sacrifice to be made in order to reposition the party, the committee is of the view that all national officers who may claim that their tenure still subsists beyond the proposed convention are hereby requested to relinquish their claim in the interest of the party. 

“For the purpose of the convention, all officers elected at the ward, local, state and zonal levels before the first Port Harcourt convention of May 21, 2016 are deemed validly elected, except for the election held in some states that were declared by NEC as inconclusive.

“The proposed national convention should hold as soon as possible and not later than June 30, 2017. The committee shall continue to engage the party leadership and all relevant stakeholders with a view to having a hitch free convention and calls upon all and sundry to work towards the realisation of this objective.”

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