PDP leadership tussle: Sheriff remains chairman till 2018 – PARTY STAKEHOLDER

By Taiwo Amodu  
Dr Cairo Ojougboh is the deputy national chairman of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the People Democratic Party, (PDP).  In this interview, the former national vice-chairman, South-south justifies the claim of the former Borno State governor to the office of national chairman of the main opposition party in the country.
Ordinary PDP faithful are worried over the unnerving development in the party.  Senator Sheriff insists he is the legitimate chairman, while Senator Ahmed Makarfi caretaker committee , a creation of the national convention lay claim to the same office. Is there a solution to the leadership impasse?
Yes, of course tAhere is. It is either the political option  is fully and completely exhausted in which case, at the end of the day, the whole party would have been destroyed.
The party destroyed?
Of course! If you follow the legal option— from court of first instance to the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, it will take at least two, three years, and by that time, we would have lost 2019, or another party would have emerged because if that happens, the party emerging would  be weak, PDP would be weak and APC would be stronger.
So, the way out is very simple: political solution.
So, what is the political solution?
At the Taraba governors’  meeting, I was there at the meeting. At that meeting, at about 3 am, a decision was taken that Sheriff, governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson and Nyesom Wike, the Rivers state governor and Darius Ishaku and Ibrahim Dankwabbo, governors of Taraba and Gombe – five of them should retire, because the meeting  wasn’t making any headway, to retire to a separate room and look at the matter holistically, and come to report to the house.
After two hours, they came out and everybody was happy that they have found a solution. So, the meeting closed to reconvene in the morning because they have planned a stakeholders’ meeting. At the five wise men meeting, Sheriff put forward a proposal; what he put forward which was accepted by everybody, including Governor Wike. It was Wike who said they were going to send for Makarfi and tell him to resign, so that the caretaker committee will bring 10 people, Sheriff will bring 10 people and they will form a common convention committee.
But that has been dismissed as tall demand by the Makarfi team.  They are saying their committee was a creation of the highest organ of the party, the national convention?
Well, we shall know what is the national convention very soon.  So, everybody was happy and we thought a solution has been found. In the morning, against the agreement and everything that was finalized, Makarfi bluntly refused and said he wasn’t going to step down. Sheriff has agreed and that would have been the solution. But of course, you know how power intoxicates and that’s how we lost the opportunity to settle this issue and the court cases continue and of course, by the  Justice Abang’s ruling, it is very explicit.
The man wasn’t speaking with water in his mouth and he put it down in black and white.  That one, Sheriff remains the chairman of the party and two,  that the Port Harcourt court has no right whatsoever to entertain that suit having been aware of two rulings in Lagos and that the Port Harcourt court even admitted that it  was  aware of those two cases in Lagos and then went ahead to sit on it. That it was a total miscarriage of justice, it was impunity personified. It also went ahead to say that whatever the caretaker committee has done is illegal, null and void. This isn’t just a court of coordinate jurisdiction but a court that has initially ruled that it is only Sheriff as the chairman of the party that can submit nominations for Ondo and Edo states. If not for the impunity, how can civilized people, very educated senior citizens hear this pronouncement of court and would still wear their suits and dress up and boast that they are going ahead for the convention! When it has been stated that there is res pendis, which means that nobody should disturb the res, nobody should disturb the situation. In fact, anything the caretaker committee does is illegal, null and void.
If we pursue it to the Court of Appeal, I assure you that the judges,I am not trying to pre-empt them, but I know we have very erudite judges in the Court of Appeal and they have conscience.
Some people have made the observation that Sheriff was nominated to complete the tenure of Adamu Muazu, the erstwhile chairman from North-East; that there was no convention that produced Sheriff as substantive national chairman. How do you react to this?
Now, there are two issues here. The NEC of the party has voted for Sheriff to be chairman and based on the Constitution of the party, that if a chairman resigns or quits office, somebody from that zone will be elected at NEC to continue until the term of the chairman expires. In 2014, when Jonathan was elected, at the party’s convention before that election, there was an election for the chairmanship position that election was to confirm. So, there was an election and from that date, the tenure of the man who was confirmed as chairman is for four years. So, from 2014-2018, is the tenure of Muazu and that’s what Sheriff is supposed to complete.
However, of course as you know, Sheriff was on his own when after he was given three months to go and conduct a convention, he got ready to conduct it, that he would vacate office because he didn’t want to stay. It was the same governors who begged him to come and contest; that the way he has revived the party, that it was astonishing. It was the same governors who came to him that he should contest. He didn’t say no, I wouldn’t contest, my tenure ends in 2015. He bought form, went for screening. So, what is their problem?  Did he say he must leave in 2018? They were the ones who asked him to come, they were the ones who asked him to contest again. He didn’t want to contest. Now, because he refused  to do their bidding, they now said he must go.
They have a predetermined presidential candidate, they have a predetermined chairman of the party that they want. They know what they want to go and do in Port Harcourt.
There was a particular meeting where BoT members walked out on the governors because of Sheriff. How come he is now attributing impunity to the same forces that propped him up?
Very good. Sheriff is agent of change and God doesn’t make mistakes. The God that brought Sheriff brought him for a purpose: to wash away impunity out of PDP, to purify the party, and as change agent, circumstances and conditions bring them up. If God didn’t approve that Sheriff would be chairman, he couldn’t have been chairman, because nothing is possible without God. And the party, the way it is going, it is very clear that God is on the side of Sheriff. That is why we are saying, look, let Sheriff reposition the party, bring in everybody and let us move on. Sheriff isn’t saying I must be chairman. No, he hasn’t said so. So, where has he gone wrong? All my battles in life have been for others, I don’t fight for myself and anytime I see anybody being oppressed, I fight for the person.
But at what point did Sheriff fall out with the governors?
When they went to Port Harcourt, he now made them to understand that there are a lot of problems in all these states, why don’t we look at these problems. Some people annexed some other states. So, he said the party cannot move forward like this. Let us sit down and look at some of these. That was all! They now said Sheriff has said that he was going to look into congresses. That’s where problem started, nothing more. That was his offence. They also said Sheriff promised everybody president. A man who doesn’t even want to be chairman of the party, is he the one looking for the presidency? They just cooked all cock and bull story! He has never told anybody that he wants to be president.
When I heard the rumour, I went to him and confronted him; he said no; that it has never occurred to him.
Look, Dr Raymond Dokpesi that is campaigning around and says he want to be chairman, he went to Sheriff to say he wanted to be chairman and Sheriff told him that the office is in the North now and the governors have said I should contest and I have agreed to contest. He told Dokpesi, why don’t you wait, let us build this party, of course the Vice-president might be going to the South. Why don’t you wait and become the Vice-president? That was Sheriff’s offence.
With the raging crisis, it may truncate your party’s chances in  the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
The Makarfi team is saying your faction is being used to play the spoiler role,  allegedly being used by the ruling party. What is your reaction to this insinuation?
Look, can’t you see that, in the whole of this crisis, what is the position of INEC, what is the position of police. If APC was supporting Sheriff, even with our court judgment, we would have occupied the secretariat. With the court judgment, the police would have opened our office for us.
So, if APC is supporting Sheriff,  of course, we would have gotten all the things we want. But to be honest with you and that’s why I appreciate the president, as  I speak you know that the APC hasn’t interfered in our crisis but even Makarfi has said he doesn’t believe that APC is involved in this matter.  He said so. If he can say that, then why would people now say that it is APC supporting Sheriff? They should be fair to this man; you don’t give a dog a bad name to hang it.
PDP leadership tussle: Sheriff remains chairman till 2018 – PARTY STAKEHOLDER PDP leadership tussle: Sheriff remains chairman till 2018 – PARTY STAKEHOLDER Reviewed by Link Naija on August 30, 2016 Rating: 5

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