Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have unanimously rejected Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as National Chairman of the party.
The party leaders met last night in Abuja and scheduled an expanded national caucus meeting today to fashion a way out of last Friday’s judgement of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt division.
The court, in a split judgement of 2:1 faulted the May 21, 2016 PDP National Convention that sacked the former National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Sheriff and constituted a National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The court judgement was a rude shock to PDP leaders as Makarfi had hoped to rebuild the party for the 2019 general elections if the judgement had been to their favour.
Though the party has indicated interest to appeal against the judgement at the Supreme Court, Makarfi, on Saturday, summoned an emergency expanded PDP national caucus today.
Those invited at the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 2p.m., are members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), the Board of Trustees (BoT), National Assembly caucus, former governors of PDP, former PDP ministers who are still in the party, former National Assembly members and party elders.
Last night’s meeting, which ended early hours of today took a far-reaching decisions, namely to appeal against the judgement at the Supreme Court and to dump PDP if the appeal fails.
A cross section of party leaders who spoke to New Telegraph yesterday, said to accept Sheriff based on the Appeal Court judgement was the worst thing that will happen to PDP.
Former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George, said the purpose of the meeting is to ratify the decision of the National Caretaker Committee to appeal against the judgement at Supreme Court. “The minority cannot control the majority.
The decision of the Court of Appeal is a 419 judgement; they turned logic upside down. There is nowhere the court can set aside the convention of a political party, which is the highest organ. All the delegates for that convention were present.
Ali Modu Sheriff was to contest at that election, which means that at that point he ceased to be the PDP Acting Chairman.
“The court misinterpreted the PDP constitution, there is no how you can take a temporary arrangement and make it permanent,” he said. According to him, Sheriff is now calling for peace talks, but when he was invited for peace talks, he didn’t come.
Former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope was more emphatic that PDP leaders will not accept Sheriff’s leadership. Babatope said he would not abandon the party for Sheriff because Sheriff met them in the party.
“We will never be under (Ali) Modu Sheriff; we will fight it to the end. Let 17 Courts of Appeal give judgement for Sheriff, we will never work with him,” the former minister stated.
Former PDP Deputy National Publicity, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo said the party would rely on the dissenting opinion of the minority judgement that Sheriff was there, but refused to participate in the convention, to argue its appeal at the apex court.
According to Jalo, the Supreme Court had, in the past, held that the convention is higher than any other organs of the party and wondered why the Appeal Court could rule otherwise. He alleged that the two members of the panel who gave the majority decision – Justices Bitrus Sanga and Abdullahi Gumel, were the justices Sheriff petitioned against.
“The Federal Government is threatening judges, so everybody wants to protect his job. They gave the judgement not based on their conscience, but because of fear of intimidation,” Jalo added.
He said the appeal to be filed at the Supreme Court would include a stay of execution to stop Sheriff from taking any decision that might be injurious to the other group.
Jalo described the call for political solution by the Sheriff faction as an afterthought because the group was the first to go to court. “Somebody who has betrayed you, if you negotiate with him, he is going to betray you the more.
There is no sincerity of purpose by Ali Modu Sheriff group,” he added. PDP is considering plan ‘B’ on the event that it loses at the Supreme Court: dump the party for another party or float an entirely new one.
George said that if the group loses at the apex court the option might be to find another political platform and leave PDP for Sheriff.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said it is time for genuine PDP members to jettison Sheriff and his faction and form a broad based mega party.
His words: “Instead of being disappointed, genuine PDP members should exploit this opportunity to jettison Sheriff and his cohorts with shell of the party while moving out to form a broad-based mega party to challenge the hapless APC.”
Former Minister of Information, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode also said those who chose to work with Sheriff are misguided and naive.
“I read his insulting comments about Fayose and Wike and I laughed. Are these not the very same people that brought him in the first place and convinced others in the PDP Governors’ Forum to support him?
“Sheriff is biting the fingers that fed him… This is a man whose fundamental purpose and ambition in life is to sell the PDP down the river and to help the ruling APC and the Buhari government to destroy us and win the presidential election in 2019,” Fani- Kayode said in a statement.
Meanwhile, National Auditor of the PDP, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, yesterday disclosed that eight out of the 12 governors elected on the party’s platform are already supporting Sheriff as the national chairman.
Adeyanju made the disclosure as the Makarfi-led faction of PDP weighs its options over last Friday’s judgement of the Appeal Court, affirming the leadership of Sheriff.
Speaking at a meeting of Ogun State PDP General Assembly held in Ijebu-Igbo, Adeyanju said members of the party must close ranks to move it forward in the interest of Nigerians. He said the party is greater than any individual, adding that no sacrifice was too much for anybody in order to make the PDP work.
The national officer, who belongs to the Sheriff faction, stated that in realisation of the need to strengthen and reposition the PDP, eight governors in the party have already opened negotiations with the former Borno State Governor.
Adeyanju dismissed the statements credited to the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, that the Makarfi group would challenge latest judgement at the Supreme Court.
He said: “For anybody to approach Supreme Court is his fundamental right. But within us, I have reached out to even the other members of the National Working Committee in the other group and we have been talking. So, we would come together and advise our leaders.
“You see, personal ambition can push anybody to anything, but the party is greater than everybody and we are working towards that to make sure that no sacrifice is too much in order to make PDP work. PDP is a very big family, it’s a large party and nobody is bigger than the party.
“Whatever the stance of the (PDP) Governors’ Forum, it was not taken at a meeting. It was an opinion (of somebody) and it doesn’t mean.
Out of the 12 PDP governors, about eight of them are already talking with us. So what are we talking about? But they are an organ of our party that we cannot wish away.”
He pointed out that Sheriff would be magnanimous in victory, adding that the appeal court judgment was a “no victor, no vanquished” verdict.