Dayo Oketola, Olusola Fabiyi and Eric Dumo
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has vowed not to attend any reconciliation meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan, stating that reconciliation has died in the party.
The former Borno State governor was speaking on the botched reconciliatory meeting called by the former President in Abuja on Thursday.
He accused the former President of deviating from agreements he said he had with him before they agreed to be part of the meeting, which was held at the Yar’Adua Centre.
Sheriff, who walked out of the meeting when he was denied the opportunity to preside over it, said that there was no way the party would be meeting and he would sit as a mere spectator when he remains the only person recognised by law as the authentic national chairman of the party.
Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone interview through his appointed Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh in Abuja on Friday, Sheriff also said he would not appoint anyone to join the 40-member committee the former President promised to set up on the reconciliation.
Rather, he said he would stick to the recommendations made by the Peace and Reconciliation Committee headed by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson.
He said, “We will never attend any peace meeting to be called by the former President on reconciliation anymore. No. Never! We won’t go there. We are no longer interested in such reconciliation.
“We will not attend any other meeting to be called by him. We would cut off every leprous hand in the party. The former President can only chair a committee on his private foundation, not that of the PDP when we have a national chairman.
“We are not happy with the way he handled the failed meeting on Thursday. He did not respect the Court of Appeal judgment which pronounced Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.
“He (Jonathan) has no legal backing to chair PDP Stakeholders’ meeting when we have a sitting chairman. The former President does not have such a right. The failed meeting had scattered all the good works achieved by the Dickson committee.
“We hail our governors, except the duo of Nyesom Wike and Ayodele Fayose of Rivers and Ekiti states respectively, who worked against the meeting.”
However, the National Caretaker Committee of the party headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi disagreed with Sheriff, saying the former President had the right to lead the meeting.
He said since the initiative to call the meeting came from the former leader, it was his right to preside over it and also dictate how the meeting would progress.
He said it was wrong for Sheriff to have wanted to preside over a meeting where issues that would affect the party’s leadership would be discussed.
Makarfi, who spoke through the spokesperson of the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, described Sheriff as being selfish.
He said in order to give peace a chance; the caretaker committee agreed that Sheriff would speak at the gathering before Makarfi, but regretted that instead of being at the gathering on time, Sheriff decided to come late to the meeting.
Adeyeye said, “Jonathan conveyed the meeting and he had the right to chair it, because it was for reconciliation. If it was not called by the former President, more than 90 per cent of those in attendance would not have been there.
“You cannot preside over your own case. It is like a quarrel between husband and wife. There is no way either of them would have presided over a meeting where such disagreement would be discussed.
“We agreed that he (Sheriff) would speak first after the former President. But instead, he came late to the meeting, hours after it had started. He was to speak after the former President, but he came when the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, was almost done with his speech.”
Adeyeye added that in order to avoid crisis, Makarfi who was to speak after Sheriff was asked not to because Sheriff was not at the gathering then.
“He came late to the meeting, which is even against the protocol. So, instead of Makarfi to speak, the BoT chairman took over the podium,” he added.
Adeyeye, a former minister of state for works, said the gathering also agreed with the position of Wike and Fayose that Sheriff should not be allowed to lead the meeting because “it was a reconciliation meeting and that we needed an impartial person to lead.”
He said Sheriff remains a “disputed” chairman of the party until the Supreme Court makes a pronouncement on it, adding that both Sheriff and Ojougboh “are illiterate because they don’t know the genesis of the party and what it stands for.”
He added, “Sheriff should leave our party for us and should not destroy it. He does not have the support of more than 10 per cent of members of the party. He is a disputed chairman. As for us, we will continue to respect the former President because he is the leader of the party.”
Also reacting to the development, the Governor of Ekiti State, and Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum, Mr. Ayo Fayose, in a telephone interview withSaturday PUNCH, described Sheriff as an impostor and someone sent by the ruling All Progressives Congress to destroy PDP.
Fayose said, “I will not work with him. He is a betrayal of confidence and does not represent peace and hope. I will not be part of any meeting with such a person. If I may holistically respond to his statement on no reconciliation, the statement is good riddance to bad rubbish.
“His (Sheriff) alliance with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and PDP destroyed All Peoples Party and All Nigeria Peoples Party. He is at it again but this will be the last of the series. I regret my association with him and bringing him forth initially.”
Fayose alleged that anyone supporting, promoting or financing Sheriff is an enemy of Nigeria. “Our country will not end up in a one party system which I imagine is the reason why his business with the APC is thriving,” he added.
Also in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Fayose was quoted as saying, “It is now obvious that he (Sheriff) is working for enemies of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP.”
The governor said; “From what Ali Modu Sheriff did yesterday, it should now be clear to all well-meaning Nigerians that he is not acting on his own. He is an agent of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and by extension an enemy of democracy in Nigeria.”
“If he (Sheriff) cannot sit with the leader of our party, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, I am also telling him that we in the PDP are also not interested in holding any discussion with him. He is a virus that has infected the PDP and by the grace of God, he will be cured permanently.”
In a similar development, Fayose, who spoke on a programme on Channels Television monitored by one of our correspondents, said he was not bound to remain in the PDP as he could decide to pursue his political ambition elsewhere.
The Ekiti State governor said that nobody could make him remain in a place if he does not truly wish to be there.
Fayose accused Sheriff of insulting leaders of the party with his attitude, describing him as an “impossible character who nothing can change.”
Meanwhile, Ojougboh said that Sheriff and his team would soon commence a nationwide mobilisation of members of the party with the hope of preparing them for the national convention.
Asked when the convention would hold, Ojougboh said the members of the National Working Committee would announce the date and programmes “as soon as we are done with the nationwide tour.”