By Ben Agande & Samuel Oyadongha
Bayelsa State governor and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Reconciliation Committee, Seriake Dickson, has called on key actors in the party to sheathe their swords and embrace peace to move the party forward.
This came on a day national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said he could not say with all certainty if the chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, was interested in finding political solutions to the leadership crisis in the party.
Governor Dickson said in a statement in Yenagoa that it would be unhealthy for both Ahmed Markafi and Sheriff to be trading words at this critical period when all hands should be on deck to resolve the lingering crisis that has robbed the party of its premier status.
According to him, the report of the committee submitted to the national chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, is to unify, strengthen and reposition the party, contrary to misconceptions.
He said the PDP, having lost its leadership status to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, should be a formidable opposition party but regretted that the reverse had been the case as a result of internal crisis.
“Dialogue, consultation and meetings formed part of the recommendations of the committee as they remain panacea to the lingering crisis.
“I am therefore calling on the leadership of the party to put aside their personal interests and work for the interest of PDP.
“In order to salvage the situation, there is need for consultation and dialogue; that is part of the recommendation of the committee,” he said.
The committee, according to Dickson, having x-rayed the ongoing crisis in the party, decided to present a template that was engaging the tools of politics being misconstrued by Markafi and some of his followers.
He added that politics was all about dialogue, engagement and meetings, saying this was the only way to get out of the present imbroglio and reshape the party ahead of subsequent elections.
Dickson noted that without prejudice to the appeal filed at the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which ruled in favour of Ali Modu Sheriff as the acting chairman, the committee in its report recommended the holding of unity convention.
He said: “You need to engage Sheriff before you lose the party and the only way to achieve this is the adoption of the recommendations of the National Reconciliation Committee which include engagement of political tools and holding of unity convention.
“I wasn’t happy with what happened in Edo and Ekiti States and in order to prevent its re-occurrence, we started meeting with notable leaders of PDP including the former President, Ibrahim Babangida, Gusau to mention but few.
“Some people are of the opinion that Makarfi is having the support of the majority, politics is not like that, every soul matter. That is why we need to deploy political means which is consultation to resolve this matter.”
Meanwhile, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has said he could not with all certainty say if the chairman of the caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi was interested in finding political solution to the leadership crisis in the party.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Abuja yesterday, Sheriff said he reached out to Senator Makarfi shortly after the court of appeal judgement and sought his cooperation, to which Makarfi promised to call him back but failed.
“I don’t know whether Senator Ahmed Makarfi is interested in making peace. They have been talking with 15 political parties. So you can read between the lines.
“ But we have made wide consultations, we are on course and we will go on as planned. Political party is a voluntary association, so we are doing everything possible because all states are on board. I won’t be chairman after the convention.
“We want our party back in power. So we are carrying everybody along. But anybody who does not believe in a political solution and wants to destroy the party is on his own,” he said.
He reiterated his commitment not to contest the chairmanship position at the forthcoming convention but said he would wait on God to decide whether to contest for the Presidency of the country.
“Every position I made in life, God made it possible for me. I believe in the will of God. I told you that I won’t contest the office of chairman at the convention but the rest, I will leave it to God to decide,” Sheriff said.
The PDP chairman said a convention planning committee will be constituted as soon as he is through with on going consultations.
“The convention committee will be constituted after our consultations. For now, we are consulting to get inputs from the various organs of the party on how the convention should be organised.
“But Ali Sheriff will not contest again. Nobody has compelled me not to contest but I have decided not to contest again. I never wanted to be chairman. They came and begged me to be chairman so I won’t re-contest,” he said.