The Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Senate Caucus on Wednesday turned down invitation extended to it by legally recognised faction of the party Chairman, Senator Modu Sheriff.
The Sheriff-led faction had invited the caucus, but instead, it opted for wider consultation in resolving the leadership tussle in the party.
The Chairman of the caucus, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, while in Abuja after a closed-door meeting of the caucus, said Sheriff had extended a letter, dated March 6, to the caucus for a meeting.
He assured that the caucus would continue to push for an out-of-court settlement regarding the current leadership tussle in the party.
He, however, said the meeting of all major stakeholders would be a better option.
“We held this meeting because there was a letter from Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff to the caucus and we had to meet first to know whether this is the right time.
“Whether the meeting is right or not, what we agreed is that the leadership meets first; thereafter we meet with the Sheriff group, the Makarfi group and the BOT.
“When this happens, we will then see whether all can come to a consensus and not just the caucus running to the party office to meet Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff. That will look like sectionalism.”
As a caucus, he said, they believe in peace and the unity of the party so that Nigeria could have a robust democracy.
“We believe that without the PDP being strong and united, Nigeria may slide into a one party state and democracy may be in peril,’’ he said.
According to him, for the party to succeed with any alternative to court processes, it is pertinent to meet all major stakeholders, including governors and National Caretaker Committee.
He stressed the need for the stakeholders in PDP to spearhead a major political turnaround that would bring lasting peace to the party.
“If we succeed in doing so, it could even be a major way out, instead of continuous processes in court.
“We will pursue that option without prejudice to the ongoing court processes.’’
The chairman said the caucus also discussed about the overall well-being of the nation, prayed and wished President Muhammadu Buhari quick recovery and quick return to the country.’’
On the recent defection of some PDP Senators to APC, Akpabio said it did not affect the strength of the party in the Upper Chamber.
According to him, the claims that PDP representation in Senate is threatened, is unfounded.“I don’t see any “defection’’ happening, I only see interest playing out.
“PDP in the Senate is still very strong and very robust. We started with 49 Senators and we are still well over 40, we are still going to get more.
“So, how can you say defection of two or three Senators who have interest outside the chambers will affect the unity and strength of the caucus?
He urged Nigerians to ignore the insinuation, adding that local circumstances rather than wrangling in the party was responsible for the defection.
He said, “Even if there were no wrangling in PDP, there will still be defections.
“If you assess your chances of a re-election in 2019 in your locality and you see that a would-be opponent is five times your size, you have to look for alternative platform. This is to ensure that you don’t lose out in 2019.
“So, anything that has to do with the strength of the PDP dwindling is propaganda.”
Akpabio assured PDP supporters across the nation that the party was still vibrant.
He further said that leadership tussle did not in any way diminish the strength of the party across the country.
He also said that it was only PDP that would assist the All Progressives Congress (APC) in deepening democracy.