By Dirisu Yakubu & Vanessa Paul
ABUJA- More than a month after the Supreme Court laid to rest the protracted leadership tussle which posed an existential threat to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there are indications of fresh cracks within the party despite the declaration of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’ by the party chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
A group, The Concerned Members of the Peoples Democratic Party yesterday scored the leadership of the National Caretaker Committee low, even as it accused Makarfi of failing to reconcile aggrieved members after multiple assurances to do so.
In a statement signed by Honourable Bernard Mikko, the group said it has been looking forward to fence mending, stressing that when the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Sheriff, the former Borno State Governor ensured that reconciliation and unity were pursued vigorously to give the party strength and cohesion.
“After the Port-Harcourt Appeal Court Judgment affirming the legitimacy of the then National Working Committee (NWC) led by Senator (Dr.) Ali Modu Sheriff; the Governor Dickson Committee set out to work on genuine and comprehensive reconciliation and came up with, a template that was acceptable to majority of members, urging for political solution rather than legal conclusion. The then National Working Committee led by Senator Sheriff declared a policy of “No Victor, No Vanquished” where no member of the party will be subjected to any form of discrimination on account of his /her stand between the two contending parties. The genuine peace efforts of the then NWC led to a resounding electoral success in Osun West Senatorial election with the then National Chairman leading the campaign.
“The Supreme Court Judgment of July, 2017 has foreclosed further struggle in the national leadership of the party. The desire of all legal and peace loving members of the party is to see a leadership that will forge a lasting political solution through robust consultation to ensure true reconciliation. Majority of members of the party see the Supreme Court judgment as an opportunity for the party to come together as one, guided by the constitution of the party and the rule of law. The expectation is that those saddled with the responsibility of running the party will not put personal interest and ambition at the front burner. They are to bring all members together under one united strong umbrella to consolidate on our recent gains,” the group stated, adding that so far, the NCC is factionalizing the party, rather than uniting it.
“Unfortunately and ironically, the six-man caretaker committee under the chairmanship of Senator Makarfi is rather celebrating and pursuing the fractionalization of the party. The NCC goaded and guided by some ambitious presidential aspirants had shown clearly the paths of constitutionality and rule of law is not theirs to follow,” alleged the group, adding that the “Supreme Court judgment is rather seen as a license to victimize millions of party members. All efforts of the NCC are clearly geared towards side-lining those closely or even remotely associated with the then NWC members led by Senator Sheriff from the party’s affairs and are subjected to ridicule, opprobrium and sometimes verbal and physical assault.”
They also expressed worry over the dissolution of Executive Committees (Excos) of the party in some states, saying the move was done to please some godfathers.
“Against the provisions of the party’s constitution and in violent disregard of same, the six-man caretaker committee under the leadership of Senator Makarfi processed and pursued the dissolution of legally elected Excos of States like Adamawa and Borno, and unconstitutionally side-lined the elected Excos of Yobe; Sokoto, Benue and positioned people who were not elected to satisfy the ambition of some ‘god fathers’. It is clear that the Supreme Court Judgment finally decided on the leadership tussle between the Senator Sheriff led NWC and the Senator Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) and not State Excos duly elected to serve four (4) years in April 2016.
The statement further read: “To the utmost surprise of many, the fallout of the non-elective convention of August 12th, has thrown up more issues of grievous concern. Rather than reconciliation, we are seeing division and exclusion. Rather than unification; antagonism and threats are the clear objectives. Rather than pursue the paths of justice and fair play; we see impunity has assumed a more dangerous dimension.
“Even in the face of our private and public declaration of commitment to the party, we have observed with reservation official party statements threatening amnesty, as if we have committed offences against the party. We also hear loud sounds of ex-communication; threats of outright suspension and expulsion; and extra-disciplinary measures by those who consider themselves as the political conquerors!
“We therefore appeal to true lovers of democracy, the civil society and the media to join hands with us to ensure that all forms of impunity lawlessness and blind ambition are controlled and dispended with.
“Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and acts that are capable of destroying our Multi-party system must be avoided. As major stakeholders in the current political dispensation, we will not remain silent and docile while the democratic norms and values we cherish are being systematically destroyed.
As at the time of filing this story, the response of the NCC could not be obtained as text messages to the mobile phones of Makarfi and Adeyeye were not replied.