PDP crisis: I remain national chairman till 2018 —Sheriff •Says scheduled August 17 Port-Harcourt convention illegal

THE claimant to the office of the national chairman of the crisis-ridden Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, on Monday, declared that the crisis rocking the party would continue if the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee was not dissolved immediately, insisting that he remained the authentic national chairman of the party till 2018.

Senator Sheriff, who was speaking on Monday, when a delegation of Abia State chapter of the party  paid him a solidarity visit in Abuja also dismissed the new national convention of the party fixed for August 17th this year by the Makarf-led National Caretaker Committee in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.

He stated that the proposed convention was illegal, urging members to stay away and await a new date for an authentic convention which would hold in Abuja under his leadership.

He pointed  that any gathering in the name of PDP convention in Port Harcourt would be illegal, describing PDP as the party for all Nigerians, while stating that a few individuals would  not be allowed to pocket the party.

Sheriff, flanked by Senator Hope Uzodimma, former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim; Dr  Cairo Ojuogboh; Deputy National Chairman, Chief Chris Uba; Chief  Jimoh Ibrahim; Honourable Okey Nadozie; National Organising Secretary, among others, declared that he would remain the national chairman of the party till 2018 unless those decisions reached at the party’s stakeholders’ reconciliation meeting were met.

Sheriff also stated that part of his condition to end the crisis was a fresh national convention that should be held in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with a convention committee formed by 10 members apiece from his group and the Makarfi-led committee.

According to him, “Makarfi-led committee should resign, it does not exist in the PDP constitution; what exists is the national chairman, which I am, nothing is like that. I remain the chairman until 2018. Some people want to make PDP their personal property. That will not happen; if you don’t stand on the truth, the end result will be destruction.”

While clarifying what transpired at the Taraba State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, Sheriff said it was true that he was approached for reconciliation by the PDP governors from the North-East, Darius Isiaku of Taraba State and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, which he accepted.

He further explained that his conditions for a unified party were based on the agreement reached at the reconciliation meeting under the chairmanship of Bayelsa State governor, Honourable Seriake Dickson and  Senator Ibrahim Mantu, a former Deputy Senate President, which advised the Caretaker Committee members to resign, but they refused.

According to him, “I am ready to find a lasting political solution to the crisis rocking the party without going through the courts. We have cases at the appeal, while others are at the high courts; a new convention will take place in Abuja, as the party belongs all Nigerians, who are card-carrying members.

“Sheriff is not the problem as it is being made to belief, some people only want to hijack the party which will never happen. I am ready for total reconciliation, I have no hidden agenda,” he stated.

Sheriff agreed with the Abia delegation that it was widespread impunity that landed the party in its present predicament, assuring the delegation that their grievances alongside other states with similar problems would be addressed in due course.

Speaking earlier, spokesman of the Abia delegation, Honourable Emeka Osoagbaka, had noted that impunity and mediocrity reigned supreme in the party in the state, as a group of adventurers had hijacked the party before the intervention of Sheriff as the national chairman.

He expressed displeasure in the shoddy manner in which state congresses were organised, saying  results were announced before mock congresses were held, adding that if it was not corrected, it might lead to mass defection any time from now.