THE Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has blamed the lingering leadership crisis in the party on the alleged presidential ambition of the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Sheriff.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Publicity Secretary of the committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, recalled that the May 21, 2016 national convention in Port Harcourt was botched because Sheriff realized that party stakeholders would not back his ambition.
Adeyeye alleged that Sheriff’s intention was to organise a national convention where he would pick his cronies to help him to realize the presidential ambition.
The National Caretaker Committee’s claim came against the background of Sheriff’s remark on Monday during a press conference where he said he would leave any decision to contest the 2019 presidential election to God.
The factional spokesman maintained that Monday’s declaration brought to light what has been the driving force behind the current leadership crisis.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, we have seen the handwriting a long time ago before now and we are happy that the cat has been let out of the bag because it’s now very glaring that all Sheriff has been doing, tearing this party apart is geared towards only one goal which is to present himself as the presidential candidate of PDP in 2019 elections.
“Sheriff’s objective is to organise a national convention in which he will put his cronies in critical positions and these cronies will now be expected to rubber stamp him when the time comes, as the presidential candidate of the party. God forbid! That will never happen.
“You know that a Sheriff as a presidential candidate of any party particularly the PDP will be like being a sparing partner who then decides to challenge his principal in a major bout. You know that is a walk over, it’s not going to be a contest. I want people to see it in that light.
“There are a lot of people who believe that Sheriff has good intentions. I am not one of them, the Caretaker Committee members are not among the people who share that view.
“We believe that all his efforts are geared towards a hidden agenda which is the agenda of presenting himself as the presidential candidate of the PDP which will be to the delight of APC of course.”
He also accused Sheriff’s group of blackmailing the Supreme Court which has already served notice on the appeal filed by the NCC over the Court of Appeal judgment that restored Sheriff to office.
According to him, “they are blackmailing the Supreme Court the way they blackmailed the Court of Appeal in the Ondo Governorship case last year when they wrote baseless petitions against the Justice Sankey panel which was forced to rescue itself.
“They did the same against the second panel for which the Supreme Court awarded costs of over N20m against them and their lawyers.”
But at a separate press briefing on Tuesday, the National Deputy Chairman of the Sheriff-led PDP, Dr Cairo Ojuogboh, accused the Makarfi group of boasting about having a favorable judgement at the Supreme Court, warning the NCC that it could not influence the apex court.
Ojuogboh said: “It is worthy of note today that the same groups of impunity peddlers have now resorted to boasting that they are in control of the Supreme Court and that the judgment rejected by the Court of Appeal will be adopted by the Supreme Court.
“This same judgment that they paraded as the Court of Appeal judgment is what they have now claimed that the Supreme Court will uphold for them.
“We make bold to say nobody can buy the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court cannot be bought, and that the Party has implicit confidence in the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen and his colleagues in the Supreme Court.
“We, therefore, advice Sen Makarfi and his co-travelers that their wishful judgment which they are parading will remain in the thrash can while the Party is moving forward and preparing for its National Convention.”
Ojuogboh drew attention to a court case between former governor of Rivers state, Chief Peter Odili and former APC governorship candidate in the state, Dakuku Peterside, where he said Peterside had accused the Governor Nyesom Wike of fraudulently securing victory.
Ojuogboh said in his prepared text: “According to Hon Dakuku Peterside, Governor Nyesom Wike had gone to church for thanksgiving after securing judgment at the Supreme Court affirming his election as Governor against the verdict of the tribunal and Appeal Court that annulled his election.
“At the thanksgiving service, Governor Wike publicly and on National television thanked Governor Peter Odili for helping him ‘Secure’ his victory. ‘You asked me to go Dubai, to go to this place and that place without which this victory would not have been possible.’
“Those were his words. Dakuku said that at a press briefing. Governor Odili then sued Dakuku for libel but did nothing to Governor Wike who claimed that Governor Odili helped him. This case is very crucial and we call on all Nigerians to know the import of this case on Makarfi’s pending Appeal at the Supreme Court.
“We state categorically that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) His Lordship Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen’s leadership is one second to none and he will protect the Judiciary bearing in mind his antecedents especially the dissenting judgment against President Yar’Adua in the 2011 general election.”