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Sheriff group kicks as PDP BoT endorses Makarfi



John Alechenu, Abuja

The ousted National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has rejected Tuesday’s handover of the party secretariat to the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee.

PDP members, who are supporters of the former Borno State governor, made this position known in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Sheriff and his supporters were reacting to the handover of the party secretariat to the caretaker committee by the party’s Board of Trustees earlier in the day.

A prominent member of the Sheriff-led group and former National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Wale Oladipo, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, dismissed the handover ceremony, describing it as illegal.

Oladipo described the handover of the secretariat by the party’s BoT to the caretaker panel as a breach of pending court cases.

He said, “They know that what they did this morning was an illegality. It is this kind of impunity that brought us to where we are today.

“They know that there are subsisting court orders forbidding them from doing that. So, why should they do that?

“They are elders, who are supposed to be the conscience of the party. The conscience of the party must be composed of people with conscience, people who will respect the rule of law. I will not say more than this for now.”

Sheriff’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, in a statement he signed on Tuesday on behalf of his boss, who was said to have travelled out of the country, dismissed the handover ceremony.

The statement stated, “Our attention has been drawn to the activities at the National secretariat of the PDP to the effect that some individuals masquerading as leaders have handed over to Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi under a contraption called ‘caretaker committee’.

“We state as a matter of fact that going by proceedings still pending in the courts to the effect that Senator Ali Sheriff remains the National Chairman, whatever transpired was null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

“Sheriff has neither mandated anybody nor was his authority obtained by Uche Secondus, who has been parading himself as acting on behalf of the National Chairman.”

According to the statement, while his boss and his supporters await judicial pronouncements on pending court cases, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff remains the National Chairman of the party.

“We allowed the charade to go on at the secretariat without any form of challenge in strict obedience to careful pronouncement on the matter, but we must also state that there is no gathering of groups or individuals, however powerful, such groups or individuals may be, that can be said to take precedence over the law,” the statement added.

Earlier in the day, Secondus formally handed the reins of authority to the Makarfi-led caretaker committee after which the Chairman of the party’s BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, also handed over the party’s assets and liabilities to the committee.

At the event, Secondus declared that the party was strong and was working towards ensuring a successful national convention, which would produce leaders, who in turn, would lead the party to victory in 2019.

He said, the “PDP must buckle up and be strong to take power and to provide leadership for this country.  Therefore, on behalf of the former National Working Committee, we are here to make a formal handover to the new caretaker committee, who will midwife the convention. And we want to assure you that all politics is local.

“We have to restate here, that all politics are local. Our leaders must go back to the grass roots. It is not enough to be in Abuja. It is not enough to say I am strong in Abuja. It is not enough to say I am a former this, I am a former that. You must be able to prove your worth in local politics and popularity.’’

Jibrin said the BoT never took over the party, stating that what it did was to hold in trust the assets and liabilities of the party.

Makarfi however apologised to members of the PDP, who he said might be offended by the decision taken by the party.

“We appeal to them to embrace dialogue and come and join us to rebuild the party,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PDP has prayed for President Muhammadu Buhari’s quick recovery as he seeks medical attention abroad.

The party blamed the rising cases of mass killings on the mismanagement of the nation’s affairs.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who led the prayer session, noted that in times like this, Nigerians, irrespective of religious or party affiliation, should come together to pray for the nation and its leaders.

Ekweremadu said, “Let me quickly remind all of us that our President is presently not feeling well and has been flown abroad for treatment. So, I will like to invite you to rise, let us say a minute of prayer for his quick recovery.”

The Deputy Senate President led other party members to render prayers for the quick recovery of the President, the protection of the first family, the leaders and Nigeria as a whole.

Ekweremadu noted that the new spirit of reconciliation in the PDP would put the party on the path to returning to power in 2019.

He added, “Our dear party men and women, we must apologise to certain institutions and aspects of our national life. And to our currency, we are worried and we are sorry about the dwindling fortune of our currency.

“Our economy, by the time we left in 2015, was the strongest in Africa. Today, we sympathise with that economy but we want to assure our economy that you will be strong again, not only in Africa, but in the whole world.

“We want to tell all of our people who are losing their employment in banks, construction companies that by the time PDP returns to power in 2019, the story will change.’’

He said the party would ensure that two members of the House of Representatives, who left the PDP to join the All Progressives Congress, lose their seats so that committed members would take their place.

The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, said, “These are definitely happy times for the PDP. But paradoxically, these are unhappy times for the nation. In all my time in this country as an adolescent and as a politically active adult, which is a few years now, dying has never been this cheap in this country.

“Beheading, dying have never come to the forefront of national discuss. It seems that every day, you open the newspapers, you see people dying here; beheaded there and people carting them away to secret graves.

“But the mismanagement of the affairs of this country is one of the renewed strengths of the centrifugal forces.”