The division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got to a head yesterday, with the Ahmed Makarfi group telling its supporters to seek other platforms for their ambitions.
The group is battling for the soul of the former ruling party with the Ali Modu Sheriff court-backed leadership. The Supreme Court is to settle the crisis.
It advised the state chapters to choose any available alternative platform to field candidates in the forthcoming council elections in Lagos and other elections across the states.
There are also by–elections coming up in many states.
The PDP crisis has remained intractable in spite of the decision of the Court of Appeal to recognise Sheriff as national chirman.
A report by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson’s peace panel recommending Sheriff to conduct a convention was rejected by the Makarfi group.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s intervention failed as the meeting he called ended in a fiasco.
Members are now awaiting the outcome of the appeal by the Makarfi group at the Supreme Court, which has invited the two groups to present their addresses.
Spokesman of the Makarfi Group Prince Dayo Adeyeye said the directive on members to seek public offices on other platforms became imperative owing to an alleged plot by the Sheriff leadership to frustrate those it described as genuine PDP candidates elections.
He said there was the need for the party to take precautions to avoid a situation where its candidates would be frustrated by the antics of the Sheriff leadership , as was the case during the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states. .
He added that with the case of the party’s leadership crisis still pending before the Supreme Court, the Sheriff leadership had continued to cause distractions and confusion in the chapters.
”It is also important to state at this point that Senator Sheriff and his cohorts have been creating factional chapters in different states of the federation in order to compromise our chances in the local government elections.
”In the circumstances and with no hope of the Ali Modu Sheriff problem abating before the Supreme Court judgment, we are left with no choice than to consider ways by which our members will not be disenfranchised in these elections.
”However our position is not to choose a platform for any state where true PDP candidates are denied the opportunity to stand for the elections. State chapters are allowed to take any decision they consider appropriate”, Adeyeye stated.
The Makarfi camp expressed the optimism of a “positive outcome” of the case pending before the apex court, stressing that in collaboration with the various organs of the party, the case would be seen to its logical conclusion.
“We have a good case and our ground of appeal is solid. We believe ultimately that justice will be served on the leadership issues in our party and we are also confident that the judiciary will continue to remain independent, unbiased and neutral”, the statement added.
But, the party’s Deputy National Chairman Dr Cairo Ojougboh, said the Makarfi group had no authority to issue such directive.
Ojougboh said the ‘caretaker committee’ was not recognised and therefore, an illegal body.
“As far as we are concerned, we are one family and whatever problem we have in PDP we should not wash our dirty linen in the public.’’
He said the PDP had conducted successful local government elections in Ebonyi, which was signed by Sheriff, and that it was currently preparing for elections in Cross River and other states.
He added that all the party’s primaries were open to PDP members.
“PDP is an embodiment of great Nigerians, including our governors, who are performing very well in their various states and our youth organisations all across the states.
“What surprises us is that Makarfi claims he has a strong appeal at the Supreme Court when the Court of Appeal has made it clear that he disobeyed the order of court in Lagos and Abuja.
“Is Makarfi expecting that the law will be re-written for them, to suit their personal interest?
“By their attitude they are still unrepentant. We implore them to have a change of heart and return to the fold so that we can adequately prepare to return to power in 2019,’’ Ojougboh said.
He added that the door of peace was still open to Makarfi-led group, advising, however, that they could go back to Seriake Dickson’s reconciliation committee’s recommendations.