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DOUBT, SUSPENSE, INTRIGUE FILL THE AIR OVER PDP NATIONAL CONVENTION

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There has been air of suspense and doubt over the August 17 national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite assurances by leaders of the party that the convention would hold as scheduled. The convention, which was again scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is being threatened by court order. A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Okon Abang, last Thursday, fixed August 15 to rule on a motion brought before it by factional National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, seeking to stop the convention. The court’s sitting is just two days to the convention.
There was confusion last week after the judge declared the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Working Committee illegal, and re-affirmed Sheriff as national chairman. Justice Abang had also noted that PDP missed the road by going to obtain a judgment from Port Harcourt division without first vacating the order by a Lagos court, which stopped the party from holding elections into three national offices.
Activities at both camps seemed to have come to a standstill less than two weeks to the convention. Although the 88-member zoning committee, set up by the caretaker committee to recommend new zoning arrangement, submitted its report last Tuesday, sale of nomination forms is yet to begin. The committee had reserved 10 national offices, including the national chairman and first deputy national chairmanship positions to the South and 11 national offices to the North. It was expected that with the submission of the report, sale of nomination forms for various positions would begin this week.
But a source at the temporary national headquarters of the party where the national caretaker committee operates, said the national caucus would meet to ratify the zoning before sale of nomination forms could commence.
“We are still going ahead with the convention, our leaders have said it, including the governors. There is no going back. Sale of nomination forms may start next week,” he stated.
Spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said he was in a meeting when he was contacted for comment. New Telegraph was informed that the caretaker committee would hold a private meeting with the Board of Trustees (BoT) on Monday night. It could not be confirmed whether the meeting eventually hold. It is most likely that party leaders are tired of the court processes and are looking for political solution to the leadership crisis.
Senator Buruji Kashamu, who is a principal actor in the crisis, is suggesting political solution to resolve the matter. In a position paper released yesterday, Kashamu was of the opinion that the courts may not be able to resolve the issues in a manner that would ultimately work out for the greater good of the party.
“After due consideration and consultations from various quarters and stakeholders, I am of the opinion that it is incumbent on the elders, leaders, members of the National Assembly, members of the Board of Trustees and all leaders of the party to seek peaceful resolution of the issues in order to put an end to the protracted crisis rocking our party,” he added. A source confirmed that there were reconciliation meetings going on since last week’s court judgement, but he could not confirm who was mediating it.
Kashamu said in his position paper that the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, mandated him and former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, to open a discussion immediately with Sheriff. According to him, the factional chairman expressed willingness to meet and work with other well-meaning leaders of the party to return it (the party) to the people. “He drew our attention to the last reconciliation meeting that was held at the Taraba State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.
Senator Sheriff said he attended that meeting because of the discussions Senator Mantu and I had with him. “One of the first suggestions he made at that meeting was that he and Makarfi should sacrifice their positions and step down from office and then jointly appoint members of the National Convention Planning Committee that will be responsible for organising a national convention,” he recalled.
He said the bone of contention was Sheriff’s demand to be allowed to nominate a serving governor as chairman of the committee. Kashamu regretted that Sheriff’s suggestion was shot down at an enlarged meeting with Makarfi.
He added that Sheriff lamented that a meeting convened by the Makarfiled National Caretaker Committee at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, appealed to Governors Olusegun Mimiko and Siriake Dickson of Ondo and Bayelsa states respectively, to intervene to ensure that the meeting was not held without due consideration for all agreements reached at the meeting held the previous day at the Taraba State Governor’s Lodge.

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