By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson’s angle in the raging leadership tussle in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has created a third frontline in the battle for the soul of the party.
This Magazine has it on good authority that a new thinking and pattern of engagement as regard resolving the intractable dispute in the party has emerged following Governor Dickson’s appearance in African Independence Television, AIT’s current affairs program, Focus Nigeria, where he blamed Chairman of PDP’s Interim National Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi for the continued impasse in the party.
The PDP governors under the aegis PDP Governors Forum, at the inception of the crisis, lined up behind Makarfi against Ali Modu Sheriff but template for peace in the which Governor Dickson, in his capacity as Chairman of PDP’s Reconciliation Committee, submitted to Sheriff has changed all that. The new thinking now among some of the party’s governors, in line with, Governor Dickson’s argument is that, Sheriff should be engaged to quietly ease him out as National Chairman of the party via a unity convention.
PDP slipped into crisis last May following a botched National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers state which culminated in Sheriff’s sack as Acting National Chairman and Makarfi’s enthronement as Chairman of the National Interim Committee.
However, Sheriff recently got the upper hand after an Appeal Court ruling affirmed him as National Chairman of the party. This magazine’s investigations reveal that there were flurry of informal meetings among PDP stakeholders during the weekend whereupon majority of those in attendance suggested that the Dickson template for peace be pursued to a logical conclusion.
This new resolve is predicated upon the Bayelsa state governor’s revelation that before Sheriff got his Appeal Court victory, he and Makarfi was asked by General Aliyu Gusau to resign to pave the way for peace. While Sheriff was enthusiastic about the idea and ready to resign, Makarfi rejected the idea. Party chieftains say resignation of both claimants to the topmost party position remains the best way out of the quagmire but admitted that in the eyes of the law, Sheriff is the recognized National Chairman of the party while Makarfi is a factional Interim chairman. “You don’t ask a landlord to vacate his building in order to resolve rent dispute with his tenant. The situation today is that Sheriff is the PDP National Chairman and not Makarfi. You can’t ask him to resign in order to appease someone claiming his position”, a chieftain of the party from Niger state told The Source.
Meanwhile, the Makarfi group is reportedly waiting for the outcome of the appeal it has filed at the Supreme Court challenging the appellate Court’s recognition of Sheriff before making a far reaching move. Very reliable sources confirmed during the weekend that should the apex court also agrees with the Appeal Court, the faction will immediately activate the Advanced Peoples Democratic party, APDP, option and get it registered.
Many disgruntled APC chieftains, including serving governors, National Assembly members, former presidential aspirants of the party among others, are poised to team up with the anti-Sheriff elements in the PDP, including some members of the PDP Governors Forum, in the APDP project.
On the other hand, some members of the Sheriff Camp, allegedly including the former Borno state governor himself, are reportedly set to join the APC, in the event that the Supreme Court rules in favour of Makarfi.