The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday walked out of the party’s stakeholders meeting organised by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Sheriff, who got to the venue of the meeting a few minutes after Mr. Jonathan had delivered his remarks, walked out with members of his National Working Committee at about 4.15 p.m.
Some of the executive members with him were the Deputy National Chairman, Cairo Ojougboh; and the Publicity Secretary, Mikko Bernard.
Mr. Sheriff, addressing journalists before leaving, expressed displeasure for not being allowed to make the opening remarks.
“We are here for PDP stakeholders meeting and the PDP has only one national chairman, which is Ali Modu Sheriff.
“There is no PDP meeting that will take place under whatever arrangement that I will not open the session as national chairman. Today, I’m the most senior member of this party.”
Mr. Sheriff also said that he would not be party to anything outside the reconciliation report submitted to him by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa.
“I think Governor Dickson made a proposal for reconciliation that we have accepted. Some people want to deviate from this programme, to bring agenda which was not part of it.
“As national chairman of the party, what I told you in my office when Dickson brought the report is the only thing that we have agreed to at this moment.
“I will not be party to anybody using me to do another programme. I’m not going to be part of it,” Mr. Sheriff said.
Asked about the way forward for the party, Mr. Sheriff said: “As the National Chairman of PDP, I will move on with the programmes initiated by Gov. Dickson.
“We are continuing with that; anything outside that, I’m not a party to it.”
The meeting, however, continued after Mr. Sheriff’s walk-out.
Mr. Jonathan, speaking on the outcome of the meeting, regretted what happened during the meeting.
According to him, the issues will be addressed once a committee set up comes out with its own recommendations.
Mr. Jonathan said the committee was set up to find a political solution to the party’s leadership crisis.
He said the constitution of the committee was a major outcome of a stakeholders meeting of the party’s members held on Thursday.
Mr. Jonathan, who convened the meeting, said that the committee would be chaired by him and had two weeks to submit recommendations for consideration by the stakeholders.
He said that in his absence, the committee would be chaired by former vice president, Namadi Sambo or former senate president, David Mark.
Mr. Jonathan said that PDP leaders believed that various matters of the party before the courts would be resolved in the next few months but that the party would not surrender its powers entirely to the court.
“We will take some steps to make sure that we will keep our people together and work with all the interested parties to see how we can resolve this difference.’’
He listed members of the committee as six from the Board of Trustees – one per geo-political zone as well as six each from the two groups within the party.
Others members, according to him, are all PDP governors, Deputy President of the Senate, Senate Minority Leader, House of Representatives Minority Leader and Minority Whip.
“We will consult with both groups and take two former governors – one from the North and one from the South; two former ministers, two women, two youths – all will be one from the north and one from the South,’’ he added.
Mr. Jonathan expressed optimism that when the committee met, minor issues experienced during the stakeholders meeting would be resolved.
“Be assured that we are determined to restore our party, and to make sure that PDP becomes stronger and stronger. We are determined to ensure that PDP rises again,’’ he said.
Earlier at the opening of the meeting, Mr. Jonathan had urged PDP leaders to make personal and general sacrifices to ensure quick resolution of the party’s problems.
He described PDP as a symbol of democracy and said that there was no sacrifice too big for anybody who believed in the party to make.
“As politicians with the zeal to lead our people, we must aspire to higher offices or identify the people we believe have leadership qualities and encourage them to aspire to those positions.
“But one thing is very clear, you cannot, as the polity is configured today, be elected into a higher office on the platform of a weak party.
“We must all, therefore, work to rebuild the PDP and strengthen the party in line with the vision of our founding fathers,” he said.
He reminded the members that the prolongation of the party’s crisis had cost them so much in election fortunes, in recent times.
“The loss of Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections is still fresh in our memory.
“It goes without saying that we cannot afford to have a repeat of that in the forthcoming elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states.’’
He, therefore, said that it was high time the members buried their hatchet, suppressed their ego and prepared to make sacrifices in the interest of PDP and the country.
“We must realise that as they say, everybody is nobody without a platform. So, why destroy the platform?’’
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Walid Jubrin, urged the party leaders to embrace strategies that would regain the party’s lost glory.
“We must be able to bring ourselves together and forget our differences for the sake of the party. We must be ready to do away with selfish interests and ambitions.
“We must also forego blame game and be involved in forecast and formation and never abandoned PDP,” Mr. Jubrin said.
A member of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said that Mr. Sheriff was not allowed to address the meeting because he insisted that the factional chairman of the caretaker committee, Ahmed Makarfi, should not be allowed to address the meeting.
Both Messrs. Sheriff and Makarfi were scheduled, in the agenda of the meeting, to deliver goodwill messages.
PDP members present include Tom Ikimi, Prince Uche Secondus, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, Olisa Metuh, Saminu Turaki, David Jang and Adolphus Wabara.
Also present were some PDP governors, former ministers, and the BoT members.