The governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has denied asking the factional national chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to step down.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, had on Sunday published an interview in which Mr. Dickson was quoted as calling on Mr. Makarfi to step down to allow room for genuine reconciliation in the party.
Mr. Dickson heads the reconciliation committee of the PDP.
A NAN reporter and other selected reporters had an interview with the governor during which he reportedly made the call. PREMIUM TIMES sourced the story from the news agency.
The report elicited response from the Makarfi group through its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, who said the statement credited to the Bayelsa governor was “shocking and embarrassing”.
Mr. Dickson’s spokesperson, Francis Agbo, said in a statement on Tuesday that the governor “never asked Makarfi to step down”.
The statement said, Mr. Dickson, as a peacemaker stated his committee’s role in the reconciliation process and argued that for PDP to bounce back, leaders must make sacrifices.
“He consequently appealed to PDP leaders including Sheriff and Makarfi to make sacrifices for the revival of the party, stressing that the PDP is more than Sheriff and Makarfi and indeed any individual.
“This was what a NAN reporter who was at the interaction misconstrued as stepping aside for which we have written to NAN management to complain,” the statement said.
Mr. Agbo said the report was aimed at blackmailing the Bayelsa governor.
“In spite of the blackmail and propaganda scripted to distract Governor Dickson, the Governor and his Committee remain committed to reconciling all interests through dialogue for only a political solution woven around dialogue and sacrifices can engender true reconciliation,” the statement said.
The statement also added that the efforts of the committee was beginning to yield results as the national chairman of the PDP, Ali Sheriff, had publicly written, on the request of the Reconciliation Committee, to undertake that he would not contest election at the forthcoming unity convention of the party.
Mr. Sheriff had also reportedly given a commitment that he would not interfere in the selection of committee membership of the convention and that he had already written organs of the party for nominations into the convention committees.
The statement said Mr. Sheriff had also agreed that all party officials elected before the first botched Port Harcourt Convention in 2016 remain valid and that all members of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, whose tenures are still running have agreed to resign to pave the way for a unity convention.