Olusola Fabiyi and Fidelis Soriwei
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, said he did not endorse Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He said he merely opened his doors to Sheriff and other members of his entourage when they visited him at his residence in Abuja on Monday.
The former governor of Borno State was at Jonathan’s residence to discuss the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment, which on Friday, affirmed him as the national chairman of the party.
The judgment nullified the PDP national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where members of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, were appointed.
The Makarfi faction, however, said in Abuja, on Monday, that it had appealed the judgment, adding that it also filed an application for a stay of execution.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of both the appeal and the application.
The media aide to the former President, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, said in a statement in Abuja, on Tuesday, that Jonathan did not endorse the Borno State ex-governor.
He added that the issue of endorsement never came up in the course of the visit, “not at the closed-door meeting with Sheriff nor during the former President’s interview with newsmen.”
The statement also noted that Jonathan, as a former President and foremost leader of the party, welcomed Sheriff and some of his supporters to his house in line with a mediation role he was playing towards unifying and strengthening the PDP.
He added that Jonathan opened his doors to Sheriff upon his request, just as he had earlier done to the Makarfi-led caretaker committee members, stating that the ex-President was equally prepared to facilitate more talks until the issues in the leadership of the PDP were finally resolved.
Jonathan was said to have also hosted Makarfi and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin, on Monday evening.
Details of their discussion were, however, not known, but it was gathered that the former President was briefed on the decisions reached at the party’s stakeholders’ meeting held earlier in the day.
Eze, who confirmed the meeting, said, “Indeed, it may interest you to know that after meeting with Sheriff, the former President also met with Makarfi and the party’s Board of Trustees chairman, Jubril, later in the evening.”
He said as a peace-loving leader of the party, “the former President’s interest is to help reposition the PDP to enable it to play a constructive role in the affairs of the nation, in view of the imperative of deepening the nation’s democracy.”
Meanwhile, former ministers, who served in the immediate past administration, also visited Jonathan on Tuesday.
Unlike Monday, when Jonathan met with his guest at his residence, the former ministers, however, met Jonathan in his office.
Among former ministers, who were on the visit, were Abba Morro, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman, Sunday Odey, Tanimu Turaki (SAN) and Ibrahim Shekarau.
Apparently afraid that he could be accused of taking sides in the crisis, the ex-President refused to speak with journalists after the meeting.
Tanimu, a former Minister of Special Duties under the regime of Jonathan, told journalists that the former ministers were consulting in order to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
He said the group had met with the governors, members of the National Assembly and the BoT on how to resolve the logjam in the party.
He argued that Makarfi remained the leader of the party and that his group would continue to defer to him until the Supreme Court decides on the appeal before it.
APC denies fuelling PDP crisis
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress has denied the claim by the Makarfi faction of the PDP that it is behind the factional crisis rocking the former ruling party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in a statement on Tuesday, stated that the claim that the APC instigated the police to prevent the PDP from using the International Conference Centre for the party’s stakeholders’ meeting on Monday was untrue.
Abdullahi also denied the claim by the PDP that the APC influenced the verdict of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, which sacked the Makarfi group and recognised Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.
He stated, “Neither of these allegations is true in any respect. The police do not take instructions from the APC. The police themselves have explained why they stopped the Makarfi group from meeting at the ICC. If the factional PDP is dissatisfied with the police explanation, it could seek further clarifications from the police or pursue alternative means of redress.”
Abdullahi added that the Makarfi faction of the PDP had neither faulted the police nor provided evidence of its allegations against the APC.
He advised the two factions of the PDP involved in the raging internal power tussle to exercise restraint in the interest of democracy.
The APC spokesman said, “We wish to reiterate that the APC has no interest in the internal crisis that is consuming the PDP, which is only one of several opposition parties in the country.
“We pray for them to put their house in order soon because as a political party that was once in the opposition, we believe that democracy is better served when the opposition is alive.
“However, we also know the PDP can only begin to take steps towards recovery if it stops peddling conspiracy theories and blaming imaginary enemies.”
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