The Board of Trustees (BoT) of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ordered fresh convention to be held in Abuja at a date to be decided later.
This pronouncement has reversed some key decisions taken at the Port Harcourt convention on August 17.
The Port Harcourt convention could not elect new national leaders as expected due to conflicting court rulings.
However, it succeeded in extending the tenure of the National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi by one year.
The PDP members are fighting a fratricidal war both in and out of court leaving the party factionalised.
The BoT in its meeting yesterday asked Makarfi’s National Caretaker Committee to call for an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in order to approve the proposal for a new convention “to move forward.”
The meeting was presided over by the chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin who later issued a communiqué conveying the outcome.
It said the next convention should be held in Abuja to “ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair convention.
“A new Convention Planning Committee should be constituted by the National Caretaker Committee and approved by NEC,” it added.
The BoT stressed the need to look into ways of raising funds for the party, and urged its reconciliation committee, led by Prof. Jerry Gana, not to relent in its effort at assuaging all aggrieved chieftains and members of the party.
What remains unclear is whether the other factional leader, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff will step down from his position and withdraw all the court cases he instituted to pave the way for the emergence of a new chairman.
The Makarfi-led committee, with support of the BoT and PDP governors, had on August 17 organised a national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
However, a day to the convention, the embattled chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff obtained a High Court Order in Abuja which barred them from going ahead with the convention.
Based on the court orders, security forces including the police, the army and the Air Force were deployed to the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, venue of the planned convention, making it difficult for the Makarfi faction to have access to the facility.
Instead, Makarfi’s committee, the PDP governors, the BoT members and delegates from various states held a meeting at the Rivers State Government and later at the PDP secretariat in Port Harcourt, where Makarfi’s tenure was extended by one year to pave way for the conduct of a fresh convention.
But Sheriff vowed to continue challenging the decision in court, saying in the first place, his tenure, which he inherited from a former chairman of the party, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, will not expire until 2018.
Makarfi emerged as caretaker chairman of the party in May during a separate convention in Port Harcourt, which was also quashed by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Meanwhile, according to Daily Trust, a source close to yesterday’s meeting said in the PDPs constitution, the BoT only plays advisory role which is not binding.
“But the fact is that Makarfi draws his strength from them and the PDP governors. However, after several meetings with Sheriff, the BoT realized that he (Sheriff) was not willing to give up. At every meeting, he normally approached them with court orders, insisting that he would never be allowed to be intimidated or forced to step-down.
“In one of the meetings with the BoT at the his office, Sheriff said he will spend his last Kobo to prove PDP governors wrong because in the first place, they were the ones who made him the chairman and later tried to humiliate him.
“In fact, the BoT had at a time begged ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and the likes of Malam Adamu Ciroma to talk to Sheriff but he refused, saying the constitution of the PDP must be respected and that is why the latest decision was taken,” the source said.
Reacting to the development, the National Legal Adviser and member of the Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC), Barrister Bashir Maidugu told Daily Trust on Tuesday that the BoT had done the needful.
“The BoT is just waking up. It is a step in the right direction; it is a welcome development but we need to talk more.
“The meeting urged all PDP Governors to continue pursuing positive programmes of good governance so as to clearly project the people oriented manifesto of the PDP,” he said.
On his part, Senator Makarfi said “there is nothing wrong with the BoT giving advice to the CTC. We will listen to all views at all times.”
A former minister of education and one time Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, who was part of the BoT meeting, Prof Tunde Adeniran, told our correspondent that “the BoT acted in a conscientious way based on the opinions of the generality of party members.”
Similarly, the immediate past national vice chairman of the party (South-south) and Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh in a text message said: “We are yet to be briefed. All must pray for PDP so that we can divorce impunity and salvage democracy.”
Sheriff and Makarfi are locked in at least twelve different cases in various High Courts in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, seeking legal interpretation of the party’s constitution in respect to tenure and status of caretaker committee at the national level of the party.
Sheriff had insisted that the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee be dissolved and a fresh convention to be held in Abuja, which should be presided over by him (Sheriff) in Abuja. He also gave another condition that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State must not be the chairman of the convention planning committee.
Sheriff also said he should be allowed to nominate some persons from his camp while Makarfi would also nominate some members of his group to form the convention planning committee.
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