Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has denied claims by a section of the media that he endorsed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during his visit to him on last Monday.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan described the claim as false.
He clarified in a statement that the issue of endorsement never came up in the course of the visit, “not at the closed door meeting with Sheriff, or during the former president’s interview with journalists.”
Eze who wondered: “Why few journalists some of whom were not even at the venue, chose to infuse mischief in their report,” 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 is playing towards unifying and strengthening the PDP.
He further stated that Jonathan opened his doors to Sheriff upon his request, just as he had earlier done to the Makarfi-led caretaker committee members, adding that the former president is prepared to broker more talks until the issues in the leadership of the PDP were finally resolved.
He said: “In deed, it may interest you to know that after meeting with Sheriff, the former president also met with Senator Ahmed Makarfi, leader of the PDP Caretaker Committee, and the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Senator Walid Jubril, later in the evening.”
Eze emphasised that “as a peace-loving leader of the party, Jonathan’s interest is to help reposition PDP to enable it play a constructive role in the affairs of the nation, in view of the imperative of deepening the nation’s democracy.”
Eze said further: “I wish to let those spinning this falsehood know that it just doesn’t add up to fly a contrived banner of endorsement in one breath, and in another, concede that the former president explained his commitment in meeting with different interest groups, towards resolving the differences in the party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the following are the former president’s exact words during the interview with journalists, as had accurately been reported by most online and major national newspapers, as well as broadcast organisations:
‘We (PDP) are not factionalised. We are one. We are solving our problems. There are bound to be differences in politics. It is the way we resolve these differences that makes us human beings and that is what makes us leaders. I have met with Sheriff. And I have met with others. I will still meet with others, so that we will be able to do what is expected of us as a political party,’ Jonathan said.”
Eze further made a case for fair and balanced reporting of national issues, saying: “While we appreciate the interest of journalists in the coverage of the activities of the former president, we urge accurate and constructive reporting, as it is a known fact that we cannot truly develop our nation, if journalists continue to twist and fabricate stories with the intent of misinforming the public.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed allegations levelled against it by the PDP that it is behind the raging crisis in the opposition party as well as the prevention of its use of the International Conference Centre, for a stakeholders meeting in Abuja wednesday.
The Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP had alleged that the APC is responsible for the action of the police, which prevented some members of that faction from meeting at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, thereby forcing a last minute change of meeting venue.
Makarfi and the PDP leaders also alleged that the APC had influenced the Appeal Court decision which ruled that previously sacked chairman, Sheriff, be reinstated forthwith.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the ruling party said neither of the allegations is true and should be ignored.
Regarding the alleged police blockade at the ICC, the APC spokesman said the ruling party ought to be blamed since it has no power over the police force.
“Neither of these allegations is true in any respect. The police does 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, they could seek further clarifications from the Police or pursue alternative means of redress,” it said.
“So far, the Makarfi group has not faulted the police or provided any proof for its allegations against the APC, which we find quite surprising, considering that Makarfi and his group have in their ranks, individuals who are sufficiently experienced to know that without any evidence, such allegations could easily be dismissed as baseless and therefore be ignored by all right thinking members of the public, including our party.
APC also expressed concern over the attack on the integrity and uprightness of the judiciary by the parties in the PDP crisis.
“The reason we have not simply ignored the wild allegations is because we are imperiled by utterances and conducts that attack the integrity and independence of our judicial system. Every Nigerians should be worried by the behaviour of the various PDP members which is capable of eroding the confidence Nigerians in our judicial system. Even as they battle themselves for survival, we urge restraint in the interest of our democracy.
“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 they stop peddling conspiracy theories and blaming imaginary enemies,” it said.