The sacked Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has said members of the party are free to join other political associations to realise their political ambition.
He said neither him nor any member of the caretaker committee had, however, joined the proposed Advanced Peoples Democratic Party.
There have been reports that some politicians in the Makarfi camp are behind the move to register the APDP as a rival political party to the PDP, which is now under the leadership of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The party, which has been in a crisis for more than a year now, has been further polarised since the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, pronounced Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State, as the authentic national chairman of the PDP.
Though Makarfi had appealed the judgment, former President Goodluck Jonathan had stepped into the crisis with a promise to a find political solution to the protracted leadership tussle.
With a new political party about to be registered, which has the resemblance of the PDP, there are insinuations that one of the camps may not be sincere with the proposed deal.
Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, has nevertheless exonerated himself and members of his committee from those seeking the registration of the new political party.
Speaking through the spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, Makarfi said his committee would not abandon the PDP for Sheriff.
Adeyeye, a former Minister of State for Works, said in a statement in Abuja, on Sunday, that the “National Caretaker Committee has no hands in the purported planned registration of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Party.”
He added, “We state clearly and without ambiguity that the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP is not, in any way, involved in the plans to register any party by the name of APDP or any other party for that matter.
“It is unthinkable that the National Caretaker Committee, which, without any doubt, enjoys the support of all the recognised organs of the party, will contemplate such a move.
“We, however, acknowledge and recognise the right of party members to seek alternative platform to actualise their political dreams, which is an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Adeyeye stated that the caretaker committee “is holding leadership power in the party in trust for the millions of party” members, who, he said, instituted the committee at the national convention.
He said no collective decision had been taken on what to do with the party, stressing that if such decision would be taken, it would be done by party members at a properly constituted national convention.
The ex-minister added, “Whatever decision that will be taken on the PDP brand shall be taken by the owners of the party – the party members – at a properly constituted national convention, and not by a few individuals, no matter how highly-placed.
“For the records, no decision has been taken that the PDP should be abandoned and a new party formed out of the current structure. At least, no such proposal is before the National Caretaker Committee as of this moment.
“We reiterate our belief that the issues before the Supreme Court will be resolved on the side of truth and justice will be served in the interest of peace.”
In his reaction on Friday, Sheriff said the party was watching with keen interest the utterances of the Makarfi group, adding that it was wrong for any party leader to be encouraging members of his party to leave for other parties.
He explained that what was important to him and members of his national working committee was how to reconcile all the PDP members and strengthen the party ahead of the 2019 elections.
Sheriff, who spoke through the National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, argued that the situation in the party was not as bad as being portrayed by the Makarfi group.
He said, “It is disheartening that they are asking members or encouraging them to go and form another party or even join existing ones.
“Since we can’t stop them from exercising their constitutional rights, they should not steal the franchise of our party.
“Makarfi, as a person, may not be part of those angling to leave, but he should help us tell them not to use the name of PDP in any form.”
Also speaking for Sheriff, his deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said there were facts that the Makarfi group wanted to clinch the 2019 presidential ticket of the party at all costs.
He said, “They are afraid that they won’t be able to get the presidential ticket. They have inordinate ambition to be the presidential candidate at all costs.
“We are not stopping them, but in the PDP, things must be done properly and not through the back door. They are afraid, that’s why they are running from pillar to post, seeking to register another political party with our name.”
PDP is proud of Obasanjo, says Makarfi
Meanwhile, the national caretaker committee of the PDP has said the party is proud of the achievements of former President Olusegun Obasanjo while in office.
The Chairman of the sacked committee, Makarfi, who stated this in a statement in Abuja, on Sunday, said the party was happy that Obasanjo had joined the league of octogenarians in the country.
Makarfi said Nigerians would continue to remember Obasanjo’s style, which, he said, was unique.
While describing the former President as a quintessential leader, he stated that the PDP was proud of his (Obasanjo’s) legacies and achievements.
In the statement, which was signed by Adeyeye, Makarfi said, “80th birthday anniversary of OBJ, as the former President is popularly called, is not only a celebration of his sojourn on earth but a combination of the series of his achievements and indelible legacies in various sectors of our political, economic and social lives in Nigeria and beyond as a soldier, Head of State, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“For us in the PDP, Obasanjo remains a leader and a President Nigerians will continue to remember for his unique style and quality of leadership, the fulcrum for his policy formulations and implementations; and the ingenuity with which he pioneered the affairs of the country creditably on the platform of the our great party, the PDP, from 1999 to 2007 and even after leaving office.
“We are proud of your heritage, Your Excellency.”