THE latest effort by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to resolve its long standing leadership crisis hit a snag on Thursday as the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Sheriff, stormed out of stakeholders meeting summoned by former President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, insisting that he must be recognised as national chairman.
Jonathan had given his opening remarks before Sheriff arrived for the meeting.
Going by the programme, Sheriff’s address at the opening ceremony was supposed to follow that of Jonathan followed by that of the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi before the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin would speak.
But Sheriff was not available to speak after Jonathan had concluded his address.
In an apparent attempt not to promote Makarfi above Sheriff, the former Kaduna State governor’s address was stepped down and the BoT chairman was requested to speak.
It was as Jibrin was delivering his address that Sheriff walked into the venue of the meeting.
At the end of the BoT chairman’s address, an announcement was made for the media to excuse the meeting but Sheriff protested, insisting that the media must stay to witness his address to the meeting as he national chairman of the party.
Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike and his Ekiti counterpart, Ayo Fayose, argued that if Sherrif must speak in the presence of the media, Makarfi must also be allowed to speak.
Jonathan intervened, saying that neither Sheriff nor Makarfi would speak as no national chairman would be recognized at the peace meeting.
Sheriff got up to leave but was prevailed upon by other party members following which they retired to a room within the venue to calm down frayed nerves.
The meeting in the room was made up of prominent party members led by Jonathan who spent nearly two hours trying to convince Sheriff to accept the arrangement in the meeting.
He refused and stormed out along with members of his National Working Committee (NWC).
On his way out, he told journalists that as things are in the party, he is the most senior figure as the national chairman and must recognized as such.
He posited that no other person has the right to preside over a meeting of the party.
He said: “The party as at today has one national chairman, which is Ali Modu Sheriff. There is no PDP meeting that will take place under any arrangement that I will not make an opening remark as a national chairman.
“I think that Governor Dickson made a proposal, and we have accepted it. Other people have a programme to bring agenda which is not part of the proposal.
“And as a national chairman of the party, what I told you people in my office is that I will not be party for anybody using me as a party to do another programme. I will not be.”
When asked if he has no respect for the former president who convened the meeting, Sheriff pointed out that he has
respect him which made him to fly down by from abroad to attend the meeting.
“We have a programme, which is initiated by Dickson, anything that is outside that I will not part of,” he added.
The meeting however went on without Sheriff at the end of which a committee with membership drawn from both Sheriff and Makarfi’s camps raised to sort out the problems that had been identified and report back within two weeks.
Jonathan heads the committee but in his absence, former Vice President Namadi Sambo or former Senate President, David Mark would chair it.
The former president regretted what he termed the “little situation that occurred in the early part of the meeting,” noting that by the time the committee submits its report, such thing would not repeat itself.
Earlier in his address, Jonathan said as the leading light of the nation’s democracy, the PDP must not be allowed to drift, noting that rather than engage in blame game, the party must be rebuilt into a formidable force.