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Thursday, 9 March 2017

PDP CRISIS: SENATORS, GOVS TO MEET OVER OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT

Senators of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) resolved, on Wednesday, to hold a crucial meeting with elected governors on the platform of the party to conclude the planned out-of-court settlement to resolve the crisis rocking the party.


The lawmakers, who met in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said they would meet with the governors before meeting Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, who had invited the caucus.


Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who addressed Senate correspondents, said that the PDP senators decided to meet with the governors before honouring an invitation sent to them by Sheriff.

He said that the meeting with the governors would ensure that wrong motives are not read to the planned meeting with Sheriff.

He said that the meeting with the governors would ensure that wrong motives are not read to the planned meeting with Sheriff.

He said that the caucus, aside considering it very necessary to get the governors informed about the invitation from Sheriff, also felt that doing so would provide the needed opportunity for both the caucus and the governors to meet on the possible out-of-court settlement of the leadership crisis rocking the party.

According to Akpabio: “We held this meeting because there was a letter from Sheriff to the caucus and so, we had to meet first to know whether this is the right time, whether the meeting is right or not and what we agreed is that let the leadership of the party know first, thereafter we will meet with the Sheriff group, then the Makarfi group and after that, the BOT.

We are taking these steps to avoid being seen as taking side.

“We also said if it is possible that while the judicial processes are on, that as a caucus, we should also pursue the alternative platform of having out-of-court settlement and this can only start with us meeting with our governors and thereafter meeting with leadership of the party, the two groups and all the other strata of the party, that is the Board of Trustees, former governors, the National Assembly members and of course the National Caretaker Committee, the recently pronounced Chairman by the Court of Appeal so that we can spearhead a major political turnaround that will involve the whole stakeholders and bring holistic peace to the party.

“If we succeed in doing so, this could even be a major way out instead of continuous processes in court.

We will pursue that option without prejudice to the ongoing court processes until we can arrive at a solution where we could at the end of the day use what we have with the totality of all agreeing as consent judgment.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has rejected the template for the proposed national unity convention of the party.

The template was submitted to him on Tuesday by the chairman of the party’s Standing Committee on Reconciliation, Governor Seriake Dickson.

The Bayelsa State governor presented his committee’s template for the conduct of the national convention to Makarfi in private, on Tuesday, but the presentation of same report to the National chairman, Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, on the same day, was witnessed by the media.

That has apparently riled the factional chairman who thought it was wrong to have placed the committee’s recommendation on the public domain when much work remained to be done to refine it.

Makarfi told the Nigeria Tribune in Abuja, on Wednesday, that implementing the template the way it is would go against the judgment of the Court of Appeal that ordered the feuding parties in the leadership crisis to revert to the status quo ante before the botched May 21, 2016 national convention.

He said Dickson was supposed to have gone back to members of his committee to rectify areas that were in conflict with the court judgment.

The former Kaduna State governor said: “I’m shocked and disappointed that Bayelsa State governor made public presentation of a purported report approved or endorsed by us and other stakeholders as reported.

“He met me yesterday (Tuesday) and I pointed out the problems with his proposals that go against the Court of Appeal judgment.

“At the end, I told him that whatever is approved by the organs of the party that we represent, we will work with. I advised him to revert back to his colleagues and other organs. But this is what we are seeing.”

The template released by the committee called for the formation of a national convention committee that would conduct a national unity convention.

According to the template, Sheriff is expected to select, in consultation with party stakeholders, 12 members of the national convention planning committee.

The standing committee had also urged the national convention planning committee to consider appointing into the planning committee, seven state governors, seven senators including the Deputy Senate President, 12 members of the House of Representatives and six members of the Board of Trustees.

Also to be considered for membership of the convention planning committee, according to Dickson, are national vice chairmen (one per zone), three state chairmen per zone, six serving speakers of the state Houses of Assembly and six former governors.

Others suggested for inclusion are six former presiding officers of the National Assembly (who are still members of the party), six prominent women leaders, six youth leaders of the party and six former ministers of the party.

Senator Makarfi had also rejected insinuation that he has accepted to step down as a prelude to the resolution of the leadership crisis in the party.

He said, on Wednesday, in a statement signed by his spokesman, Mukhtar Sirajo, in Abuja, that he had never offered to resign from his position as the chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of PDP.

Makarfi, however, noted that he and the caretaker committee were committed to reconciliation in the party and was prepared to accept a comprehensive reconciliation programme that would ensure a level playing field.

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