There is no respite for the crises rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Following the fallouts from the failed convention of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Saturday, which have unsettled the party, heavily armed policemen took over the premises of the party in Abuja, Sunday.
The policemen have since blocked access into the party’s national secretariat.
Police vehicles, comprising two trucks and two pick up vans were sighted at the entrance of the Secretariat blocking access to the Secretariat.
It is not clear who invited the police or their mission at the Secretariat.
On Saturday the party held a parallel convention – one in Abuja and the other in Port Harcourt.
The exercise at Port Harcourt produced denouement. The National Chairman, Alhaji Ali Sheriff, was sacked and replaced by a caretaker committee, headed by the former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi.
Giving reasons for the sack of Sheriff, the Chairman of the 2016 Convention Planning Committee and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, explained that the party removed Sheriff as the National Chairman because his leadership was destabilising the party.
Governor Wike said: “All along, the crisis has been about the former Acting Chairman whose emergence was strongly opposed.
“This is destabilising the party and so we had to let him go. What is important is the party and not the individual. No sacrifice is too much for anyone to make as far as PDP is concerned”
The Governor said he had no personal interest in supporting Sheriff as he was the best option at the time he emerged.
He said PDP would continue to grow “from strength to strength” as it remains the only hope for the country.
Governor Wike said: “We will not allow the PDP to die or suffer divisions under our watch. History will never forgive us if we watch the party die.”
The Governor said that the party leaders would work towards maintaining unity amongst all members of the party.
He said despite the challenges, the 2016 National Convention was successful as the party has been repositioned in the interest of the nation.
But Sheriff felt betrayed by the action of the party, saying he is still the National Chairman despite what happened at Port Harcourt on Saturday.
Inuwa Bwala, the Spokesperson for Sheriff, said his boss is opposed to what happened at the Port Harcourt convention, since he had earlier announced its suspension after consulting with members of the National Working Committee of the party.
“Immediately the chairman (Sheriff) received another court injunction, he called a meeting of the National Working Committee and told them that it wasn’t safe to continue with the convention of the party, especially since the court had forbidden elections virtually into all the office.
“He announced the suspension of the convention at a press briefing, only for some people to go behind and claim that there was convention.
“There was no organ of the party that was represented at the convention.
“The convention was cancelled, and it remains cancelled until such a time the matters in court are resolved, for us to convene another national convention.”
Until then, he said, Sheriff remained the National Chairman of the PDP, going by the pronouncement of the court.
“The court had said the office of the Chairman would become vacant only in 2018, and that is parts of the reasons we shelved the convention,” said Bwala.
However, the Jerry Gana-led faction saw the events at Port Harcourt from a different viewpoint.
The faction dismissed the caretaker committee set up in Port Harcourt as “unconstitutional”, saying only the party’s Board of Trustees is legally mandated to take over the party whenever there is a vacuum.
The leaders spoke at a press briefing at the residence of a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, in Abuja.
At the briefing, which was addressed by Mantu and Tanimu Turaki, a former Minister of Special Duties, the leaders said they had been vindicated by what happened in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
They warned that the decision to set up a caretaker committee instead of allowing the BoT to pilot the affairs of the party could further deepen the division within the party’s ranks.
“At this point in time, the only legal organ body conditionally empowered to actually takeover the affairs of the party is the BoT,” Mantu said.
“After watching events at Port Harcourt convention, it’s necessary for us to react to some of the things we saw there. First and foremost, we want to thank our members throughout the nation for giving us support that has actually led us to achieve some of the goals we have set for ourselves.
“We were opposed to the zoning and indeed the zoning has been cancelled or set aside.
“We also opposed to the convention taking place and the convention did not take place courtesy of the court.
“Again, we were opposed to the way the Congresses have been conducted, that, they fell short of our expectations. Now these congresses and conventions have been set aside.
“This group can confidently say that we have achieved all the targets we set to achieve, Mantu said.
Turaki also said, “We here have sat down and reviewed the happening in Port Harcourt very carefully and the decisions that came out have clearly vindicated our position which is based on principles. We had taken a position that things were done wrongly and unconstitutionally. Things have been done without due regards to processes and procedures.
“It is now for the BOT to step in and take charge. It is there in our Constitution that in a situation like this, which is unprecedented, that the BoT, the conscience of the party, as the fathers of the party should step in immediately,” Mr. Turaki said. “There shouldn’t be any vacuum and we are concerned that what is coming out of the party from Port Harcourt may likely deepen our disagreement.”
Meanwhile, it could not be ascertained who gave the order for the Secretariat of the party to be sealed by the police.