Sheriff won’t contest at PDP convention, says Dickson

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The Chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Governor Seriake Dickson, yesterday said his committee had proposed a negotiated National Unity convention to hold next quarter.

He also said court-backed National Chairman  Ali Modu Sheriff, had agreed not to seek election at the convention.

He said members of the convention committee comprise seven governors, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, seven governors, past presiding officers at the National Assembly, Senators, ex-ministers and members of the Board of Trustees, among others.

The Bayelsa State governor faulted Chairman of the Caretaker Committee Sen. Ahmed Makarfi for attacking him.

Dickson, who unfolded the new peace template in Abuja, said the reconciliation committee had been consulting with all stakeholders.

He said: The reconciliation committee met to review our position in the light of the court of appeal judgment and we said look, let us formulate a realistic, practical and strategic response to that reality because in the end it is only about strategy.

“The template we are proposing will lead to a negotiated National Unity convention because the inability to hold a unity convention or a successful convention at all is at the heart of the crisis. And that was why when that failed to happen, we appointed Makarfi caretaker, to midwife another convention, the second one too failed.

“We are consulting and in the next couple of days and weeks it would be very clear. But let me also say there are issues before you have a convention, there are crises, some developments in states and some zones; so what we expect is that various teams will go and resolve some of those issues before we move to the stage of the convention.”

He  gave a breakdown of the proposed National  Unity Convention Committee.

Dickson said: “This convention committee should not be done like the other one. Our template says that there should be seven governors, people to be nominated should be nominated from the key institutions of the party and by the way all these key institutions are with Makarfi not Sheriff. This is why I  cannot understand what Makarfi’s problem is, unless he sees himself and his role as either that of, not of a caretaker but a landlord or even an undertaker of PDP.

“Otherwise all the people we have suggested in the template are all institutions working as we speak with Makarfi; of close to hundred he has almost 80  something. Because of that we then put 12 names to be nominated by Sheriff even that one we said with consultation with stakeholders because we thought Sheriff would say no. We actually expected Sheriff to say no, not Makarfi to shout. Sheriff has accepted all of them.

“This is the convention committee members’ template; seven Governors, seven Senators led by the Deputy Senate President who is the head of the caucus;  12 House of Reps members led by the House Minority Leader. BoT is to nominate six members at one per zone;  former ministers to nominate six  at one per zone; and all former presiding officers of the National Assembly who are still with us to be automatic members and a number of them are with Makarfi. And the national vice chairmen of every zone of the party, all six of them and all these people are with Makarfi. And then we said the chapter chairmen, three of them per zone should be there, making 18 of them. And then we said six prominent women leaders, six prominent youth leaders and so on and so forth. All these institutions are with Makarfi.

“So what we are designing was a ringed fence that Sheriff if we all work together will be unable to, so that his role will be in accordance with the laws of the party to convene and preside. After he makes his speech we move a motion to dissolve and with that dissolution all these arguments would have ended and then we go into the election. That is what we thought is the quickest way out of this crisis.

“And when I consulted Makarfi, but I didn’t consult Sheriff; I left committee meetings to brief Makarfi that this is what the committee is doing, there is urgency now and I had intelligence about the time table that INEC was to release, that this is the time to put our party together. I am fast tracking this process, this is what I am proposing.

“Makarfi drew my attention that some persons are saying that their tenure had not elapsed and they might take us to court. I say yes, thanks for drawing that to my attention, I will include it in the template that those people must resign, so that all offices must be vacant to give the party a fresh beginning and I included it in the template. Sheriff and his people have accepted it, everything.”

Asked of the attitude of the two factional leaders of the party to the convention, Dickson added:  “As we speak we have a situation where Sheriff said a convention as soon as possible, a convention that he will not contest and we are waiting for these institutions to send in their names and Makarfi is the one now saying no. He wants PDP crisis to fester and playing one game or the other and attacking my person.”

Dickson added: “Sheriff, after the Court of Appeal judgment  has said he would be prepared for quick national convention. We thought that was a victory for PDP. He has also said he will not contest at that convention; that is victory for the PDP.

“But the challenge however is that a number of people said they cannot trust him; well I said that is valid but you need to engage more and ring fence the convention, how? This is when the template comes in.

“I take exceptions to some of the public statements that Makarfi and some of his supporters have been making, I don’t want to join issues with anybody because I am for peace, I am for reconciliation.

“ All I want to remind Makarfi and his supporters that whereas it is good for him Makarfi that in every state because of this crisis, you have a so-called Makarfi group and a Sheriff group, the party is polarized down the line, it may be good for him, he may be enjoying it but this party is big”

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