The National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ali Sheriff, and a factional leader of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, are engaged in a war of words again, just few days after they reached an understanding to bury their differences.
What has triggered the latest public spat began with Mr. Sheriff’s threat to sue anyone, including media houses, who referred to the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, as a faction of the party. Allied to this was Sheriff’s declaration of job vacancies in the party secretariat.
In a statement by his deputy, Cairo Ojoughoh, Mr. Sheriff said the job vacancies declared were preparatory to filling positions in the party’s National Secretariat as the old staff decided to abandon their work even when he appealed to them.
But the Makarfi group said it smelled a rat and asked the old staff to ignore Mr. Sheriff’s threat and his seven-day ultimatum to return party properties.
“His threat against our hard working staff should therefore be ignored and treated with utmost contempt coming from a lawless impostor”, said Dayo Adeyeye, the publicity secretary, who responded on behalf of the Makarfi group.
Messrs. Sheriff and Makarfi had on Thursday signed an undertaking with the PDP National Reconciliation Committee, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa to cease fire.
They both pledged to work together with the reconciliation committee for the restoration of genuine peace to the party.
Mr. Sheriff, who described the Makarfi-led committee as an illegal group, said that by the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, on February 17, such “a group” was not supposed to be in existence.
He cautioned media houses not to refer to the Makarfi group as a faction, saying an appeal is not a stay of execution, insisting that the group was illegal.
Mr. Sheriff also warned Mr. Makarfi and his group to stop interfering in the affairs of the party.
“Makarfi should behave himself. He should not interfere in our business, because we are not interested in his private business.
“Any further careless statement from him will force us to reconsider our earlier peace agreement.
“We have already employed staff who are running the bureaucracy efficiently. If Makarfi so desires, he should keep the old staff, just as he is doing now.
“We have had enough and enough is enough of this,” Mr. Sheriff said.
He added that his leadership was preparing to complete state congresses where necessary and working hard on planned national convention.
“We will not be distracted by inconsequential issues from our set objective to return the party to the grassroots.
“We must prevent anybody with the agenda of killing the party, especially those, who were brought to the party by those, who have already decamped to other parties.”
Mr. Sheriff warned the old PDP staff, who still have the party’s property in their possession to return them immediately.
“They should return them within the seven days grace or we will be left with no other option than to hand them over to the police,” Mr. Sheriff said.
The Makarfi group fired back and urged the staff and party stakeholders to ignore Mr. Sheriff, saying that his threats were those of “a lawless impostor.”
“We went out of our way few days ago to reach accommodation with them even when some of our top leaders had serious misgivings about any type of talk with them given their unreliability,” Mr. Makarfi said.
He said that his committee showed its goodwill, while Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) demonstrated their bad faith.
“We have always known that Sheriff and his co-travellers especially, Cairo Ojougboh, were never men of honour with whom one can reach any agreement.
“But we tagged along to avoid being accused of unnecessary intransigence.
“Since the leopard cannot change its spot, it is now very clear that no agreement or political solution can be reached with these bunch of people with huge integrity deficit.”
He described Mr. Ojougboh as an impostor and a rabble rouser in a non-existent NWC, saying Mr. Sheriff has no men to constitute an NWC with the required constitutional quorum.
“His threat against our hard working staff should therefore be ignored and treated with utmost contempt coming from a lawless impostor.
“For the education of Sheriff and his cohorts, our Appeal at the Supreme Court is already on.
“To that extent, the position and status of the National Caretaker Committee remains completely unaltered.
“Since they cannot comprehend even very simple matters, we will use a simple analogy.
“If a Governor loses at the election petitions tribunal and at the Court of Appeal, does he cease to be a Governor even when his appeal is pending before the Supreme Court?
“Would the civil servants then refuse to serve him?” Mr. Makarfi asked.
He explained that the position of the law was that he would remain the governor.
He added that all party employees would continue to serve Mr. Makarfi until otherwise determined by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Makarfi added that his committee members have tried strenuously to reach Mr. Dickson to report the Sheriff group, but they were not able to get through to him.