The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked state chapters of the party to adopt alternative political parties for their candidates in the upcoming elections, pending the ruling of the Supreme Court on the leadership crisis rocking the party.
Under the circumstances, the caretaker committee has said state chapters of the party are allowed to take any decision they consider appropriate.
It said the directive was aimed at avoiding the chances of its candidates being scuttled due to the antics of the rival leadership of the PDP led by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, the Makarfi-led PDP said it took the decision in order to avoid the experience whereby Sheriff attempts to scuttle the chances of the party by fielding APC lackeys and surrogates as alternative candidates.
He said that the NCC was working with all the organs of the party and other relevant bodies to pursue the appeal filed at the Supreme Court to a logical conclusion.
Adeyeye accused the Sheriff leadership of creating factional chapters in different states of the federation in order to compromise the chances of the PDP in the upcoming local government elections.
He said the party deliberately decided not to run parallel congresses in Anambra State in order not to subject party members in the state to the agony of a disputed platform.
The full statement of the NCC read: “Our attention has been drawn to some news items to the effect that the National Caretaker Committee has instructed PDP members to use the platform of a newly registered party to contest the forthcoming local government elections in Lagos State and other states where local government elections are pending.
“In view of the misconception and unease which the issue has raised, we are constrained to make the following clarifications.
“The National Caretaker Committee is working with all the organs of the party, the BoT, the National Caucus, NEC, PDP Governors Forum, PDP State Chairmen’s Forum, PDP Ministers’ Forum, youths and women’s groups and other relevant bodies, to pursue the appeal filed at the Supreme Court to a logical conclusion.
“We have a good case and our grounds for appeal is solid. We believe ultimately that justice will be served on the leadership issue in our party and we are also confident that the judiciary will continue to remain independent, unbiased and neutral.
“Since the platform of our great party, the PDP, is currently in dispute, we recognise the anxiety of our patriotic and loyal members to avoid a repeat of the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections experiences where Senator Sheriff and his co-travellers tried to scuttle the chances of our members by fielding APC lackeys and surrogates as alternative candidates, in order to disturb, distract and dissipate the energy and concentration of our genuine candidates in those elections.
“It is indisputable that this was the main reason for our defeat, particularly in the Ondo governorship election. That was why we deliberately decided not to run parallel congresses in Anambra State, in order not to subject our party members in that state to the agony of a disputed platform.
“It is also important to state at this point that Senator Sheriff and his cohorts have been creating factional chapters in different states of the federation, in order to compromise our chances in the local government elections.
“In the circumstances and with no hope of the Ali Sheriff problem abating before the Supreme Court judgment, we are left with no choice than to consider ways by which our members will not be disenfranchised in these elections.
“However, our position is not to choose a platform for any state where true PDP candidates are denied the opportunity to stand for the elections. State chapters are allowed to take any decision they consider appropriate.
“We continue to pray for a positive outcome in the judgment of the Supreme Court so that the agony and pains of recent times may be finally put behind us.”
But in a swift reaction, the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP said on Tuesday that the party was open to any member who wishes to contest elections.
In a statement issued by Sheriff’s deputy, Cairo Ojougboh, the party said all primaries were open to PDP members, adding: “They are welcome to participate.”
Ojougboh added: “PDP has conducted successful local government elections in Ebonyi State and they were signed by Ali Modu Sheriff.
“We are currently preparing for elections in Cross River and other states. All our primaries are open to PDP members and they are welcome to participate.”
He said the PDP was an embodiment of great Nigerians, adding that its governors are performing “very well in their various states”.
“What surprises us is that Makarfi claims he has a strong appeal at the Supreme Court when the Court of Appeal has made it clear that Makarfi disobeyed violently the order of the courts in Lagos and Abuja.
“Is the Makarfi group expecting that the law will be re-written for them to suit their personal interest?
“By their attitude, they are still unrepentant. We implore them to have a change of heart and return to the fold, so that we can adequately prepare to return to power in 2019.
“The door of peace is still open, we urge the Makarfi group to go back to the Governor Seriake Dickson reconciliation committee’s recommendations,” he said.