The court-declared National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday, took charge of the opposition party, warning those misrepresenting him in the media to respect themselves. The Court of Appeal, sitting in Port-Harcourt, had, on Friday, declared Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP after a legal battle for the leadership of the party launched by a faction led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
“This is the first time I am making a statement since the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt made its pronouncement; but I have seen and read many stories purported to have come from me against leaders of the party. People should respect themselves and not create more problems for the party,” he told journalists in Abuja.
The PDP National Chairman, however, extended olive branch to the Makarfi group, saying the court affirmation of his leadership was a “victory for all”.
Meanwhile, he unfolded a roadmap for the PDP which, according to him, aims at upstaging the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election.
Sounding conciliatory to the Makarfi faction of the PDP, Sheriff, flanked by Shehu Umar, a former Special Assistant to Vice President Namadi Sambo; Senator Hope Uzodinwa and Chief Chris Uba, among others, Sheriff said he was ready to make sacrifices to ensure that the party remains united, strong and ready to go into the next elections better prepared.
He stated: “The verdict of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt is victory for all. There are no losers and no winners. As a party, we have had some little misunderstanding within ourselves and what happened, yesterday, is beginning of all the good things that will come for the Peoples Democratic Party. Sheriff is not the winner, Makarfi is not the loser. All of us are winners.
“We are going to unite the party. I was not even in town when the decision of the appeal court was reached. I have come back so that we can put our house in order. I have received many calls from different leaders and I have also made several calls to leaders of the party ever since the verdict was passed. I have received calls from our governors, members of the National assembly and other leaders of the party.”
According to him, the APC is the one campaigning for the PDP. “As a party we were doing nothing. I want to assure you that this party will come back to the position it was in 1999. All the leaders of the party will be consulted between now and the next one week and we will come out with a roadmap that will culminate in a successful convention. I am not interested in continuing as the National Chairman of the party. What I am interested in is to unite and rebuild the party to make sure that we have credible leaders that will take us to a successful election in 2019.
“Let me put it on record that the survival of the PDP is greater than any one of us. This party is a party that was in government for more than sixteen years. Today marks the beginning of going back to winning elections.”
The PDP leader asked people not look at the PDP crisis as an issue or as a personal problem between him and Makarfi or any leader of the party.
“I will formally consult the national assembly, the governors, the Board of Trustees so that we can come out with a proper roadmap. Within the shortest period, we will organise a convention so that people will aspire to whatever position that they want.
“Nobody is a victor and nobody is a loser. I have spoken to almost all the people that have been affected by this position and I want to assure that everybody will come back together to form one united party.
“I have full confidence in the judiciary of this country but the judiciary is not the best place to settle political disputes but our judiciary is first class. Let me caution people that have been making misguided statements against our judiciary to desist from doing so.
“There are many well meaning Nigerians from all walks of life that want this party to be united and that is what I want. Nothing more. I do not believe in all the insinuations that are coming from different quarters that APC is sponsoring me; my hands are clean. There is nothing to hide. Those that are making those statements, check their antecedents. As a person, I want to make sure that I make my contribution to the success of this party and by doing that, I am ready to make any sacrifice for the PDP. We want impunity to stop. We do not want to lose election again. Unless and until we do things correctly, people will not take us serious. Democracy is about people. You either give them their rights or they leave you. What I want to do is to give the party back to the people.
“I want to assure all the leaders of the party across Nigeria that all the elections that were conducted prior to the convention stand. We will only conduct election in those places that elections were not held. “I will call the leader of the reconciliation committee, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, to ensure that we have a quick roadmap that will lead to a successful convention.”