I was practically begged to take over the chairmanship – Modu Sheriff
TVC E. Ali Modu Sheriff, who was recently affirmed as the authentic national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by an appeal court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, was at the national television on Sunday (19th of February 2017), where he spoke on various issues concerning the leadership crisis in the party as well as allegation of being a mole of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Eromosele Ebhomele monitored the interview and produces excerpts:
There is something called legitimacy. If the governors and former ministers say they do not want you, don’t you think it would just be nice to take a bow and leave?
If you understand the organs of the party, there is nothing like the Former Ministers Forum. It is not the Forum that brought me to the level of becoming a national chairman. I became the national chairman through a due process, where the NEC of the party met. There are four other people who wanted to be the chairman at that time. It was put to vote and I got about 69 votes. The next person to me got only nine. I would have wished the Former Ministers Forum would make a statement and let all the ministers in Nigeria sit together and decide.
Or like the case of Governor Ayo Fayose who said he is speaking on behalf of the (PDP) Governors’ Forum; for sure, I have spoken to a lot of governors in the party and all of them are thinking of how we can build the party and have a credible convention. So I don’t want to join issues with Fayose and his statements, but what I want to assure Nigerians is that this party will come back. This party will be in the position of 1999 and we are making consultations all over Nigeria putting everybody together so that we can do a convention and elect leaders who can run the party.
The Ahmed Makarfi faction is believed to be planning an injunction to stop you from parading yourself as the chairman of the party. Are you also aware of the meeting of the NEC and other stakeholders scheduled for Monday, February 20?
I have not, as the national chairman, called for any meeting. Also, I am making consultations. A group of people have right to meet, but as PDP, we have not called for meeting. The thing is we will call for meeting after we finish with the consultation we are making. I have said there is no sacrifice too much to make for the PDP. And this PDP is the party for all Nigerians. It does not belong to Ali Sheriff or any governor. Neither does it belong to any minister. Therefore, it is wrong for me or anybody to sit down and assume the authority of having the party for himself.
I want to believe that at my level, I don’t think it will be right for me to make statements that cannot be justified in anyway because parties have constitutions; they run with rules and laws. All along that we were in court, if you watch carefully, I always acted within the rule of law. Therefore, if Makarfi wanted to take the laws into his hands, I will not be part of those that will do it. And I don’t intend to join issues with him ever.
You have talked about consultations and that some heavyweights have been writing to you. Who are those with you? Are there any governors or members of the BoT with you?
Let me tell you clearly that as of today, since the announcement of this court judgement, I have spoken to more than seven governors, I have spoken to a lot of the BoT members, I have spoken to a lot of former governors. Their views and mine are all the same. I have told everybody that all I am interested in is to do a convention. When we agree on a time frame, I will consult the National Assembly and others and we will do the convention.
I don’t want us to start destroying our party on the pages of newspapers or the media. When they invited me to come and lead the party, I took it with all good intentions. Therefore, if along the line there are misunderstanding here and there, the best way is to resolve the issues amicably; it is not on the television we would come and exchange words.