The Deputy Chairman in Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff’s camp, Cairo Ojuogboh warned that their camp would challenge in court any national convention carried out by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, adding that the planned convention scheduled for August 17 in Port Harcourt would be an exercise in futility if things are not put in the right perspective.
Ojuogboh, who was optimistic that the crisis in the party would yield positive result, added that PDP has enough time to correct the ills damaging the party, but, however, warned elected governors to stop using government money for political purposes, as such aberration was what put the PDP where it is today.
Explaining the implication of Port Harcourt judgment and the position of Sheriff, Ojuogboh pointed out that the judgment in Port Harcourt was influenced and bought, adding that “the Emperor of Ikwere specifically procured that judgment. The emperor of Ikwere and his cohorts want to inherit the PDP. That is why leaders of the party like the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson and Chief E.K. Clark called for caution and called for political solution to the lingering crisis.”
The former South-south National Vice Chairman further said that as a student of political solution, he has always advocated for it, adding, “we believed that reason should prevail and unfortunately because of the enormous amount of money that the Emperor of Ikwere has, he was able to whip people into line according to his thinking but Sheriff has said no. I believe in the rule of law and I want to return the party to the people, the grass root and that is where we are.
And we are ready to continue with the political solution and negotiation if it were possible. But as it is now, we are also ready to continue the legal process because when the courts returns, whatever they are doing we are sure that the Nigerian judiciary is upright; will not accept bribe and then the court of appeal and the Supreme Court will do the needful.”
“We thank God that we have time. We the members of the PDP all over the country are not in a hurry. We still have between now and 2018 for us to correct the ills in the party because if we hurriedly go into convention now, the same mistakes that made us to lose in Benue, Jigawa, Plateau, Katsina, Niger, where we had governors will also re-occur and PDP will still lose in 2019. So, we want to use this opportunity to appeal to the right thinking Nigerians, the masses to be patient with Sheriff because Sheriff is the agent of change.”
Debunking the allegation that Sheriff was foisted on the people by the governors, in order to oppress PDP members, Ojuogboh explained that even if that was the agenda of the governors, the former Borno State governor is wiser than that and his disposition is to bring change and checkmate impunity in the party.
He said: “That is why we have always said that God does not make mistakes. Remember Paul in the Bible. He was persecuting Christians, but somewhere along the line he changed and he became one of the biggest and greatest apostles of Christ; today Sheriff is the agent of change. They brought Sheriff to use him to oppress the poor masses of the PDP but somewhere along the line Sheriff said no, I am an agent of change, promising to revisit the congresses in Benue, Rivers and Delta states.”
He noted that Sheriff’s mindset is to have a party that is credible, the reason why he has to quarrel with the governors, insisting that the party must return to the grass root and “not where a governor will sit down in his state, in his office and write names for wards, local government and state congresses and still inherit some states where we do not have governors.”
Asked if Sheriff has the capability and acceptability to carry out the needed change, the Deputy Chairman argued that the fact that no leader of the party spoken against him shown that Sheriff is accepted.
“How many members of the PDP have you seen address the press to say Sheriff should stay or go or not to go? Can’t you see there is a deafening silence, the grass root are waiting for Sheriff to win. They are waiting for Sheriff to return so that the party would become what we desire. Have you seen any leader of the PDP apart from some few persons who believe in the emperor of Ikwere because they have money. Have you seen any other person from any part of the country calling on Sheriff to say this and that or up and down; all what everybody is saying is Sheriff look we are behind you. Sheriff gets at least 5,000 calls from Nigerians and from the Diaspora to say look we are waiting for 2019 and we want a party that is representative of everybody.”
On the planned national convention by Makarfi-led national caretaker committee, Ojuogboh said that court interpretation and pronouncement is what they are waiting for, adding, “If they think that they are going to have a convention like that – all well and good. Sheriff is a respecter of the rule of law. We will wait until the courts resume and we will go and ask the court, you said that the rest should be rest, now the rest is no longer rest, what do we do? And then the courts will adjudicate and then we will take it from there.
“Like I told you, we have from now till 2018, so whatever they get out from whatever convention they think they have, we will challenge it since they do not want to listen to us so that reason should prevail.
He explained that Sheriff has appealed the Port Harcourt High Court judgment, but noting that the case of Edo and Ondo, the court has made pronouncement that it is only Sheriff, the PDP chairman that can bring candidates.
“The issue of Edo or Ondo does not even arise because the court has given a position that it is only Sheriff who can bring the candidate and that particular interlocutory order has not been vacated, it will only be vacated on the 25th of October and if INEC make the mistake that it is making now, INEC would be ridiculed and that is what we have said,” he said.
Ojuogboh cautioned politicians to stop using government money for political purposes, adding, “Governors should stop it. We have asked PDP governors not to because the party is very big, we want to harness our potentials so that the little money we contribute can be used to run the party. The population is huge, people appreciate the PDP, what we are asking for is allow the PDP to run as a political party. A governor should mind governance and allow the political party to run the party.”
Asked to speak on the call for Sheriff and Makarfi to step down for an independent person to preside over the planned convention, the former South-south Vice Chairman. Said, “of course when that position was advocated, Makarfi said no. Makarfi is holding on tenaciously to an illegal position, Makarfi I have ever respected. What sheriff has said and he has repeated it before everybody is that Makarfi and his group should step down and himself would step down, so that they can join hands to nominate the persons to conduct the convention which is what a gentleman can do. Right now, from what is on ground, if we go to a convention with it, the PDP will fail in 2019.”
Speaking further he said: “Makarfi is not in the position to call Sheriff to bring his list. When Makarfi is ready, he will call Sheriff to say I am bringing my list and then we will give him soft landing; it is Sheriff who will give Makarfi soft landing.
Asked if he had solicited the intervention of the immediate past President in the crisis since he is one of the major beneficiaries of the PDP, Ojuogboh said, “Yes, the immediate past President is from my zone, the South-South and he is one of my leaders, I respect him, I love his candor, I love him as a human being and yes I have been in contact with him and he is also equally looking for a balanced position.”
Defending the allegation that his name was listed as one of the PDP stalwarts, who wants to contest the party chairman’s slot, Ojuogboh said, “that is to tell you that I am not a soldier of fortune; I am a determined person and I don’t sell out, I am not a betrayer. Wherever I am that is where I am, you can always find me there and that is how my parent brought me up.
“I am very proud to say and I repeat, money means nothing to me, I don’t take bribe and I don’t give bribe. And that is why people can write petitions against me to the EFCC, to anywhere, they should call me any day any time anywhere, I will go there. I have never awarded contract in this country and I have never been awarded one. If staying with Sheriff will rob me of political position or anything, so be it and I am ready to die so because I believe that I am on the right path. I will not be swayed by money from Rivers state, I don’t need the money.”
On the allegation that All Progressives Congress is behind Sheriff to destabilize the PDP, the Deputy Chairman said that the position of INEC and the judgments from the courts attested to the fact that nobody from the ruling party is behind Sheriff.
He said: “God is wonderful, He is great and He is omnipotent. Before now, people were saying APC was sponsoring Sheriff. From what has happened, the supposedly INEC interpretation of the court judgments, from what is coming out from the court cases, does it look like APC is supporting Sheriff? It is now clear to Nigerians and the entire world that Sheriff is fighting from the point of law and fighting for the people of Nigeria.
As for the governors supporting Sheriff, every time you see the gathering of these usurpers, watch which governors are not there, any governor that you see is not there is supporting Sheriff. And let me tell you, watch the leaders in this country, any person that is not among them is supporting Sheriff. And let me tell you, Sheriff is the authentic chairman and he remains so.