Battle weary Interim Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ahmed Makarfi and the former acting national chairman, Sen. Modu Ali Sheriff, appear to be ready for truce.
The duo whose fierce claims to the leadership of the party has sharply divided members down the line and forced the police to shut down the party’s secretariat for one week in the first instance, are scheduled to meet tomorrow for talks on resolving the crisis.
Police Inspector General Solomon Arase met with them in Abuja on Friday and told them to end their differences within one week.
He deployed his men to seal off the party’s secretariat for the period.
A highly-placed source said yesterday that the two factions agreed to meet tomorrow for reconciliation and harmonisation.
The source said: “Following a session with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase and the Director-General of the Department of State Security Service, Mallam Lawal Daura, we have opened up preliminary talks in which we agreed to meet on Monday.
“Neither Sheriff’s camp nor Makarfi’s group has named those who will represent the warring factions on Monday. We will send our list of representatives to the negotiation on or before Monday. Each group is still consulting on who should be part of its team.
“But in view of the bias of the leadership of the Board of Trustees, we don’t want them to play any role in brokering peace.”
Of the party’s 12 state governors, only two – Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) have openly identified with Sheriff, who is from their North-East zone.
Although 10 others are said to be “tactically” with Makarfi, two or three have allegedly pledged loyalty to Sheriff through subterranean channels.
Another party source said: “Governors Ishaku and Dankwambo have identified with Sheriff amidst pursuance of peace in the party. But the other 10 governors have been romancing Makarfi. A few of them however pay nocturnal allegiance to Sheriff. This is the type of politicking which is complicating the crisis in the party.”
Some of the governors allegedly against the candidature of Sheriff include Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti).
Senator Kashamu Buruji, who is one of the backers of Sheriff, has condemned Fayose’s role in the crisis in a letter to the BOT of PDP.
He said: “Some party leaders have all along been acting as a law unto themselves and carrying on with impunity irrespective of whether their actions are in the interest of the Party. Such actions, if not checked, could further stigmatize the Party as a lawless organization.
“It was Governor Fayose who came to me and said we should work for Senator Sheriff. He said I should start a heavy campaign because the governors had decided that he was the only one that could save the party.
“Yet, it was the same Governor Fayose that tricked his colleagues and hijacked the National Convention for his personal interests even in the face of obvious illegalities.”
Another party source said: “Governors Ishaku and Dankwambo have identified with Sheriff amidst pursuance of peace in the party.”
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has distanced itself from the two factions in PDP to avoid being accused of bias.
A top official of INEC said the commission has been relating with the most senior director at the PDP National Secretariat on correspondence and party matters.
He said the neutrality will remain until there is a definite decision by the court on the crisis in PDP.
“We took a decision not to deal with either Sheriff or Makarfi. We do not want to be dragged into politics.
“But on correspondence and any issue on political parties, we relate with the most senior director in PDP who will communicate all the groups.
“We are awaiting a definite pronouncement by the court on the challenge in PDP. If the court says we should go with A, we will go with A. If the court orders us to relate with B, we will comply.”