PDP, Sheriff and Markafi: Quo Vadis? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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PDP, Sheriff and Markafi: Quo Vadis?

James Onanefe Ibori
Posted: Jul 8, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tiko Okoye

One man arguably recovered fastest from the unexpected heavy electoral defeat his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suffered in the hands of the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 presidential election. That man was the national chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu, who immediately relinquished his position.

But the remaining NEC and NWC members refused to follow his example and would have probably succeeded in wobbling and fumbling their way, under Uche Secondus as Acting Chairman, until when an increasingly elusive national convention is finally held. That was until Ahmed Gulak, former political adviser to President Jonathan, decided to rock the boat by proceeding to court to seek a declaration that he was the authentic national chairman of the party.

The high-octane pressure mounted on the party by way of Gulak’s unexpected court victory finally stampeded the party into adopting ‘palliative measures.’ Those who consider themselves to be the owners of the party (read PDP state governors) decided to start from the known-knowns to the unknown-unknowns. Their strategy seemed to make a lot of sense; allot the 2019 presidential ticket to the North to counterbalance a presumptive Buhari candidacy and allot the chairmanship position to the North-East to enable the geopolitical zone serve out Mu’azu’s truncated tenure.

Surprisingly, PDP chieftains from the South-East who have been crying the loudest about appointments by President Buhari being skewed in favour of northerners didn’t see anything wrong with both the chairmanship and presidential slots being zoned to the North when the South-East and South-South provided over 80 percent of the party’s support.

Be that as it may, the next step was to seek a man with very deep pockets who could bankroll the party’s ‘Towards 2019’ campaign mobilization efforts. As far as Governors Ayo Fayose, Olusegun Mimiko, Nyesom Wike and former Akwa Ibom State Governor and now Senator, Godswill Akpabio, were concerned, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, a former two-term governor of Borno State and one of the founding fathers of the APC, perfectly fitted the bill. Despite loud grumblings about his fitness for the office from concerned sections of the party, a national convention was hurriedly fixed to hold in Port Harcourt in which Sheriff was to be crowned.

But it all went awfully wrong on convention day. We now know that the “I-go-die-for-am” attitude his promoters were manifesting was due to the fact that Sheriff had promised the running mate ticket to each of them. Their shock and anger can only be imagined after they discovered on the eve of the convention that Sheriff had when all those concerned realized that Sheriff had been selling them a dummy all the while! Smart guy, this Sheriff!

But just as there’s no fury like a woman scorned, there’s no also angst like a politician played for a mugu. When Sheriff read the handwriting on the wall, he tried to scuttle the convention while his friends-turned-adversaries thought otherwise and appointed a caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the party till the next convention. It was now left to the courts to untie the Gordian knot.

That’s when the real judicial kokoma dance started! High courts of coordinate jurisdiction across the width and breadth of the nation started granting mutually exclusive orders! A Federal High Court in Abuja and another in Lagos ruled that Sheriff was in effect still the national chairman in the eyes of the law (on the basis of which the Police High Command allowed him to gain entry to Wadata Plaza). Not so, declared another in Port Harcourt which ruled that the Caretaker Committee was validly appointed by a properly constituted convention and that Sheriff is no longer the chairman in the eyes of the same law!

The problem is that all these courts have coordinate jurisdiction and cannot really sit in appeal on the judgements of brother judges as they have obviously done. The real tragedy is that most of those involved in this macabre jurisprudential drama are lawyers and know for a fact that they are simply forum shopping and embarking on a wilful abuse of court process but don’t give a hoot as long as there are still judges available for hire.

PDP chieftains are well advised to demonstrate a tangible sense of sincerity and empathy if their party must survive the injurious headwinds engineered by Sheriff and not go the way of the dinosaurs. For crying out loud, the man must be given a soft landing that would enable him save face – such as harmonization of key offices.