The first reconciliatory step was the granting of amnesty to its former chairman and factional leader, Ali Modu Sheriff, and his supporters yesterday by the National Caretaker Committee of the party.
At a press briefing in Abuja, the Makarfi-led caretaker committee stated that it had resolved not to sanction Sheriff for the role he played in the party’s crisis because of the need to bring all members on board.
The Spokesman for the Caretaker Committee, Dayo Adeyeye, who briefed the press, said the crisis was a very agonising experience which the party would not want to suffer again.
He said that although the Supreme Court held that the caretaker committee has powers to take any decision for the party, it had decided to extend hands of peace and cooperation to Sheriff and his loyalists.
“Our hands are fully extended to Sheriff and his loyalists. We want to give them full embrace. We won’t draw any battle line. It is normal for parties to have crises. We have granted a general amnesty to everybody, particularly on offences committed before and during this crisis. We will only punish people for fresh offences. We want all to come in. There will be no sanctions. We are even extending our hands to those who have left the party.”
On how the PDP would handle the crises in many of its state chapters, Adeyeye said: “We will do justice to all. There are people illegally occupying some seats now in the states. But we are going to do justice. We also appeal to all those who have cases in court at state levels to withdraw them. Nigerians are now happy with us because the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has become a monumental disaster.”
Adeyeye boasted that the 2019 election would be a walkover for the PDP. “They will now see virile opposition. We have given them two full years without opposition, we will bring out the evils of this government,” he said
In a reaction yesterday, Sheriff outlined issues that would form the basic talking points in the search for genuine reconciliation in the party.
The Spokesman of his faction, Bernard Mikko, stated that although it was shocked by the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment, it was still waiting to study the full copy of the written verdict.
The faction said it would continue to insist on the full return of the party structure to the people so that they, and not godfathers or jobbers, should elect representatives and candidates.
Sheriff maintained that the institutionalisation of internal democracy remains the irreducible basic demand of his group for their future with PDP, adding that impunity and all manner of imposition must be done away with if the party would forge ahead in unity and strength.
Meanwhile, ahead of the 2019 poll, the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives has issued the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC a notice to start preparing to leave power.
House Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, who briefed reporters at the end of the caucus meeting noted that going by events in the last two years, as far as governance was concerned, the Aso Rock seat of government would surely be vacant in 2019.
He expressed optimism that Nigerians can now make informed judgement that the PDP-led administration was far better than the APC government in terms of achievements of both parties.
“There is vacancy in Aso Rock in 2019. It is an earlier quit notice that they should start packing their loads because we are moving in after our reorganisation,” Ogor said.
Applauding the Supreme Court judgement, he remarked that the PDP had learnt a lot of lessons from the crises that nearly took the party out of existence.
Calling on members of the party, especially those who defected or went astray during the impasse, to come together to build a stronger party, the lawmakers maintained that the crisis should be seen as a family squabble in which there is no victor, and no vanquished.
He noted: “We have learnt our lessons no matter how you look at them. We consider this victory for democracy. It has gone a very long way to strengthen the democratic principles and ethos, and it is one great opportunity for us to congratulate all PDP members who stood firm in the midst of the crisis.
This shows once more that the party must be more democratic in all its internal affairs. “One major lesson we have learnt in this exercise is that we must do everything possible to strengthen our internal democracy. We will also work hand in hand to make sure that this party stands and belongs to the people”
“The PDP which is the largest party in Africa shall aspire for a more perfect union of the Nigerian people. You all have seen clearly the challenges that have befallen us as a people and we must work to avert the confusion and crises of the past two years of the APC government,” Ogor stated.
The national leadership of the PDP declared support for the quit notice served on Buhari administration by the lawmakers for not performing well.
The party’s spokesman, Adeyeye, in a telephone interview with The Guardian later yesterday said that the lawmakers were very free to express their views on any issue.
“Members of our caucus in the National Assembly are independent; they are free. We are a democratic party ; we are not like the APC.
“These people are elected representatives of the people and they form a caucus of the party there. They have absolute freedom to express their views as they deem fit. We don’t gag our people. That is why the PDP is popular. They don’t need to take orders from us,” he added.
In Borno State yesterday, members of APC thronged the party’s secretariat in Maiduguri to celebrate the judgement that declared Makarfi as authentic leader of PDP against Sheriff.
Addressing the APC supporters, the state chairman, Ali Bukar Dalori said the sacking of Sheriff by the apex court clearly indicated the vindication of the government and people of Borno.”
He alleged that the embattled Sheriff sees himself as the only politician that can challenge Governor Kashim Shettima and his people in any elective contest at the state and council levels.
His words: “We want to seize this opportunity to tell the whole world that Sheriff’s political strength has come to an end. We had tried our best to ensure that we remained in the same party with Sheriff, but due to his pomposity and attitude to look down on anybody, we had to chase him out of APC.
“It is unfortunate that even when he found a soft landing and became national chairman of PDP, he remained a stumbling block with not only Makarfi, leaders and founding fathers of the party, but the entire PDP family.”