- Ali Modu Sheriff says if he is a mole as claimed by Governor Nyesom Wike, then the latter should be held responsible for allowing him run the party affairs
- The former governor of Borno state says he is no longer interested in being the chairman of the PDP, but that he wants to put the right things in place before leaving
- He also speaks on Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state and responds to calls that he should leave the seat of the chairman of the party
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 Channels Television on Sunday, February 19, 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.
You said you're willing to make sacrifices, but how much sacrifice are you willing to make? Can you step down for peace?
In party leaderships, you have to conduct a congress. When I say I am ready to make sacrifices, I don't intend to run the tenure that was prescribed for me at all. Since there are arguments, the best way is to resolve them amicably. I heard when you asked Wike a question relating to a statement attributed to me. I have not made any statement except one. I have no issue to join with Wike or Fayose and have never said I will deal with them. I was a governor; both of them are governors of their states. I know the writers (of that statement) and they are the same people who are causing this trouble but I don't want to join issues with them. I did not make the statement.
One of the allegations from Wike is that you are a mole in the PDP and you don't have the interest of the party at heart. It is believed you are being used by the APC to destabilise the PDP. One will wonder, why are you doing that?
You should have asked him if it was the PDP that sent him to come and ask me to lead the party. He was among the people who invited me. So if I am a mole, he was the one that made the provision for me to be a mole in the PDP, because I remember very well that Wike was on the front-burner for me to be the chairman of the PDP. So where does the issue of mole come since I didn't bring myself?
Wike says one of the biggest political mistakes he has ever made is approaching you...
If he said that, it means he knows I am not a mole. Probably, he invited me thinking I will take instructions from him to run the party. At my level, I have my mind. I looked at the Nigerian people and the party and accepted to lead the party. I want to tell you clearly that I have nothing to do with the APC because it was not the APC that came to beg me, it was him and some of his colleagues that came to beg me to lead the PDP.
I was really taken aback by some of the statements I heard from Wike.
Now that the appeal court has affirmed you as the chairman, what is your immediate next step?
The next step for me is to move to the party office. The second is to make zonal consultations and try to make sure we agree on a timetable for a quick convention that will produce leaders of the party acceptable to everybody. I am not interested in leading the party any longer, but since the responsibility was put on me to lead the party, I must make sure it goes through a convention and ensure the right things are done. I don't have any other agenda rather than to make sure I conduct a convention.
Should you lose at the Supreme Court right now, what would you do?
Even this judgement that has come from the Court of Appeal, I actually left the justices of the court to decide who is right and who is wrong. I have never said to anybody that I have an iota of information of what would happen tomorrow. It is not like when Wike said he was going to win at the Supreme Court when the tribunal and the Court of Appeal nullified his election. He is telling Nigerians that he has the control of the Supreme Court, but I don't believe so. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land and will make pronouncements based on the facts before it. And I believe that the Supreme Court will make pronouncements based on what they have seen from the Court of Appeal being the second highest court in the land.
I want to tell you that I am law-abiding citizen.
Have you spoken with former President Goodluck Jonathan since the judgement? What is your relationship with the Prof Jerry Gaba committee?
I want to tell you I have not spoken to President Jonathan yet. When this judgement was passed, I was not even around. I plan to speak with President Jonathan probably tomorrow (today, Monday 20), but the vice president, Namadi Sambo, has called me to speak with me. I have met with General Babangida. I have spoken to a lot of leaders with the view to finding a lasting solution to our party's problem.
I am not afraid of any litigation. The justices of the appeal court have made pronouncements and by the grace of God, other justices would also look at the merit of the case and make judgement.