How Sheriff entered secretariat is unbecoming of a good leader – Dayo Adeyeye
The latest is the Court of Appeal judgment that favoured Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and all the organs took a decision to appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court.
So we are already at the Supreme Court. Leaders of the party, including former President Goodluck Jonathan, have also decided to wade into the crisis and seek a political solution to it. We are very open to that as well, but that will not disturb the matter at the Supreme Court because we want the apex court to decide the matter one way or the other.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has asked the court to jail you, Makarfi and others for refusing to honour the judgement of the Court of Appeal. Are you scared of going to jail?
Of course, I won’t go to jail. It is a mad and idiotic move. It will not lead to anything; it is just out of desperation and brigandage. What contempt of court have we committed? These are undemocratic elements. When we had a favourable court judgment in Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and some courts in Abuja, he kept parading himself as the National Chairman. We never asked court to jail him for contempt. We are not afraid. It is highly unbecoming of somebody of his stature. Anyway, considering the kind of people he has surrounded himself with, I’m not surprised that he took that kind of action. It is a huge joke.
Sheriff and his loyalists have accused you and others of disparaging the integrity of the judiciary with your comments and actions.
How have we disparaged the judiciary? He has been the one trying to discredit the judiciary. They are trying to disparage the judiciary by obtaining all sort of judgments from court, trying to drag the judiciary to the political arena at all cost. We were supposed to have a peaceful convention in Port Harcourt but they went to the court to take all sorts of order. He is trying to ridicule the judiciary because that is a political issue. I have been a National Publicity Secretary for many organisations from my days in Afenifere, Alliance for Democracy and all of that, I have not seen where people go to court over all sorts of flimsy excuses. Were they not the one that almost prevented the party from fielding a candidate in Edo and Ondo states governorship elections using all tricks? They did not allow the party to take necessary steps; they tried to paralyse the activities of the party using the court. Courts are not happy about these because they are being dragged into the political arena.
What would you do if the judgement of the Supreme Court still does not favour you? Are you going to work with Sheriff?
We will cross the bridge when we get there but I know the Supreme Court will favour us. If it doesn’t favour us, we will take a collective decision on what to do.
We hear that some people in Makarfi’s faction are already saying that should that happen, they will never work with Sheriff. Does that mean that leaving the party for another one or forming a new mega party is in the offing?
Nobody has taken that kind of decision and when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. We are not ready to preempt the court. In politics, a day is a very long time. So we have plenty of time to think on what to do.
Has it ever occurred to your group to float a new party?
Floating a new party is always on the card for any political party. People align and realign all the time. The All Progressives Congress only came into being about three years ago. Before, it was AD, Action Congress and Action Congress of Nigeria. Alignment and realignment is what we have to live with in this present political dispensation. Our democracy is evolving; we are still at infant stage. Because of that, ideology is not playing any role in our political alignment. And because ideology is not playing any role, it is easy for politicians to move around. You see them moving forth and back to political parties. So the issue of alignment and realignment will continue for a considerable long time.
You have consistently said that Sheriff is acting the script of his paymasters to destroy the PDP. Why do you keep saying that when we all know that he is a PDP member?
Has sheriff for one day criticised the APC over any matter? As the leader of the opposition, neither he nor his henchmen have seen anything wrong in the government. Instead, you see some of his henchmen using paid adverts to praise the Federal Government to high heaven. I don’t want to say more than that. Who is dictating the tune they are dancing to?
Just like you have accused the APC of having a hand in the PDP crisis; are you saying that it was the APC that suggested Sheriff’s name to Governor Fayose, Governor Wike and others who initially insisted that Sheriff must be made chairman?
Governors Fayose and Wike have since apologised for bringing him on board. It is a mistake and anybody can make a mistake. Maybe they didn’t know the man fully well and they have apologised for that and I understand them. They might not know he was an agent of APC and maybe after that, he willingly offered himself to the ruling party and they thereby acquired him as their agent, we don’t know. It is something journalists can investigate. But what we know certainly is that these people are not behaving like true PDP members.
You have been accusing the police of taking sides in the matter but some people will wonder how since it is Sheriff that has been recognised by the Appeal Court as the authentic chairman. Are you saying that the police should disobey the court order?
There was a meeting we had with the former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, when the problem started in the secretariat. The agreement then was that anybody that got a favourable judgment in the pending judgment then before the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, would be handed over the secretariat. When the judgment was delivered and it favoured us, Sheriff appealed against the judgment and the police reneged on that agreement. The excuse then was Sheriff had appealed. Now that the Court of Appeal judgment favoured him and we have appealed, why didn’t the police wait for the outcome of the appeal at the Supreme Court? For the police to give him escort and provide security for him at the secretariat is very wrong. That shows their partiality in the matter. Since we have filed an appeal and our lawyer has written the police to that effect, they should maintain the status quo ante. The keys to the secretariat are in the hands of the chairman of the Board of Trustees and Sheriff did not apply for them. He simply went to the secretariat to break the doors and forcibly entered the secretariat. Is that a good example of a chairman that wants to recommend his party to Nigerians? The PDP is not a lawless party and a leader worth his onions would not behave that way. He could seek legal process that would ensure his peaceful entry without breaking doors. He could as well approach the BoT chairman with the judgment to obtain the keys but he did nothing of such. That act is unbecoming of a man of his stature. That is extremely damaging to the image of the PDP. That is why we said these people do not truly represent the new spirit of the PDP.
It appears that the PDP is equally divided over the matter with more people said to be declaring support for Sheriff, including a senator from Ekiti State. How would you respond to that?
The senator from Ekiti; was she not with Sheriff before? The Court of Appeal judgment has suddenly emboldened some people who were hiding their support for Sheriff to suddenly come into the open. Let me tell you, Sheriff is not the issue. In some cases, some of these people see Sheriff as the symbol of their struggle. Not that they are so much in love with Sheriff. It is not true that a lot of people are declaring support for Sheriff. Two days after the judgment, all the national organs of the party, including the governors and BoT, met and took decisions against Sheriff. Let me tell you, 99 per cent of the party is not with Sheriff. Where is he drawing the support from? With the Court of Appeal judgment, one would have expected people to start running to him to pledge their loyalty but that did not happen. Instead, the local chapter of PDP in Borno held a rally and said they would never support him as the chairman. They declared their support for the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi. He is not even accepted in his home state. I have not seen movement towards his side.
How would you respond to allegations that both factions of the PDP – Sheriff and Makarfi – have been buying court judgments like the High Court judgments in Lagos and Port Harcourt?
We did not buy any judgment; our case is very apt. If you read the dissenting judgment in the Appeal Court, you will see that reasoning will prevail at the Supreme Court. That opinion is very sound. But let’s wait for the Supreme Court judgment. It is never in our character to buy judgment.
The Makarfi-led faction of the PDP has consistently described Sheriff as a mole. What do you have to prove this?
There is no faction in PDP because Sheriff actually sued the PDP. It is Sheriff vs PDP, so he recognised us as the main representative of the PDP. The fact speaks for itself. If you are a leader of the party and you have not seen anything wrong in the ruling party, how do we win in 2019 for God’s sake? After we lost the Edo governorship election, you rejoiced openly. When we lost in Ondo, they were eager to rush to the press to say yes we lost. Do I need further to prove that these people are moles in the party?
Can you ever work with Sheriff?
It is not a personal issue. That will be a collective opinion.
Since the governors have agreed to pursue a political solution, would your group pursue it?
The political solution has always been there. At a time I and Senator Makarfi visited Sheriff in his office to show him our goodwill and expressed resolve to seek political solution to end the crisis, but all our efforts were rebuffed. We are ready for it. If there is a political solution, I too will be willing.
What do you think will be the conditions for political solution?
I cannot say for now. In seeking political solution, there will be give and take. We would do what will be in collective interest of the party so that we can be well positioned to challenge for power in 2019.
What are your offers?
I don’t want to make it public because that could erode the confidence in negotiation. The possibility of achieving a meaningful resolution will be very slim.
Are we seeing the end of the crisis in the nearest future?
We will soon see the end of the crisis. I don’t think it will last more than six months. The litigation is already at the Supreme Court, one way or the other the apex court will deliver judgment. Once the judgment is delivered, whether it favours us or Sheriff, people will make up their mind on what to do. Don’t forget we all came as individuals to join the party, so people can chose who to work with or whether to leave the party. They may even decide to cross to other political parties.
A senator from Ogun recently accused you of being a willing tool in the hands of Governor Ayodele Fayose because of your governorship ambition. Do you agree with him?
People know that I, Dayo Adeyeye, cannot be a willing tool in the hands of anybody; I can only be a willing tool in the hands of God Almighty. I have seen a lot. I’m one of the politicians in this country who have suffered more than others. I have reached a level where I cannot be afraid. Whatever ambition I have can only be achieved through God. I have had some of the worst experiences in politics. I have put my hope and trust in God Almighty only. Human beings are pen in the hands of God. Governor Fayose is my political ally; he is my governor, I have nothing against him and we have excellent working relationship. I commend him for his services to the state and the party and for being a good voice for the opposition. So anybody making inflammatory statement to put a wedge between us is wasting his time. I respect Governor Fayose; that is it.
What advice do you have for your party members?
My advice for party members is that they should remain steadfast. They should entertain no fears and remember that God is a God of justice. They should continue to pray to God, we shall be victorious at the end of the day.