The Sheriff Court Of Appeal Victory And The Implications – By Kissinger Ikeokwu

First of all I would like to congratulate Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his group for their victory at the Court of Appeal Port Harcourt. However you look at it, this judgment is necessary as it would give a sense of direction clear from the situation of chaos, confusion and uncertainty which hitherto had pervaded the leading opposition party in Nigeria the PDP. The Judgment of the Court of Appeal is progress no matter how one looks at it. First it has moved the party’s leadership crisis beyond the realms of the conflicting Federal High Court decisions and placed it on a path where the highest Court of the land would make a final pronouncement on the matter.
 
The second point is that it streamlines who should occupy the various secretariats of the party and run its affairs pending any contrary decision. With this Court of Appeal victory by the Sheriff group, there cannot be the existent of factional leadership until there is something to the contrary.  Sheriff remains the National Chairman of the PDP until something new happens.
 
I am a member of the PDP and of the Makarfi group as at today. Like every other party member, I have become fed up with the leadership crisis in the PDP which has become beneficial only to their enemies. When the leadership crisis could not be resolved, everybody had looked up to the Court of Appeal Pot Harcourt who after adoption in December, 2016 reserved their judgment to a date to be communicated to the parties.  Then came the news that the 17th day of April would be the decisive date. Everybody within the party looked up to that day so that it will give a clear direction as to on whose shoulders lies the affairs of the only chance of a viable opposition to the current ruling APC for now. The judgment shook all pundits as it went in favour of the Sheriff camp.
 
As a member of the PDP and of the Makarfi group, I reaffirm my congratulation to the Sheriff Camp for their victory in the Court of Appeal. The reason is that I believe there is only one PDP. I looked up to the day the Courts would decide so that everyone would come under one umbrella. Ordinarily, I would have been happier if this verdict settles the matter and everyone come under one umbrella. This position is not without regards to the right of the Makarfi group to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.
 
But my hopes of a reconciliation enhanced by the judgment withered when I read the response credited to the man Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. The press release credited to Senator Sheriff as reported by Daily Tribune online “http://tribuneonlineng.com/no-room-wike-fayose-pdp-sheriff-%E2%80%A2well-fight-end-pdp-govs/” states that Sheriff’s main focus is to get rid of the two PDP Governors, Yesom Wike and Ayo Fayose of Rivers and Ekiti State who have been seen as the only vocal opposition to the APC administration. This report shows that there is nothing to celebrate yet.
 
If someone who is the PDP National Chairman does not want to work with Wike and Fayose, I wonder how far he can go with other timid governors who have refused to stand up and sponsor opposition against the ruling party.  After the verdict, I expected to see a rallying call by the victors to the other group. I expected a strong statement from the Sheriff executive sending a serious message to the ruling APC, but here they failed again. Directing their ammunition towards their fellow party members who they ought to rally together to build a strong opposition.
 
I have nothing against Senator Sheriff if the party decides he continues to be on the saddle. However I am worried that throughout the period of the crisis till date, no one from the Sheriff camp has come out or released a statement to question the policies and actions of the present administration. This fact makes one doubt the entire credibility of the Sheriff group and their ability to give a serious challenge to the APC.  It is an undisputable fact that in the midst of this crisis, the Makarfi group have demonstrated more zeal to checkmate the excesses of the ruling party than the Sheriff group. Even after the judgment, Senator Sheriff led executive has not given the slightest indication that he was ready to wrestle power from the APC, rather it resolved to deal with dissents in their own party.
 
The Makarfi group sure have right of appeal to the Supreme Court, but PDP cannot afford further long battles as we fast move into a period of political transition? With primaries and nomination of candidates to be held in 2018, PDP office holders and prospective aspirants are becoming increasingly nervous and insecure. With the Sheriff Court of Appeal victory, most of them are likely to pitch their tent with the Sheriff Camp who until the judgment is overturned holds the ace and the momentum at least for now. The Makarfi camp has a very serious decision to take even while they proceed to the Supreme Court. They have three line of actions to chose from. One is to tow the line of reconciliation under a Sheriff leadership and harmonize through sacrifice and compromises. Another choice is to seek alliances outside PDP. Lastly is to now fight their way up to the Supreme Court without parading themselves as factional leadership of the PDP following the Court of Appeal decision and pending the Supreme Court Judgment. Only time will tell.
 
However you look at it, the intrigues running into 2019 has just begun. I personally believe this protracted battle in the PDP is no longer going to benefit anyone. With the war set to move up to the Supreme Court, I think I have come to see the reality in the words of former President Obasanjo, when he said PDP is dead. Now I truly believe, Obasanjo may know something many of us are yet to know about.
 
If the verdict and Sheriff Leadership would make PDP stronger and re-engineer the party, let it be. But if it would make the opposition weaker, thereby creating a one party state as many have suggested, may it not stand.
 
Kissinger Ikeokwu a legal practitioner – Writes from Owerri, Imo State

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