The chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, said yesterday that any group could be behind the reported attempt to register a party called the Advanced Peoples Democratic Party (APDP).
Makarfi, who said he was not aware of plans to float the new political party, said democracy gave people the freedom to pursue such goals.
Also, Sen. Walid Jibrin, who is the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), denied knowledge of plans by the Makarfi faction to float the new party.
The news of the plans to register the Advanced PDP filtered last week when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who had been quiet on issues relating to the crisis in the PDP, made a suggestion that a political solution should be found as a way out of the impasse.
The Makarfi faction of the PDP, which has the support of the PDP governors, BoT, ex-ministers and a section of the Senate and House of Representatives caucuses of the party, has vowed to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Appeal Court, which recognised Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic chairman of the party.
Makarfi, in a text message yesterday, said: “I’m not aware of that. We live in a free, democratic country, so any group can aspire to that, not necessarily the caretaker committee.”
On his part, Sen. Jibrin said: “When that kind of thing is decided, all organs of the party must be put in the picture.”
While calling for caution by those making such moves, the BoT chairman said, “I don’t want anything that will boomerang.”
Asked if the BoT will give its support when the matter is formally presented to it for endorsement, he said: “If they bring it, I will call for a BoT meeting and inform them, once members take a decision, I will abide by the decision.”
Asked if he would want the application for registering the Advanced PDP to be withdrawn until the BoT decides on the matter, Walid said: “Do you stop any individual or group from doing what they want? All I am saying is that the BoT has not been informed. They are doing that on their own without the voice of the party and the backing of the BoT.”
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that a top official of the PDP said they had approached the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the registration.
He said that INEC initially resisted the move to register the new party by arguing that it would be wrong for the commission to register a party with similar name with the PDP.
The source, who would not want his name in print, said the commission later accepted the application for registration of the new party last week.
“We are making alternative efforts to register a new political party ahead of the 2019 elections. Initially, INEC was trying to dismiss it on the ground that the new name had the PDP in it, but we pointed out to them that our party is different in that it has ‘Advanced’ added to the PDP, which is not the same as PDP,” he said.
However, the National Legal Adviser of Sheriff’s faction, Barrister Bashir Maidugu, said they would resist any attempt to register the new party by dragging those behind the move and INEC to court.
He explained that the PDP was a legally registered and recognised political party which ruled the country for 16 years, insisting that duplicating its name in whatever guise would not stand.
The legal adviser said the best option for Makarfi and his group was to “return to the mainstream PDP” and support the Sheriff-led leadership in line with the Appeal Court’s judgement, so that a national convention could be held for new leaders to emerge.
“INEC should avoid complicating the issues by not registering any political group with the name PDP, in order to deepen democracy in the country. We are recognised legally by the Court of Appeal and all law abiding citizens should abide by the decision of the court. Anything contrary to this is contemptuous,” he said.
INEC’s spokesman, Mr. Nick Dazang had said on Friday that, “The commission has received not less than 70 applications from associations seeking registration and it is processing them. The association you mentioned must be one of them,” he said.
The National Reconciliation Committee of the PDP, headed by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, has recommended second quarter of this year for the national convention of the party.
This followed its adoption of the resolution of the meeting between former President Jonathan and the PDP governors, which suggested political solution as the best option for resolving the leadership crisis rocking the party.