The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has warned that any member of staff of the party that fails to heed his call to return to work may face disciplinary action.
The warning came as efforts to stem the raging crisis in the party saw the Standing Committee on Reconciliation headed by Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, tuesday submitting its report and recommending that a unity convention be held on June 30.
Sheriff whose warning came after the staff of the party had persistently rejected his overtures to drop their loyalty to the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the staff must remain apolitical and refrain from taking sides in the conflict.
A statement issued by the spokesman of the Sheriff leadership, Mr. Bernard Mikko, said: “Recent events and pronouncements of some members of staff under the guise of PDP Welfare Association have shown that they have breached their terms of employment and conditions of service and now engaging in the selection, determination and emergence of their bosses who are political leaders at the Wadata Plaza.”
Mikko, who described the Makarfi-led caretaker committee as a “dead dissident group,” said all staff should immediately get back to work as they are neither on trial nor involved in any crisis or litigation necessitating any form of political or legal solution to resolve.
“All staff of the PDP National Secretariat that have not resumed duties should immediately go back to work. This notice serves as another opportunity for the staff of the national secretariat to take advantage of the magnanimity of the leadership of Sheriff and resume duties in line with the press statement issued after the meeting of the National Working Committee,” he said.
Mikko warned that failure to heed the call by the leadership would attract disciplinary procedures.
He insisted that the current members of the NWC emerged through due process and established traditions in line with Article 47(6) of the PDP Constitution 2012 (As Amended).
“This is sequel to the voluntary resignation of some national officers of the party who have since collected their terminal benefits and deposed to an affidavit to that effect before the botched national convention in Port Harcourt on May 21, 2016.
“The belligerent stand and the series of communiques issued by some members of staff indicates clearly that they have positioned themselves in the center of political conflagrations involving their bosses against their terms and conditions of employment.
“The dissident group which they pretend to profess their loyalty had been proscribed by law and legally dead. Any attempt to resurrect a dead horse will only amount to superstition and largely futile. Sheriff and the entire NWC is committed to bringing the party to fame to the realisation of the dreams of the founding fathers and should be supported to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, the party’s Standing Committee on Reconciliation headed by Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, yesterday submitted its report, recommending that a unity convention be held on June 30.
In addition, the committee recommended the composition of a planning committee to include seven governors, seven senators, including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu, 12 members of the representatives, six Board of Trustees members, former governors, national vice chairmen, three state chairmen per a zone and six Speakers of House of Assemblies.
Others members of the proposed convention committee are former presiding officers of the National Assembly (who are still members of the party), six prominent Women Leaders, six Youth Leaders of the party, six former ministers of the party, and 12 others to be nominated by the national chairman in consultation with stakeholders.
Among the template set by the reconciliation committee is that the convention committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections to all national offices of the party including the zoning of such offices.
As part of the sacrifice to be made in order to reposition the party, the committee said that all national officers who may claim that their tenure still subsists beyond the proposed convention are hereby requested to relinquish their claim In the interest of the party.
The committee report also proposes that for the purpose of the convention, all officers elected at the ward, local, state and zonal levels before the first Port Harcourt convention of May 21 of 2016 are deemed validly elected except for the election held in some states that were declared by NEC as inconclusive.
“That the proposed national convention should hold as soon as possible and not later than 30th June 2017.”
Addressing journalists shortly after submitting his report to Sheriff, Dickson said his committee had been busy meeting with stakeholders of the party on ways to achieve peace, advised that leaders should explore all avenues for amicable settlement of the dispute rather than the resort to litigations.
He said the pursuit of legal options could be very divisive rather helping to resolve matters.
Dickson who said that his committee was set up under the former national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, regretted that in spite of their efforts that they have not be able to get all warring parties to be on the same page.
“But we feel that the realities facing the PDP now are such that making peace has become an imperative but for the party and the Nigerian democracy,” he said.
Asked whether the committee has been able to resolve the tricky issue of who presides over the convention, Sheriff or Makarfi, the governor said that as far his concern the matter has be resolved by the Court of Appeal.
He said the issue of who is in-charge of the party at the moment is not important but that all agrees that organizing a unity convention will put paid to the leadership.
He said notwithstanding the set-backs in getting all the parties to the conflict to be on same page, his committee will continue to engage the party leadership and all relevant stakeholders with a view to having a hitch free convention.
In his remarks. Sheriff said he and his NWC members would study the recommendations and make some amendments where necessary.
Earlier, while receiving a delegation of northern PDP stakeholders led by former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, the embattled party chairman said that if the contentious May 17, 2016 national convention, in Port Harcourt was held, it would have spelt a death sentence to the PDP.
On his sore relationship with some of the governors after he fell out with them, Sheriff declared: “At my level, I will never be a stooge to anybody in Nigeria.
“I never wanted to be chairman of PDP. I never bargained to be one. I was brought to reposition the party. When I came in PDP was drifting.”
Sheriff said he and his NWC would soon meet to approve a roadmap for the conduct of congresses in six states where the congresses did not hold before the crisis.
“We will round up consultations within two weeks and come up with firm programme for the party. The national convention will hold much sooner than what any one of you is thinking. I won’t contest but I will make sure that the right kind of people accepted by the generality of Nigerians are elected,” he added.