Sheriff is violent, he created Boko Haram – Makarfi reveals

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Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, the chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party and former governor of Kaduna state, in the interview with Vanguard reporter John Alechenu, speaks on the crisis within the opposition party, peace and reconciliatory efforts, as well as other issues of national importance.

Your committee took office at a very difficult time; how far have you gone with the assignment given to you especially in the area of reconciling aggrieved members?

We came in not because we sought for this position and not because we had any ambition. Our coming can be compared to that of the fire brigade service to put out the fire in the party. Unfortunately, the fire is still raging. Our mandate was to try to bring peace to the party and provide a level playing field where all disputes could be settled among those seeking for party positions or elective offices at the national level. We were also to conduct congresses in states where they could not take place or where there were parallel congresses and try to resolve their differences. That’s the mandate we had and it was a rather general consensus, not that it pleased everybody definitely, but you and I know what has been happening which has hampered our work for quite some time. Up till now, we are not there. We will not rest on our oars. Judicial pronouncements are helpful but they don’t cure political differences. Judicial pronouncements to show who may be right and who may be wrong will leave a deep scar and we want to avoid that as much as possible.

How is the committee dealing with the series of litigations pending in court and what efforts are you making to ensure that they do not ruin reconciliatory efforts?

When we came in, we met a number of litigations in court; some were pending, while some judgments had been entered and some with certain orders. Since our appointment, more court cases have been added to the old cases. This is not helpful. We have been making approaches not as a committee; because as a committee, we are representatives of the Board of Trustees, we are representing the National Assembly caucus, we are representing the Governors’ Forum, we are representing the overwhelming number of members of our party. I won’t say all because, I have not taken a census; maybe we are representing not less than 80 to 90 per cent of the membership of the party. We are not representing ourselves; we are representing organs of the party. The methodology we have adopted is that we, as a committee, we really don’t have anything to negotiate; these organs should constitute committees to approach the remaining aggrieved side — that is, Sen. Ali Sheriff’s side.

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Whatever resolutions are arrived at, we, as a committee, are ready to abide by them even if the resolutions require us to step down from our positions. We are not going to argue for one minute in the interest of the party. We are working for the party. For us, it is not a do-or-die matter. For us, any time the party requires us to step aside, we will do so without saying we were appointed by the convention for three months and the three months must come and go. That is the approach we have adopted. These organs have constituted committees; individuals on their own have been making vital contacts with the former chairman and those around him with a view to getting them to come to the table to find a political solution to this. That effort is on but it is regrettable that while this effort is going on, you see more cases being added to the ones we already have in court.

That really is not in the spirit of finding a political solution. But we will continue to ask these stakeholders to continue to seek an amicable solution through peaceful dialogue. This matter is not between this committee or a high-handed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff. No, we are representing the party. Whatever decision the party takes, we will implement. Like I said earlier, even if the party should today say, ‘In the interest of reconciliation, step down, we are doing something new,’ we will step down, and that is life. We will not be the first to step down if it gets to it. There were others who gave way years before us in the interest of the party. It will not be the first or the last. It is in this spirit that I am calling on my colleague, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and those around him, to take the path of peaceful resolution of this issue.

With the benefit of hindsight as a foundation member of this party, at what point would you say the PDP derailed?

The party derailed when we stopped consulting widely, when a few of us started usurping the authority to preside over everybody. You can’t know it all, no matter how old you are. If the organs of the party are allowed to perform their functions and we consulted widely, we would have avoided this. But we learn from our mistakes and we will not continue in that direction.

Some argue that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is to blame because he literarily handed over the party structure to state governors, who handpicked party leaders at the state level and also insisted on doing same at the national level. Having served as governor yourself, do you agree? 

No. If that was the case, in 2007, when governors were asked to choose a successor (for the then president) they chose a successor but the then president did not accept that. He picked the person that he wanted and we respected leadership and followed. If it was true that the president gave governors too much power, how come the president did not accept the people (the governors brought) and (he) brought some people else? Look, President Obasanjo was and is a good man, no matter what anybody says.

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He had and still has this capacity to negotiate; his doors open very early in the morning and remain open till late into the night in meeting different people and balancing various interests and that is what politics is all about. But when you have a situation where the minority will shout and have nothing and the majority will have their way, then there will be a problem. When Obasanjo was at the helm of affairs, people were accommodated, you might not have got all that you wanted, but people were being accommodated and I think that spirit of accommodation is what we require over time. I am not saying he was a perfect human being, I that am speaking to you am not perfect. We all have our imperfections and of course we can look at our areas of imperfections and make the necessary adjustments.

Sheriff and those around him have also accused you of having a presidential ambition which they claim is responsible for the standoff. What is your position on this?

Like I mentioned earlier, if the organs of the party say Makarfi, step aside, I assure you that within one second I will step aside. Will that be the attitude of someone who wants to use the office to further a presidential ambition? I went to Port Harcourt with my luggage in the car of my friend who came to pick me from the airport. I did not even have a hotel accommodation; I was late for a meeting. This thing (chairmanship of the caretaker committee) was entrusted with me unprepared. Is that how somebody who wants to use the position to pursue a presidential ambition goes about it? Is it how it works out? You and I know that is not the way it works.

READ ALSO: Sheriff accuses Makarfi, other top PDP member as being APC agents


Let’s look at it, who between the two of us appears desperate to remain as chairman? I am not insisting on remaining, I have said I can give way if that is what is required to bring peace to the party. I am not desperate for this. From his own reaction, who appears more desperate for it? I am not insisting, I have said I can give way, why is he not giving way? How can one say that it is because I have any kind of political ambition or aspiration? Remember the mandate is to stay for three months but I can do this in less than three months if given the chance.

Sheriff recently accused you of importing thugs to take over the party secretariat. How do you respond?

I am not a violent person and those who know me can testify that I have never been associated with violence in politics. He is the one who is known to have a history of political violence. He is the one known to have played a role in the creation of Boko Haram. He made the same malicious allegations before the former Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the State Security Service, which was disregarded after it was found to be baseless. I was there and then given additional official security (aides). You can check; the police had withdrawn his security (aides) because of his actions. They were returned after he pleaded and agreed to take the path of peace, a promise which he has reneged on.

The rest of the interview at Vanguard.

The post Sheriff is violent, he created Boko Haram – Makarfi reveals appeared first on Nigeria News today & Breaking news | Nigerian newspapers.

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