Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sheriff, Makarfi bicker over governors’ N50m stipend

ARE the party’s governors giving N50 million monthly to the Markarfi-led caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)? The accusation and counter accusation were being exchanged yesterday by the caretaker committee and the court-backed National chairman Ali Modu Sheriff. Deputy National Chairman Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, alleged that Makarfi’s opposition to the planned convention stemmed from a N50 million monthly subvention the caretaker committee has been collecting from the party’s governors. “They know that the N50 million monthly subvention Makarfi gets from the governors will stop after the reconciliation and convention. They know that as soon as the ongoing reconciliation pulls through they will no longer exist”, Ojougboh said. But spokesman of the Makarfi group Dayo Adeyeye described Ojougboh’s allegation as blackmail that is too cheap and too simplistic. “This is a lie from the pit of hell and a very cheap and unintelligent attempt at blackmail. It is a known fact by all critical stakeholders of the party and even the staff that the National Caretaker Committee have from inception been hamstrung by inadequate finance. “So much so that simple secretariat duties have been a struggle while we have been unable to pay staff salaries of just N18 million a month. Members of the National Caretaker Committee do not enjoy any remuneration. “The governors are all alive and are free to come forward and declare publicly their level of contributions to the National Caretaker Committee since May 21, 2016”, Adeyeye retorted. According to him, it’s normal for organs of the party to freely make contributions towards the running of the party, stressing that there is nothing illegal about receiving contributions from party members. “Our only regret is that these contributions have not been forthcoming as expected, given the heavy weight of responsibilities placed before us and especially the burden of having to deal with distractions caused by Senator Sheriff and his cohorts. “Nevertheless, no matter how little, it is better to be funded by our party members than by the All Progressive Congress (APC) as is the case with Senator Sheriff and his cohorts. “Dr. Cairo Ojougboh should tell us which APC governor, minister or official bought Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for them? Governor Fayose has also made a public allegation that Senator Sheriff had received $1 million from the APC to organise a new convention. Senator Sheriff is yet to publicly refute the allegation. “The only thing that matters to Dr. Ojougboh is his own selfish and personal interest to be Deputy National Chairman at all cost. If he is offered that position today by the party, he would not think twice to abandon Sheriff. He has no locus to speak or act on behalf of the party.” Makarfi also offered to resign his position and called on Sheriff to also quit. Makarfi said he was ready to resign, in line with the directive of former President Goodluck Jonathan asking him and Sheriff to step aside to allow the ongoing reconciliation efforts achieve results. But Sheriff has declined, insisting that he would go ahead to conduct the party’s planned national convention, tentatively fixed for June 30 by a reconciliation committee headed by the Bayelsa State Governor Dickson. The two factions traded accusations at separate media briefings in Abuja yesterday. Adeyeye said Makarfi and Sheriff’s resignation would create a level-playing field for the party to build trust and confidence in the members. Adeyeye said, “We accepted President Goodluck Jonathan and the governors’ comprehensive political solution. It called for the resignation of Senator Sheriff and the so- called NWC and also the National Caretaker Committee to create a level playing field for all, and to build trust among all members.” Rebuffing the call for resignation, Sheriff, who spoke through Ojougboh, accused Makarfi of scheming to get the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 election. Ojougboh said Makarfi’s presidential ambition was stalling reconciliation efforts in the party, adding that the same reason made the former Kaduna State Governor oppose the planned convention under Sheriff. Said he: “Makarfi wants a situation where he will tailor-make the convention to suit his interest because he has come out to say that he will be contesting for the presidency of the country. “We are very mindful that we are not going to tie our party around any individual. That is why Sheriff said he would throw everything open. That is why we are studying the position of the reconciliation committee and that is good enough to advance our party.”

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