Since he left office on May 29, 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan has been busy both at home and abroad. He has gone on many international missions, carrying out one assignment or the other.
His almost five years in office has stood him in good stead in discharging this onerous task, especially in a world never in short supply of crises. He has intervened in some African countries at the behest of the African Union and has presented papers at some fora in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).
Since his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections, the former president, like a true party man, has been working quietly behind the scene to see what could be done to end the wranglings within the group. The PDP became a shadow of itself after 2015 as members traded words over why it lost the presidential election which it thought was a walkover for it.
Former Bauchi State Governor Adamu Muazu, who led the party to the elections as its national chairman was forced to throw in the towel. He paid the price as a general whose side lost the war, but his exit was the beginning of the party’s crisis, which is now threatening to consume it. Uche Secondus took over from him as acting national chairman. Secondus ran the show for some months before handing over to Senator Modu Ali Sheriff, former Borno State governor. Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers), among other stalwarts, made Sheriff’s coming easy. They wanted a rich man to lead their party and they found one in Sheriff, but they never bargained for the fact that he would be his own man.
After becoming tired of him, they planned to remove him at the party’s convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, last August 17. Meanwhile, Fayose and Wike had begun shopping for a new chairman. Under the guise that Sheriff could not preside over a convention, where he plans to run for party chair, they brought in Senator Ahmed Makarfi as caretaker chairman. Confusion set in as the party paraded two leaders and each went to court to lay claim to the post. With the conflicting orders that followed, PDP sank deeper into morass.
The Court of Appeal settled the tussle in favour of Sheriff last Friday. As the court has spoken, Sheriff, whether anybody likes it or not, is today PDP chairman until the verdict is quashed by the Supreme Court. But, rather than obey the court, some leaders of the party who are dissatisfied with the verdict have been acting contemptuously. The way to go is not to act in contempt of court but to explore the right of appeal, which every aggrieved litigant has. The appellate courts – the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court – are there so that litigants will not resort to self help in resolving disputes.
Since the appeal court has ruled that Sheriff is PDP chairman, no other person can be so addressed as at today until the order is set aside. And no other person, except Sheriff, can call any meeting of PDP leaders in line with that order. To do otherwise will amount to contempt, which the courts frown at. I do not know the purpose of the meeting called by the Makarfi camp last Monday in Abuja some 96 hours after the appeal court verdict. There was no need to convene the meeting under the name of PDP since the group is not the recognised leadership of the party. Its purpose is to exacerbate the crisis and create the impression that the group is the authentic leadership of the party, which is far from the truth.
Jonathan spoke well on the crisis hours after the botched meeting when he received Sheriff and his entourage in Abuja. The former president, who declined the offer to be the party’s national leader shortly after he left office, said there were no factions in PDP as he kept referring to Sheriff as ‘’my chairman’’. Understandably, Jonathan will not want to admit that there is crisis in PDP as doing so may be munition in the hands of some of its elected members in the National and Houses of Assembly to jump ship. There is crisis in PDP and many of the former president’s men are stoking the fire. With the way he has spoken, may be the Wikes, Fayoses, Fani-Kayodes et al, who are his boys and die hard supporters of Makarfi, will see the light and mend their ways.
“We are not factionalised. We are one. There are bound to be differences in politics. We cannot run away from that. It is the way we resolve these differences that makes us human beings and that is what makes us leaders. I have met with Sheriff. And I have met with others. I will still meet with others, so that we will be able to do what is expected of us as a political party’’, Jonathan said. But those benefiting from the crisis will not want it to end soon. They want it protracted for their own selfish gain. With Jonathan’s promise to reach out to more people, the political solution to this problem now lies in his hands.
He knows how to whip his boys into line and soon we may see them accepting Sheriff as their leader just as he did. Will they listen to him? How they react to whatever their boss tells them will show whether or not they still hold him in high esteem. Or were they just Jonathan boys because of what they could get from him when he was president?