Supporters of Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday, stormed the national secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in solidarity with their candidates, who are both laying claims to the leadership of the party.
While the national convention of PDP sacked Senator Sheriff as chairman of the party and appointed a seven-man committee, headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Sheriff has insisted that he remains the authentic chairman of the party.
In a dramatic fashion, he forcibly took over the secretariat of the party, Monday, which had been under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi, who took over the affairs of the party about two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, there appears to be no end to the leadership crisis buffeting the party, as the leader of a group called PDP Youths Rescue Group, Aderemi Olusegun, yesterday, declared himself the new Acting National Chairman of the party.
Speaking at the entrance to the PDP secretariat, while the protesters held sway, Mr. Aderemi said he was taking over because the elders of the party have failed.
Aderemi said: “In view of all that have been happening in this party, I, hereby, declare myself as Acting Chairman of PDP.”
It would be recalled that the PDP youths had issued a seven-day ultimatum to leaders of the party to resolve the crisis over the leadership or they would take over.
Protesters take turns
On the protests, supporters of Senator Makarfi arrived at the party’s secretariat as early as 8:27a.m., defying the early morning rain, to demonstrate their support for him.
They came with placards bearing inscriptions such as “Ali Modu Sheriff is an agent of APC,” “Ali Modu Sheriff, please, go back to your APC,” “We will never allow Sheriff to destroy our great party,” “It’s not by force to lead, we don’t want you,” amongst others.
The National President of PDP National Rebirth Group, Mr. Edele Franklyne, who led the supporters, said Sheriff was alien to PDP and should not be allowed to ‘destroy’ it.
As the protest was unfolding, Professor Wale Oladipo, who was Secretary of the party under the dissolved NWC, drove to the gate of the party. Though some of the protesters attempted to stop him from driving in, policemen weighed-in to allow him in.
Shortly after the pro-Makarfi protesters departed, another set of protesters, this time in favour of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, arrived and barricaded the entrance to the secretariat.
The protesters, who also came with banners and placards with inscriptions such as “Ali Modu Sheriff carry go,” “PDP governors respect court orders,” “Nyesom Wike stop causing KATA KATA in PDP,” held sway at the secretariat for a while.
The leader of the new group of protesters, who gave his name simply as Solomon, said the battle for the leadership of the party was not only to save PDP, but to save the entire country.
However, shortly after they left, the pro-Makarfi group re-organised, returned to the Wadata Plaza secretariat, protesting.
Similarly, another group of protesters in favour of Makarfi again arrived by 11:56a.m. with leaves in their hands, singing, dancing and chanting: “Sheriff must go.”
At about 5:27p.m., supporters of Sheriff returned, broke the gate and entered the presmises.
Oladipo, Adeyanju escape mob action
As the protests unfolded, former PDP National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, and National Auditor, Adewole Adeyanju, who had earlier been allowed to enter the secretariat by the protesters, were smuggled out of the secretariat.
Some protesters had suggested that the two former members of the party’s National Working Committee be dealt with for collaborating with Sheriff to destroy the party, while others pleaded that they should be allowed to go on the condition that they would not come close to the secretariat in future.
Finally, some security men attached to the secretariat resorted to begging the youths to allow Oladipo and Adeyanju to leave peacefully, and eventually smuggled them out.