However, the governors, who spearheaded the emergence of Sheriff into the PDP top echelon led by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, immediately rejected the court ruling and threatened to seek redress at the Supreme Court, throwing the party into more confusion and turmoil in the process.
But while that remains the position of the governors, the Senator representing former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ben Murray-Bruce, throws his weight behind Sheriff, saying that it was futile to continue to engage in needless fight for supremacy when the party’s fortunes were dwindling, and its chances of winning election threatened as the crisis lingers.
According to Murray-Bruce, his support is not about Modu Sheriff but the survival of the PDP as a veritable opposition party that can drive out the ruling party in 2019. Excerpts:
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
What do you make of the Appeal Court judgment recognising Sheriff as the authentic PDP National Chairman and rejecting Ahmed Makarfi?
Look, let me tell you that I am not supporting Sheriff as such, but my own interest is how to resolve the crisis we have at hand and move on in the interest of the party and its members.
My support is not about Sheriff but the overall interest of our party. It is not about majority or minority in this case but the future and interest of our party.
We have been in crisis for about two years now, and we have been fighting each other, and we don’t have a leadership for the party. In the last two years of our crisis, we have lost no fewer than four of our senators to the opposition.
They have defected to the APC, and we cannot declare their seats vacant because they cite the current crisis in the PDP as the basis of their defection. My position, therefore, is to preserve the party from destruction.
If we continue like this, and we go on appeal to the Supreme Court, and the court delays the case until a few weeks to the next election as in the case of the Ondo Governorship election, we would have destroyed our chances of taking over power from the APC, which appears not to have answers to our national problems. We would have lost everything.
it is better we come together now to resolve the crisis. We can work together and have a convention and produce new leaders because Sheriff’s tenure ends this year nonetheless. If the likes of Lai Mohammed had been in PDP, he would have destroyed the APC.
When they were in the opposition they did not give the PDP a breathing space, but today the likes of Lai Mohammed are saints, playing golf and enjoying life while the PDP grapples with an internal crisis of leadership. We must do everything possible to bring the crisis to an end so as to save our great party from extinction. That is what I stand for and not for any human being.
But it would appear that the PDP leaders who met in Abuja last week to review the development decided to appeal the judgment and stick with Makarfi. Does this augur well for democracy and your party?
There is no way I would disagree with Prof Jerry Gana on this matter. Everyone says we should go to court, but if we continue to fight and it ends up like Ondo case, everyone loses. Let them come together and have a joint convention and elect new leaders for the party and let us have peace.
Sheriff is the chairman, and it does not serve anyone’s interest if the problem continues. If we ignore Sheriff and pick Ahmed Makarfi, we lose their votes and supporters, and if we stand with Makarfi and reject Sheriff, we are sure to lose his supporters and their votes.
So, it is a very serious problem, which must be resolved with tact, understanding, and cooperation of all the parties involved in the interest of the party. We don’t need to destroy each other, but we need to win the election in 2019.
APC won because they came together and formed a coalition. If we fight on like this, we will lose. I am looking at the bigger picture. They should come together and ensure fair play during the convention, and I believe we will get through.
Your own position seems to tally with that of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who met with Sheriff immediately after the court verdict and described him as a leader of the party.
I agree with former President Jonathan as the leader of the party and as his senator, and he wants peace and nothing more. The former president knows what is wrong and how to resolve the leadership logjam and we should see it from that perspective and join hands with him and other party leaders to steer the party off the path of danger which will neither help anyone in the end.
Before you went to the Senate, you had so many lofty ideas. What are you doing to bring them to reality?
Yes, I am working hard to bring out many bills for the overall interest of Nigerians. I have many bills, and very soon they will be presented to the Senate.
One of the bills on clean energy if passed into law would make every community to enjoy steady power supply from solar and other sources apart from gas. Another of my bills is the Illegal Refinery Legalization Bill, which the vice president spoke about when he went to the Niger Delta recently. I am expecting the presidency to write me a cheque for taking my idea.
The illegal refineries should be legalised, and it will help the country get out of the current problems. The people doing illegal refining should be given the go-ahead to refine, pay tax to the government and earn a meaningful living.
Under the arrangement, the NNPC should sell crude to the illegal refiners to prevent them from breaking pipelines and stealing the crude.
I believe strongly that if this is done it would go a long way in checkmating the destruction of oil facilities and stealing of crude currently going on in the creeks now.
Also, this measure would confer legitimacy on them as genuine businessmen and make them contribute their quota to national development instead of embarking on criminality for mere survival.
Why do you think that there is too much hardship in the land?
The answer is simply because the government is not being led by Buhari and is not being led by Osinbajo.
They have people leading the government from behind. The vice president that I know is a good man and is quite a wonderful human being. Osinbajo is not the problem.
There are people pushing this government for their own personal and selfish interests.
Things are not working well because the people have not applied the proper measures and policies to propel the country out of recession.
What they are doing cannot end the recession. A budget during recession must be different from the one that should be operated when an economy is doing well.
This government cannot run the same type of economic policies that the Jonathan administration used because the times are not the same. This government needs the smartest people to run this economy.
But the argument is that this government inherited the economic problems from the previous one and is, therefore, a child of circumstance.
No, that will not suffice anymore because if you recall, in 1999 when Obasanjo and Atiku took over the reins of power, they quietly recovered over $4 billion from those who had stolen money and put it in the system, and nobody heard about it.
I want you to know that the current recession is caused by a cabal working for their selfish interest and a gamut of poor economic policies and they are going to get worse because the brains that should run the economy are not there.
That is why Osinbajo must take charge of this economy because I want this government to succeed so that we can have something to take over in 2019. It is certain Nigerians will reject APC in 2019 and PDP is surely going to take over. We will beat APC any day, and they must leave.
So, you are satisfied the way the PDP ran the country, and you don’t see anything wrong with the PDP?
I do not want to go into the debate of whether the PDP ran Nigeria well or not but let me say that the biggest problem with Nigeria is that the leaders continue to think and behave as if we were still in 1945 and they don’t think ahead.
They have no long-term plan, and no value chain and they make statements that don’t make sense. These guys cannot succeed in a private company as is the case elsewhere. You need worldwide experience to run a country.
A country is a business.
But in Nigeria, there is no technology policy, no master plan for anything but a yearly budget that is poorly implemented.
There is no follow through to any policy, but the leaders and government officials continue to make broad statements that make no sense. These guys would not survive in any private company like General Motors, Pepsi, Coca-Cola worldwide, etc.
So, where do we go from here?
It is simple: Osinbajo must take charge of the country and do away with the cabal that is trying to ruin the country for their selfish interest. History will not be kind to Osinbajo if he sits there for the cabal to destroy Nigeria.