Jonathan: I didn’t back Sheriff for chair

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Former President President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday he did not endorse Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The former President’s media aide Ikechukwu Eze, in a statement said: “The issue of endorsement never came up in the course of the visit, not at the closed door session with Sheriff nor during the former President’s interview with newsmen”, the statement said.
Jonathan who repeatedly addressed Sheriff as “my chairman” during the visit, accused the media of infusing mischief in their report, stressing that he welcomed Sheriff to his house in line with a mediation role he was playing towards undying and strengthening the PDP.
According to the statement, the ex-president opened his doors to Sheriff upon the latter’s request, just as he had earlier done to the Makarfi-led caretaker committee members.
It added that the former President was prepared to broker more talks until the issues in the leadership of the PDP were finally resolved.
The statement added, “Indeed, it may interest you to know that after meeting with Sheriff, the former President also met with Senator Ahmed Makarfi, leader of the PDP Caretaker Committee, and the party’s Board of Trustees chairman, Senator Walid Jubril, later in the evening”.
It emphasised that as a peace-loving leader of the party, the former President’s interest was to help reposition the PDP to enable it play a constructive role in the affairs of the nation, in view of the imperative of deepening the nation’s democracy.
It added: “I wish to let those spinning this falsehood know that it just doesn’t add up to fly a contrived banner of endorsement in one breath, and in another, concede that the former President explained his commitment in meeting with different interest groups, towards resolving the differences in the party”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the following are the former President’s exact words during the interview with newsmen, as had accurately been reported by most online and major national newspapers, as well as broadcast organisations”.
The statement quoted Jonathan’s statement shortly after meeting with Sheriff thus, “We (PDP) are not factionalised. We are one. We are solving our problems. There are bound to be differences in politics. It is the way we resolve these differences that make 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”.
The former leader yesterday also met with a group of former cabinet ministers who served at various times under his administration.
Led by a former Special Duties Minister Taminu Turaki, the ex ministers met behind closed doors with Jonathan for more than two hours.
Turaki told reporters after the meeting that they exchanged fruitful ideas on the way forward with the ex president on how to resolve the crisis in the party.
Turaki canvassed understanding by parties to the crisis, adding that internal mediation process was ongoing. According to him, leaders and elders of the party were alive to their responsibilities and the need to forge ahead.
. “Even after the Supreme Court must have given its verdict, we will still sit together to explore reconciliation options”, Turaki on behalf of his colleagues said.
Other ex-ministers who joined Turaki at the meeting included Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Senator Bala Mohammed, Mr. Osita Chidoka, Mr. John Odey, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau and Alhaji Aminu Wali.
Police presence around the national secretariat of the PDP was increased yesterday.
Security cordon around the secretariat building was extended to the adjoining main road around the premises with police and other paramilitary operatives taking positions at strategic places.
Police and the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps had their patrol vans stationed outside the deserted secretariat building, while citizens went about their daily activities unhindered.
The secretariat building was sealed in June 2015 at the peak of the leadership crisis in the party.

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