The unending leadership crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party appears to be taking its toll on the unity of its members in the House of Representatives as the lawmakers can no longer speak with one voice on who to support between the National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, and Ahmed Makarfi.
Investigations by our correspondent on Monday, showed that many members of the caucus were divided over the choice of Sheriff and the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, which was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt penultimate Friday.
The House Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, had summoned a caucus meeting last week soon after Sheriff was declared as the chairman by the appellate court.
The struggling opposition party controls less than 139 lawmakers out of the total of 360 in the House.
At the meeting, members were said to have agreed, as a caucus, to back the Makarfi-led faction.
The resolution of the meeting was later made public as the position of the caucus on the raging crisis.
On Monday, however, some members came out openly to distance themselves from the position of the caucus, saying they were not part of it.
One of the members, Mr. Adesegun Adekoya, said many lawmakers in both the Senate and the House were “solidly” behind Sheriff.
Adekoya, who represents Ijebu North/East/Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, said that the “so-called” caucus position was non-existent.
He said, “You can quote me anywhere any day. We are for Sheriff. As a lawmaker, I should not be a lawbreaker. All the people in my constituency, down to the last councillor, are for Sheriff.
“In Ogun, we have two PDP members: myself and my second (Adebutu Oladipupo). He is for Makarfi; yes, that is his choice.
“But, I am for Sheriff. That makes it 50-50.
“If you go to Osun State, Hon. Wole Oke is for Sheriff. Go and check in all the states, you will find out that many of us are for Sheriff.
“See, my brother, there is one thing about politicians. When they are in the open, they will say one thing, but when it comes to voting, they will go the other way. They will surprise you.
“That is why they always prefer secret voting because what they say in the open is not the truth.”
In Ekiti State, where Governor Ayodele Fayose is a vocal supporter of the Makarfi-led faction, a member from Ekiti, Mr. Olamide Johnson-Oni, is for Sheriff.
Another member of the party from Edo State, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, said that some members had realised that they would have to be with Sheriff to be on the side of the law.
Agbonayinma, who contested the PDP governorship primaries in Edo State in 2016, added, “Members have realised that they are lawmakers and not law breakers.
“Based on the decision of the court, we have to support Sheriff.
“Why are people saying they are not with Sheriff? He has won; or is Sheriff not a member of the PDP?
“More importantly, we are all PDP members; it is not about victory for Sheriff or Makarfi, but Sheriff is the man, based on the decision of the court.”
However, several members contacted dismissed Adekoya’s position.
They described him as representing the “few bad eggs” in the caucus, bent on destroying the opposition party.
One of the members from Adamawa State, Mr. Adamu Kamale, said that it was not possible that serious party members would team up with Sheriff.
Kamale added, “It is not possible that I will be with Sheriff in what he is doing, same for most of our colleagues.
“Sheriff has been working with strangers; we don’t even know these people he carries around.
“I recall vividly that there was a particular meeting he called; when I went there as a PDP member to, at least find out the peace efforts being made, I was locked out.
“How can a man, who keeps intimidating legitimate party members, claims that he is our leader?”
Ogor claimed, however, that there was no division in the caucus.
He said Adekoya and those thinking in the same line with him were “just noisemakers.”
Ogor, who is from Delta State, added, “You will expect that some people will always want to cause trouble to seek attention.
“The caucus met and took a position. We all agreed that Makarfi is the one in charge of affairs of the PDP and we are with him.
“All these people talking about Sheriff should be ignored. We don’t know Sheriff.”
At the inauguration of the current 8th Assembly in June 2015, the PDP controlled 139 out of the 360 members of the House.
But, in the months following the factional crisis, some members seized the opportunity to defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Only on Wednesday last week, Mr. Emmanuel Ukoette from Akwa Ibom State, a PDP stronghold, also defected to the APC on the floor of the House.
Like others before him, Ukoette cited the factional crisis as his reason for shifting his political party platform.