As part of efforts to douse the tension in the polity arising from the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and former national chairman of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, yesterday met with President Goodluck Jonathan.
The meeting, which was held behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, started at 2p.m. However, other members of the party’s Elders’ Committee, including the Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Tony Anenih, and former National Chairman Barnabas Gemade, were absent. Security personnel barred journalists from getting close to the venue of the meeting.
Although no official statement was issued after the meeting, it was gathered that the Elders’ Committee, set up to look into the crisis rocking the party, were at the Presidential Villa to submit their recommendations to the President.
The recommendations of the committee, chaired by Chief Obasanjo, include the removal of the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, resolution of the Adamawa State PDP crisis in favour of Governor Murtala Nyako and the reinstatement of River State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. There were also reports of disagreements within the Elders’ Committee over the recommendations.
The crisis reached its peak when six governors staged a walkout of the special convention of the party on August 31 to form a New PDP with former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar, prompting the constitution of an Elders’ Committee to reconcile the warring factions. Prior to the meeting of Obasanjo, Babangida, Ali and the President, three governors loyal to Jonathan and Tukur, were also seen at the Villa.
They include Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Gabriel Suswam (Benue) and Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta). The governors declined to make any comment on their meeting with the President. Last night, the President also met with the aggrieved governors of the party who broke away to form a parallel New PDP with Abubakar Baraje as the factional national chairman.
The aggrieved governors in attendance at the meeting include Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa). Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara) were not at the meeting. Ahmed was out of the country as at yesterday.
At the last meeting, the aggrieved governors had demanded the removal of Tukur as the national chairman and asked President Jonathan to respect his one-term agreement as President as conditions for peace and reconciliation.
The meeting was still ongoing as at the time of filing this report. Meanwhile, the crisis in the PDP yesterday assumed another dimension as the Tukur-led National Working Committee, NWC, moved against Kwankwaso; one of the six northern governors opposed to his leadership.
The party is to constitute a caretaker committee for the Kano State chapter following the expiration of the existing one. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, disclosed the plans for installation of new executive to newsmen yesterday in Abuja. “Because nature abhors a vacuum, a caretaker committee would be constituted pending when a new executive would be inaugurated for Kano PDP,” Metuh said.
He stressed that Kwankwoso would be involved in the process when the time comes. Some PDP stakeholders from Kano had earlier visited the party’s national leaders, intimating them of the expiration of the tenure of existing state executive.
A source said that Tukur was to inaugurate the state executive loyal to him yesterday until the Presidency directed him to put the action on hold, saying this could jeopardise the ongoing reconciliation efforts. National Mirror gathered that the tenure of the state executive headed by Alhaji Adamu Sumaila had expired on August 14.
Already, a scramble for the chairmanship seat for Kano PDP had commenced in earnest. Our correspondents learnt that former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Affairs, Alhaji Akilu Indabawa, and Col. Habibu Shuaibu (rtd) are being tipped for the job.
Kwankwaso was among the six governors that staged a walkout from the party’s convention on August 31. The governors had since then formed a parallel PDP with a secretariat having the inscription New Peoples Democratic Party.
The inauguration of the secretariat, slated for September 7 could not hold as policemen and security operatives invaded the area and cordoned off all access roads leading to the building.
In another development, the Baraje-led national executive of the New PDP has said that they shunned the dinner organised by the Presidency on Sunday to avoid giving credibility to the convention.
In a statement by the faction’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, the camp said it could not be a party to such “squander mania” while Nigerians were wallowing in abject poverty. The new PDP spokesperson said the dinner was unnecessary as “our children are kept at home instead of being in school because the Federal Government could not meet ASUU’s demands.
“We wish to have nothing to do with such waste of public funds and such trivialities associated with Tukur and his leadership – which explains why he must be kicked out of the national secretariat of the party. “We cannot be a party to such a gathering while the PDP family is facing serious crisis that if not checked would dim the party’s chances of winning future elections.
This is a sign of a man chasing a rat while his house is on fire. “We wish to advise those trivialising President Jonathan contesting or not contesting the 2015 election with threats and acting in such a manner as if only the Ijaw are capable of voting him or another person as the President of Nigeria in a country of over 300 tribes, to think wisely.”
The Baraje leadership also lambasted Tukur for his incessant attacks on some leaders of the party because of their decision to identify with campaign for justice in the party. “By these acts, Tukur has demonstrated that he is intolerant, undemocratic and incapable of leading a democratic party like PDP.
“We urge him and members of his cabinet to stop making inflammatory statements capable of derailing the efforts of the Elders’ Committee of the party under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to restore normalcy and unity amongst PDP members.
“He and his co-travellers should give some respect to members of the Elders’ Committee comprising eminent personalities such as former President Ibrahim Babangida, the BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and former National Chairmen of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Senator Barnabas Gemade.
This is necessary so as to allow peace to be restored to our great party.” But in a swift reaction, the PDP spokesman, Metuh, said that the party could not join issues with its aggrieved members particularly at this point when reconciliation was ongoing.
“We are more interested in ensuring that our party members rededicate themselves to the party and for our elected and appointed representatives to work harder now more than ever in satisfying the yearnings of Nigerians,” he said. And as the ruling PDP continues to seek solutions to its internal crisis, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa, has accused the party of lawless conduct.
This is even as he declared that the PDP, as presently constituted, is not known to the 1999 Constitution as amended. Okutepa noted that the PDP ceased to be a political party, when it failed to “register” with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the amendments it made to its constitution, 30 days after same was undertaken.
Citing section 222 (d) of the 1999 Constitution to buttress his argument, the SAN said: “You cannot build something on nothing and expect it to stand.
PDP is not supposed to exist as a political party. When you effect an amendment to your constitution, you are supposed to register it with INEC within 30 days; otherwise, you cannot function as a political party.
“All the amendments they did, have they registered with INEC? Look, if you look at it very well, PDP as a political party is dead, constitutionally. So, upon what basis do you now have Alhaji Bamanga Tukur? “So, if Nigeria were a country that operates according to law, PDP should not be in existence by now.
“PDP as a political party does not seem to respect the rule of law and due process. Otherwise, all these problems would not have happened. The PDP is law unto itself. Where the rule of law operates, the rule of self-help gives way, and the rule of law speaks the same language, both in wartime and in peacetime.”