President Goodluck Jonathan is strengthening his camp, in anticipation of more onslaught by the members of the Kawu Baraje faction, it was learnt yesterday.
Also, the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is preparing for its suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the determination of the legality or otherwise of the faction led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje. The court, presided over by Justice S.O. Chukwu, will resume hearing on September 12.
The regular meetings by the President and his camp with the various party leaders and stakeholders may have slowed down governance at the federal and state levels. Many governors now spend more time in Abuja attending caucus meetings related to the festering crises. They also carry out some assignments for the President, who is building resistance to the onslaught by the spinster group.
A party source said Tukur has directed the 16 state chairmen of the party loyal to the President and his leadership to prevent further cracks in the troubled chapters. The source also said that the party leadership has mandated the state chairmen to vigorously enforce discipline and sanction members supporting the Baraje faction, in a bid to curtail the split across the branches.
Following the directive, the Osun State leadership of the party has suspended chieftains who attended the rally organised by factional National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at Okuku, at the weekend. Also, some chieftains loyal to Oyinlola have declined the offers of the factional Legal Adviser and Auditor zoned to the Southwest by the Baraje group to avoid running into trouble.
According to the source, the President has been reaching out to the founding fathers of the PDP, who have not taken sides in the crisis. He has also dispatched emissaries to other eminent Nigerians, including traditional rulers and leaders of thought, to assist in neutralising the break-away group. Also, a group, ‘The Committee for Change and Equality” headed by former Senate President Ahmed Ebute, comprising the President’s loyalists, is coordinating the activities of other pro-Jonathan groups in their onslaught against the faction in the core Middle Belt states.
The 16 governors under the leadership of PDP Governors’ Forum (NGF) led by Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio have been mandated to work with the state chairmen to ensure a united party, it was also learnt.
A top PDP chieftain in the Southwest said: “The President has our support, although we know that there is a rift between the President and our leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. We also have the mandate of the national chairman to put our house in order and prevent a split at the state level. We have our grievances in the Southwest PDP, but it is a case of self-inflicted wound. Our position is that Prince Oyinlola should have waited for the outcome of his case against the party in court, instead of trying to divide the party.”
The state chapters have been holding solidarity meetings for the purpose of passing votes of confidence on the President and the national chairman. Rising from the meeting of the Southwest PDP stakeholders, the Acting Caretaker Chairman, Mr. Deji Doherty, said that the zone was solidly behind the mainstream PDP, urging the chieftains across the six chapters to stand firm.
The Lagos State PDP leader, Commodore Bode George (rtd), and chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle (rtd) described the crisis as “unnecessary”, stressing that the aggrieved chieftains should have used the party’s internal crisis-resolution mechanism. George reiterated the support of the chapter to the Jonathan Administration and the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Tukur.
Shelle expressed surprise at the emergence of the faction, saying that it is “embarrassing”. He dissociated the Lagos PDP from “the rebellion”, urging the members of the faction to embrace peace.