PDP Crisis: Drama As Obasanjo’s Peace Move Fails
The peace move by elders of the Peoples Democratic Party, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo aimed at restoring peace in the troubled party may have failed.
Obasanjo and other senior members of the party met with its two factions at Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Friday to discuss how to settle the differences among the warring factions. But both parties insisted that their conditions for peace must be satisfied before the party could move forward.
However, there was a mild drama before the commencement of the meeting as both the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and his counterpart in Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, told a lady believed to be one of Obasanjo’s children that Dr. Bamanga Tukur, was no longer the party’s chairman when she referred to Tukur as the PDP chairman.
Those at the meeting, apart from Obasanjo, who tried to mediate were a former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.); former chairmen of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Sen. Barnabas Gemade and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih.
Both Chief Solomon Lar and Alex Ekwueme were absent at the meeting as they were said to have travelled outside the country.
The National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, also led some members of his National Working Committee to the meeting.
Members of the New PDP, who were at the meeting were its National Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje; National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja; former Governor of Gombe State, Sen. Danjuma Goje; and the former Governor of Kwara State, Sen. Bukola Saraki.
Others are the Governor of Jigawa State., Alhaji Sule Lamido; Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko.
Governors who came on the side of the Tukur-led PDP included Liyel Imoke(Cross River), Idris Wada(Kogi), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Theordore Orji(Abia), Godswill Akpabio(Akwa Ibom), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Shem(Katsina) and Isa Yuguda(Bauchi).
Sources close to the meeting said that the members of the New PDP demanded the sacking of Tukur as the chairman of the party and the recognition of Amaechi as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Saturday Punch learnt that they also demanded that the suspension placed on Amaechi by the party be lifted.
It was also leant that the group demanded the recognition of the executive of Adamawa State chapter of the party led by Alhaji Minjinyawa Kugama as against the one being led by Joel Madaki, which Tukur installed.
It was also learnt that the group insisted that a new convention must be held to elect members of the National Working Committee of the party since the August 31 convention, according to the group, lacked credibility.
However, the Tukur group was said to have insisted that most of the demands of the other group could not be met.
For example, it was gathered that the Tukur group claimed that the NWC was validly elected and that the decision to leave office would be determined by individuals.
On the suspension of Amaechi, it was gathered that the group said the governor’s court case was an impediment to the lifting of the suspension.
They also said that only the President was capable of deciding whether to recognise Amaechi as the chairman of the NGF or not.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that President Jonathan might ask the governors to back him in his second term ambition before he could respond to some of the demands of the New PDP, especially the sacking of Tukur.
A governor, who was part of the meeting but who craved anonymity said, “My brother, we are still at the same point. We have not moved an inch away from the point”.
Another one said, “Well, with what has happened, it will be difficult to say we have achieved anything. But we wait to see. We are waiting to see the report of the Obasanjo’s committee.’’
Before the commencement of the meeting, a lady was seen greeting Tukur and was holding his hand, but Lamido asked her to come to him.
The lady, who is said to be one of Obasanjo’s daughters, told him that she was busy with the chairman.
The following dialogue followed:
The lady: I’m coming sir. I’m with our chairman.
Lamido: Who is your chairman? You mean our former chairman? We have a brand new chairman now.
Amaechi: Yes o, we have a brand new chairman who understands party politics and the constitution of the party. He knows that when a member is suspended and the suspension is not ratified by NEC, that suspension has become invalid.’’
During the conversation, Tukur could not utter any word as he was seen looking at the governors with awe.
When the meeting started, the Obasanjo group first met with Tukur and the governors on their side before meeting with the members of the New PDP.
None of the members of the Tukur group spoke with journalists after the meeting.
Also, members of the New PDP refused to speak with journalists after meeting with Obasanjo and members of his group.
When prodded further to speak, Lamido merely asked journalists to wait and speak with Obasanjo and other leaders later. He said, “Talk to our bosses; they are all inside. They would speak with you after, please.”
Speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, which ended at 2-58 pm. Obasanjo, said that he and members of his mediating team were trying to salvage the party.
Obasanjo, who spoke in company with Babangida, Anenih, Gemade and Ali said, “Gentlemen of the press, I thank you for exercising patience. Let me point out, you have seen five of us as select elders of the party.
“We have taken it upon ourselves to prevent the worst from happening to our dear party. Two of our members are abroad and could not join us.
“They are Solomon Lar and Alex Ekwueme but we are carrying them along in whatever reports we are making, but suffice it to say that there is a family dispute within the PDP, which we want to stem the tide of going to the brink.
“And I want to say that we have met with the two sides of the family, we have listened to them and of course we are going to put our heads together and go on from there.”
Meanwhile, the national secretariat of the New PDP is almost ready and might be inaugurated next week.
Our correspondent, who visited the office, which is located at Plot 4, Oyi River Crescent, Maitama, reports that the building is undergoing renovation.
Already, the gate and the kerbs in the building have been painted in the traditional colour of the party, which is red, white and green.
The road leading to the secretariat was also undergoing renovation as interlocking tiles were being laid when our correspondent visited it on Friday.