PDP Break-Up – Obasanjo Calls Elders Meeting
Abuja, Abeokuta, Sokoto, Minna and Ilorin — Leaders of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday held series of meetings, aimed at breaking the impasse that caused the split of the party into two, but no headway was announced by late last night.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who earlier in the day met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, summoned all PDP governors, including the seven who on Saturday broke off to form the ‘New PDP.’
They began discussions at about 9.30pm at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, but by 10.30pm, journalists were driven away by security officials who said the event was not meant for media coverage.
Hours before the 16 attending governors arrived at the Villa, Obasanjo waded into the crisis, asking the warring sides to tarry a while as the party’s elders tried to broker a truce.
Obasanjo, who flew in to Abuja for talks with Jonathan, issued a statement on his return to Abeokuta in which he called on parties in the PDP dispute to “maintain the status quo” while efforts were made to broker a truce.
On Saturday, while the PDP national convention was going on in Abuja, Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Abdulfatah Ahmed(Kwara), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), along with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, announced setting up a factional executive for the PDP.
They accused party chairman Bamanga Tukur of violating the party’s rules, with the support of President Jonathan. They also named Alhaji Abubakar Baraje as new chairman of their faction and former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola as secretary.
In his statement yesterday, Obasanjo said, “The situation in our ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) after the convention on Saturday and the parallel convention same day has given great concern to all well-meaning members of the party and particularly to the elders of the party.
“While some select elders are making efforts to get the situation resolved as soon as possible, it is imperative to emphasise that the move will bring back peace and return the party to its vigorous and dynamic election-winning party that it has always been.
“I want to passionately appeal to both sides for now to sheath their swords, maintain the status quo, with earliest conveyance of the elders’ meeting before the end of this week. Members are equally enjoined to remain calm until the elders’ complete their peace-making meeting.”
Following the talks with Obasanjo, Jonathan called another meeting with PDP governors, which was still going on by 11pm last night, with four of the ‘New PDP’ governors also in attendance. They are Niger, Kano, Kwara and Adamawa governors.
Also in attendance were Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Idris Wada (Kogi), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Muktar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna), Garba Umar (Taraba Acting Governor), Saidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Jonah Jang (Plateau).
National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim and senior lawyer Joe Gazama were also attending.
In spite of the crisis meetings, Daily Trust learnt that the New PDP will open a national secretariat in Abuja today, where its leaders are expected to announce the sacking of Tukur as PDP chairman and his expulsion from the party.
Asked about possibility of reconciliation, a top party leader said there is none for now because all avenues for reconciliation have been exhausted.
He said former vice president Alex Ekwueme was contacted as chairman of G34 which was the precursor of PDP, as was Obasanjo, former president Ibrahim Babangida and former national chairman Solomon Lar, but those efforts yielded no result.
He said Tukur had violated nearly every party rule, including the rules of suspending members.
The official said Bamanga sacked the Adamawa party exco on his own, handed the Rivers State exco to Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike on his own and subverted the Anambra governorship primaries on his own in order to accommodate Chief Emeka Offor’s candidate Tony Nwoye even though Senator Andy Ubah won the primaries supervised by INEC.
Sources said yesterday almost all the National Assembly PDP members from the 7 states have joined their governors in the New PDP. All three senators from Sokoto, Kwara, Jigawa, 2 from Kano and 2 from Adamawa were among those that walked out of the PDP convention on Saturday.
“I can tell you that myself and Senator Hassan Barata are with our governor because he is our leader,” Adamawa Senator Jibrilla Bindo told Daily Trust yesterday.
From Kano, Senate Chief Whip Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and Basheer Garba Lado are in the New PDP, as is Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State. Three Kwara senators, including former governor Bukola Saraki, as well as the six House of Representatives members from the state are for the ‘New PDP.’
In Niger, two senators and seven House members have joined their governor, as did two senators and 13 House members from Rivers state.
Senator Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (PDP, Kwara North) said he was part of the ‘New PDP’ saying, “I attended the meeting on Saturday.”
For his part, Rep. Sani Idriss Kutigi (PDP, Niger), said: “Not only National Assembly members but all stakeholders in our states are with the governors. Our loyalty to our governors cannot dwindle, it has never happened. Once my governor moves, I move with him.”
On whether the breakage of the PDP may lead to leadership change in the National Assembly, Rep. Kutigi said: “We are not leaving the PDP; our governors only formed a new PDP”.
Rep. Mustapha Bala Dawaki (PDP, Kano) said, “A House cannot collapse and leave those living in it. It collapses with them. So we are with our governor, he is the owner of the House and since he left, we too must leave.”
Meanwhile, PDP chapters in states whose governors are now in the ‘New PDP’ are to transform their party structures to perfect their breakaway from the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP.
Daily Trust learnt that the state chapters of the PDP in the affected states have been asked to relate only with the Kawu Baraje group and ignore any communication from the Tukur-led side.
In Rivers State, the Chief G.U. Ake faction of the PDP would be revived and given due recognition by the New PDP as authentic PDP in the state, sources in the party said.
Daily Trust learnt that in line with this, state chairmen of PDP states loyal to Tukur held a meeting yesterday but it was boycotted by the chairmen of states loyal to the Baraje faction.
When contacted, Niger PDP chairman Abdulrahaman Enagi, his Sokoto counterpart Madawaki Sabo Yabo and Kwara PDP spokesman Mas’ud Adebimpe declined comment.
But chairman of PDP in Kwara North, Alhaji Isiaka Oniwa, told Daily Trust the decision to break away from Tukur’s side was a welcome development that would salvage the party, adding that members of the party in the state are fully in support of Saraki as leader of the party in the state.
Andrew Agbese, Isiaka Wakili, Turaki A. Hassan, Kehinde Akinyemi, Rakiya Muhammad, Aliyu Hamagam and Abdulateef Aliyu