By Our reporters
ABUJA – As the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the aggrieved G-7 governors and other leaders of the Abubakar Kawu Baraje faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, got underway last night to resolve the crisis in the party, there were indications that the nPDP may have adjusted its earlier demand that President Goodluck Jonathan should not seek a second term in office. This came as the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur has appealed to leaders of the new PDP to embrace dialogue saying the problem can be resolved in a family way.
The governors who were present at the meeting with President Jonathan which began at about 3.30 pm at the first Lady’s conference room, yesterday, were Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara) Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Idris Wada (Kogi). As usual, the meeting which was earlier scheduled for the presidential villa at 9.00pm Sunday was closed to journalists.
nPDP drops demand for Jonathan to go in 2015
Sources among the governors at the meeting disclosed at the weekend that in the place of the earlier demand that President Jonathan should not seek re-election, the nPDP was last night set to demand that he gives practical and irrevocable evidence of allowing due process in the nomination process for the party’s 2015 presidential candidate. Top of the evidence, it was learnt, is the sack of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as national chairman and restoration of party executives in Adamawa and Rivers states.
Ahead of the crucial meeting with the president, the G7 governors aligned to the nPDP met at the Samora Machel, Asokoro, Abuja residence of the factional chairman of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
The G7 governors and their associates in the preparatory meeting at Baraje’s house rehearsed strategies on how to approach the meeting with the president and the faction led by Tukur especially on the crucial demand that the president reveal whether he would run or not in the 2015 contest.
The decision to readjust the strategy, it was learnt, may not be unconnected to the campaign by presidential aides that the governors were asking the president to commit himself to an unconstitutional demand by ruling himself out of the 2015 contest.
“This is not about 2015, but we want the president to provide clear guarantees that due process would be allowed to prevail in the party in all matters relating to the party and also the presidential contest,” one of the governors in the forefront of the nPDP told Vanguard.
Another source close to one of the nPDP governors disclosed that the governors were to be informed by the president whether or not he would contest in 2015.
At the last peace meeting last Tuesday, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State had reportedly demanded that Dr. Jonathan reveal to the nation whether or not he would seek the 2015 presidential ticket of the PDP, but he was rebuked by Governors Idris Wada of Kogi and Liyel Imoke of Cross River State who argued that the demand was uncalled for.
Appealing to the leaders of the new PDP, in a statement signed, yesterday, by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Chairman, urged the seven aggrieved governors and other members of the nPDP not to play into the hands of those who hate Nigeria and the nation’s democracy.
According to the statement, the ongoing political quagmire were designed to portray President Goodluck Jonathan in bad light, adding that no problem in the PDP family was insurmountable.
Tukur begs Baraje, others
Metuh said: ”The Peoples Democratic Party has urged all its estranged members to fully utilize the window of dialogue and reconciliation offered it and avoid playing into the hands of those who do not wish the nation or her democracy well.
“The party also said the on-going muted skirmishes and well organized theatrics aimed at portraying the President in bad light were not necessary because as members of one big family, no challenge was insurmountable.
“This tactics is antithetical to democracy but not an unfamiliar rule of engagement. However, it is important that we avoid over-stretching it so as not to play into the waiting hands of the desperate, wishing to incite the people and destroy our common destiny.”
Resolving PDP problem
The PDP spokesperson regretted that the problem in the party was a challenge which could be resolved within the ambit of the crisis resolution mechanism of the party but was being exaggerated by some politicians desperately looking for quick photo-ups through sensationalism in the media.
“We wish to assure our members therefore that we are still capable of resolving our challenges and urge them to be more committed to our progress. We shall emerge stronger.”
The party said that the nation would benefit the more should detractors of the President pick him or the party on issues of development.
“Very unfortunately, the easiest way to gain prominence today is to attack the President and the leadership of his party, not on issues of governance or on alternative direction of governance but on the pedestrian that borders on sheer mudslinging.
“While the inconsequential makes the banner, the essentials and the substantial in the consistent though quiet transformation of the nation are tucked away in obscure riders. The media are critical building block of democracy and the Nigerian media have stood firm across the decades. It must not relent.
“In all these, our firm support for the President as the leader and symbol of our party in government remains total. We shall neither waver nor allow narrow sentiments stand in the way of the absolute resolve of our great party to better the lots of all Nigerians.”
2015: Dokpesi intensifies lobby of Northern leaders for Jonathan
In a related development, there were indications, last night, that the special emissary raised by President Jonathan to woo opposition politicians in the North to his side, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, had made some progress in that regard.
The media executive and businessman, it was learnt, had been on a solo mission to win opposition northern politicians for the President’s re-election, having been saddled with the arduous assignment by Jonathan last month.
The decision to recruit Dokpesi into the mobilisation of dissenting Northern political leaders for Jonathan is said to have been taken by the Presidency because of the perceived widespread respect said to be enjoyed by the businessman in the region.
Vanguard gathered that the Presidency opted for a neutral person to drive the campaign since the initial meeting between one of his aides and some chieftains of the Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, in Abuja did not produce the expected result.
The leaders of the NEF led by its scribe, Prof Ango Abdullahi, were said to had questioned the aide, whom he had worked with during former President Obasanjo’s regime, what pedigree he had to summon him for a meeting on behalf of his boss, a development that led to a deadlock.
But learning from that spat, the Presidency dispatched Dokpesi to meet with those in the north known to be opposed to the second term ambition of President Jonathan in 2015.
Dokpesi met with some of the northern politicians in Kano and Jigawa states before breaking off for an overseas trip and is expected to continue to dialogue with the politicians and key northern stakeholders whose support is germane to Jonathan’s re-election.
One of the northern politicians, who met with Dokpesi, described their meeting as ‘cordial and frank’ but added that they were cautious as they did not trust the motive of the dialogue.
“It is a good thing that the President has begun to speak with the critical stakeholders in the North,” the respected northern politician said. He added that, “the meeting between Dokpesi and some of our people is a step in the right direction and goes on to support our position that the move is even overdue”.
Another northern politician said: “What the High Chief is trying to do in the north for Jonathan is what his aides should have been doing long ago. Unfortunately, some of them began to abuse us once Jonathan was elected into office in 2011.”