BY HENRY UMORU, Abuja
MOVED by the crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday led other elders of the party on trouble shooting mission and met with the leaders of the party and aggrieved governors, geared towards nipping in the bud, the problem, with a vow to resolve and bring peace to the party.
There were strong indications that the meeting was deadlocked as issues raised and advice from the elders may not have gone well with the Baraje-led faction as they stormed out and immediately went to inspect the office of the new PDP presently under renovations, even as the actions portray that the meeting ended in deadlock.
According to the former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of PDP, it became imperative for them as elders to intervene and save the party from total collapse. The elders also met with some pro-Jonathan governors.
Though, yesterday’s meeting which took place at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, was however inconclusive, but there were assurances from the elders that the two factions will once again come together as one indivisible party members, just as Chief Obasanjo disclosed that discussions and consultations would continue.
But Chief Obasanjo-led PDP elders were close to getting it right when they met with both the group of the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the new PDP led by former Acting National Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje yesterday.
Also at the meeting were former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Tony Anenih, former PDP National Chairmen, Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Senator Barnabas Gemade, even as Chief Obasanjo apologised on behalf of former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and Chief Solomon Lar who were not in the country, but they were being carried along.
It was gathered that Obasanjo and the elders first met with Bamanga Tukur, his National Working Committee, NWC members and the governors that belong to his group and thereafter with Baraje and his group before they met with them separately, even as Obasanjo and Anenih were said to have been very busy shuttling between Kaduna hall where the Baraje faction were and Benue hall where Tukur and his men stayed.
Saturday Vanguard also gathered that after the meeting, the elders went into a closed door meeting to harmonise opinions and issues raised by the groups.
The Obasanjo-led elders shuttled meeting with the groups lasted for about five hours as the meeting started 10am and ended 2.30 pm. between Tukur was accompanied by the National Auditor, Adewale Adeyanju, the Acting National Secretary, Aderemi Akitoye; Governor Henry Seriake-Dickson of Bayelsa State, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State; Jonah Jang of Plateau; Liyel Imoke of Cross River; Idris Wada of Kogi; Theodore Orji of Abia; Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi while Baraje was accompanied by Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, , Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, the group’ s secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the deputy national chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Also there was Senator Danjuma Goje. At the end of the meeting, neither Tukur non any of his group members spoke with Journalists, just as Baraje faction also did not speak with Journalists, but when confronted to speak, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa who asked the Journalists to wait for former President Obasanjo, said, “Talk to our bosses, they are all inside. They would speak with you after, please.”
But briefing Journalists after the meeting, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who noted that discussions will continue with both factions, said, “I thank you for exercising patience. You have seen five us. As select elders of the party we have taken it upon ourselves to prevent the worst from happening to our party. Two of us: Lar and Ekueme are abroad and could not join us but we are carrying them along. But suffice to say that there is family dispute within the PDP which we want to stem the tide of. And prevent our party from 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.”
Baraje and Lamido shortly after leaving the meeting venue at 2.30 pm went straight to the location of the secretariat of their faction at Plot 3206 A, off 4, Oyi River crescent, Maitama, Abuja.
Although the sign board placed on the side of the building was covered, the gate had the PDP colour of “Green , White and Red” and renovation work was still ongoing at the building.
There were earlier reports that the Baraje PDP faction would open its secretariat, but it did not take place yesterday as the group merely inspected it and left hurriedly.
At the end of the meeting, Saturday Vanguard gathered that Baraje led PDP had presented before Obasanjo and other elders that Tukur must be sacked and a new convention put in place against the backdrop that the last convention was not acceptable to them, even as they asked Forbes the recognition of Amaechi as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum by President Goodluck Jonathan, adding that suspension placed on Amaechi by the party must be lifted as the way forward.
But the source said however that the Tukur group was said to have insisted that most of the demands of the other group were not responsible, adding that the NWC was validly elected and decision to leave office would be determined by individuals and the entire party.
It was also gathered that lifting the suspension of Amaechi would suffer a major set back because of the Governors’s court case, even as it was also gathered that only the President was capable of deciding whether to recognise Amaechi as the chairman of the NGF or not.
It was also learnt that President Jonathan might demand the backing of the governors for his second term if he was going to respond to some of the demands of his antagonists, especially the sacking of Tukur.
It will be recalled that last week Saturday at the Special National Convention of PDP, there was crisis when the party split into two parallel National Working Committee, NWC, with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven northern governors staging a walk out to later address a press conference on the formation of a new PDP with governor Chibuike Amaechi in attendance and Baraje named himself the national Chairman and annouced Sam Sam Jaja as Deputy National Chairman and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as National Secretary.
The governors who were at the venue of the convention until 2.45 pm last saturday when the names of candidates to be voted for were read and discovered that the name of the immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja was removed leaving only the former National Organising Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus as the sole candidate, with others screened out had to immediately leave for Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre to address the media.
They were governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Aliyu Babangida of Niger, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto state, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa.
Others were deputy governors of Sokoto, Murktar Shagari, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano, Ahmed Musa Ibeto of Niger state, former governor of Kwara State, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi, former Acting National Chairman of PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, former governor of Nasarawa state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, immediate past National Secretary of PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja, Senator Magnus Abe, chairman, House Committee on finance, Honourable Abdumumini Jibrin, Honourable Farouk Lawan, other members of the national assembly, state houses of assembly, among others.