*To consult with Shagari, Ekwueme, Danjuma
*Embattled President, NASS members in midnight consultations
By Jide Ajani
The cloud overhang of mass mobilization that the All Peoples Congress, APC, has engendered appears to be getting heavier with the visit of the party’s leadership to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Abeokuta residence.
But the APC hierarchy would not stop at that, Sunday Vanguard can reveal authoritatively.
In fact, also slated for consultation in the coming weeks by the party’s top brass are Second Republic President and Vice President, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari and Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, respectively, and former Minister of Defence, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma.
Before yesterday’s visit, the party leaders had consulted with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as two former military leaders, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
One of the party leaders in attendance at the meeting with Obasanjo told Sunday Vanguard that the “ill-wind blowing in the country as a result of the mis-governance of President Goodluck Jonathan is ominous and most right thinking leaders as opposed to the sycophants surrounding the President are worried.”
The leader pointed out, “Even those we have so far visited and those we are going to be visiting are also concerned”.
According to him, “what we are doing is not scouting for leaders to come and join the party. What we just want to establish is that since we are all stakeholders and what binds us is the unity and stability of the Nigerian state, we are consulting with the elder statesmen with a view to sensitizing them to the moves we are engaging so that they are in the know.
“And whereas we are not recruiting them into our mission and vision, we would not want them to create obstacles on our way to rescuing Nigeria from a clueless administration.”
Yesterday’s meeting, sources confirmed , had been fixed long before the defection of the five Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors.
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, led the pack of other APC leaders, including the party’s Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari; former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff; Senator Bukola Saraki; and Alhaji Lai Mohammed to the meeting with Obasanjo.
The APC leaders and the PDP governors who defected started trickling into the former president’s Hilltop Mansion from 5:22pm when Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State arrived in company of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; and a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.
Other APC governors at the meeting are Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Senator Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
The Chairman of the New PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, led some of his members to the crucial meeting.
`Be APC navigator’
In his remarks, Tinubu begged Obasanjo to be the navigator for the APC.
“You have come out of tribulation and held the highest position in this country. We are here because of your courage and salient points. Nobody can say he has information more than you,”the APC leader said.
“You have surmounted a number of crises. Nigeria is divided more than before. To realise a stable Nigeria, we want to encourage you to continue to speak the truth. We have resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you to be our navigator” .
The interim National Chairman of APC, Akande, explained the rationale behind the meeting with Obasanjo.
He said, “We have come to introduce our party to you; we are in the support of the 18-page letter written to Jonathan, you are capable”.
Speaking on behalf of APC governors, Imo State governor, Okorocha, urged the former president to be upright.
He said: “You should be upright on the issue of Nigeria. Many of the governors passed through your political school, the battle is for the generation on board. It is a task that must be done”.
Responding, Obasanjo declared that the APC has been enhancing democracy in Nigeria through its reactions to issues.
The former president begged the opposition party to play politics without bitterness.
He, however, turned down the request to become a member of the APC. ” I am a card carrying member of the PDP but the politics I play traverses Nigeria, Africa and world in that order,”Obasanjo said.
” I am a democrat and one of the essential ingredients of democracy is opposition. A democracy that has no opposition built into it is not democracy.
“As an opposition, you are enhancing democracy, you are at home, you are welcome to being at home. As time goes on, I will just appeal that the politics you play is politics without rancour, without bitterness, with decency, that has Nigeria at heart. I am an incurable optimist about Nigeria. I am totally committed to Nigeria and nothing will divert me from that commitment”.
Obasanjo declared himself as a political father who has no rival, saying, “In whichever party, for whatever office that contested or aspired in Nigeria since 1999, such a person, young or old man or woman can claim to be my political child and I can claim to be by virtue of the political office I have held. I can also claim to be political father; so, you are here and you are welcome”.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has initiated moves to placate members of the National Assembly as he has been having series of nocturnal meetings with members and the leadership of the National Assembly.
Since Monday, Jonathan was said to have been meeting with members and leaders of the National Assembly individually to find a common ground on some of the issues agitating the minds of the legislators.
The meetings, it was gathered, began when the issue of impeachment of the president was broached by members of the opposition APC over alleged breaches of the constitution.
So far, Jonathan has met with the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ndoma Egba, the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, and the Deputy Senate, President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, culminating in a midnight meeting with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
Though details of what was discussed at the meetings could not be ascertained, the recent defection of some members of the PDP in the House of Representatives to the APC as well as the call for the impeachment of the president by the APC may have featured in their discussions.
Sack defected lawmakers, PDP tells INEC
In a related development, the PDP has written to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, asking him to declare vacant the seats of the 37 members of the House of Representatives who dumped the party for APC.
In a letter to INEC, dated 19 December, 2013, the party said there were no factions in its fold as it remains one PDP, just as it stressed that what the lawmakers did was contrary to the Constitution of the party and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The letter, signed by the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, and the National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon, asked INEC to immediately conduct elections in the defected lawmakers constituencies against the backdrop that what they did was cross-carpeting.
According to the PDP, INEC must declare the lawmakers seats vacant and conduct elections unless they have a change of mind, adding that it has no factions as observed by INEC and upheld by the court.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the PDP took the decision to write INEC for fear of losing the majority in the lower chambre of the House just as members of the PDP say the APC could only take charge of the House if its members hit 181, basing their argument on the rule that requires a simple majority to take over the leadership.