*Threatens to pull out if…
By Chioma Gabriel
THE threat by former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida to “reconsider” his membership of the PDP has put the ruling party on edge, despite attempts to downplay the incident.
General Babangida in a letter entitled Peoples Democratic Party and the Challenges of the Judgement of the High Cout of the Federal Capital Territory in Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/2425/2010 – Sani Aminu Dutsiman V. Peoples Democratic Party – Re-rotation and Zoning of Party and Public Elective Officers asked the party to respect a recent court ruling upholding the principle of party and elective positions as enshrined in the PDP constitution.
The general warned that he and some other aggrieved members would reconsider their continued membership of the party if their grievances were not addressed.
Although, the party in its official reaction declared that it would not be blackmailed by anyone on the issue, and that General Babangida was being unnecessarily petty, it was gathered that top shots of PDP were uncomfortable with the IBB threat and the implications for the party, especially with elections a few months away. His allies and those opposed to him differ in their reactions to the letter, though.
Leave me out of this – Ciroma
Contacted on the recent development and its implication for the consensus agreement of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, the Forum Chairman, Mallam Adamu Ciroma requested that he be left out of the controversy.
“You cannot be asking me because I am not IBB. Only IBB can answer the question of what he meant and not me. So, go and ask IBB whether he wants to dump consensus agreement or PDP”, he said. Dr Iyorchia Ayu, former President of the Senate who is also one of the consensus champions spoke in the same vein.
“I don’t understand the statement. I am not IBB’s spokesman. Why not ask him to explain himself? I don’t know anything. I am not saying anything. Leave me out of this.”
Don’t misinterprete his statement – Oyovbaire
Professor Sam Oyovbaire, a strong supporter of IBB,on the other hand, urged caution in interpreting the IBB statement because, according to him, the former military ruler has not said he is leaving the party now.
“What he did was write the national chairman of PDP because the party cannot obey its rule and the court says it’s the party that can enforce its rule. He didn’t say he was leaving the party now. The main thing he is agitating for is for PDP to stand by its rules.
He has not said he was going to dump consensus or the Northern consensus candidate. You must know there are two stages ahead. There are the PDP primaries and the main election. He has not said he will not support Atiku Abubakar in the primaries. IBB supporters who will be delegates to the PDP primaries will definitely support Atiku.. So even if it gets to the point where he decides to leave the party, his leaving will not affect his support for Atiku.
“The G4 meets frequently and hardly does anything without the other knowing. So Atiku must have known about IBB’s plans and the fact that it will not affect him in the PDP primaries. What IBB is saying is that he is a man who goes by the rules and if his party does not stick to these rules, he will leave but that does not affect his support or his supporters’ support for Atiku in the PDP primaries.”
For Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, an elder statesman known for championing the cause of the North, the issue caught him unawares. “Really , I don’t know if it will affect Atiku or not. But the court’s pronouncement citing Section 7.2(C) of PDP’s constitution is what IBB letter is all about. That means the PDP must enforce the zoning rules,” he said. “But if he pulls out, it is possible his supporters will still vote for Atiku in PDP primaries but let’s not look at it from that angle but from the angle of trying to ensure his party enforces its rules as contained in its constitution.”
Spokesman for the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani told Saturday Vanguard that the Forum was not disturbed by the perceived ambiguity of the letter to PDP.
“It’s about obeying a court order . IBB is not seriously thinking of leaving the PDP or abandoning the consensus arrangement. He’s only pointing out the dangers of the party not obeying its rules and the ruling of the court. No. He cannot abandon Atiku or consensus. He cannot do that.”
When Saturday Vanguard asked Chief John Oyegun, Deputy National Chairman of All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, if there was a deal between IBB and All Nigeria Peoples Party over the 2011 presidential election, Chief John Oyegun said nothing of the sort existed.
“ I’m not aware of any deal he has with ANPP and I’m surprised by his letter to the National Chairman of his party and statement. But seriously thinking, every Nigerian should be ready to do whatever it takes to get rid of this regime because in the past 12 years, they have destroyed Nigeria and should be removed. There is a major crisis in PDP and its road show cannot be allowed to affect the destiny of this country.
Nothing is working and they are not even thinking of Nigerians and the country but their selfish aggrandisement. That ought to be stopped no matter what it takes.” But IBB’s Media spokesman, Kassim Afegbua thinks the letter is being blown out of proportion. “He never said he was leaving PDP. It was an interpretation people chose to give it,” he said.