By Henry Umoru, Abuja
STRONG indications emerged yesterday that the lingering political problem between the Governor of Rivers State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP would soon be resolved.
This was even as Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State said yesterday that the lingering problems in the party between some governors and the ruling party would soon be over.
Uduaghan spoke in an interview with newsmen in Abuja at the end of a meeting of the PDP Special National Convention, noting however that viable opposition party or parties was good for the development of democracy in the country, even as he was quick to add that the PDP was not in any way threatened by the coming together of opposition political parties to form the All Progressives Congress, APC.
‘’We had our emergency NEC meeting yesterday which was very successful and we have a national convention which is coming up on July 20, to regularize elections that INEC has issues with at the party level. The party is still very much intact and very very strong for that matter.
‘’Some of these governors that people are saying are not pleased with the party, virtually all the governors were there yesterday. May be one or two were not there because they traveled.
‘’At the PDP Governors’ Forum; within ourselves, we are doing a lot of reconciliation. You would have noticed that even the coming back of Wamakko had a lot of input from us. We had to appeal to the leadership of the party that the suspension should be reversed and the party graciously agreed to reverse it. So, whatever is left, we are handling it at that level.
On the formation of APC, he said, ‘’I don’t think the PDP has ever been threatened. Like the President said, it is good that we have a stronger opposition but it is not that there is any threat.”
However, sources said that the decision by the PDP to resolve its crisis with Governor Amaechi became necessary in view of the determination by the party not to lose any of its governors especially ahead of 2015 general elections.
However, the Akwa Ibom State Governor and Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio confirmed that moves were on to ensure that Amaechi and the party withdraw their cases from the court for amicable settlement of their dispute.
Meanwhile, Chairman of PDP Special National Convention Planning Committee, Professor Jerry Gana has said that vacant offices arising from the resignations of former members of the National Working Committee, NWC, would be open to all qualified members of the party including the erstwhile officers during the July 20 Special National Convention to be attended by about 4,000 delegates.
Gana said, ‘’4000 delegates are expected. The offices that are vacant will be open to all interested members of the party and we have already written to INEC to inform them that the NEC of our party has resolved to reconvene the convention on July 20. The only zonal congress that has been affected is the one for the south west which we have now scheduled for July 11.”
The Deputy Senate President and Secretary of the Special Convention Planning Committee, Senator Ike Ekweremadu also said that there would be no re-zoning of positions occupied by former members of the NWC who resigned following the report of the INEC, adding that the party took the 2012 convention for granted where there was yes vote for a candidate.
Ekweremadu said, ‘’I am not aware that Nigerians decided that our chairman will leave. It is not for Nigerians to decide for PDP. PDP will decide whether their chairman will stay or not. It was entirely an internal issue; let us put it in a proper perspective; what we are doing in PDP is to demonstrate that we are a party that is committed to rule of law.
‘’Now the INEC made an observation regarding our last Convention and the observation is straight forward. They are saying that we had a guideline that stipulated that even when you have one candidate for a particular position, there must be voting for the person, but unfortunately, we took it for granted that since we had one candidate for each of these positions, we could as well do a yes vote.
‘’Some of our colleagues went to court to challenge the decision of the convention and electing those other people in pursuant to the voice vote. The matter is still in court, but we said, instead of waiting for court to decide one way or the other, why don’t we do it again and in doing that, are you going to stay those whose elections were said to be correct to resign, it doesn’t make sense.’’
Governor Akpabio had said that the resolution of the crises between the party and Amaechi would, ‘’show that PDP is always able to resolve every single conflict. It also shows that we will continue to rule Nigeria for a long time to come because we have stakeholders, members of the party that think more of this country; they want peace for this country, they believe strongly on this country over and above their personal interests.
’’That was a major significance of yesterday’s event. When we had the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the PDP and heard that all the officers from the deputy National Chairman down to the deputy Financial Secretary and Treasurer were affected by the INEC report, we resolved that the best way to go was to ask them to tender their resignations in the interest of the party; and to enable the party call for a Special National Convention and regularize the process that INEC pointed out.
‘’And for me, I was very elated and happy that we have members and stakeholders who are more concerned about the stability of the party and about the future of Nigeria than their personal interests. What that means in essence is that PDP will always be in a position to resolve its problems internally.”
On reconciliation between the PDP and some of its governors, Akpabio who is the Deputy Chairman, Special National Convention Planning Committee said, ‘’the reconciliation among the governors is already on going. If you noticed yesterday, we had almost all the governors of the PDP there even the recently recalled brother of mine and governor of Sokoto State attended the NEC meeting.
’’Almost all the PDP governors were there. If there was any governor that was not there yesterday, he was probably on an official duty for the Federal Government and for this nation because I know that the Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam is a member of this IPP committee that is going around looking for investors in the power sector; they travelled to Hongkong.
‘’You can see that peace is gradually returning to the fold of the entire PDP and I assure you that all issues will be resolved because the other day, a press man asked me yes, you have recalled Wamakko, the governor of Sokoto State through the National Working Committee; what about the governor of Rivers State? I pointed out that the governor of Sokoto State did not go to court and that the other matter regarding my brother, the governor of Rivers State was in court and was therefore subjudice, but we are exploring all means to ensure out of court settlement to bring back everybody to the fold.
‘’I think it is important to note that we are determined through the PDP Governors’ Forum to bring all our brothers together; the intention of our forum is not to lose a single governor, we want to increase the number. When I came in as a governor in 2007, we were almost 29 governors, but through various court cases and internal wrangling, the rank and file depleted until we are now 23. Under this new forum, we are now determined to increase the number.”
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis, North, South New Nigeria yesterday said the PDP would win 33 states in 2015, just as it will continue to control the National Assembly as well as State Houses of Assembly.
The Chairman of the group and former Minister of Education, Alhaji Dauda Birmah said that it was formed to support the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and affirmed that President Jonathan would contest for a second term in office.
Meanwhile, the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur has described the outcome of Thursday’s NEC meeting of the party, as indication that PDP should be seen as a strong and peaceful political association of like minded patriots.
He however thanked President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, other members of the National Assembly, members of NEC, Board of Trustees, BoT, as well as the governors for their support at the meeting where he survived plots to remove him.
Tukur noted that PDP members were nationalists united in their resolve to take Nigeria to greater heights irrespective of minor political differences, adding, ‘’the PDP has by the successful hosting of the NEC meeting proved that it is a political institution which has come to stay in Nigeria’s political hemisphere and cannot disintegrate as doomsday prophets are bound to conjuncture or surmise.”