JONATHAN RESUMES PEACE MEETING….
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North; Abdulwahab Abdulah, Henry Umoru & Ben Agande
ABUJA—President Goodluck Jonathan and senior party officials are today, set to resume their peace talks with the breakaway governors of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The move for peace nonetheless, the two factions in the party also sustained judicial and extra-judicial moves to get the advantage over one another. The Kawu Baraje-led faction, yesterday, moved to assert its influence in the leadership of the party when it filed an action before a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, Lagos to restrain the factional executive led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur from parading itself as the authentic executive of the party.
Today’s meeting notwithstanding, national chairman of the breakaway faction of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje stuck to his guns, insisting that the rebellion against the Bamanga Tukur-led leadership will go its length till justice and fairness were restored to the party.
There was also concern in the Presidency and party circles, yesterday, that the crisis could worsen with fresh revelations of irregularities in the election of new officers by the Tukur-led executive last Saturday.
There was particular mention of some non-delegates including a very prominent presidency official from Edo State voting in the convention despite not being an accredited delegate to the convention. Today’s meeting follows the first talks between the president and the governors in the Presidential Villa on Sunday night which ran till 2.30 am yesterday.
That meeting took a break for the two factions to assess options laid before them at the preliminary talks during which the governors reportedly tabled conditions for peace. In the meantime a number of peace missions initiated by concerned party men and associates of the President were afoot at press time yesterday.
Among the peacemakers was a prominent Ijaw leader who it was learnt met with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, one of the rebel seven. Besides, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has summoned a meeting of party elders for Thursday. Former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu was also among those who have intervened in the crisis with pleas for settlement.
The meeting with Jonathan
The Sunday night meeting between the governors and Tukur, Vanguard learnt, was held under a sincere atmosphere as the governors reportedly poured out their grievances against the party leadership and the Presidency.
Among grievances allegedly tabled by the governors at the meeting were that Tukur should be removed as National Chairman; that the President should give up on his second term agenda; the re-run of congresses in some of the states, the reverse of the suspension of Governor Amaechi from the party among others.
The governors were also reported to have complained about the witch-hunt against perceived enemies of the administration by anti-corruption agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Two of the governors were alleged to have pointedly told the president to get the EFCC off the backs of the governors.
Speaking at the end of the meeting which ended around 2.30 a.m. yesterday, Chief Anthony Anenih, Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, BoT said:
“Mr. President, the leadership of the party and the PDP Governors met today, September 1, 2013, to discuss the incident that occurred during the PDP special convention of August 31, 2013, whereby some state delegations broke out of the convention ground to announce a faction of the PDP.
“The meeting was encouraging and smooth and the discussions will continue on Tuesday (today) with all the aggrieved governors in attendance,” Anenih said.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, it emerged yesterday, had spread the peace deal across the country towards major stakeholders who he has invited for a peace parley on Thursday.
Among those invited, Vanguard learnt yesterday, are former military president, Ibrahim Babangida; former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme; former national chairmen like Chief Solomon Lar, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, former National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau; among others.
Baraje to unveil faction’s officers tomorrow
Meanwhile, parallel chairman of PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje failed to open a secretariat for the parallel PDP and also failed to name the other members of the National Working Committee of the parallel faction as had been promised last Saturday.
But speaking yesterday, Baraje who reiterated that he is the authentic chairman of the PDP said the other officers of the party will be unveiled tomorrow. He gave no reason for the delay. In a separate statement, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, National Secretary of the Baraje-led faction of the PDP welcomed the solidarity from stakeholders and notes of concern from party elders.
He, nevertheless, pledged that the New PDP will not drop the ideals of justice and fairness that led to the break away last Saturday as he disclosed that leaders and members of the party have continued to pay solidarity visits to the party leaders.
Oyinlola who noted that the group will not relent in its mission of rescuing the party, said: “Alhaji Baraje and other leaders of the party appreciate the overwhelming outpouring of support and encouragement from genuine members and leaders of the party across the country. We assure them that we will not disappoint them in the mission to make the PDP work again in the interest of Nigeria and its people.
“We also appreciate the efforts of leaders of the party, particularly President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, we note, have scheduled a meeting of the party elders for this week. We respect the elders and will be guided by them even as we stress that we will not abandon the ideals of justice and fairness that gave birth to the new party leadership under Alhaji Baraje.
“We equally call on all party members across the country to remain peaceful and law abiding as the PDP rescue process is being pursued with vigour. We owe the coming generation of Nigerians a duty of ensuring that impunity and dictatorship do not take any root in our democracy and, indeed, in our nation.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was quiet on the development yesterday, saying that the commission’s monitors at the convention were yet to submit their observations at the convention.