Why Atiku, others broke away
Plausible reasons why former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and seven governors of the Peoples Democratic Party, broke out and formed a parallel faction of the party, have begun to emerge.
Competent sources told Vanguard on Monday that Atiku and the ‘rebel’ governors took the decision to stall the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
A source close to the Atiku camp, said that the former Vice President and many northern governors elected on the platform of the party, were convinced that powerful forces led by Chief Anthony Anenih were set to field Jonathan as presidential candidate of the PDP in the next election, against an earlier agreement to run for just a term of four years.
There has been unease in the PDP since Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, challenged President Jonathan last March not to contemplate running for a second term since he had a gentleman agreement with them in 2010 not to go for a second term if elected in the 2011 election.
Although the letter has not been made public, thereby fuelling speculation that it remains a conceptual variable, many Presidential aides have challenged the anti-Jonathan forces to produce the so-called agreement as a proof or shut up forever.
According to findings, Atiku, is ready to join forces with others in the party to ensure that Jonathan abides by the ‘deal’ he entered into with Northern leaders and governors to run for only a term.
It was learnt that the former VP, who is alleged to have had a hand in the newly-registered Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, was ready to challenge the forces bent on imposing Jonathan on the party not minding how long it would take.
The source noted that the move against Jonathan’s re-election was a popular decision being backed by many northern governors and political leaders in the PDP and that many other governors might jump on the band wagon in the coming months.
The move, it was gathered, is aimed at weakening the PDP to a point that whoever emerges as its presidential candidate would not stand a chance of winning the next election.
The source said that although the PDM was registered to provide a fallback position to be thrown out of the PDP as a result of the rebellion, most of the actors would want to remain in the PDP until it crumbles.
A source said, “It is true that what has been happening in the PDP lately has given Atiku and other stakeholders in the country a serious cause for concern. It is clear to all of these people that the President is desperately plotting to return in 2015 against an earlier agreement he had with some northern leaders to run for a single term.
“What the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu exposed last March is nothing but the whole truth. Jonathan pleaded with them to support him only for one term and his decision to run is against that gentleman agreement and that is what is causing the ripples in the party.
“Atiku even met with the President just after the election and he told him he would not run again. I can tell you that it was that assurance that prevented Atiku from challenging Jonathan’s emergence as the candidate of the PDP in the 2011 primaries.
Although Jonathan has begun serious moves to appease the ‘rebel group’, those familiar with the plot are of the view that not much would be achieved unless the President serves notice not to run for a second term.
Meanwhile, the Baraje-led faction, yesterday, moved to assert its influence on the activities of the party, by asking a Lagos High Court not to recognize Tukur and three new officers elected at the Special Convention of the party last Saturday.
The three officers, who emerged from the convention, which was boycotted by six states from the North, were Prince Uche Secondus, Kema Chikwe and Mr. Olisa Metuh.
While Secondus was elected as Deputy National Chairman, Chikwe clinched the post of National Women Leader and Metuh, National Publicity Secretary of the Tukur faction.
But the trio of Abubakar Baraje, Sam Sam Jaja and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who were named the leaders of the parallel PDP last Saturday in Abuja, approached a Lagos High Court, yesterday, praying it to restrain Tukur and the other officers from parading themselves as members of the NEC of the PDP.
They also sought a motion ex-parte asking for leave to serve the defendants outside Lagos jurisdiction.
In his ruling, Justice Safari granted the plaintiffs leave to serve the defendants in their various locations, but adjourned the matter till next Monday to take a decision on who should be regarded as authentic office holders of the PDP. The court held that there was no urgency to warrant the granting of the prayer sought by the plaintiffs and ordered the maintenance of the status quo pending the hearing of the motion on notice.
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee, NWC at the end of its first meeting after the Saturday election where some of the former members were elected and new ones brought in, said that consultations were on going at the highest level of the party as part of moves to nip in the bud, the latest crisis in the party.
The new National Publicity Secretary of the Tukur-led faction of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh spoke as the new Deputy National Chairman of the same faction, Prince Uche Secondus; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Women Leader, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, and National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon; among others respectively held the first meeting with Tukur and assumed office.
Metuh said: “Consultations is going on at the highest level of this party, the President, national chairman of our party, chairman, board of trustees, PDP governors are meeting on this and their discussions so far have been very encouraging, at the appropriate time, we will communicate to the media the decisions they arrange, the meeting is continuing on Tuesday (today) and once the meeting is over, whatever the outcome is, we will communicate immediately to the press and we will inform you the reasons behind the decisions, but for now consultations are going on at the highest level of the party.”
Crack in PDP will not affect its existence —Gulak
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak has said that contrary to expectations of the opposition, the split of last Saturday would not bring an end to the PDP.
Speaking with State House Correspondents yesterday, Gulak carpeted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for instigating the rebellion in the party, saying that as one who is heavily indebted to the party, the only way to pay back is to protect it.
“I was surprised because Atiku is supposed to know more than another person that there is no party like PDP. He left PDP and went to ACN and he came back to PDP, because he discovered that outside PDP there is no party, so he had to come back and he was even given the waiver to contest the primaries election in 2011. Atiku should be grateful to PDP. Atiku is indebted to PDP and the best way to continue to pay the debt is to protect PDP” he said.
He said despite the challenge of the present crisis in the party, the PDP will emerge stronger and all grievances would be resolved.
“It is all politics and politics is about interests, and we are harmonising, we are talking, we are dialoguing, because the PDP as a family will not allow any of its members to go away, and even the members that want to go away, we will make bold to tell them that out there, there is no party as good as PDP. So it is a matter of dialogue, it is a matter of discussion and God willing these problems will be surmounted.
“It can never be the end of PDP. PDP has been there from 1998, it is only the PDP that has still maintained its name and identity. The other people you are talking about, started as AD, transformed to AC, transformed to ACN, you know they have lost their identity. It is only PDP that has consistently maintained its identity and its name so there is no party that can beat PDP”.
Spokesman of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Mallam Garba Shehu in a sharp response to issues raised against Atiku said:
“I just spoke with the former Vice President and his response is that he has heard Mr Gulak and he does not dispute the fact that he is indebted to the PDP but that the best way to continue to pay that debt is to protect PDP. He says “that is exactly what I am doing: Protecting the PDP”