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Will this centre still hold?

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By Choma Gabriel
Has the last been heard of the ongoing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP crisis?  Will democracy survive this onslaught  on the ruling party? Will Nigeria ever be the same again after this in-house politicking?

These questions and more have bedevilled Nigerians since the split of PDP on August 31, following disagreements that could not be easily resolved.

Current wave of events point to the contrary. The  seeming peace arrived at  earlier in the week might just be an illusion as the August 31, factionalisation of the party has continued unhindered.

Just  recently, the Baraje-led faction accused the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur of not being serious about the ongoing peace moves. The leadership of the nPDP also denied entering any ceasefire deal with President Jonathan.

It became obvious that  the centre can no longer hold for the PDP  the moment former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s allies registered the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), and although the former Vice- President washed his hands off  the registration of the party, it was one action that has clearly decimated the ruling party.

Indeed, these are trying times for the  PDP and it is obvious that the sour grapes eaten by the  fathers  have set the children’s teeth on edge.

Several attempts made by some elders of the party  to  reconcile all sides and return the party to oneness have failed so far. Former president Obasanjo’s efforts yielded no fruits  and attempt by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees , BoT of the party, Chief Tony Anenih caught him in the middle. Clearly, Anenih was neither here nor there.

The perception  in some quarters that the grievances of the governors who walked out of the August 31, mini convention with the former Vice-President were genuine has not gone down well with the presidency as the leadership of the party  equally perceived some of the demands made by the splinter group as outrageous.

Provocative statements from the two sides of the party are  jeopardising  efforts   to make peace  and the verbal war between   the Chairman of the party, Bamaga Tukur and the leadership of the factional party have not helped matters.

The altercations between the two sides have been harsh and improper but what worsened the situation   was the threat to recall members of the National Assembly who have shown sympathy with  the splinter group. Bamanga Tukur became the man on the cross and sour grapes were freely thrown at him.

At a stage, the battle  shifted to the courts with Tukur filing a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking the committal of Alhaji Baraje; his deputy, Dr. Sam Jaja, and their national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola to prison while  Baraje, on the other hand, asked the court to commit Tukur to jail for contempt.

BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih has  been careful with his statements, remaining  firm  in protecting the interests of  President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, even as he acknowledged that  some of the governors’ grievances were genuine. For a man who has spear-headed  peace processes within the party in the past, this is one peace move that is eluding resolution . It is no longer  a figment of anyone’s imagination that the leadership of the party has bitten more than it could chew.

By not denigrating  Atiku, Kwankwaso, Lamido, Wammakko, Nyako and company, Anenih has proven to mean the business of reconciliation but that was until Wednesday when the nPDP issued a statement claiming ‘no deal with Jonathan,’  accusing Akpabio of deceiving Nigerians and threatening to block Jonathan’s ministerial nominees if they were not carried along.

Understandably, President Jonathan has gagged  his media aides  from making comments on the crisis. Rueben Abati and Doyin Okupe are consciously looking the other way. In a statement  he issued , the President had described the crisis as a normal  and minor disagreement that would soon be resolved.

But the foregoing can no longer be described as normal and if not carefully handled, could nip the fortunes of the party in the bud come  2015.

 Whether the leadership of the party accepts it or not, some form of sacrifice should  be made. It would definitely cost an arm or a leg for peace to return to the party. Something (or someone) definitely must be sacrificed.

This is the  first crisis that really touched the soul of the party which had only witnessed crises in  states and local governments.

The current development is also targetted towards  stopping the aspiration of President Jonathan to re-contest  in 2015.  Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the G7 governors with their national assembly counterparts perceive Jonathan’s 2015 ambition as what would  bring disintegration of the country .

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Elders Committee have  told President Goodluck Jonathan to shelve his 2015 ambition as one of the conditions for resolving the crisis but that is almost an impossiblity as nothing could be seen to stop Jonathan.

However, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh has promised that the crisis would soon be resolved .

But with the u-turn made by the nPDP , it is obvious  the end of the  crisis is not in sight. What will happen next is still  blowing in the wind.

Between the sacked Ministers and the nPDP

Only last week, President Jonathan  sacked nine ministers, believed  to be nominated by governors and top politicians of the New PDP.  The sacked ministers were caught off-guard . The ‘New’Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) had claimed that the nine Ministers sacked by President Goodluck Jonathan  were under security watch for weeks, describing them as  victims of the ongoing war between the PDP and the splinter group.

The  sacked  Ministers were allegedly placed under surveillance and denied the necessary tools to work with while the corrupt ones, whose atrocious activities are well known to Nigerians, were retained. One of the  sacked Ministers , the ex-Minister of Housing, Ms Amal Pepple was allegedly sacked for   approaching President Jonathan and pleading with him to forgive Governor Amaechi for whatever sins he committed against him.

In all, the President Jonathan took these sacked ministers unawares and left  the survivors rattled and aghast.
The presidency has since dispelled allegations that their sack has  political undertones although many were not convinced by the Information Minister’s  assurances.

For instance, the sacked Minister of State for Power, Kuchi was the NigerState nominee sponsored by Governor Aliyu Mua’zu Babangida who  is a leading figure  of the nPDP.
Obada, the former Minister of State of Defence who hails from Osun State was nominated by Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the former National Secretary of the PDP  and now  National Secretary of the nPDP.
Professor Rufai’s removal was perceived to be connected with the activities of her state governor, Lamido, who is against Jonathan’s  2015 ambition and the leadership style of the party Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.

As President Jonathan shops for nominees to occupy the vacated ministerial positions, the G7 governors expect him to seek their inputs in the selection of the new ministers from their respective states.  But Jonathan doesn’t seem to be complying and the ceasefire deal is failing due to mistrust.  The G-7  governors have   pointed out their sceptism, citing the experience of five former governors used and dumped by Jonathan in the past.

Definitely, the governors are not leaving anything to chance . Who wants to play the fool ? Time and chance happeneth things.

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