Rules out ex-President defection to APC
By Dirisu Yakubu
As the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, begins skeletal preparations for the 2023 general elections, immediate past President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki has assured the party faithful of the commitment of ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan to avail the PDP of his experience, time and resources to return it to power, particularly at the centre.
This is even as Senator Saraki in a veiled dig at highly-placed members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, reminded anyone who cares to know that the former President is bent on seeing the PDP bounce back to national reckoning.
Saraki who stated this shortly after leading members of the PDP national reconciliation and strategy committee to a meeting with Jonathan at his Maitama-Abuja home, expressed happiness at the turn of events, following unconfirmed reports that the ruling party had been making subtle moves to get the ex-President into its fold.
Addressing newsmen, Tuesday, Saraki said: “We are members of the national reconciliation and strategy committee set up by the party and part of our task is to meet with our former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan. We are starting off with our former President and we are here to let him know what our plans are and also to hear his own views and advice on what we need to do and how to do it as well as how we need to strengthen the party and reconcile aggrieved members in order to bring about unity and focus in our party.”
According to him, the meeting which lasted over one and half hour was very productive saying, “it was a very useful meeting. He gave us his views and we are very happy. He reassured all of us of his commitment to the PDP and he told us that he is still ready to offer his time, experience and resources to strengthen the party and that is very strong and important for us. Of course, you know there are funny issues going on but we are leaving this place very happy.
“He is also ready to work with the reconciliation committee to play his own. That is a great step for the party. We have put that behind us all those people of the other party that would like to come and disturb our leaders. Our leaders are here and they are ready to work for the party,” he added.
On whether the meeting deliberated on the possibility of Jonathan gunning for the Presidency in 2023; Saraki was evasive adding however that the former first citizen’s pledge to work in furtherance of the cause of the PDP is commendable.
“We spoke about what role former Presidents like him will play and he left us feeling very happy that yes, he will like to play that role in the PDP and helping our committee to move forward,” he added.
Present at the meeting were other members of the committee including former Governors Ibrahim Dankwambo, Ibrahim Shema and Liyel Imoke of Gombe, Katsina and Cross River states respectively; ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; and erstwhile House of Representatives leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande.
Vanguard reports that the Saraki committee was inaugurated few months after the PDP lost the 2019 Presidential election to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, with a dual mandate of reconciling aggrieved members who left the party’s fold for one reason or the other as well as wooing new members into the party ahead of the next general election cycle.
He further added that those “disturbing” the former President into quitting the major opposition party should perish the thought as he (Jonathan) remains a PDP man to the core.