The crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party does not seem to be abating as dissenting characters in the party continue to stick to their guns against the party leadership.
After several weeks of internal wrangling with back and forth negotiation among power brokers, a group of six governors with the former vice-president of the country during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Atiku Abubakar announced the formation of a parallel PDP with Abubakar Kawu Baraje as its chairman.
The PDP governors, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Atiku Abubakar staged a walk-out on Saturday during the PDP mini-convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja in protest against the “handling of the party” by its leadership headed by President Goodluck Jonathan and chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
In a press conference organised by the splinter group on Saturday, former vice president Atiku chided the leadership of the party saying it is headed in the wrong direction. He added that the democratic dispensation is supposed to make life better for Nigerians but frustration continues to be the lot of most Nigerians.
He appealed to those still sitting on the fence to join the splinter faction in its effort at moving the party forward.
Governor Babangida Aliyu and Atiku Abubakar
Atiku said, “I have always been trying to draw attention of leaders of our party, and the leaders of government that this democratic dispensation is supposed to make things better for the people of this country.
“Let us not deceive ourselves, the country is full of frustration, the country is full of anger, is full disappointment, therefore we have a responsibility, to see how we can reform our great party so that those lofty ideals, lofty goals can be achieved. They can not be achieved by the present leadership of the party. It cannot be achieved even by the presidency.
“I have said it before and I am saying it again; that we are going in a wrong direction, now we have seen the result.
“We are losing the party, we are losing the government, and for this very courageous people seated here, this idea was mooted to see whether we still have men with courage and determination to get up and stand up.
“I will therefore want to appeal to the rest of our party members who are still sitting on the fence to join this new PDP.
He promised to restore the values entrenched by the party’s founding fathers and solicited for the support and loyalty of party faithfuls in its effort at ushering in a new PDP.
“I want to assure you we will restore the values of the founding fathers of this party. Let me thank all you for the courage and support to stand up because some people will be hiding somewhere. By the grace of God with your support, with your loyalty, the change will be achieved,” Atiku stated.
While reacting to the accusations that he was taking part in the disintegration of a party he helped build, Atiku said his action is fired by his ambition to protect the party.
“That is exactly what I am doing: Protecting the PDP,” the former vice president said.
Since the splinter group saga broke, President Goodluck Jonathan who is the leader of the party, has presided over several meetings to establish a lasting solution to the political crisis and bring back the dissenting governors into the enlarged PDP fold, an effort which is increasingly proving difficult with the group of seven insisting on the removal of Tukur and reportedly demanding that he shelves his 2015 presidential ambition.
Rivers governor, Rotimi Amaechi with other governors
Even the efforts of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo and current chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih have so far proved unsuccessful in convincing the group of seven to sheathe their swords and let peace reign.
In a crucial meeting presided over by Jonathan on Sunday, the governors were said to have given their conditions for peace reportedly demanding that the president drops any second term ambition he might be considering, relieve Tukur of his position, stop the witch-hunt against Rivers governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and halt the incessant harassment by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in their states.
The meetings which started earnestly on Sunday resumed on Monday with no resolution. Reports say meetings and expanded high-level consultations will continue on Tuesday to find a lasting solution to the crisis bedeviling the ruling party.
Meanwhile, in its effort at self-determination, the Baraje led faction announced its plan to establish a new PDP secretariat with the former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the party’s National Secretary.
On Monday, the faction went ahead to institute a case before a Lagos High court asking the court to sack the Bamanga Tukur-led executive of the ruling party.
In a statement by the National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the faction said the case was a demonstration of the group’s determination “to effect a change and stem the slide of the PDP”.
Oyinlola named the plaintiffs in the case to include himself, factional chairman, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and factional Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja.
The Baraje-led faction, according to Oyinlola, is asking the court to restrain chairman of the other faction, Bamanga Tukur, its Deputy Chairman, Uche Secondus, Women Leader, Kema Chikwe, and Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh and others from parading themselves as members of the national executive of the party.
They also sought a motion exparte asking for leave to serve the defendants outside the jurisdiction of the court. Parties are to return to court on September 9 for initial hearings.
Showing a flicker of optimism, the PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh, who was himself re-elected during the mini-convention, said that the crisis rocking it will soon be a thing of the past.
According to Metuh, “Consultations on what happened on Saturday and all issues therein are ongoing at the highest level of the party in this country. We are going to take the decisions and the reasons behind the decision after tomorrow’s meeting.”
As consultations frantically continue, not less than twenty six senators of the PDP threw their support behind the Baraje led faction late on Monday as part of the new initiative to “reposition” the party.
According to the senators, “By this decision that no doubt provides a soothing balm that will calm frail nerves in the party, you have written your names in gold and will be remembered in our political history as men that stood to save the party and Nigeria’s democracy,” the lawmakers said.
Where does the party go from here? Will the feuding parties establish a common ground for resolution? How prepared are the political actors in finding a compromise in the interest of the largest party in Africa? Let’s keep our fingers crossed, only time will tell.