WITH the Sallah holiday over, feuding camps of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are expected to resume their search for peace this week.
At their last gathering on October 7, they rescheduled the peace meeting for later this month after the Moslem celebration to enable them have a fuller house. In the interim, they agreed to implement past agreements.
After weeks of topsy-turvy search for peace and flurries of allegations and counter-allegations by the two warring camps, the next meeting is considered a make or mar one that will chart the way forward for the PDP.
Since the last meeting, a lot of water has literally passed under the bridge. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last week came out to recognise the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led PDP and disowned the Alhaji Abubakar Baraje-led camp known as new PDP, which includes the seven aggrieved governors. There is renewed romance between leaders of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) and some of the G-7 governors. Some APC leaders visited Adamawa State Governor and one of the G-7 helmsmen during the Sallah celebration and restated their invitation to the aggrieved governors to join the APC.
Thus, leaders of the party have to double their efforts on hammering out the reconciliation terms, consult and network more if they are really serious about ending the crises. It is also time for all organs and affiliates of the party such as the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDPGF), to play its strategic role.
The new PDP sprout from the tree of acrimony between the presidency and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman, Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, over NGF’s leadership. While the presidency wanted Amaechi to step down, the latter insisted on running, and his insistence led to the famous 19-16 election in the NGF with Amaechi as victor.
Since then, the NGF has been split with Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State leading the other camp.
Before then, the PDPGF led by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, was also founded as vehicle to rally the 24 PDP governors.
With complaints coming from other governors like Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and other aggrieved leaders such as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the deepening gulf between the presidency-backed Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led PDP and the nPDP reached a climax on August 31, during the Special National convention in Abuja.
The aggrieved members left the convention ground to another venue where they birthed nPDP and dished out a series of conditions for peace to return. The conditions include: President Jonathan should not re-contest in 2015, Bamanga Tukur should be removed as PDP chairman, and state executive committees of PDP loyal to Nyako and Amaechi should be reinstated among others.
At the last peace meeting called by President Goodluck Jonathan, on September 22, it was resolved that further talks be deferred to October 7
At the end of the National Working Committee, mid-week, the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, noted that the outcome of the October 7 meeting would determine the state and nature of the reconciliation efforts.
“We have already engaged in a reconciliation agenda, as espoused by the National Chairman when he came to the office and we have been touring the country and doing it. We discussed the efforts and how we can continue. We mentioned our aggrieved brothers, we have left it for the meeting of October 7 to know how best to handle it.
”The National Working Committee (NWC) met and we hope that we will be able to achieve full reconciliation with our aggrieved brothers, but this party is bigger than any person or any group and PDP will survive all interest. This is a national party; the custodians of the party administration are ready and capable to handle all matters that affect this party after the peace meeting.”
The October 7 meeting came and has passed with the leaders agreeing to meet again after the Sallah break. Before the next meeting, the leaders are expected to embark on aggressive fence-mending offensives to get all to the dialogue table.
It is also a time for the Akpabio-led PDPGF to take action and ensure peace in the party in view of the broken down talks between G7 and the President.
Since the G7 is composed of governors mainly, one question on the lips of observers is: can Akpabio utilize his salesman attributes to bring the combatants to the table?
Since the latest wave of the crisis started blowing, the PDPGF has made efforts to ensure truce. Part of the efforts led to the recall of Governor Wamakko by the PDP hierarchy and the agreement to reinstate the Adamawa state exco, which is loyal to Nyako.
However, the PDPGF is expected to do more. In recent times, it has been silent on unfolding events in the party. Hopes were raised ahead of the September 22 meeting in the Presidential Villa, where a truce was announced in a communiqué read by Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State. But 48 hours after the communiqué was read, the G7 governors and nPDP members visited the National Assembly and canvassed an eight-point agenda. The visit also led to commotion in the House of Representatives, with some members exchanging punches. The PDPGF did not utter a word on this development.
It has also not made categorical statements on President Jonathan’s insistence that he has the constitutional right to run in 2015; the G7 insistence that Jonathan had an agreement with northern leaders not to re-contest, an allegation that the President denied in a televised media chat on September 30 among others.
With some PDP hardliners describing most of the nPDP’s demands as unreasonable and PDP appears headed for the brink, will Akpabio allow his PDPGF to be decimated?
Sources close to the governor, said he is respecting the terms of agreement of the September 22 parley to water down comments being made by stakeholders in the media to boost the reconciliation efforts.
He is said to be working silently in concert with elders of the party including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih to salvage the party.
Whether or not his efforts will yield results is a question of time.