In continuation of moves to map out an overall strategy to remain in contention for future political contests, members of the New Peoples Democratic Party will today meet at the Sokoto State Governor’s Lodge, in Asokoro, Abuja, THISDAY has learnt.
New PDP is a splinter group in the Peoples Democratic Party formed by state delegates, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven governors, who had walked out of the August 31 national convention of PDP in Abuja. The group is chaired by former acting national chairman of PDP Abubakar Baraje.
Today’s meeting of the New PDP, which was postponed from last week, would be taking place amid alleged unease in the group about the perceived presidential ambition of House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal. Tambuwal is widely believed to have sympathy for New PDP.
Those expected to attend the meeting are key promoters of the group and members of its National Working Committee. They include Baraje, the faction’s deputy national chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, the national secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and some former governors, comprising Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Danjuma Goje, and Senator Abdullahi Adamu. Some National Assembly members are also expected at the meeting.
The seven governors in New PDP – Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), and Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) – are also billed to attend the meeting scheduled for 8pm today.
According to a governor who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the meeting is expected to discuss, among other issues, the modalities for receiving five new governors that have indicated interest in joining the New PDP.
Yesterday in Ilorin, Baraje told newsmen that five governors – besides the seven named above – had concluded arrangements to join New PDP.
“We are only telling you five. They may be more than five. Don't be in a hurry,” Baraje said regarding the new governors expected to join New PDP.
Asked how the current factional crisis in PDP could be resolved, the New PDP national chairman said the settlement would come, “Once there is stoppage to impunity, lawlessness, disorderliness, and then whims and caprices being perpetrated by the present leadership, the so-called leadership of Bamanga Tukur."
Apart from the new membership of New PDP, today’s meeting of the faction is expected to deliberate on its next steps after the recent court rulings against it.
A Lagos State High Court presided over by Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie had on October 10 dismissed a suit filed by the Baraje-led faction to try to stop Tukur and other co-defendants from parading themselves as National Executive Committee members of PDP. The court struck out the case for lack of jurisdiction. And on October 18 in Abuja, a Federal High Court presided over Justice Elvis Chukwu restrained Baraje and other national officers of New PDP from operating as officers of PDP at any level. The case was brought by the Tukur-led PDP.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had also recently stated that the Tukur-led party was the authentic PDP recognised by law.
The meeting of the New PDP today would deliberate on whether or not to continue discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan and his team on resolution of the PDP crisis in the light of the recent court pronouncements as well as a growing onslaught against New PDP members by institutions believed to be allied with the federal government. The last reconciliatory meeting held on October 7 had agreed to adjourn until after the Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.
Meanwhile, most of the G7 governors – the seven governors that had walked out of the PDP convention – are said to be uncomfortable with an alleged presidential ambition of Tambuwal, and the controversy generated by this is believed to be delaying the governors’ declaration for the All Progressives Congress.
Tambuwal is from Sokoto State in the North-west, where many believe that APC would eventually zone its presidential ticket, and he is a close ally and friend of Wamakko.
A source told THISDAY that the G7 governors were worried by alleged secret meetings between the speaker and APC chieftains, which they believed had taken place in Abuja and Ghana lately. To circumvent any untoward effects on their political careers, in the event of their defection to APC, the governors are said to be insisting on being allowed to control the APC structures in their respective states.
“The problem now is not the governors joining the APC, but what will be their gains. They are more worried because they are coming in rather late. This is why they are holding seriously to their condition that they should be allowed to control the political party structures in their respective states.
“Apart from this, there is this suspicion that the governor of Sokoto State is one of the forces behind the presidential ambition of Tambawaal. They believe that his governor is behind his romance with the APC.” the source said.
While Aliyu and Nyako were said to have met on Friday over the issue after the Jumat service at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Abuja, Kwankwaso and Lamido were said to have discussed it in Dutse.
The governors would be expected to express their fears and harmonise their positions at a larger meeting this week. But, “Where this fear could not be adequately addressed, then, this could be the end of the New PDP, because the entire idea is how to ensure that one of them emerges a presidential candidate of APC, as the presidential candidate of PDP is already known. The ticket is reserved for President Goodluck Jonathan,” the source said.