The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has embarked on moves to get five of its governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) back under its umbrella.
THISDAY gathered yesterday that the party has reopened discussion with them with the aim of resolving the issues that pushed them to join the opposition party.
Besides, the presidency has joined forces with the party to engage the five governors who defected from the PDP in November so that they could return to the ruling party.
The defected governors are: Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).
However, amid speculations over a plot by the PDP to remove the five governors, the APC Thursday warned the ruling party against any attempt to remove them, saying this would not bode well for the peace of the country.
Also, Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, who along with the five governors and others who factionalised the PDP by forming the New PDP, explained yesterday why he did not follow his five colleagues to dump the ruling party.
He said he decided to stay back in PDP because his people did not want him to leave the party.
A source told THISDAY yesterday that the presidency and the PDP leadership have been reaching out to the five governors to see if they could rethink their defection.
It was learnt that the party and the presidency have commissioned some people to convince the governors with a promise that a compromise could be reached in resolving their grievances.
One of the governors who was contacted a couple of days ago while in Lagos for a meeting with the APC leadership had granted audience to the emissary of the PDP but told him that a change of mind was late as any such move would be suicidal.
"They also know it's not possible and I told him so. How can we change our mind now? It's late. We're gone and gone for good. Even those who have not left, they can't change their minds, much less those of us who have gone and gone for good," he said.
The governor explained that it was not a matter of pride but a question of risk elimination, which does not add up at this stage of the struggle to combat the rudderless leadership of the PDP.
"We've been on this for many months now and they could not do anything to stop us. Instead, what we were confronted with was a very arrogant leadership that thought everything started and ended with them. But this decision is to prove them wrong. So, any move to change us now is futile," he added.
In an apparent confirmation of the new rapprochement between PDP and the defected governors, the party in a statement yesterday said it was holding talks with them along with all major stakeholders of the party to end the festering crisis in the party.
The party also debunked reports in some sections of the media that some senators walked out on its National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, when he visited the Senate to meet with PDP senators on Wednesday.
Perhaps it was in light of the new peace efforts to assuage the feelings of the defected governors that Tukur during his visit to the Senate, told reporters that he was not aware that Amaechi and others had left the party.
"Have they defected? They have not gone yet," he had said in response to the reporters' inquiry.
According to a statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in Abuja, the party will do all within its powers to engage all its aggrieved members so that their grievances can be addressed and peace return to the party.
The party restated the commitment of its National Working Committee (NWC) to resolve all the issues fuelling crisis in the party and to "ensure that all issues are handled along the lines of these ideals and in accordance with the provisions of the PDP constitution, the constitution of Nigeria and the laws of the land. We reiterate that no unlawful means will be used under any guise whatsoever in handling the issues.”
The party urged all its members to remain calm and focused, adding that it would come out of the current challenges stronger than ever.
On the report that some senators walked out on Tukur, Metuh described it as untrue, saying it is “totally false and deliberately planted by the enemies of the PDP to mislead the public and impede efforts by the leadership to achieve total reconciliation in the party.”
Notwithstanding the olive branch to the defected governors, APC yesterday warned PDP against any attempt to remove them from office because they switched political allegiance.
The party threatened to use its rumoured majority in the National Assembly in the wake of the defection to checkmate any further acts of impunity by PDP and the presidency.
The party said apart from being illegal and smacking of double standard, such a move could plunge Nigeria into chaos.
In a statement by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said any attempt by the PDP to act in desperation and declare the governors' seats vacant would be met with an unprecedented show of people's power that would end, once and for all, the impunity of the PDP and the presidency.
"We have irrefutable evidence that the PDP is desperately shopping for a pliant judge who will be heavily induced to declare vacant the seats of the five governors who recently defected to the APC. We also have the name of the lawyers who have been retained by the PDP for this hatchet job," it said.
APC said it was aware of the various legal options being explored by PDP and the presidency in a desperate bid to remove the governors.
"We hereby serve a strong notice to the duo that any attempt by anyone through any means other than what is provided for in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, will not only have grave consequences but will leave the polity severely bruised.
"We know the PDP and the presidency are anarchic and nihilistic, and will not mind to pursue any narrow and selfish objective, even if doing such can plunge the nation into a crisis. But their cup is gradually getting full.
"We wish to state unequivocally that should the PDP go ahead with this plan, there will be widespread repercussions as the APC has resolved that henceforth, every act of impunity of the PDP and the presidency will be met with stiff resistance in the form of a vociferous telegraphing of people's power, the likes of which have not been witnessed in these parts," the opposition party added.
The party also warned against any attempt by the PDP and the presidency to roll back reforms in the judiciary by suborning a judge to unseat the governors.
"We recognise the efforts of the present CJN to sanitise the judiciary since she assumed the mantle of leadership but she should not allow any black leg to reverse the gains that have been recorded on the altar of unmitigated avarice. This is because if that happens, Nigerians will hold the judiciary vicariously liable for the catastrophic consequences that may follow," it said.
Accusing the PDP of engaging in double standard, APC said: "For all of 14 years, elected members of the state Houses of Assembly as well as the National Assembly have been defecting mostly to the PDP and no court has ever declared their seats vacant.
"The late Senator Wahab Dosunmu and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, then of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), blazed the trail when they decamped to the PDP within a year of their election. Since then, scores of elected lawmakers at state and federal levels have defected to the PDP without any eyebrows being raised or anyone declaring their seats vacant.
"When Governors Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and Theodore Orji of Abia State, both elected on the platform of the PPA, and Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, who was elected on the platform of the ANPP, defected to the PDP, nobody declared their seats vacant.
"As a matter of fact, the PDP under the late President Umar Yar'Adua organised an elaborate reception to welcome Governor Yuguda to the PDP.
"Why then should the case of the five PDP governors who have joined the APC be different? Why is the PDP suddenly afraid of taking the same medicine it has been administering to others? Does it mean that all the bravado that has been displayed by the PDP, which says it is not bothered by the defection of the five governors, is just a facade to hide its deep pain at the monumental loss?"
It asked the PDP to be guided by the ruling of the Supreme Court after the ruling party attempted to make the then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to lose his seat and to also strip him of his privileges following his defection to the defunct Action Congress (AC).
One of the aggrieved governors of the ruling party, Aliyu, however explained yesterday why he did not follow his colleagues to join APC.
He said in Minna that he decided to stay back in PDP because his people did not want him to leave the party.
"Majority of my people prefers that we stay in PDP and we will stay and make it work. It is about my people. There is no way I'll take any decision without coming back to my people to seek for their views," he told a delegation of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), led by the Country Vice-President, Ms. Hauwa Shekarau, which visited him.
Aliyu, in his first remarks since the defection of the five governors, denied an allegation that he betrayed his colleagues by not defecting to APC.
Speaking on the reason behind the formation of the G7 Governors, Aliyu said: “The idea was that we saw some actions that were happening and some people were taking the success of the PDP that have been elected since 1999 for granted.
“There was need to make people understand that you cannot take people’s support for granted. And you really need to reinvigorate it so that it comes back to be properly accepted by the people."
According to him, everyone has made his decision and his own decision to remain in PDP should be respected.
"I led the so-called G7 as a result of a reform we were looking for in our party. The idea was not to leave our party; the idea was to reform it. The fight is not about me, it is not a one-man show, it is not about my ambition. It is about my people.
"If along the line of the struggle, some people find it more expedient to leave the party, that is their decision and I respect that. Those of us who felt we still need a reform and we felt that we should remain, I think our views and actions should be respected," he added.
Speaking earlier, Shekarau lamented the increasing level of violence against women and children in the country.
She however solicited for appropriate laws to check the incident.