The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party may reach a critical point next week as federal legislators belonging to a faction of the ruling party may have concluded plans to initiate a move to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan.
We gathered that the lawmakers loyal to a faction of the party led by a former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, were said to be planning to get more lawmakers into their fold before the National Assembly resumes from its recess.
Since the formation of the New PDP, the faction loyal to Atiku, 77 lawmakers from the National Assembly have pledged their loyalty to the group.
This is not the first time that an impeachment threat will dangle over President Jonathan. Last year, the House of Representatives threatened to impeach the President over the poor implementation of the 2012 budget.
However, the move by the New PDP was said to have leaked to the Presidency early last week and President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have convened a meeting with members of his kitchen cabinet in Abuja to checkmate the move. The meeting which held on Tuesday was widely reported as a move to find a way to halt the party’s crisis. But competent sources told one of our correspondents that it was a move to stave off the impeachment move by the rebellious PDP legislators.
State governors at the meeting included Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Ramalan Yero (Kaduna); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Theodore Orji (Abia); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Serieke Dickson (Bayelsa); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Idris Wada (Kogi); and Isa Yuguda (Bauchi).
Also at the meeting were Vice-President Namadi Sambo; PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak; and Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.
A governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the President was angry that the new faction had received support from some members of the National Assembly.
The governor said, “That was why our national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, was asked to address a press conference, with a mandate that those lawmakers risked their seats being declared vacant if they did not retrace their steps.
“Because we know that as soon as the lawmakers resume from their break, they may start something funny against the President. While they may not remove him, they may use that to further distract him.”
It was further gathered that the meeting examined the import of the action of the faction that moved out of the venue of the party’s mini convention at the Eagles Square, Abuja on Saturday.
The New PDP governors had stormed out of the Eagle Square and moved to the Yar’Adua Centre, where they announced the formation of the new faction.
The seven governors,who formed the core of the new group, are Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); and Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano).
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, however, told one of our correspondents that the President was not afraid of impeachment.
Gulak said Jonathan was not entertaining any fear because there were more serious threats of impeachment during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and yet nothing happened.
Rather than entertaining any fear, the presidential aide said Jonathan was confident that he had the support of the majority of Nigerians across the country.
He said, “The President meets with some of his aides either weekly or monthly. For instance, I met the President purely for my weekly briefing that day and no other aide joined us. President Jonathan is not disturbed by the thing that is happening. It is political and it has political motives. Worst things happened during the tenure of former President Obasanjo with threats of impeachment but nothing happened.”
Curiously the Independent National Electoral Commission, which is charged with ensuring internal democracy within political parties, has kept mum on the PDP crisis.
Its spokesman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, on Friday, said, “I have no response.”
In a related development, there are strong indications that the new faction is working hard to get more PDP governors into its fold.
We gathered in Abuja, on Friday that the faction, which is preparing to unveil its secretariat next week, had intensified consultations with other governors with a view to winning them over.
Speaking through his Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr. Tony Okocha, the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, said, “If the Tukur-led PDP refuses to change its mode of operation, then the party should be ready for a serious bash. You can see that members of the old PDP are already defecting and moving into the new PDP. This leaves the old PDP with no option but to begin a genuine reconciliation of aggrieved members of the party.”
He also supported the position of the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankanso, who had earlier on Friday, said more PDP governors would join the New PDP.
He said, “Kwankwaso is correct. You can see the reign of impunity; you can see the reign of lawlessness in the Tukur-led PDP. We are in a democracy and nobody can pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.”
Kwankwaso had in an interview aired on the BBC Hausa Service, on Friday, said, “If our leaders make corrections, we will reconcile. If we see that there are still problems we have no problem joining the All Progressives Congress because most of the big names in that party were part of us.
“Besides seven of us that have identified with the new PDP, there are several of our colleagues who cannot come out in the open yet but who fully support our decision to rebel against the leadership of Bamanga Tukur.”
Efforts to get Baraje to comment on the development did not succeed as he neither picked calls to his mobile telephone nor responded to an SMS sent to him.
Commenting on this development, Gulak said, “The President has vast majority support across the country and so, he is not disturbed. The conditions those governors are giving cannot see the light of the day.
“On 2015 elections, the President has the right to contest if he so desires and nobody can abridge his right by asking him not to contest as a condition for peace.
“On the call for the sacking of Bamanga Tukur as the PDP chairman, he emerged as the party boss through a process, so nobody can persuade anybody to sack him.”
Meanwhile, facts have emerged on why the PDP stopped the inauguration of the Finance Committee of the party, which was billed to have taken place on Wednesday.
The party had on August 28 approved the setting up of the 19-member committee, which is headed by Sen. Hope Uzodinma.
A statement issued by the Acting National Secretary of the party, Dr. Remi Akintoye,on Tuesday, stated that the committee would be inaugurated on Wednesday.
But a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, on Tuesday, said the inauguration had been suspended.
However, a governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the inauguration was stalled by the governors, who he said, were not happy that they were not carried along in the nomination of the committee members. He said it was wrong for the Tukur-led NWC to have set up such a committee with nine of the governors as members.