2015: Jonathan Worried Over PDP Governors Gang Up, May Move for Tukur’s Removal
The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that the reality that he might not win the PDP ticket for the 2015 poll made him to raise a team of three governors to meet with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja on Thursday.
The governors, who met with Obasanjo, are Governor Godwill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom Sate; Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta State) and Liyel Imoke (Cross River State).
The meeting, which was held at the Hilton Hotel, first had the duo of Uduaghan and Imoke in attendance.
Both of them were with the former President for about one and half hours before they left. It was after then that Akpabio, who also chairs the PDP Governors’ Forum, came and also had a discussion with Obasanjo.
Jonathan, it was gathered, was worried about the openness with which the PDP governors talked about 2015 and referred to him as unelectable.
At least, about three governors have openly declared that the President must honour his one-term agreement with them.
Apart from this, they also said that winning the primary of the PDP would not be a guarantee that the President would win the presidential election.
The President is also said to be worried about the lack of cooperation among PDP governors and how the last chairmanship election of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum had polarised the party.
Presidential sources said on Sunday that Jonathan was also worried about lack of communication between him and Obasanjo, a development considered as being dangerous to his 2015 ambition.
Besides, the President is believed to have considered as very serious, the warning by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar ,that politicians should not allow the crisis in Rivers State to derail democracy in the country.
One of the Presidency sources said, “The President and his close aides felt that he needed to reach out quickly so that things would not degenerate further among the governors and the PDP.
“He is also worried about the security implication of the warnings concerning the crisis in Rivers State and wanted the former President to intervene. Apart from these, the President wanted former President Obasanjo to also have words with some of the governors, especially those from the North who are opposed to his second term ambition.”
The result of the discussions the three governors had with Obasanjo was said to have been the reason why Jonathan visited him (Obasanjo) in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday after commiserating with his spokesperson, Dr, Rueben Abati on the death of his mother.
Abati’s mother was buried on Friday.
It was gathered that the President would not have visited Abeokuta at all, if the discussions the three governors had with Obasanjo were not “friendly”.
“The President would not have visited Abeokuta at all because coming to Abeokuta without visiting Obasanjo could have sent a wrong signal to the people that their relationship had broken down irretrievably,” the source added.
Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, however, said there was nothing unusual about the meeting by the two leaders.
Gulak, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said it was wrong for people to continue to tie every decision of the President to elections.
He argued that it would have been disrespectful for the President to be in Abeokuta without finding time to visit Obasanjo.
Gulak said, “Courtesy demands that since President Jonathan was in Abeokuta to commiserate with his spokesman over the death of his mother, he should pay courtesy visit on the former President, who resides in that same town.
“There is nothing unusual about that visit. That is what courtesy demands. If the President did not visit the former President, it would have also been an issue in the media that he shunned the man.”
When reminded that the meeting held a few minutes before the former President met with four Northern governors and that could have been an indication that 2015 elections were discussed, Gulak replied, “Is everything about election? “
But just shortly after Jonathan left Abeokuta, four Peoples Democratic Party governors – Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Aliu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) – also met behind closed-doors with Obasanjo.
When they emerged about one hour later, Nyako said they were in Abeokuta for “consultation on very important matters.”
“We have come to greet the most accomplished Nigerian ever and would remain so for a very long time and to consult him on very important matters,” Nyako,who is believed to have been pencilled in as the North’s PDP Presidential choice for the 2015 poll, said.
Our correspondents gathered from a party source close to the meeting that the consultation had to do with 2015 and the forthcoming mini- convention of the PDP.
It was gathered that the governors and the ex-President exchanged views on how to reclaim the party structure which, at the moment, is skewed in favour of Jonathan and the National Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
The governors, according to the source, are desirous of seeing the situation reversed at the mini- convention.
He said, “The governors again on Saturday solicited Obasanjo’s support for the North in 2015. They heard about his meeting with Governor Akpabio on Thursday.
“As it has been reported that Akpabio was sent by the President, the northern governors want Obasanjo to be steadfast in his support for the North in 2015.
“They are also planning to get the control of the PDP from Jonathan and Tukur at the forthcoming mini-convention. They want Tukur removed during the convention.”
The source however said it would be “politically suicidal ” for any serving PDP governor to openly declare a presidential ambition at this stage.
He said, “The best any governor can do for now is to keep consulting because of the enormous powers of a sitting President. Nobody in his right senses would want to risk the ‘Amaechi’ treatment two whole years before an election.
“Even if, like many believe, Governor Lamido is interested, can he confront the President now? Look at what mere speculations has attracted to his son, Aminu.
“Do you think the recent trial and conviction of the boy was an accident? Many people are not comfortable with the good things Obasanjo said about Lamido on May 29.”
When contacted, the Director of Press to the Jigawa State Governor, Mallam Umar Kyari, said he was not in a position to say what transpired during the Abeokuta meeting.
Kyari said, “I don’t want to be drawn into what was discussed or not discussed behind closed doors, because I don’t know. Our governor has not told anybody that he is interested in running for the office of President but people keep on mentioning his name.
“The Abeokuta meeting was held behind closed doors, nobody can tell you what they discussed except those who attended the meeting.”
When asked to comment on the fact that the four governors discussed how to remove Tukur , the PDP spokesman, Oliva Okpala, said, “There is a meeting going on right now and all issues affecting the party are being discussed and they will be addressed. Dialogue is ongoing and by tomorrow (Monday), the party will issue a statement.”
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